Marketing automation is one of the best ways for business owners to save money, time and sanity.
Many business owners get derailed by trying to do too much, or by getting too involved with their marketing.
By automating, they can set many of these repetitive tasks on autopilot, so they can put their creative energy toward tasks and projects that actually need it.
Marketing automation is commonly used in tasks such as lead generation, in the sales funnel process and in nurturing customer relationships through email, direct mail, and other media.
But how exactly can a business owner accomplish excellence through marketing automation?
Let’s take a look at four secrets to marketing automation that will help transform your marketing operations.
The concept of marketing automation can be best understood when it’s broken apart.
Marketing, of course, is the promotion of any type of product or service to get sales. Automation, meanwhile, is when something is set up so it can be done repetitively and without conscious thought.
When putting the two together, one is able to use technology and systems to essentially put repetitive marketing tasks on the back burner. The systems then work for business owners, rather than the other way around.
A famous example that relates to this idea is that of Steve Jobs.
Many people thought it was a means of personal branding for him to wear the same outfit every day—jeans and a black turtleneck. In fact, it was just his means of automating his daily outfit choice, so he didn’t have to expend any additional creative energy on something he ultimately did not feel to be that important.
The same idea is true with marketing automation—it allows small business owners to stop focusing on small things and instead put their minds and energy toward accomplishing big things.
But there are some things that you can’t automate.
We are going to show you which and why.
Secret 1: Don’t automate your entire business, but do automate most of your business.
One of the most common pieces of marketing automation advice is “set it and forget it.” This is only true and helpful to a certain degree.
In general, the businesses that are most successful are the ones that automate tasks on the back end, while allowing the face of the company to stay genuine and not automated. This is where your company should truly shine.
Whoever is leading your company or acts as a “face” of your business should focus on having genuine interactions with customers and being a “real” personality. Customers are easily able to distinguish between authenticity and inauthenticity.
So, while you can automate the kinds of messages that go out, when they go out and who receives them, you cannot automate authenticity; which is why it’s important for businesses to spend some time thinking about what types of limits they place on the “set it and forget it” philosophy of marketing.
There are certain things that are more likely to resonate with a customer, which you should never attempt to automate. First and foremost is identifying your customers’ needs.
Customers always want to feel understood. If they feel understood and that you can provide an answer to their needs, they will keep coming back over and over.
On the flip side, customers never want to feel like they are just another number, or that their needs are just generalized.
This sort of generalization often occurs as a result of poor or ill-advised automation, which is one of the main reasons why business owners need to be extremely careful about how they automate.
An example would be a business owner who sells a service to clients under a “one size fits all” capacity, even if he or she has a lot of different types of clients and marketing targets. Blasting out a message to everyone will only serve to turn off an audience—the business owner should be automating messages to different specific sectors.
It can help to have audiences segment themselves. You might, for example, use a simple survey to ask your audience what they are having problems with. This allows you to quickly place them into different lists based on their pain points.
Again, all of this falls under the category of avoiding the problem of overuse of automation.
Automation is only helpful to a certain extent—you cannot let automation get in the way of genuine interaction and experience.
Secret 2: Don’t automate understanding customers, but do automate nurturing them.
Understanding the needs of your customers is not something you can automate. You need to do your research.
First and foremost, you should identify your target market.
There are a variety of platforms that help you do this. You can do this through Facebook or Amazon analytic tools.
You should seek to understand everything about your audience’s trends, pain points and everything they go through. This will help you figure out the kinds of messages you can automate to specific audience segments.
Amazon customer reviews are especially useful. You can literally take their own words and address their pain points so you can sell to them again.
The most important reviews are those that give 2, 3 or 4 stars. You can basically throw out the 5s and the 1s because they’ve already made up their mind. The 2s, 3s, and 4s are saying their purchase was worthwhile, but there was still something missing.
This presents an opportunity for your business to step in.
When you’re able to go through these reviews, you can see what other companies did well, as well as where they missed the mark, and why the customer was unsatisfied.
Once you have gained this understanding, then you can focus on automating your nurturing tactics.
Create bridge sequences wherein you meet customers where they’re at, address the problem they have and build automation around solving those customers’ problems.
There are some tools that can help make this nurturing automation easier once you are prepared to do so.
Clickfunnels allows you to customize lead pages exactly how you like. You can work on lead generation, selling, creating a membership site, building a sales page or delivering a lead magnet. Any of your automation needs can be met with Clickfunnels.
Actionetics is connected with Clickfunnels, and is essentially email marketing on steroids. As people opt into a lead magnet page, they’ll put in their email address. The software then scrapes the internet to find the target’s social profiles, from which it then pulls information that can help you better market to them.
You can, for example, find out which people are in which types of careers to determine a rough estimate of their annual earnings so you can segment people into lists based on those who make more or less than $100,000 per year.
Secret 3: Don’t automate “you,” but automate the distribution of “you.”
Remember—the definition of “automate” is creating something that works by itself with little or no direct human control, or something that is done or occurs spontaneously without any conscious thought or intention.
How you portray yourself as a brand is extremely important. You have to decide what role you will play.
Just as you understand your customers, you should seek to understand who you are and your position as their “leader.”
Being genuine is a big selling point.
Questions you should ask yourself to ensure all of your marketing is genuine include:
- What jargon will you use?
- What stories will define you?
- What is your background?
- Why are you doing what you’re doing?
- What types of character flaws does your brand have?
- What makes you different from everyone else who’s doing what you’re doing?
- How do you want your customers to perceive you?
- How do you want other figures in your industry to perceive you?
When people ask about the character of your brand, your response should feel completely natural.
Those responses, however, should absolutely be automated.
As a business owner, you simply don’t have time to have 1-on-1 conversations with thousands of potential customers every single day. There are tools that can help you accomplish this, even beyond your traditional email newsletters.
Message bots, for example, work to mimic conversations with customers on Facebook or your website and help them feel understood. The responses you put in are genuine, but they are chosen based on the messages that your customers input.
This isn’t a particularly overpopulated area yet—about 85 to 100 percent of Facebook messages are opened, so this is an opportunity for you to use message bots and make sure your message actually gets delivered to your target.
You also likely don’t have time to be on social media all day long. Fortunately, there is lots of different software you can use to make your audience feel like you’re always there.
Buffer and Hootsuite are two of the most popular—they allow you to set up when and where your social posts will be distributed.
You can set them up months to years in advance if you really want to. This is great if you have evergreen posts or promotional offerings—you can automate those and get them sent out at the exact time of your choice without having to manually log in every single time.
Always keep in mind, of course, that your automation should still have a personal touch to it.
If your engagement begins to drop, this is a sign that you could be over-automating and be losing some of the personal feels of your business. You might see fewer reactions or comments on your Facebook pages, or have more people unsubscribe from your newsletter.
If people are not excited about what you’re doing and engaging with your online activity, they’re probably not going to turn into paying customers. So make sure you never lose touch of who “you” are at the expense of increasing automation.
Secret 4: Don’t automate all of your sales copy, but do automate the building and design of your funnels.
Remember: generic doesn’t sell—genuine does.
You must deeply understand the product you are selling and why your customers need it.
The way you present yourself and your product should be intentional.[video-full-widht]
Kathryn Jones Reviews The Copywriting And Design Of Two Popular Landing Pages from Kyle Gray on Vimeo. [/video-full-widht]
That being said, there are tools you can use to expedite your writing process.
There are tools that allow you to quickly generate funnel scripts—simply fill in the blanks and tweak them to fit your audience. This is another great place where you can make use of Amazon reviews, Facebook posts, and general audience commentary.
You should automate the building and design of your funnels. Even if you have an amazing copy, your webpage will not sell if it doesn’t look good.
There have been a lot of studies done on this idea, including a popular one at Stanford that showed that about 90 percent of how people judge a website’s credibility is based on its design.
So, if you have people coming to your website and think it looks unprofessional, they’ll almost immediately leave, giving you a very high bounce rate.
One way to automate the design of your funnels is through a process called “design hacking.”
In this process, you go to other websites you know are successful and basically “hack” the structure of their design, then put your own sales copy into it.
As a smaller or new business looking to spike your sales, you should absolutely base your design on what other people have done and have had success with—there’s no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to your funnel design. You don’t have to spend a ton of time or money learning design skills—you just need to know how design and structure lead to success.
The template you get can help you get started—you just need to add in your own personality by altering some design elements and implementing your copy.
If you have the right tools, you can recreate basic funnel pages in mere minutes.
Business owners must maintain a constant balance with regard to automation, automating as much as they can while understanding there are pitfalls to over-automation.
The best automators and most successful businesses are those that automate the right things, not everything.
“Set it and forget it” is just not the way to go. Instead, set the right things and forget the right things—that’s where you’ll find success.
Start by automating your lead generation process, and then you can move on to your sales sequence and nurturing.
Be clear on who you are and the message you wish to get across, and your customers will respond well.
Kyle Gray is an entrepreneur and bestselling author who helps startups and small businesses grow with storytelling and content marketing. He has helped hundreds of startups and small businesses create scalable content marketing strategies. His book The Story Engine outlines his process for making content marketing and brand storytelling easy and effective.