Marketing used to be easier. At the time, all you had to do was place a few print ads, buy a couple spots on radio or television, put up some billboards, or mail out flyers addressed to "Occupant." Then you could relax and wait for the orders to arrive, and in a few weeks or months, you could calculate your return on your advertising investment.
Those days are gone even if you still incorporate some of the "old-school" methods in your marketing strategy. Today, you are competing in a global economy. Your competition — and your customers — have embraced the digital world, and you have little choice but to follow suit.
This means that you need a website, a presence on social media sites, and an email list that will not get you accused of spamming. You also need content – a lot of it. You may need a blog or a knowledge base. You will need to make sure that your website is optimized for mobile devices, and you may need to offer online chat or support.
Keeping everything synchronized and consistent can be daunting, but that is only part of the picture. You now have to add in your customers, and they are not getting easier to please. They have high expectations. They want you to offer the latest technologies, be adept at communicating with them through social media, and engage them in meaningful, personalized ways.
Given all that you have to do, you might have already realized that automation can be your salvation. However, if you do it wrong, you can wind up hurting your cause instead of helping it. Here are some tips on using marketing automation effectively:
- Pay attention to building relationships with your customers. Today's customers are not normally inclined to make a purchase on their first contact with you. Instead, plan on nurturing them along the convoluted path known as the purchase journey.
- If you have online ads that redirect users to a landing page, where they can request a free trial or download a white paper in exchange for their email address, add them to your list. Send out an automated email periodically that offers them useful information and keeps your brand before them.
- Set up an automated listening station that notifies you whenever your company is mentioned anywhere on the Internet. Not only can you stay abreast on what people are saying about you, but more importantly, you can also proactively address any negative comments made about your brand.
- Marketing automation can be extremely effective for generating more leads. It can also make it easier for you to track where the leads come from and to integrate your efforts with other sources such as your CRM or social pages. Make sure that you have the ability in place to monitor the KPIs that are most important to you.
- Have a well-defined strategy in place before you begin automating your marketing efforts. Determine what you really want to accomplish and how each automated task can help you achieve your goals.
- Know your customers. Develop personas to help you target specific segments of your audience. Understand the steps that your typical customer follows between awareness and purchase – their purchase journey.
- Realize that automating your marketing efforts is going to require time for both setup and management. Once it is set up, you will still need to conduct constant testing and make adjustments to keep improving your results.
Ultimately, marketing automation is just another tool to make your job easier. However, it cannot fix every issue, and it cannot work without your expertise. Still, marketing automation offers so many benefits that it is worth trying — especially since your competitors are probably automating their marketing efforts already.