There comes a stage in the life cycle of many small businesses when it is time to make a choice.
Where to from here?
Do I take the next step and go from one-man-show to CEO? Or do I stick with what I’m doing, answering every email myself and wondering why I’m so exhausted every Friday night?
If you have a good business and are selling something people want, it will soon become apparent that you need help. However, you may find yourself in that sticky spot where you know you need backup but you don’t have a giant budget to hire an army of minions.
This is where automation comes in, with the help of a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool.
To explain marketing automation, let’s first take a look at what a CRM is.
What is a CRM?
As your business grows, so will your client base. Eventually, it will be impossible to keep track of every customer in your head. Having a CRM and setting up automated marketing is the solution, to not only help keep track of every contact but to truly make the most of them.
Simply put, a CRM is online software which takes care of communicating with almost everyone who comes into contact with your business. Your CRM digitally standardises business interactions and has the potential to save you hours of time while boosting your profitability.
At its basic level, a CRM allows you to save client and prospect client details, categorising them and recording where they are in their customer journey. You can keep information like phone numbers and email addresses, and also record what your customers are interested in, what they have purchased before and how pleased they are with your service.
[Keep better track of your contacts with a CRM]
Your CRM is your starting point for marketing automation. Once you have started entering customer info into the system, tasks like sending business promotions, e-mails, company updates, digital brochures, and posting on social media become much less of a chore.
Why use marketing automation
You got into business because you believe in what you sell and what you do, not because you look forward to doing administrative work!
According to a survey by InfusionSoft, 75 percent of respondents agree that the biggest benefit of having a CRM is saving time, and I’d have to agree. In my own business it saves me hours and hours every week. For this reason alone, it is worth looking into.
Let’s run through some more of the benefits of having a CRM and mastering marketing automation.
- Advance sales by automatically identifying ‘hot’ leads
- Nurture existing customer relationships through personalised communication
- Check clients’ past purchasing history
- Easily see client order status
- Make notes of client feedback / highlight customers with sensitive needs
- Send automatic reminders
- See at a glance how much money you are making from each customer
Marketing automation can also help you do the following:
- Auto-populate your client follow-ups
- Share sales and promotions with customers you know will be interested
- Remind customers of abandoned carts
- Send special offers and member discounts
- Issue follow up surveys for customer feedback
- Review which emails are being opened and which links are being clicked on
When you blend all the benefits of a CRM and great marketing automation strategy, the results you can expect are better customer engagement and higher revenue. Plus, you can forget about writing emails over and over. One template, and you’re done!
[Users who have signed up for a trial of this app automatically get a special offer in their inbox if they fail to buy]
With repetitive administrative tasks taken care of, you and your team have more time to work on improving customer experience, developing your product and growing your user base. All of a sudden that energy you were losing to daily inbox management is yours for the taking.
As I mentioned earlier, when you look at the advantages, you can see why it makes sense for any business of any size to invest a small amount of money to access a CRM. The cost can start from less than $100 per month and the returns can be astronomical.
Getting started with marketing automation
Ok, so you want to start automating your business. But… how?
First you need to decide which tool you are going to use. There are many out there so it can be tricky to choose but one way to get started is to make a note of the features you require and make sure the provider ticks these boxes.
I recommend InfusionSoft to my clients as it offers all the features a growing business needs and I find it to be very user-friendly, even for those who don’t describe themselves as tech-savvy.
The process for getting started is the same across most CRMS. First, sign up and log in. Next, import your contacts, which you should be able to do from your email without too much trouble.
Once you have gotten started you will see a dashboard with basic information, including customer information, email broadcast details and the number of new contacts you have made over the past week. You can customise this dashboard to suit your preferences.
From there, it is time to start setting up email templates to use in your marketing automation. Start simply, with a welcome email for customers who fill in the contact form on your website. Add a logo and some graphic design so it looks professional.
Now, it’s up to you. You can choose to gradually build the actions and features of your CRM, or hand the reins over to someone on your marketing team or a consultant who can use their own expertise to get things up and running more quickly.
It may seem a bit finicky to get started, but consider that when London-based news agency Thomson Reuters made use of marketing automation, they reduced lead conversion time by 72% and achieved a 175% general boost in sales.
Marketing automation examples
A popular company that makes use of this tech tool is giant media corporation Buzzfeed. You would think that a massive internet media establishment would no longer need the help automated marketing, but aside from helping you find out which Disney princess you are, and guessing your age based on your cheese preference, they also send out customised newsletters to their subscribers based on their interests.
[A Buzzfeed email, as shared by Campaignmonitor]
There are thousands of small businesses using marketing automation, from your local doctor’s office to your favourite local shoe store.
Examples from outlets like T2 look professional but with the help of software like Canva or by outsourcing to someone who is skilled at creating visual promotions you can send emails which look just as good.
[Newsletters and bonus offers are a key part of your marketing automation strategy]
You can also use marketing automation to send text message reminders and updates, as health insurer Australian Unity does at tax time.
[Not the most exciting of messages but you can imagine this simple text stops the flood of “Where is my statement???” calls come July 1st]
Making new customers is great. Having repeat business is better. With a CRM and marketing automation strategy you are providing a better service, strengthening your connection with your customer and therefore building your business, with very little effort on your part.
If you are hesitating over taking this next step, think about where you want to be in one, two or five years’ time. Will you still be tearing your hair out trying to get everything done? Or will you have taken the steps to grow your business without creating more work for yourself? At the very most, you will lose a few hundred dollars. What you stand to gain can be quite extraordinary.
Want a hand with your CRM? I’ll make it happen for you super-fast. Get in touch today!