Marketing Automation Explained – Your Marketing on Steroids

Small businesses face the challenge of effectively marketing on a shoestring budget, every day.  Limited resources places strict limits on the amount of advertising available, but it does not have to limit the opportunities to connect with customers.

Branding and building a loyal customer base can be as easy and inexpensive as putting in place marketing automation strategies.  The largest cost involved in continuing marketing campaigns is man hours.  Minimizing man hours takes the sting out of the price tag, allowing small businesses to stay competitive with corporate giants armed with unlimited advertising budgets.

A Simple Strategy to Bury the Competition

Communication determines how quickly businesses respond to queries from potential and existing customers.

Lets look at this way, imagine you’ve just had the most amazing date with a smoking hot member of the opposite sex, you’re on the doorstep saying good bye, looking longingly into each others eyes and the other person says… “I’ll call you in 6 months…!!” Is this how your business is currently treating your prospects?

Optimising response times offers small businesses an opportunity to show the benefits of working with a smaller, more focused, business.  A recent study by Harvard Business Review identified customer follow-up as a major weakness in most business operations.  According to the study, when businesses respond to queries within an hour, they are almost seven times more likely to reach and discuss products and services with a key decision maker versus contacts that occur an hour or more later.

Armed with this knowledge, it should mean that you prioritise that first contact, but only 37 percent manage to meet that one hour deadline.  Even small changes make the difference between a marketing effort that drives growth and one that shows no measurable improvements.  Make responding to inquiries a top priority, and see the instant improvement to the bottom line

How to Add a One-Hour Follow-Up, Without Adding to the Budget

The simple solution to making contact, immediately after an inquiry, is through marketing automation.

A variety of different service packages help small businesses keep up with customer contacts, without adding new hires.  Coordinated, cross-channel marketing campaigns drive conversions much better than segmented, poorly targeted appeals.

Ensuring that every marketing effort drives home the same message, to the same targeted demographic, is part of this marketing process.  Each customer action should trigger a communication response.  For example, a customer visits a clothing website, and while on the site looks at a shirt.  After looking at all the sizes available, the customer clicks away.

This customer action can, and should, generate an automated follow-up email offering to notify the customer when the item is available in their size.  For B2B service, the process remains the same.  A customer visits a site, browses through product offerings and clicks away.  The immediate follow-up should be a question asking them what they were looking for and offering a direct contact to discuss different service offerings.

Recession Proof Strategies

The announcement of a double dip recession put a lot of businesses on notice that the strategies of yesterday no longer apply.  Companies that fail to adopt new methods for building customer relationships and adding new business will not be around three years from now.

The old approach to marketing as a one time event is obsolete.  Marketing is a process, requiring continued management and refinement, to achieve the best results.  Creating a business model that withstands the effects of events like the credit crunch, takes dedication to building expanding markets through integrated campaigns.

Implementing multi-pronged campaigns that reach consumers through every possible avenue, while maintaining clarity of message, is the only way to porect marketing efforts from constant changes in consumers mind.  Social media presents new avenues of approach on an almost daily basis, allowing businesses to make that all important emotional connection to the consumer.

Automate and Guarantee Response Times

Faster response times equals higher conversion number, making it an integral part of doing business in today’s economy.  Automated systems allow immediate, personalised, responses to customer inquiries.  No matter what avenue a marketing campaign takes, SMS, email, direct mail, and more, automated responses generate engagement, allowing businesses to take the next step.

Today’s customer does not waste time waiting for a reply from a specific company.  The Internet enables consumers to contact multiple providers, in minutes, giving them total control over purchasing decisions.  Smart business owners take advantage of automation to drill down to the highest value customers, quickly.  Tiered communication, starting with automated responses, allows businesses to control marketing spending by implementing a curation process.  Window shoppers get a second look, while interested parties receive a bigger time investment.  Those identified as likely purchasers receive a targeted, human, approach.  This process of using human oversight to guide automated processes improves the end result, creating highly satisfied customers that become a marketing tool.

Managing Every Resource for Maximum Effect

Small business owners know the importance of gaining maximum value from every activity, be it marketing, sales or administration.  Automating part of the marketing process allows the small business to offer the same level of customer care as a corporate giant, with more flexibility.  Large corporations can not offer the same level of personal oversight available at a small company.  Introducing automated features to marketing campaigns allows business owners to focus efforts on the most effective strategies, while freeing up time for all aspects of business management.  Time is money, and less time spent on marketing means more time spent on sales.

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