Wednesday June 3, 2015
Many small business owners think that marketing automation is just a tool for big businesses like Amazon or tech-savvy startup founders. In reality, there are some easy marketing automation strategies that can give your small business great results. But only if you use it correctly.
Marketing automation sometimes get a bad rap, because a lot of businesses do use it incorrectly. This can lead to:
- Sending prospects or past customers irrelevant content
- High unsubscribe rates from emails
- Leads falling through the cracks
- Lack of clarity about what’s working
- Serious damage to your brand reputation
All of those consequences are really serious. That’s why it’s so important to develop a carefully considered strategy, supported by strong software.
The good news is, there are huge benefits to doing marketing automation correctly. It’s time to stop reaching out to one person at a time.
Here are the basics for setting up an automated small business marketing strategy, with the important dos and don’ts to follow as you go.
1. Integrate Automation With Your Sales Process
DO: Scale Up What’s Working
Do you feel like your sales process is working well, but that you’ve hit a plateau? Are you struggling to keep up with your incoming leads? If so, you’re a great candidate for marketing automation.
Automation works best when it scales up a sales process that’s already working. Start by identifying where you’ve reached your limits, and which tasks take up more time than they’re worth. Look for ways to automate those tasks.
DON’T: Separate Marketing from Sales
The biggest mistake small business owners make with marketing automation is trying to replace your sales process with it. Integrating automation into your sales process is the goal.
For example, don’t neglect to continue adding new leads to the top of your sales funnel! If you just have a stagnant list, blasting them with more and more content isn’t going to help. In fact, it’s likely to hurt.
You also have to keep conversion in mind. Think carefully about where in the process a live salesperson needs to step in, or if that’s necessary at all. Sales and marketing are too closely related to separate, and that goes for automated marketing strategies as well.
2. Gather Interested Leads
DO: Create Lead Boxes
Your website can be your most powerful tool for collecting leads, but only if you equip it to gather customer information. The easiest way to do this is with lead boxes.
They provide spaces for site visitors to enter in their contact information, usually in exchange for some kind of incentive (coupon code, download, newsletter subscription). Lead boxes are great for small businesses, because even if you don’t make the sale right then from your website, you get the chance to continue the conversation by email or phone.
Just make sure to let them know that you’re going to use the information they gave you to get in touch!
DON’T: Use Shady Tactics to Get Leads
In general, adding people to your funnel that don’t want to be there is not a good idea. It’s really hard to sell to people that don’t want to be sold to, and if you try too hard, you can damage your brand.
The days of buying email lists are over, and thank goodness. Instead, focus your energy on providing quality content to people that have expressed an interest! That means creating lead boxes, and letting interested prospects come to you. Then your job is to continue the relationship.
3. Send Personalized, Automated Email
DO: Set Up Automated Email Triggers
You wouldn’t believe how many sales are lost simply due to poor follow-up. You can’t afford to be in second place in this fast-paced world.
So when someone fills out a lead box on your website, it only makes sense to have an automated email that goes out immediately—even if it’s 2AM. With this initial email, your goal is to open the door for future conversations.
The best way to do that is to add value to them. Coupon codes, content tailored to their needs, and a personal welcome message are great ways to build goodwill right off the bat.
That’s just the starting point. Next is creating longer-term campaigns that keep your brand top of mind long into the future. The goal is to send the right content at the right time, to maximize the value you bring to your contacts.
DON’T: Cross Into the Realm of Spam
You know what spam looks like. You delete it every day. So don’t send it! Remember that your number one goal is to consistently add value to your customers and prospects.
Check yourself before you schedule any email. Think, “Is this email useful even if this prospect isn’t ready to buy? Is this content what they want to read right now?” Only after the answer to those questions is “Yes” can you ask, “Will this bring them closer to making a purchase?”
4. Craft a Long-Term Relationship
DO: Use Technology to Enable Relationships
The close, personal connections you have with your earliest customers is what sets you apart from big business. But many small businesses either lose that personal touch as they grow, or they don’t grow because they’re afraid of losing it.
Marketing automation allows you to keep your relationships with customers close and personal, just on a larger scale.
Schedule recurring newsletters, coupons for loyal customers, and other highly personal ways of keeping in touch. You can also set yourself callback reminders so you remember to keep the relationship personal.
We use AllProWebTools’ CRM to keep in touch with our own clients. In addition to doing everything above, it also lets us input internal client notes in a live timeline associated with each contact. This lets us share information with all our employees to ensure the best possible customer service.
DON’T: Replace Relationships with Technology
Keep your business’s heart intact no matter how much you grow. Don’t forget to include personal follow-up from time to time, in the form of a phone call or a personal, unique email.
Marketing automation is for scaling up the repetitive parts of marketing. It’s not a replacement for other kinds of relationship building.
If you follow these principles, you can develop long-term, mutually beneficial relationships with a wide network of prospects and customers—without sinking in time and resources you can’t afford.