When you started your business, you had a smaller customer base and it was easier to keep in touch with everyone. However, as your business has expanded, customer base has grown, and prospect pool has widened, you have more and more people that you’re hoping to reach with personalized messaging.
Fortunately, marketing automation tools can help you get all of that done. Many of the marketing tasks that you do now can be automated in a way that allows you to be targeted in your messaging and frees up time in your day to get other work done.
But if you haven’t used a marketing automation tool in the past, you might be overwhelmed by your options or not quite sure where to start. Today, we’re going to take a look at how to incorporate marketing automation into your existing strategy to ensure that you get the best results out of the tool.
Understand Where You Need Help
There are a lot of marketing automation tools out there on the market. Some are comprehensive, offering features for email, social media, and websites. Others are more niche and are focused on only one or two channels.
The first step to settling on the right tool for you is understanding the gaps in your current approach. This means turning back to your existing strategy. If you had big plans for your social media marketing but are consistently struggling to keep up with a regular posting schedule, that’s a sign that automation of scheduling and publishing to your social feeds might be useful for you.
If you’re having trouble growing your newsletter mailing list, then that might indicate that your lead capturing approach on your website could use some help. If you find that lead conversion is not as strong as you would like, an automated email follow up campaign might help you to keep pace with incoming requests from prospects.
Focus on the Tools that Work for You
Once you have a handle on where the weak points are in your marketing approach, you can then start to hone in on the tools that make the most sense for you. This will also, of course, be dependent on your budget and team’s level of tech-savvy.
If you’re looking for a tool that solves a narrow part of the marketing automation issue, it’s possible to find a low- or no-cost option. If strengthening your social media approach is a goal, a tool like Buffer or Hootsuite can help you to manage your social media post schedule and better engage with your audience.
If you want to improve your email marketing approach, a tool like MailChimp offers all of the basic features you could look for in managing a mailing list.
However, if you’re looking for a more comprehensive tool that brings together site tracking, email automation, sales and CRM, plus other features like SMS messaging, you’ll want to consider a platform like ActiveCampaign, Ontraport, or InfusionSoft.
These all-encompassing tools have manageable subscription fees for small businesses, and if you have the budget and bandwidth to implement a full-scale automated system now, it might save you from having to migrate from individual tools to something larger in the future.
Prepare Your Data for the Switch
If you’ve been managing your customer list in a spreadsheet or sending out your newsletter through your Gmail account, chances are your data is not in its most organized state.
Part of the power of marketing automation is its ability to communicate with specific subsets of your population based on their attributes or actions. However, in order to take full advantage of email segmentation, you need to teach your marketing automation tool how you want it to communicate with your audience.
As you prepare to migrate your data into a marketing automation tool, begin thinking about how you want to slice and dice your list. This exercise should be driven by how you define your ideal customer. Are there certain features your ideal customer has like age, gender, location, or job title?
You’ll want to be sure that you have all of the relevant data on your existing customers that will make it easy for you to implement an effective segmentation approach. So take the time before you implement the system to scrub your data: get rid of stale contacts, fill gaps in relevant information, and make sure you’re starting your new system with a clean data set.
Once you get your marketing automation tool up and running, you’ll be able to undertake behavior lead scoring to understand the actions that typically lead to conversions, which will allow you to create an even more detailed profile of your dream customer.
Define Your Goals for the New System
Whenever you implement a new tool, you want to be sure you’re getting the most out of it. The best way to do that is to set concrete goals for what you intend to accomplish with your newly automated approach.
When defining those goals, be specific. Rather than, “I hope we’ll get some more interest in our mailing list,” try for something like, “I want to increase our open rate by 5 percent.” This kind of specificity will help you to understand what you need to do to give your automation approach its greatest shot at success.
Help Your Team Get Up and Running
If your sales and marketing teams are used to the old way of doing things, getting used to a new marketing automation system will take a little bit of time. And while a marketing automation tool can take a lot of work off your team’s plate in the long run, it’s only able to do that if it’s being used correctly.
You can help to ease the transition by first clearly communicating the changes. Give your team a head’s up about your intention to implement a new system. If you have employees who have used a marketing automation tool elsewhere in their career, get their advice before you make your final selection. Getting buy-in early on is one of the keys to successful implementation.
Once the new tool has been selected, clearly communicate your goals for the new tool, and make it clear how these goals align with your existing strategy. How will email follow up campaigns help you to increase sales? What will site tracking do for the way you behavior score your leads?
Finally, once you’ve shared your goals and approach, you want to provide adequate training and support during the transition process. Check in regularly with the teams who use the tool to see if they have any feedback or issues, and work to address concerns that might pose a problem in implementing your strategy.
When you’re used to running your marketing efforts without the help of a marketing automation tool, the thought of making the switch can be daunting. But when you’re thoughtful about selecting a tool that complements your existing strategy, you can set you and your team up for even greater success with less busy work.
If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to Marketing Automation.