How long should it take to automate your marketing

You’ve all already heard of marketing automation platforms and tools developed for one reason only – to make marketing more efficient.

These advanced marketing automation tools help us market through multiple channels and help us automate repetitive tasks. This saves time and enables us to design and execute timely and data-backed marketing campaigns.

Marketing automation usage is growing at an astonishing rate and, as reported in 2017, 67% of marketing leaders currently use a marketing automation platform.

Also, another research from the last year showed that 70% of those who use marketing automation found that improved targeting of messages is the most important benefit of automated marketing campaigns. Along with this, marketing automation enables us to target potential customer across multiple online and offline channels and helps us reduce the staffing costs by setting up automatically triggered campaigns.

Automation-friendly marketing activities

Many people associate marketing automation with email marketing automation as automated email campaigns are well-known to every marketer out there. But the truth is, you can apply marketing automation to much more. Many marketing activities are automation-friendly and, if used properly, marketing automation platform such as smoove can forever change the ways you do marketing.

As an all-in-one marketing automation platform, smoove is a tool which enables businesses to grow with its four core solutions: marketing automation, email marketing, SMS marketing, and landing page solutions.

This means more time for your team to focus on the tasks that still need to be handled by humans. Think of developing a strategy or creating content. Also, when necessary, engaging in a direct, human-to-human communication with prospects and customers.

How to automate your marketing with smoove

We all know that the benefits of marketing automation are many. But it’s often challenging for businesses to quickly set up and start running automated marketing campaigns.

So if you’re considering marketing automation for your company (and you should!), it’s important to have a good understanding of how long it should take to automate your marketing, or which steps to undertake to get started with marketing automation:

#1 Centralize and segment your customers’ database

Your first task is to collect all of your contacts in one place. Don’t forget those paper sign-ups from your recent event and various business cards you have laying on your desk. After completing the list, import it into the marketing automation software. Segment each group by criteria which is important for your business. This can be their location, expressed interests in your business and products, stage in the buying process and more.

Never forget that email lists and segmentation are the foundation of effective marketing automation. Actually, it’s best to put it this way: The automation makes sense only with segmentation of your target audience – whether we talk about potential leads, existing leads or current customers.

With smoove, you can easily import your contacts from an Excel sheet or directly from your Gmail and segment your contacts into different lists based on any wanted criteria and the previously collected data. This feature also enables you to subscribe each contact to the multiple lists you may have.

Another great thing offered by smoove is that our Contacts menu includes a powerful search engine you can use to query your contacts according to different fields. You can bundle each search result into a new list you can later use for your marketing purposes.

#2 Capture and nurture your leads

To grow your email list(s) and make the best use of those lists you already have, you will need to capture leads from your forms. These can be newsletter opt-in boxes, “Contact us” pages and more, but usually, those are custom-made landing pages where your visitors can get something valuable in exchange for their personal information.
Good news is that smoove has a solution for this one too!

Smoove’s landing page builder is a simple and effective tool designed to advance your marketing campaigns and capture your visitor’s contact information easier than ever. It enables you to simply design your landing page by using its modular template system. You can add a customized registration form and define which list of the subscribers it will be directed to.

This tool is designed for marketers who need an efficient and reliable tool to support and execute their campaigns. Along with its drag-and-drop interface, simple forms and pre-designed templates, smoove’s landing page builder is enriched with a bunch of smart hacks such as easy-to-add CTA buttons, social media buttons and more.

#3 Set triggers and actions

Triggers are defined conditions which can spark the desired action from a specific marketing automation solution. For example, the trigger can be your customer’s birthday. It can prompt your automation software to send out a discount offer as a birthday gift via email. One of the simplest triggers is an opt-in form for an email newsletter. It will result in action – your email automation tool sending that prospect a welcome email!

With the help of smoove’s marketing automation tool, you can use customer data and behavior as a trigger to set conditions and respond with appropriate actions in a few simple steps. This feature has a very convenient drag-and-drop interface so you can easily add and remove email lists and individual subscribers, send out automatic emails based on the landing page responses and provide a relevant, personalized experience for each member of your target audience.

With smoove you can also maximize your customer experience by setting multi-triggered actions. Depending on your visitor interaction with your offer (such as an email or landing page form) you can create multiple actions (put a user on a different list, send a specific response via email, etc.)

#4 Create automated workflows

Automated workflow is a preset series of automated actions which enables you to send the right message to the right customer at the right time. Your job is to determine the scenarios and conditions in which the workflow would best serve your needs, set it up and let the smoove’s email marketing automation tool do the rest.

For example, these can be a welcome email series for your new subscribers. The first email should be welcoming. The second can contain more information on your business or potentially offer a one-time discount. Finally, you can ask your subscriber to provide more personal data so you can serve them better. This will provide you with valuable data for the further segmentation and more personalized approach to that very subscriber.

Same goes for the drip email campaigns for the customers that just purchased from you. You can start with an automated ‘Thank you’ email. Follow that with an email providing them with more information on the product (such as guides, how-to videos, etc.). Round it up with an email with educational resources such as your blog or a free eBook.

Smoove has a simple answer to this one too. Its Autoresponders tool helps you set different triggers that will automatically launch email campaigns you have in place. You can send these series of emails to an individual customer or to a specific list of customers. Along with setting up drip campaigns, this tool enables you to automatically send out reminders. Think birthday cards and other special event emails. These can significantly improve the customer experience with your brand.

Wrap Up

In 2018, you can apply marketing automation to much more than just emails. Other marketing activities are automation-friendly too. With the all-in-one marketing automation tool like smoove, you can find an efficient way to automate them, too.

Smoove enables businesses to grow with its other core solutions such as marketing automation, SMS marketing, and landing page solutions.

Still, to start automating your marketing the right way and in shortest possible time, you will need to undertake these 4 steps:

  • Organize your customer’s database, import it into smoove and segment your customers in order to fulfill their specific needs
  • Capture and nurture your leads via strategically crafted landing pages and convert more customers than ever
  • Set triggers and actions for your workflows with smoove’s marketing automation tool
  • Create workflows and send the relevant, timely offers to the specific audience/li>

How to Get Started with Social Media Marketing

If there is one thing that is hard about creating a presence on social media for your small business – it is getting started. This is particularly true nowadays, when social media is as diverse as never before. However, the good news is that the majority of your customers and potential customers have coalesced in the major social media channels, making it a missed opportunity not to be present on platforms (such as Facebook) where the party is currently going on without you (and with your competitors while at it).

This post will help you figure out where you should be present, and how to take the first steps to creating a community around your small business. First things first: Why bother?

There are a few reasons. First and foremost:

  1. The power of words of mouth. Your current customers are your biggest asset – you already know that. But how many of their friends and family know they’re your customers? Probably their very close social network, if at all. But if they talk about your business with their social media network, that’s hundreds of strangers now hearing about your business. By being present on social media you can create that impact simply by leveraging what you’re already doing anyway. People trust recommendations from peers more than any other form of advertising. If you’re already selling to people, why not make it easy for them to become your ambassadors?
  2. You’re losing some of your current customers by not being present. Nowadays customers expect any business to provide customer support on social media.
  3. Your competitors are there.

There are so many channels and such little time, how can you tell where to focus your efforts?

Learning where your customers and potential customers hang out is the first step towards building successful social media community. Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Snapchat those are the most popular social media platforms out there. There are plenty of social media platforms to choose from, and without a mouth-watering budget and a team of dozens, it is virtually impossible to use them all. But there’s no need to panic – you don’t need to be everywhere. What you need to do is narrow your choices down, and you do that by analyzing your current and potential customers. Who are they, where do they hang out online? Ask your customers, maybe even give them a discount or a special offer if they would answer a short survey. If you want to opt for a default network, start by creating a  Facebook business page – with more than two billion active monthly users, Facebook is the world’s largest social media platform and as such, for most small business that aren’t super niche – it’s a safe choice (and one that most businesses shouldn’t overlook).

How to open a Facebook page

Opening a Facebook page for your small business shouldn’t take longer than 5 minutes. Here is a link to do so. You’ll need to think of a short description for your business and to upload a profile picture and a cover photo.

Facebook page setupImage credit: Facebook

How to get people to follow your brand or product

Of course, setting up the business blocks for your social presence isn’t enough. You’ll now need to gather a following.  There are a few quick hacks that’ll help you do just that:

  • Invite all your customers to follow you on social media
    • If you have a local store, add an invite to your printed receipts, wrapping papers, bags etc. Also, encourage people to “check-in” to your business and to share photos of their experience (offer them a loyalty reward in return).
    • If you send out emails, add invites through them. If you have a database of customer emails, send them all an email inviting them to join your new social media community.
    • When speaking with customers, mention your new social community.
  • Encourage your current customers to invite their friends to join your social community.
  • Advanced tip: buy an ad to target relevant audiences and invite them to join your social media community.

The type of content you should publish

Despite what you might think, there is a lot of content that’s already at your disposal simply by being there in your business. You social media community is the insider’s club for your customers and potential customers. Start publishing content that will appeal to your customers and potential customers. This could be:

  • Behind the scenes pictures of the day to day of your product or brand. You can also use your smartphone to shoot short videos and share them
  • Customer spotlights – choose a loyal customer and thank them publicly
  • Share social community members only benefits discounts and rewards

Don’t worry about making this pixel perfect. Social media is about being authentic and “rough” so you can upload what you may not feel comfortable publishing anywhere else.

Codes of conduct

  • When engaging with your social media followers let the following rules guide you:
    – If they asked you a question, make sure to provide a proper and timely answer.
  • try to solve customer problems as quickly and painlessly as possible. Depending on the media in use, throw a little sprinkle of comedy relief around your activities.
  • Always attempt to show the human side of our business – that is the best way to connect with your customers and create a long-lasting, meaningful relationship.

Adding paid advertising to the mix

All of the above mentioned things will help you reach your current and potential customers on the place they spend a lot of their time – social media. However, it’s worth noting that there’s a glass ceiling you might get curious about shattering with time. Nowadays there’s a limit to the amount of people you’ll be able to reach without having to pay for exposure. Don’t let this discourage you – being on social media is crucial with or without paid efforts and as you’ve hopefully learned by reading this post, there’s a lot you can do that can help your small business grow.

Summing things up

There is a lot of untapped potential on social media and it’s actually very easy to join the party. By leveraging your largest asset – your current customers, you can build a thriving community around your product or service and turn your customers to your ambassadors. Don’t be afraid to get started, experiment and be authentic. People will appreciate it and with time, you’ll reap the rewards of your efforts.

The potential of your mailing list

It may seem obvious that each business has a customer database – a list of present and past customers or of interested people who left their details, to whom you can send email marketing messages. Business owners have already learned to value the importance of keeping in touch with their customers. However, the benefits of using mailing lists and the frequency of sending email marketing messages are sometimes underestimated.

A business’s income depends on customers.
Those who joined your mailing list. are customers who showed the highest level of responsiveness to your brand or service (purchased it or researched it). However, some businesses don’t realize the full potential of their email marketing mailing lists. This can include businesses whose owners or marketers are waiting for a significant sale or an important update to justify an email marketing campaign when in fact maintaining continuous contact regardless to special offers is the key for an ongoing success of the business.

Directing marketing efforts (and budget) towards brand new customers who haven’t yet heard of the brand may seem reasonable. After all, the customers in the mailing list are already “bought” and others may not be. However, the opposite is true – sure it’s important that customers know of your brand’s existence, but it’s even more important that they purchase the product and recommend it to others.

If your mailing list is “dormant”, if you don’t contact your customers regularly in order to offer benefits or even a professional tip; then you’re missing the greatest advantage of managing mailing lists and email marketing campaigns – keeping the business at the forefront of the customer’s awareness and generating repurchases!

Where is the mailing list located on the ROI axis?

ATL Advertising – traditional media
Exposure: television, newspapers, radio and billboards.
Cost: as a rule advertising in these media is very expensive.
Benefit: the advertisement will be exposed to the general public (and not directed to a specific segmented target audience).

BTL Advertising – internet; outdoor; direct marketing etc.
Exposure: an internet banner, a viral video, a sponsored advertisement, email marketing.
Cost: usually cheaper than traditional media.
Benefit: the message can be directed to specific audience segments according to the type of websites where the ad is displayed (each website usually directs at a specific target audience)

Out of all elements in the internet media, email marketing is the most cost effective
Exposure: delivering an email marketing message into the personal inbox or a text message to the mobile phone of every potential customer.
Cost: delivering information packages via an email marketing system offer highly attractive prices which are much lower than those of the traditional media as well as other internet media elements.
Benefit: Selecting specific target audiences such as past customers or interested customers only. Updating the list’s relevance according to the recipient’s statistics: how many recipients have opened/read/clicked a link and who they are?

Advertising via an email marketing system makes it possible to reach a large range of relevant customers (those whose interests are relevant to your brand or those who are already familiar with the brand), at the lowest price (the price of a monthly email marketing package).

Improving and collecting data using a registration form

Collecting customer details into an email marketing list and maintaining a continuous relationship with them is an important and inseparable part of the email marketing strategy for all businesses – both small and large. Nowadays, one of the most common and worthwhile advertising routes is email marketing. This type of marketing is cheaper and more target orientated (from the business’s point of view) and less of a hassle (from the customer’s point of view).
However, apart from the ever growing awareness of the advantages of email marketing, it’s important that business owners develop the flexibility to manage their mailing lists constantly and dynamically as they need to fiercely and constantly compete for the customer’s attention.

Generally, managing customer relations is a dynamic area. Thanks to advanced technology which provides marketers with many new ways to win the customer over – managing customer relations in digital media is even more dynamic and competitive. In the past we wouldn’t even think about saving customers details. In the not so distant past, the word “leads” wasn’t even included in the marketing vocabulary. Today any business owner knows that in addition to swiping the customer’s credit card, he or she should also get the their contact details in order to send email marketing messages and interest them in new products and sale offers and to nourish a relationship that will converts them into a returning customer.

Which details should be collected for an email marketing list?
The answer to this question varies according to the type of business and its areas of activity. Are you communicating with customers only via email marketing or do you also have a telemarketing center? Do you base your sale offers solely on age and gender or do you also consider factors such as residency, previous purchases and other, more specific characteristics?

Improving the business? Improve the quality of customer details as well.
Perhaps when you established your email marketing list and collected the customer’s details you weren’t too demanding and were satisfied with just their name and email address. But what do you do when the marketing strategy develops and changes and you decide that you need to start a telemarketing campaign and you don’t have the phone numbers or that they are incorrect or out of date. You could also decide to send customers a birthday greeting or even a special birthday offer, but you don’t have their dates of birth. Maybe your customers have moved or changed their mobile phone numbers, and the last thing they thought about was to update you… (No offence).

Verifying and updating customer details using a registration form.
It’s easy to update customer details when you have an email marketing system account. To be sure that you have the most up-to-date customer information, simply ask your customers to verify or update the details in a simple process. Send an email marketing message explaining that you’re interested in updating their details on the data base. In the newsletter, add a link to a landing page which includes a registration form. True – the customer has already filled this out in the past but this form is meant to verify and update details. The new form will contain data fields that are missing or fields that require verification or updating, such as: phone number, date of birth, anniversary date, does the customer have a driving license, what has the customer purchased recently or any other detail you find necessary to enhance and promote your customer relations strategy.

Email marketing with Added Value

If you business owners or business marketers who send newsletters to thousands of customers each week, you must have asked yourselves more than once – is the recipient going to read my newsletter? Is he or she going to enjoy it in a way that will motivate towards action? And more than that – how can i make them interested in visiting links or sharing the content over the internet?

In order to answer these questions we need to consider what makes an email marketing message successful? And is it really enough to settle for just successful, or should we aspire for more? After all, sale offers and benefits are a very necessary element in any email marketing message, and they are usually predictable and mundane. One way to distinguish your email marketing concept from others is to incorporate added value.

Delete or read?

Your recipients want value for their money, and without a doubt they also want value for their time. Your job, when you write and design your email marketing campaign, is to identify what added value they will be most happy to receive. Many times, creating the newsletter using an email marketing system provides design and technological advantages that will upgrade your mail.

Added value ads to customer loyalty.
In order to achieve your business goals, customers must identify in the newsletter the benefits offered to them for performing the action they are requested to take. First of all, emphasize the value of your product without overestimating or underestimating it. Secondly, provide your recipient with added value, something additional which is likely to interest him or her, which they can enjoy regardless of whether they take any requested action. This added value and the fact that it is given without requiring anything in return, will create a positive relationship with the brand and make a positive impression that will increase the probability of purchase; if not now, then in the future.

Isn’t my product good enough?

It’s far too simplistic to think that the fact customers joined your email marketing list suggests that they know your product or love it. They may have joined because you offered a benefit or they received a recommendation about the quality of the product or even about the quality of the content you tend to send. That’s exactly why it’s the business’s duty to prove that the choice made by the customer to create the relationship was worthwhile… and to do that time and again! After all – just as the customers signed up to receive your email marketing messages, they can also remove themselves from the list if they’re disappointed.

There’s no doubt that customers love gifts, benefits, special offers, discounts etc. but apart from this, it is possible and recommended to supply emotional value. Otherwise, as soon as customers receive a better offer from a competitor, they’ll have no problem moving to the other side. It never hurts to wrap the sale offer or the benefit in added value – something separate from the quality of the product or service.

How do you create email marketing with added value?
Useful content – content should be written according to the typical areas of interest and goals of the target market. Useful content is professional information or advice which can benefit the customer during his or her day or while fulfilling his or her goals.

“Bonding” content – content of an emotional nature that generates openness or assists the customer in perceiving the business as having similar emotional qualities to their own. For example: an intriguing or romantic story, a funny joke, a wise insight etc.

Useful or bonding content usually create a desire for sharing (so your email marketing message will reach far more recipients than you had originally intended), and sometimes even create a connection which is translated into fondness towards the product, without knowing much about it.

Another type of added value is simply writing from the heart: let the customer feel important, valued, understood… and of course, let the communication be bilateral and listen to customers who respond and share with you their opinions and feelings towards the business or the brand.