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Marketing Automation Best Practices Can Be Easy

You’re a small business owner and marketing automation, unless you own a marketing agency, the word “marketing” probably sends you into a sweaty-palmed state of confusion and discomfort. And “automation”? Calls to mind a robot sucking the personal element out of your business.

When you think about it, “marketing automation” is a pretty terrible term for a technology that’s supposed to help your business. But the truth is, marketing automation doesn’t have to be scary. In fact, it can actually make running and scaling your business go a lot more smoothly.

At it’s heart, marketing is about creating relationships with your audience that are built on trust in your brand. And while automation sounds cold and impersonal, automating repetitive, mundane tasks frees up your time so you can focus on important relationships. Instead of spending time on task management, organization and follow-up, you can be reaching out to the customers and prospects that really matter to your business in a more personal way.

Here are just a few ways marketing automation can help you scale without losing your authenticity:

Best Practice #1: Automate Boring Marketing/Sales Tasks

Marketing automation technology tracks the activity of the contacts in your database, like:

  • Visiting a page on your website
  • Opening an email
  • Clicking an email link
  • Filling out a form
  • Making a purchase

Creating automated tasks based on your contacts’ actions can keep you and your team uber-organized. And, because you have a handle on the history of each of your contacts, you can have a much more authentic conversation when a customer calls in with a concern or when you’re making a prospecting call.

Real Life Scenario:

Your travel agency has a form on your website to schedule a free consultation. When a contact fills out this form, the magic of marketing automation creates a task for your top agent to follow up with the contact. No potential customers slip through the cracks.

Best Practice #2: Be Quick on the Trigger

If consistent communication is a burden for your small business, marketing automation can deliver a much better experience for your contacts. With marketing automation, you can set up automatic emails, or autoresponders, that fire when a contact takes a specific action.

A good autoresponder keeps the lines of communication open with your contacts, lets them know next steps, and can also be used to reveal a bit about your personality and your way of doing business.

Real Life Scenario:

You’re hosting an event and have a sign-up form on your website. When a contact fills out the event form, marketing automation can send an autoresponder that thanks them for signing up and restates the event details.

Best Practice #3: Grow Your List

Marketing automation makes it simple to put forms on your website to capture the contact information of website visitors, growing your list of prospects.

While having the right technology to capture leads is the first step, it’s really having the right strategy in place that will impact list growth.

Offer something that is both relevant to your area of expertise and that adds value to your audience to entice them to exchange their email address with you so you can stay in touch.

Not only will you add a new contact to your list, but you’ll also have the ability to automatically segment that contact into the right bucket so you can send relevant content their way in the future.

Real Life Scenario:

As a travel agency, you’re trying to grow your list of retirees who are ready to see the world. You set up a form on your website for an ebook on “12 Must-Add Destinations for Your Bucket List.” To increase exposure, you also share the ebook form on social media and in travel forums.

As contacts fill out the form, they are automatically grouped as prospects in your “Retired Travelers” category and placed on an email nurturing campaign.

Best Practice #4: Stay Top of Mind

Speaking of email campaigns, better segmentation allows you to send emails that are actually opened and read.

Email campaigns keep your business top of mind with prospects by sending juicy morsels of relevant content over time.

See, just because you’re daydreaming about your first visit to Italy, doesn’t mean that you’re ready to speak with a travel agent today. But the company that fuels your desire to drink up Tuscany or see ancient Rome is going to be the first place you turn to when you’re ready to jet-set.

Real Life Scenario:

Once a contact fills out the form for your ebook, you start them on an email nurturing campaign that sends a travel tip for seniors once every week, driving them back to your travel website until the contact is ready to book their trip.

Best Practice #5: Score

With marketing automation in motion, you’re capturing, segmenting and nurturing your contacts. Now it’s time to tie it all together with contact scoring.

As your contacts interact with your website and your email campaigns, marketing automation tools can automatically give them a score based on their interests. This is super helpful, since you can see at a glance who to follow-up with now, and who may need a little more nurturing before they are ready to buy.

Real Life Scenario:

As your contacts open your emails, click links, visit your website and fill out forms, they rack up points. You pull a list of prospects that have a score of 20 or greater to call. This is “warm” calling, since you know these prospects are truly interested in your business.

Marketing automation isn’t the scary, robotic machine that it sounds like. With the right strategies and practices, it can take administrative burden off your plate, help you better serve your customers, and warm up more prospects for meaningful, personal conversations that create sales for your small business.

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