Automation is a secret weapon that gives you a tremendous advantage in the marketplace. It’s like you’re there working non-stop day and night to sell your products and delight customers (but you’re not.) If you want to break into the magical world of passive income, you need to leverage some marketing automation strategies. Income generation and lead nurturing shouldn’t require your undivided attention. If it does, you’re at risk of burning out. Most importantly, without automation, you’ll struggle to scale your business. Marketing automation begins with defining what strategies and platforms drive the most growth and sales -- then developing an effortless way to accomplishing those marketing tasks with tools and technology.
What can (or should) you automate to improve your efforts? Well, that depends. If you have a healthy email list, you have automation opportunity. You can also automate some of your social media efforts, lead generation and even answer your customers’ most common questions.
Automation is a deceiving word. At first, it may seem like it’s an easier way of accomplishing marketing tasks. It does make things more streamlined, but it’s a smart way of doing the work. The most successful automation practices require a bit of effort up front.
In a way, marketing automation is like cutting down a tree. Of course, you could get the job done with an ax, but you can cut down more trees if you have a chainsaw. Automation isn’t a “set it and forget it” strategy. Instead, it’s just a tool to help you do more with less time.
1. Email automation helps you engage with more customers.
You’re probably familiar with email automation. In fact, it’s common for most people who hear “marketing automation,” to immediately think “emails.” The inbox is a powerful tool to communicate with your audience, but checking and sending emails is a time-consuming process that’ll never end.
The key to significant success with email automation is segmentation. Your goal should always be to reach the right customer at the right time with the right message. You can segment your email list by where your customer falls in the buying funnel. You can also segment by demographics, buyer persona or geographic region.
Effective segmentation begins with a detailed email list management. You’ll need to regularly clean the list to make sure you’re not sending emails to sources who aren’t leads. Reminders, thank you’s, content resources and promotional offers are great opportunities for automation. And, most email automation begins with a trigger event like a customer purchasing their first product or signing up to receive a gated piece of content.
2. Schedule your social media to boost your editorial calendar.
Social media is a fast-paced environment depending on the platform. You can automate a lot of the work required to keep your social media accounts active. Start each month by creating engaging content. The pre-loaded posts will save you massive amounts of time (not to mention all the hours you conserve by not getting distracted).
Another automation strategy is creating a system that automatically shares new content you’ve posted to your website. But, most likely, you’ll want to personalize each piece of content for the platform.
3. Develop a process for gathering and nurturing sales leads.
Customers used to spend a lot of face-to-face time with salespeople learning about products. Now, they turn to their mobile devices and laptops to research as much as they can before ever entering the store.
This disruption in the sales process is an opportunity for automation. The buyer’s journey consists of awareness, consideration and decision. Now, you can create content designed to specifically aid them through the purchasing process.
The content on your website should attract them to the page by offering solutions to their problems. Then, it should strive to answer all of their questions. Finally, it should persuade them to choose your brand over all other options to them.
The automation process should look something like this:
- A potential customer visits your website after seeing an ad or researching on Google (or another search engine).
- They read one or two blogs until they find a downloadable piece of content they find interesting, so they enter their email address to receive it.
- Now, you have their contact information, so they enter into your automated email system and they start receiving a drip campaign.
- Maybe they leave your website after they have their new piece of high-value content on their computer, but they come back a couple of days later with more questions.
- Your company keeps answer all their questions, and they decide it’s time to make a purchase, so they call you because clearly, your company is the expert.
The best thing about the buyer’s journey is you can create one system to help everyone in that target market. So, the content they’re reading could be months -- or even years old. But, it’s still working for you and bringing in leads.
Automation doesn’t end at lead generation. It’s also a handy tool for nurturing relationships with your best customers. You can remind loyal fans of a special promotion just for them or give them a heads up on the newest products about to hit the market.
4. Chatbots are changing how businesses interact with first-time website visitors.
Automation will reach new heights in the coming year. Chatbots just entered center stage and they’re fascinating. Essentially, you can communicate with your potential customers in new ways that are convenient for both you and them.
Chatbots are showing up in a few key places right now. First, when someone visits your website, a chatbot could pop up in the bottom right or left-hand corner and give them a special offer or ask if they need any assistance. If they interact with the popup by asking a question, the chatbot could respond immediately with an answer if it’s a common question. Or, it can send an email or text message to your phone if it requires a more in-depth answer.
Another new location for chatbots is on social media. Now, you can interact a little easier with your audience on Facebook or Twitter.
The key to a successful experience with chatbots is always being transparent with your audience that you’re using a chatbot. It’s frustrating to customers if they think they are talking to you or another human and then they learn it’s automation. But, if they know it’s a chatbot from the beginning of the conversation, they know the answers will come with some limitations.
You don’t have to say “hi, I’m a chatbot.” Instead, just don’t try to make it seem like it’s a human. Most people will recognize a chatbot.
Automation depends heavily on the right tools.
Hands down, HubSpot is our favorite tool at McMahon Marketing. We track everything including social media, emails, website traffic and more using this platform. They offer a free CRM, and there are several different versions to fit any budget. So, if you asked us what we’d recommend for easy automation implementation, we’d always tell you HubSpot is the right way to go.
However, we recognize everyone has their preference for getting things done. There are more tools out there than we could list, but your objective should always be choosing something that is intuitive and easy to use.
Email Automation Tools
MailChimp: MailChimp is a user-friendly platform for anyone wanting to send emails to list. It has drip campaign capabilities, it’s a pretty affordable tool and offers a free version if you are managing a small list.
ConvertKit: This platform is similar to MailChimp. It doesn’t offer a free version. But, it does have some unique features like multiple opt-in incentives.
Constant Contact: This is an intuitive platform that’s easy to navigate even for email novices. There are customization options and email list management features.
Social Media Automation Tools
Hootsuite: Hootsuite combines all of your social platforms under one, easily accessible dashboard that lets you post and schedule text, images and video with ease. The free version allows up to three social profiles.
Buffer: Buffer allows you to schedule posts on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+ and Pinterest. Once set up, it will automatically post throughout the day and the week during high traffic times. It has a free version with many of the top features for three accounts.
CoSchedule: CoSchedule is a premium software solution for your social media, blogs, and much more. It works across all the major social media platforms and includes web and blog integration. The free trial lasts for 14 days.
Lead Generation and Nurture Automation Tools
HubSpot: What can we say, we love HubSpot. It’s ranked number 1 for a reason, and it’s because the lead generation tools are a step above all other options. But, you still have to choose what works for you and your business.
Marketo: This software is better for mid-sized to large companies. Although, it can be a bit tricky to navigate the integration process. But once you do, it gets the job done. It also lacks some landing page creation capabilities.
Infusionsoft: This software is pretty effective for smaller companies. Like HubSpot, the features are all-inclusive. Unlike HubSpot, it offers some additional e-commerce functionality.
Chatbot Automation Tools
Drift: You might see Matt pop up on some of our pages. This chatbot is powered by Drift. We think its a pretty solid tool.
Chatty People: Chatty People integrates sites like Facebook and Shopify which allow you to open up new customer experience avenues in e-commerce.
Operator: Operator from Intercom is optimized for customer experience. It’s smarter and faster than many other bots, and with a succinct conversation style, it can help users at their speed.
Automation is the secret to earning income after work hours, but the tools you choose will usually cost something.
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