When some people hear about automation, they think about advanced artificial intelligence or replacing human workers with robots. While AI has a role to play, there are much simpler ways to automate your processes, boost your efficiency, and increase your return on investment. For those in the field of marketing, there’s a lot you can do to embrace technology and reach a larger segment of your target market.
Automation is important for both small businesses and larger enterprises who want to compete effectively. To decide which functions to automate, you can identify those processes which are highly repetitive and based on logic. These may be things based on rules or very simple decision-making. Consider whether you should use an automation solution that’s already on the market or if you should build something in-house. You will make this decision based on the time, effort and money which would be required.
You can use automation for content management, email marketing, client segmentation, and lead filtering, among other digital marketing functions. Here’s how you can do this.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing typically involves posting content, engaging in conversation with followers, and building a community. It is easiest and perhaps most useful to automate the posting of content. In some fields, you need to post content every few hours and it can be very time-consuming to do this manually. Creating content in bulk and scheduling it well ahead of time can be very helpful. This frees up staff to work on other tasks like interacting in real time with followers.
Apps like Hootsuite, Buffer, and HubSpot can be used to schedule posts and monitor brand mentions. Most marketers are familiar with these. However, you can go a step further and use tools like IFTTT and Zapier which allow all your varying apps and websites to communicate with each other. You can automate the posting of your blog content on Facebook, add Instagram photos to your Buffer queue or even send a photo you take straight to Buffer. Just imagine how much time you create when you don’t have to do this manually.
Content marketing isn’t the easiest area to automate but it can be done. Even partial automation can save time, improve workflow and bring significant returns on investment. Researching trends and curating content from other sources forms part of most content marketing efforts. Instead of having to sift through industry news and reports every day, this can be partially automated through the use of Google Alerts, Storify, BuzzSumo, and Feedly. These can help you to identify trending content and big news stories of interest in your location and industry.
Your workflow can also be automated, and you can use apps to help you plan and publish your content. Your content marketing process likely involves a range of people including writers, graphic designers, and managers. Teamwork, Trello and Asana are popular project management solutions which can be adapted for content marketing.
Lead Tracking and Cultivating
Every lead is important in today’s environment but tracking and nurturing them manually is very difficult. Customer relationship management software is critical in automating this process. There are several options from which to choose. Salesforce is robust and it has built up a strong reputation. It also integrates with commonly used software like HubSpot, Marketo, and Pardot. However, it is pricey and not the most user-friendly. Smaller businesses may be more interested in Agile CRM, Zoho, and Pipedrive which are easy to use. These solutions help with recording emails and calls, sending out mass emails and integrating calendars.
Once you collect the data on leads, you need to use it to drive conversions. You usually have a limited window within which to engage prospects and convert them. Setting up an automated email sequence which goes out over a 30 period can help tremendously with boosting your ROI. Consider rule-based emails which are linked to the user’s level of interest or interaction with your product or service. If the user doesn’t appear ready to purchase, perhaps they would benefit from an informational email and not a hard sell. The user who seems ready to buy would get an email encouraging them to close the deal.
You may be familiar with MailChimp and Campaign Monitor which are used for traditional email marketing campaigns. MailChimp allows you to track who opens your emails, when they open them and which links they click. This can help to refine your email marketing strategy. Campaign monitor records personal information like birth dates so you can send more personalized communication. This type of interaction can help customers and clients to feel like you are really in tune with them. Agile CRM, Infusionsoft, and Hubspot offer even more functionality.
Simple artificial intelligence can be used to augment human communication with customers and prospective customers. Chatbots allow businesses to expand their customer service offering and increase sales without having to hire more staff. AI can also suggest products and services to customers based on their behavior and purchases. In addition, chatbots can be used with services like Facebook Messenger to answer questions about product availability or give recommendations.
In 2019, doing things manually when they can be automated doesn’t make sense. It reduces your competitiveness and makes it difficult for you to stand out in the market. If you want to get a greater return on investment, you need to utilize the available technology to improve the way you do business.
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Marie Erhart is a Success Manager at FieldPulse, creators of field service software that lets you run your entire contracting business from a single app. She works with contractors to help them grow their business using best practices.