When you run a retail business, it can be challenging to connect with each of your many customers. If you have a physical location, your retail staff can interact with customers but, even then, the personal connection is lost once the customer checks out and leaves. How can you stay engaged with customers throughout the week, month and year without using up all your time, budget and staff resources?

The answer is marketing automation. An automated marketing solution makes it so much easier to form meaningful connections with each individual customer through personalized marketing campaigns, unique promotions, timely reminders and more. Who wouldn’t want to receive only messages they are personally interested in, over their favorite mode of communication? Here are just some of the benefits of marketing automation:

1. Draw in More Business with Text Message Coupons: Connecting with customers through automated text messages allows you to encourage new and repeat business with coupons. In 2013, over 42 million Americans redeemed text message coupons from their mobile phones . Mobile coupons are immediate and convenient, which makes them much more likely to be redeemed than traditional coupons. Go up to the checkout, click your text message icon, get your coupon discount. No more fishing in your purse or pocket, no more forgetting the coupon at home. Simple and effective.

2. Create Excitement with Online Contests: Contests go viral on social media, meaning that a huge audience will see your message and will interact with your business online. Set up an automated social media campaign that will post contest updates, information and promotional messages on a regular basis on your social media pages. This way, you don’t have to take the time to keep manually posting, yet your messages keep going out, building excitement and keeping your business at the front of customers’ minds.

3. Build Customer Loyalty through Personal Connection: It’s impossible to know what every customer wants, right? Not anymore. Marketing automation keeps track of each customer’s personal profile, purchase history, email open rate, unique dates like birthdays and much more. The automated marketing solution will send them messages that they want to receive, based on their needs and history. And it sends messages to customers over their own preferred mode of communication, such as email or text messaging.

4. Keeps Track of Your Marketing Interactions: Don’t pay for a data analysis program when you can use one that is integrated with your automated marketing solution. When you send emails, text messages, social media messages or anything else, the solution records each piece of data that comes back from your customers so you can analyze exactly how customers interacted. In 2013, 44% of subscribers who got a promotional email purchased due to that email. Email marketing is effective, but in order to know which emails got the most opens, which triggered the most sales, and who is opening your emails, you need a marketing automation solution which gives you all the relevant data to help you make your campaigns even better.

5. Build Subscriber List with Signup Forms and Autoresponders: Providing simple signup forms for customers is one of the best ways to increase the amount of subscribers for your text message and email campaigns, and that allows you to reach more customers. Don’t ask for too much in your signup forms, just basic information, so potential subscribers don’t get discouraged when filling them out. You will learn more about their preferences as time goes on anyway! An automated marketing solution will send the subscriber a personalized autoresponder confirmation message as soon as they sign up, and will automatically organize their data so it can be used for future marketing campaigns. Building your subscriber list is greatly simplified. Make sure you have signup forms prominently available on your website and social media pages.

Marketing automation helps retail businesses make more meaningful connections with their customers and more effectively meet their customers’ unique needs. If you’re not using an automated marketing solution, or you’re not using a good one, you are missing out on potential opportunities to build customer loyalty and increase customer interaction. Try marketing automation for your retail business.