What Is Marketing Automation & How Can It Help You?
Marketing Automation is the ability to automate repetitive activities in your business, particularly ones that you’d typically perform manually.
This could take the form of automated emails, tasks, SMSs, posts, call reminders and the list goes on.
We’re going to cover all the areas of your business that marketing automation touches on, share examples, plus talk about the software side of things to make this happen for you.
Small Business Automation
Automation can be setup to deliver on key functions within the marketing and broader areas of your small business.
- Lead Generation – automatically capturing of new prospects/leads
- Marketing – educating and nurturing your leads
- Email Marketing – sending messages/communications via email to prospects/customers
- Sales – converting those leads/prospects/ customers to buy your product/services
- Ecommerce – the act of processing payment for products/services
- Fulfillment – delivering the products/services that someone has purchased
- Referrals – asking for referrals
- Affiliates – helping others promote your business
Marketing Automation Examples
There is an endless list of possibilities with marketing automation and I wanted to share some examples to give you a sense of what it’s all about.
This could take the form of:
- Follow up an inquiry automatically from your website
- Sending out a daily video series via email for one week
- Emailing your entire subscriber list about your latest blog post
- Sending out follow up emails to someone who has expressed interest in a product/service so they can buy online
- Sending out a quote to a prospect where they can accept/decline online
- Delivering welcome emails to a new client automatically after they purchase
- Asking a customer for feedback after they consume a product/service, then based on that feedback then follow up with them accordingly (e.g. good feedback – ask for a referral)
Some more advanced functionality could include:
- If they watch a promo video and get to the call to action, then we can create a task for a sales person to give them a call
- A contact can click a link in an email and automatically be registered for your upcoming webinar
- If a contact engages with your content a lot, they can be classified as a hot lead and you can be notified or they can go into a special follow up that’s more tailored to hot prospects
- If a contact isn’t engaging with us anymore, we can re-engage them to try and get them back involved with our brand
- If a prospect is checking out your sales page, you can be notified for a sales rep to reach out
- If a monthly subscriber hasn’t attended a webinar in the last 3 months as part of their program delivery, a reach out campaign can be created to reduce the risk of drop off/cancellations
And of course, the list goes on….
The above examples are ones we have delivered for our clients that use Infusionsoft, however as you can imagine the list of possibilities is truly endless!
Why Worry About Marketing Automation?
Marketing automation as demonstrated can be used in various ways to help transform a small business.
Here are some of the high-level reason’s why should you worry about marketing automation:
- Save Time – by tapping into technology to deliver emails/tasks etc, it means that you can save time on labour costs, with software delivering automatically instead of having to pay hourly/salary staff to perform the same thing that’s being done again and again in your business
- Leverage – you can leverage a system/process in order to do things potentially just once and have the system do every other instance of this automatically for you
- Consistency – by setting up systems/processes and using them, it does increase the chance of creating a more consistent experience for prospects and customers
- Fill Gaps – effective marketing automation will fill critical gaps that most businesses have, particularly after a new lead approaches and isn’t ready to buy yet. Marketing automation can be used to create follow up to educate, nurture and then offer when your prospects are ready.
- Focus on Hot Leads – there are only so many hours in the day. An effective marketing automation setup will help you to identify who your hot leads are and spent time on them, instead of wasting time on contacts that may not be ready yet.
Marketing automation is one type of business software that small businesses use.
Whatever system you invest in, in your business, you want to make sure it helps your business and is not just a financial burden every month.
Common business software that pretty much all growing small business needs include:
- CRM (Customer Relationship Management) – this is a central database used to store contact information, record historical interactions, automatic repetitive tasks and create alerts for future actions.
- Marketing – this is where you setup, use and track your automated marketing activities
- Sales Pipeline – this is where you manage all your sales opportunities to know how many you’ve got in which stage and conversions between stages
- Ecommerce – where you process payments for clients
- Accounting – this is where you track your financial records and generate financial reports needed for government/tax/accounting purposes
- Email – this is where you send and receive emails
- Website – your external site that communicates with the market who you are and what you do (and potentially where you sell your products/services)
- Calendar – ability to record appointments/meetings centrally
- File Storage – where you store your company related information and files
- Task / Project Management (if applicable) – where you distribute and manage work within your team
- Internal Communication Channel – how are you communicating with your fellow team members
- Other – which could include industry specific software
If you are looking to purchase any software, including Marketing Automation software, you have you some critical factors you should consider.
Any investment in technology takes money, time and energy.
Choosing the wrong one can be incredibly costly, particularly for a small business.
Check out some of these considerations we recommend when selecting a marketing automation software.
Some factors that you must keep in mind include:
- Goal – what are you trying to achieve? You must start here! Why are you now looking for a system? What problem do you want it to solve? g. we’re not following up with our leads and we’re wasting $’s on advertising and our conversions are woeful.
- Functionality – what are your specific requirements? Do you just want to send emails out to your database? Do you want to setup some automated follow up so it happens without you manually triggering it? Do you want to automatically assign leads to a team and be able to manage them instead of doing every sales call yourself etc. What are the specific requirements that are mandatory? What would be nice to have?
- Contacts – how many contacts do you have in your database right now? Based on the current growth and initiatives that you have planned, how many more contacts do you anticipate having in 2 years’ time?
- Email – how many emails per month are you sending? Will that increase or decrease once you setup more automation?
- Users – how many staff members need access to the system? This could be to setup automation or just for a user to have access to your CRM.
- Ownership – who is going to own the software internally (even if you get someone else to build it out for you, someone internally must have responsibility for it)?
- Cost Of Inaction – What’s the real cost to your business by not having marketing automation in place right now? How many hours will you get back by automating a manual process (e.g. scheduling appointments)? How many leads are you losing due to no follow up in place? How many sales are you not converting because you’re not asking? How many clients on retainers/recurring revenue are you missing out on because you’re not seeing the warning signs before they cancel? Be clear on what it’s costing you right now by not having marketing automation setup. Be realistic with yourself. If you got that setup, what savings or additional revenue could you achieve?
- Software Costs – If the responses above mean that you can generate more business or save in labour costs by automating manual tasks, then it might be worthwhile looking at a marketing automation software. There some costs involved in setting up any new system, even if it’s internal to do it yourself. Plus, most software has ongoing fees to continue to access the automation technology.
You’ve got to then weigh it up, based on the opportunity and taking action, what additional revenue/bottom line impact will you make? Then what is the initial and ongoing cost of marketing automation? Finally, what’s the average value of a customer for you? How many customers would you need or how many hours of $ savings do you need to recoup your investment?
We’ve had some clients who have spent over $20k with us. But the average value of a customer is worth that much. So, do you think what we’ve setup has helped them generate at least one customer? Hell yes! We’ve helped them double their business in fact! So, be sure to know your numbers and get clear on what you need to make an educated decision.
Infusionsoft is one system that can help you implement marketing automation in your business.
If you’re looking for an all-in-one system for sales and marketing, then this is a solid platform that should review.
I do want to add a comment though.
There is not a system out there that covers EVERYTHING that EVERYONE needs.
It’s just the way it is, unfortunately.
However, Infusionsoft does a pretty good job ticking off several the functions that any small business needs.
The following table highlights the various business software area that you’d typically need, what functionality Infusionsoft has and what’s some extra cool stuff that’s possible.
|Business Software||Infusionsoft Functionality||Extra Cool Stuff Infusionsoft Does...|
|CRM||Infusionsoft create contacts records for your prospects, customers, suppliers automatically from optins/sign ups on your website, plus you can track data, historical interactions and set future follow up alerts||Infusionsoft allows for powerful segmentation – which means if you want to target a select group that’s interested in going on holidays in the Bahamas, you can do that. Plus, you’ve got the ability to setup your own rules to determine if someone is hot or not and follow up accordingly|
|Marketing||Infusionsoft has a powerful function called Campaign Builder, which allows you to create your own automated workflows tailored to your specific business||Creating something from scratch can be a little daunting, but Infusionsoft also has a marketplace, that you can import proven automation templates that you can customize yourself and launch|
|Sales Pipeline||Ability to setup your own key sales stages to your business, complete a round robin so sales staff get split leads and can manage opportunities and forecast potential revenue for sales||Gain visibility of how many opportunities you have in each sales stage, which can help flag when you need to do more marketing if you don’t have enough leads in the sales process, plus helps identify any issues with conversions between certain stages|
|Ecommerce||Ability to use the Infusionsoft Storefront/Shopping Cart for multi-product purchases and Order Forms for single product/service purchases||You can send out an email with a link to an order form and the customer can pay themselves and be trigger into a customer delivery campaign (and be sent a tax invoice) automatically – pretty cool right?!?! Another cool feature, for ongoing subscriptions (e.g. Group Program), a client’s credit card get charged automatically every month on their renewal date and if it fails, you can setup to be notified or you can setup follow up that automatically goes out to the client if that happens|
|Accounting||Infusionsoft tracks sales in Ecommerce, but it doesn’t replace the need for an accounting system to track expenses and other revenue etc||There are integrations available that pushes sales transactions into popular online accounting software such as Xero|
|Infusionsoft is an email marketing software and can easily send one off emails, bulk emails to a targeted group of contacts as a one-off communication or as scheduled follow up over time||There are syncs available with Outlook and Gmail to give users the option to capture the full history of email communications in Infusionsoft’s CRM.|
|Website||Infusionsoft does not replace your businesses website, however businesses can use Infusionsoft’s landing pages feature to create custom sign up pages or use their wordpress plugin or webforms to embed into current pages on your site to capture leads and get them into your CRM||With Infusionsoft recent focus on creating a landing page tool reduces the need and extra expense for small businesses to have to spend additional money on a landing page software.|
|Calendar||Appointments/meetings can be stored on a contact record and this will be automatically added into the Infusionsoft user calendar that can be synced to your own Google/Outlook calendar||Infusionsoft doesn’t replace your normal calendar, but does allow you to see the history on a contact record of meetings/appointments done by you and other team members|
|File Storage||Out of the box Infusionsoft’s CRM allows users to manually add/store files on the contact record, so all users have visibility of that information (e.g. agreements)||There are integrations available that you can push files to be automatically uploaded onto a contact’s record|
|Task/Project Management||Infusionsoft CRM allows you to create tasks on an individual contact.|
There are some work around for some project management that are possible within the system, however most use another tool for that.
|This doesn’t cover all tasks that staff members need to complete as part of their job, however by having these on the contact record, it provides a central up to date record of activities happening with that contact. These tasks can also be synced with popular calendar options (so not only can you see the task in Infusionsoft but you can be reminded in Outlook calendar that you need to call Suzie today)|
|Internal Communications Channel||Apart from using Infusionsoft CRM to make staff notes on a contact’s file, other communication tools are needed for this||You’ve got the ability to apply a note or create a task and assign it to another user. This means you don’t need to manually notify the other team member via email/phone/speaking that they need to do something, they can see the original entry and be prompted that it’s now with them.|
|Other||Infusionsoft has an open API, which means the software can be integrated with other systems so you don’t need to manually export data from one system and do a mass import/update or even worse manually update this||Examples of powerful integrations available include membership sites, reporting dashboards, event tools, SMS integrations and the list goes on – all designed to make systems talk to each other reducing the need for manual work.|
Marketing Automation is designed to make your life easier as a small business owner.
You’re busy wearing multiple hats and I hope you’ve started to get some ideas about where marketing automation in your business can help you to keep and convert more sales, plus save you a heap of time in the process.
(NOTE: Ready to use more automation in your business to make more sales with less effort – even if you don’t have a fancy system? Check out the Marketing Automation Game Plan and discover in this free 3-part video series the proven steps you must follow to successfully transform your business with automation. Learn more now.)