Small businesses are often heavily reliant on their marketing - particularly in the early stages - for generating interest, reaching out to potential leads, and keeping your message in front of their eyes.
As many small businesses do not have their own marketing team, or necessarily the time to follow through with every potential lead, having some of the key tasks automated can make a huge difference not only to the time spent, but also on conversion rate and ultimately, sales.
Until recently, Marketing Automation (the process of setting up systems which automate many of the processes within your marketing workflow and nurture leads with 'drip flow' marketing techniques) has been the domain of those with deep pockets - mainly owing to the high prices charged by the key suppliers in the market. In November 2014, Mautic changed that. The tables are turning, and now Marketing Automation is within reach of all businesses, large or small. The missing tool from your toolbox has arrived, and now you need to learn how it could help you grow your business!
What is Marketing Automation?
Quite simply, Marketing Automation refers to software which is designed to help organisations to market to multiple channels in a coherant, strategic way, while automating many of the repeatable aspects of a campaign - such as sending emails, providing resources, and keeping in touch with a new lead.
The aim of Marketing Automation is obviously to reduce workload and improve efficiency, but also to reduce the chance for human error and increase the chance of new prospects converting into sales.
There are usually three elements to a successful Marketing Automation platform:
Knowing what your potential prospects have been doing on your website, how they are using social media, what's going on in their lives, can be a huge benefit when trying to move the prospect through the sales funnel to conversion. The more that is known about their behaviour on your website, the more you can gauge if they are really interested, or just visited one page and left. Understanding which links in email campaigns have been clicked on by a prospect can also inform how likely they are to convert, what they are interested in, and whether they engage with your content.
Understanding a prospect outside of your 'bubble' and getting into their world can provide valuable insights, and allow them to be approached as a warm contact rather than a cold call.
All of this is possible by gathering 'Marketing Intelligence' with a range of methods including tracking pixels, analytics, and so forth.
Once a prospect has shown interest, the next steps in the marketing process focus on moving the prospect from the 'top of the funnel' as a cold lead to the 'bottom of the funnel' as a sale-ready potential customer. This can be done through regular communication in the form of email marketing, social media engagement - even in-person meetings. Marketing Automation brings together many technical tools to streamline this process, sending out automated emails at predefined times in the sales process, and informing the intelligence aspect what happens to the emails - were they opened? Did they click the links?
Automating the workflow in a marketing campaign involves making the internal processes flow automatically, with minimal input from the marketer who sets up the system. This can include a whole range of things from managing a calendar which shows which leads need nurturing when, through to planning for asset creation and budgets. Often this involves linking with a Customer Relationship Manager or other system to set up tasks which require manual processing - such as designing assets, creating landing pages and setting up advertising campaigns on social channels.
What does a Marketing Automation System include?
Marketing Automation systems will often include all the tools necessary to achieve the tasks above. For example, the ability to:
- Create landing pages
- Insert lead generation forms
- Track visitors across a range of web properties
- Build a lead profile by drawing on CRM and social media data
- Set up predefined workflows
- Create assets which can be shared and tracked in campaigns
- Integrate with email platforms for the sending of campaigns
- Integrate with analytics systems to track and monitor traffic to web properties
What does a Marketing Automation system offer the small business?
It's my opinion that small businesses stand to reap the most benefit from a well-crafted Marketing Automation campaign - with an input of time and energy at the start to set up the system, create assets and workflows and integrate sign-up forms within a website, the system can then be left to work its magic, with new workflows being added as and when required.
This can often mean that the user can have a marketing professional set up the system on their behalf and, with some basic training, be able to manage the system independently going forward.
Automating the marketing process also frees up time to enable the business owner to follow up on their newfound leads, and get on with running their business.
How do I get started with Marketing Automation?
If you'd like to know more about getting started with Marketing Automation and how it could help your business, why not find a Mautic Meetup near you? Check out http://mautic.meetup.com/ and get signed up! I'll shortly be publishing a series of articles on how to use Mautic, which will take you step by step through the process - keep up to date by following my social media feeds!