Working Smarter in the Digital Age

by Christine Heine
Ideas + Logic

Marketing automation can give the small business superpowers. 

The way consumers respond to marketing has changed. The reason for that? The largest digital businesses—Amazon, Facebook and Google, to name a few—have used their powerful databases and immense online footprint to change the way they communicate and sell to consumers. In doing so, they have changed the way business is done.

How did digital businesses change the marketing landscape? They changed it by using their collected data to market smarter. For example, Google knows what I’m searching for and shows me ads based on that. What could be more relevant? The prevalence of this type of informed marketing means that consumers are now used to it, they respond to it, and in the future, will expect it. The silos of the past have faded away. It is no longer enough to have standalone islands of a website, direct mail and separate ads.

The Power of Smart
Digital businesses are marketing smarter with the powers of:

  • Integration: What you get in your email relates to what you shopped for or recently browsed. Online ads connect to web traffic, to direct mail and to email. This integration just appears to be the new normal to consumers.
  • Immediacy: The internet has changed when we can buy and also when we want to buy. It has moved “later” into “now.” If I run out of a unique item that I need, I can order it in 15 minutes and receive it in two days. And my “now” might be today at noon. Your “now” might be tonight at 10pm. Joe’s “now” might be at 3am on the weekend.
  • Personalization: If I buy something, I’m a customer, not a prospect. Google, Amazon and Facebook know the difference. They have my unique purchase history, so their communications talk to me by name, using my actual history to make suggestions. “Thanks for your purchase!” “You bought this two weeks ago, so you might need more!” “If you purchased this, you might like these too.” 
  • Targeting: Amazon doesn’t send you emails about all of their products—that would be overwhelming. Instead, they use your history and the ability to know what you were looking at to send you just what you want—and nothing more.
  • Persistence: Research shows that it takes between seven and 14 “touches” or interactions (some say even more) with a company before we trust them enough to buy from them. The underlying issue is that when you do advertising or any type of demand creation, you reach a lot of people who aren’t ready to buy.

Digital businesses persist because they’ve got a huge marketing engine that drives ongoing nurture marketing. When the prospect is ready to buy, that business is still top of mind. So how can you give these “superpowers” to your small business? We can entreat consumers to “buy local.” But we also can use our own “super tool”: small business marketing automation.

What is Marketing Automation?
Marketing automation combines a customer relationship management database and marketing activity automation software. This enables you to track prospect and customer activities, and use that knowledge to deliver the same type of smart marketing that big business can. With it you can:

  • Do lead scoring;
  • Integrate different channels;
  • Personalize your messages;
  • Automate marketing responses;
  • Persist, prospect and sell in real time; 
  • Celebrate the sale; and
  • Cross-sell, up-sell and manage recurring purchases.

Marketing automation allows small businesses to compete smarter. There are many different marketing automation software programs designed to work for smaller businesses: Infusionsoft, Eloqua, Hubspot, Marketo, Pardot (by Salesforce), Ontraport and Active Campaign are just a few of them. They offer a number of different price ranges and abilities to integrate with your other software. 

Why should you care? What is the real value of marketing automation? This is what HubSpot says:

  • Seventy-five percent of companies that use marketing automation see a return on investment within 12 months.
  • Sending out relevant emails through marketing automation drives 18 times more revenue than sending email blasts.
  • Companies that excel at lead nurturing through marketing automation generate 50 percent more sales-ready leads, at 33 percent lower cost.

How do other small businesses use marketing automation? Let’s look at some examples.

A cigar lounge wants to suggest new products to its members based on their purchasing history. The marketing automation system sends emails to the customer suggesting cigars based on his or her individual purchase preferences. If they like mild cigars from the Dominican Republic, it might suggest another mild Dominican cigar from a different brand. This information can show up in the consumer’s digital ads, on the website, or in offers, texts, direct mail and emails.

A med spa wants to automatically send educational emails based on the service each client receives to enrich the treatment process and ensure patient success. Marketing automation can do that.

An MLM business owner has company-supplied marketing automation for her product sales, but needs to deliver an entirely different message to her business-owner recruits. She identifies interest through Facebook Advertising, then drives people to a “magnet” download that appeals to anyone who wants to start a home-based business. She can then nurture this prospect with education, encouragement, strategies, invitations to have coffee, and other welcome information.

A consultant nurtures prospects through her intake process by automating the process. If someone gets stymied in the middle of the intake form, marketing automation can alert the consultant and send personalized nudges via email to the prospect. By the time they begin working together, this new customer feels like the consultant has invested significant time in them—but it was really just automation.

A well-designed marketing automation strategy can give your small business the ability to do marketing that is as responsive, personalized and targeted as large digital businesses. With it you can work smart and work harder—and automate it all. iBi

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