The future of marketing is automation.
Possibilities of automation remain to be seen, but a majority already use it for great impact. This series will show you how you can leverage this incredible tool to increase exposure and engage with more people.
Whatever stage your business is in, automation, used strategically, can provide innumerable benefits.
The startup stage is an excellent place to begin using automation: but that doesn’t remove the need for proper planning and research. It’s important to understand where you are as a company, and what automation can and cannot do for you.
Ask questions, as many as you can think of.
Who is my ideal customer, and what are they looking for?
How will my product be different from its competitors?
What is the need or market gap that I will fill?
Each of these questions are jumping-off points, a base from which you can branch out in several directions. Follow these through as far as you can go.
The first question may lead you to consider the demographics of your target audience: their age, interests, careers, etc. From there, you might consider what types of content they engage with (and on which channels)- things you should know when creating any marketing plan.
Know your customers and how you can best provide value.
Make Specific Goals
Once you understand these things, you’re ready to define goals and a budget for your marketing campaign.
Consider where you want to be a month from now, several months from now, and so on. You may want to define a goal based on revenue or sales volume, but, as always, it should be specific and attainable.
You may not always achieve these goals, but that doesn’t make goal setting any less important. They are the benchmarks you use to measure the success of your company and marketing plan, as well as your personal success.
Pay special attention to the areas where you don’t succeed. The most beneficial thing you can do next is determine why you didn’t reach certain goals. Goal setting allows you to learn what works, what doesn’t, and what can be better.
If you reach a point where you feel you are starting to plateau, it can be helpful to look back on your goals- they allow you to see just how far you have come and whether your pace is indeed slowing.
Create a System That Works for You
As a new company, widespread exposure is normally a great concern, and for good reason. With limited capital to work with, you may not have much of a budget; however, with marketing automation, you can achieve greater return with less money.
Using automation often means changing the way you’re used to doing things.
Perhaps you’ve done some marketing before, prospecting for potential customers and managing a social media account and so on. You’ll still be doing these things, but automation allows you to better spend your time for maximum effect.
Decisions to automate, whether changing an existing system or establishing your business processes, should weigh investment (of money and time) with the returned benefit. Your product, ideal customers, and budget will decide where you should focus your attention and what tools you should use, as well as your current stage as a company: in this case, the startup phase.
Tools to Start With
The following are some examples of marketing automation software to consider.
Knowing your company’s product and ideal customers, you may choose to implement some, all, or none of these- though with many benefits and uses of them, I don’t believe it will be the latter.
Inbound Marketing Tools
As a new business, inbound marketing1 should be your main focus.
If, for example, you have a company blog that solves relevant problems potential customers or clients may have, that’s an inexpensive way to build interest in your product or service.
People coming to you, rather than you to them: that is inbound marketing.
Whatever your business model or product, any company today should budget time and money for SEO. It’s your online presence in a world where most people search for businesses or products online; its importance cannot be understated.
A good SEO tool should help you measure your current website’s optimization, seeing where improvements need to be made, and assist in keyword research. For its price (free) and many functions, the new business owner would be hard-pressed to find anything better than the standard Google Analytics.
This software lets you visualize important information all in one place. A lesser known feature, you can even have automated reports sent to your inbox at a frequency and time that you specify.2 When used with Keyword Planner, you can find all the information you need to get started.
Taking a more hands-on approach to finding customers, CRM (customer-relationship management) software is essential when B2B marketing is the key.
Consider using Hubspot: this software keeps track of lead behavior across several platforms, completing tasks in response to specific actions (such as sending a second email when a user clicks through the first one).
HubSpot also provides crucial metrics on the effectiveness of advertising campaigns and more, all of which can be used to optimize your marketing and growth. When you have ideas for social media posts, you can use the software to publish them across all of your platforms at once, rather than posting on each individually.
The greatest benefit of inbound marketing is that it can be personally tailored to your prospects, and is thus more likely to get a response. In addition, it can be very cost-effective: all of the tools above are inexpensive or free.
Outbound Marketing Tools
In contrast to inbound marketing, outbound marketing is often termed “traditional” marketing. Outbound marketing can be more expensive, and many of its tactics are considered outdated (and annoying), but they can still be used to varying effect.
Gone are the days of cold-calling and showing up uninvited on people’s doorsteps- outbound marketing should still be targeted to your customers’ demographics. Your advertisements need to go out to the people most likely to respond.
Reveal is an excellent example of an outbound marketing tool. Many people make the decision to invest in Facebook advertising, and Reveal helps you to achieve the best possible ROI by making actions in response to on-going analytics of your campaigns- automated management.
Think of outbound marketing as a supplement to boost your inbound efforts.
Taking it Further
You know more about your marketing plan and available tools, but that’s only the beginning.
Marketing automation can be invaluable, but, going back to the beginning of the article, you should frequently measure the effectiveness of your campaigns, always asking questions and keeping in mind that what works at the beginning may not work later on.
Also, keep in mind that marketing is just one facet of business in the 21st century that automation can be applied to–workflow management is another of many to consider.
In the next articles, we’ll look into troubleshooting, how to scale your business and marketing efforts, what to do when your business starts to plateau, and more.