For small business leaders and entrepreneurs, getting everything checked off your marketing to-do list can feel like you’re losing a heated (and high-stakes) game of a whack-a-mole. For each item you complete, two or three more spring up, and prioritizing doesn’t help when they’re all mission-critical. Fortunately, there’s a way to drastically improve your marketing efficiency while getting you the results you need to create a successful business.
Today’s automation technology can help you focus on important tasks while letting computer software handle the grunt work. You’ll still need to create the content that will drive prospective customers through your sales funnel, but a whole host of other time-consuming, menial tasks can be set on autopilot.
Instead of spending one or two afternoons per week performing mind-numbing data entry, computer software can handle it while posting to your social media accounts right on schedule and automatically following up with prospects via email when they perform certain actions.
Global spending on marketing automation is expected to exceed $32 billion by the end of 2018, according to Statista.com. As more solutions are created and competition in the space increases, vendors are focused on driving increased ROI for their customers. Because marketing automation software has a relatively low total cost of ownership, it’s likely that your competitors are already using it or beginning to look into the various solutions available.
Don’t Wait — Automate
The sooner you turn to automation, the sooner you’ll reap the returns from spending time where it matters most. To implement the right automation solution, follow these steps.
- Find software that’s tailored to your industry.
Many automation solutions will be industry-specific, such as AVALA Marketing Group’s recently launched Aimbase app designed for manufacturers who work with dealer networks and need to manage initiatives to attract new prospects and follow up with post-sale surveys and marketing. Depending on your industry, open API software such as Autopilot could be ideal because it has customizable options. With open API software, you can run an app that uses predictive insights to find leads in your database. The software will even compose a personalized email campaign or direct leads to your sales representatives.
- Segment your subscribers.
Say your email list has 1,000 subscribers. That’s good news! The problem is, you can’t send out one email that’s relevant to all of them. Instead, you’ll want to segment your audience members based on where they are in the sales pipeline. New email sign-ups are still prospects, so they’ll receive an introduction email and maybe a newsletter once per week. If they click on something, they turn into warm leads, which initiates a different chain of contacts — maybe even a call from a sales rep. Marketing automation software can help you identify different types of leads and then take the next steps for you.
- Identify your best lead generation technique.
What drives results in your business? When a customer signs up for a newsletter, which emails perform the best in terms of whitepaper downloads, conversions, overall engagement, or whatever metric is most important to you? Pinpoint your most effective lead generation technique based on insights you’ve already gathered from your marketing efforts and use automation to implement that technique. For instance, if you convert the most customers over the phone, your email newsletter should be focused on generating phone calls to your sales reps, perhaps by giving customers the chance to request more specialized information.
- Analyze automation efforts.
Setting up an automation solution is merely the first step in a process of continuous refinement. In order to fine-tune your strategy and deliver improved results, you’ll need to analyze the different functions you’ve automated and view the metrics baked into your software to track your progress. Ultimately, determining the success of your automation solution will depend on your company-specific goals and your ROI.
There will only ever be 24 hours in each day, much to the disappointment of small business owners and entrepreneurs. All you can do is use your time as effectively as you can. When you have an entire team dedicated to marketing, it’s possible to delegate tasks in a way that allows you to focus on the bigger picture, but when you’re heading a small company, it’s incredibly difficult to juggle a full marketing load. Fortunately, you don’t have to. No matter your industry, rely on marketing automation software to deliver consistent results while empowering you to take back your day.
Chirag Kulkarni is the Chief Marketing Officer of Medly, a digital pharmacy. Forbes ranked him one of the top 25 marketers and he’s helped brands like Expedia increase their revenue on the web.