You’ve invested time, energy, and money. You’ve done your market research, created a bullet-proof business plan, launched, and taken off.
Now you want your business to really soar, so you’re grappling with what has become the holy grail of business marketing: automation. It’s supposed to be the way to optimize your team’s efficiency, target prospects and customers, and increase revenue. But your business is flatlining.
Where’s the upward trajectory you were expecting to see?
It’s Not One and Done
Automation sounds like a brilliant way to boost your marketing efforts. It can allow your team to spend more time doing what they were hired to do, and less time bogged down in grunt work. It can target customers via automated messaging across multiple platforms and enhance your ability to nurture leads and close sales. But don’t assume that simply automating your marketing processes will get you where you want to go. Here’s what you need to keep in mind.
“Automation” doesn’t translate to “hands-off”. Automation demands constant scrutiny and adjustment. You need to ensure that your data remains up-to-date, and that all leads and marketing efforts are being productively leveraged.
That means allocating appropriate resources – i.e. dedicated team members – to ensure this is done effectively. It does not mean you can stop investing in other strategies in your marketing efforts. Marketing automation tools aren’t meant to replace your marketing plan: they’re meant to augment it.
Take A Targeted Approach
Don’t throw everything at the wall to see what sticks. Be strategic. Find the gap between what you already have and what you require to achieve your marketing goals.:
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Zero in on the specific tasks that could benefit from automation, and research the tools that will do the job for you.
For example, if you favor a particular tool for project management, but you don’t have a handy way to create video recordings within it, consider filling the gap with third-party APIs to integrate this function into your marketing system.
Build a Chrome extension using the APIs from these tools to plug the features in. It’s a worthwhile investment because it’s a proven customer connection booster.
It’s also about the budget. Look at the opportunity costs. Automating your WordPress development could perhaps free up a lot more bandwidth and establish higher ROI at your end than automating sales outreach. Invest wisely.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
Every business has unique needs. You can’t expect a single tool to satisfy all your specific marketing requirements. Once you’ve come up with a definitive shortlist of your needs, investigate the app options that most closely align with what you’re looking for, and invest in them. Be prepared to do some custom-tailoring to get a fit that’s just right for your business.
Or, if you’re using multiple tools for a project, you can easily build a master app with APIs that can bring all this information together in one place.
Customers Are People Too
Automation can be a great tool. But if it’s not used appropriately, it can actually put the brakes on business growth.
Today’s consumers are smart: they know when they’re being “sold”. Automation systems may tempt you to flood your target market with material – because they make it so easy! Resist the temptation. Consumers want content that consistently informs, engages, and recognizes them as individuals with specific needs. They don’t want to be a number on a mass-mailing list.
Without question, automation systems can be invaluable in identifying and nurturing good leads. Ideally, they can help guide prospects down the marketing funnel – or at least, bring them part-way. Research shows that businesses that practice lead nurturing enjoy 50% more conversions than those that don’t. It all adds up: lead nurturing is about providing useful information, creating brand awareness, and building trust. Bingo.
But those automation-generated “warm” leads may have cooled off by the time your team actually makes contact with them. If the person-to-person interaction necessary to close the deal is delayed too long, chances are you’ll miss out on conversions.
When it comes to leads, “temperature” trumps numbers. It’s all about striking when the iron is hot. Don’t rely on marketing automation systems – however effective they may be at sussing out leads – to keep those leads interested and guide them down the sales funnel. These systems require constant monitoring by a dedicated team to be truly effective. This ensures that you can effectively engage with prospects when it really matters.
Making The Right Connections
To ensure successful engagement, you need to know precisely who you need to connect with and how you can do it most effectively. Automation can save time and effort when it comes to targeted communication.
But it’s money down the drain if you don’t choose the appropriate medium. You want to meet prospects and customers where they are. That means knowing who they are, and which communication channels they’re most likely to use. In other words, don’t limit your automation efforts to email if your target demographic is millennials.
Choose Your Channel
Be strategic in your selection of options that you offer potential customers to engage with you. Obviously, the more you can offer, the better. Businesses can take either a multichannel or omnichannel approach to building customer relationships. Multichannel customer communication offers a variety of communication channels – including everything from live chat to SMS to social media. This allows customers to connect with you on multiple platforms.
The omnichannel approach also uses multiple platforms, with one notable difference: all the communication channels are integrated into one single system – meaning that no matter the platform the consumer is using, you can engage them. For example, your customer may reach out to your support team via Facebook, then decide to continue the conversation via email. They’ll stay connected.
And ultimately, that’s the number one priority: to keep the conversation going. That’s what automated systems allow you to do in ways that conventional marketing simply can’t. But it takes work.
Be sure that you have a clear understanding of your target audience, your marketing goals, and the steps that can most effectively bridge the two. Be prepared to consistently produce compelling content that both engages your audience and provides them with valuable information. Determine when and how to release that content most effectively to prospects and customers on their buying journey.
The right content sent to the right audience at the right time: that’s a recipe for success, all courtesy of automation.