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6 ways to automate your marketing

MarketingLast week I wrote about the importance of having a marketing system in your business. This week I’m continuing the theme and will focus on technology-based systems that help automate or improve the effectiveness of your marketing.

1. Embrace the Internet

It might seem like a no-brainer in today’s environment but according to a report released in June 2010, three-quarters of Australian SME’s don’t have their own website. I suspect the main reason is they don’t think it’s important, either because they don’t ‘sell online’, or because they’re a local business in a small geographical area. This thinking is losing them valuable sales. The fact is people ‘google’ every day, for anything and everything. They’re not just searching for things to buy online – they’re looking for information, advice and answers – and that includes locally.

Having a well designed and content-rich website means you can start the process of building trust with prospects. It also acts as a central hub for your marketing efforts, and allows you to incorporate other technology-based systems.

2. Develop a lead capture system.

People only buy once they trust a brand or business, and it typically takes time to build that trust. Stop expecting a sale on the first contact and instead focus on building relationships. Your priority should be to capture details of people that visit your site so you can continue a conversation and build trust.

People are generally happy to provide their name and contact details as long as there is some perceived value. You could offer advance notice of new products; access to special offers or promotions; entry into a ‘chance to win’ promotion; or offer a free report that’s relevant to your business. For example, Top 5 Things you should Know Before Buying a Digital Camera; 7 Steps to Reducing Your Income Tax; 3 Steps to Getting the Perfect Fit ABC. Make sure when they do ‘sign-up’ that you acknowledge their interest with an immediate ‘thank you’ communication.

3. Autoresponders

The basic function allows you to capture the lead data of your website sign-ups, manage your subscriptions (additions and unsubscribe) and send messages to your list. The reason they’re called autoresponders is that these messages can be prewritten so they’re automatically sent the moment someone requests your free report. Imagine having a full sequence of emails that happen on autopilot – autoresponders are great tools in the right hands.

For email-based autoresponders have a look at aweber, Constant Contact and Mail Chimp. For a more advanced solution look at Infusionsoft or Business Catalyst.

4. Landing Page

These are basically pages on your website that have been designed with one sole objective – to get a response, whether that’s a sale, or simply to capture details of your prospects. When prospects land on your home page they can often get distracted and start navigating around your site. If you’re running PPC advertisements, you probably want to maximize the effectiveness of the ad by sending them to a specific Landing Page which doesn’t have other on-page elements (including navigation). You can develop these pages yourself, or you could use a service like Unbounce that make it easy to set-up and have a number of existing templates to choose from for a small monthly fee.

Marry that with Google’s free tool, Website Optimiser and it will allow you to test pages simultaneously in an “A/B Split Test”, which means that half of the traffic lands on Page A and half the traffic lands on Page B and you get to see which page is more effective.

5. Contact Database

For professional service firms you will need more detailed information on your customers and prospects that you can share across the business. Some popular solutions include Salesforce and ACT! which allow you to set reminders to contact people at certain times and can be invaluable in businesses with a lengthy sales cycle.

6. Emails or E-zines

Now that you’ve started building a marketing list, you need to communicate with your customers and prospects. You should ideally communicate once a month but at the very least every 90 days. Obviously you need to deliver on what they registered for originally – advance notice of new products, access to special offers or promotions. You can expand on this by including free but valuable information such as tips and advice, product reviews, customer reviews, invite them to VIP events where you run ‘how to’ demonstrations or advance showings of new products. Think of them as a silent salesperson, able to communicate with your prospects cost effectively.

Would these tools help streamline and improve the effectiveness of your marketing? Are you using alternative tools that you’ve found helpful? I’d love to get your feedback on what systems and tools work for you.

What do you think?

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Joel Norton

Joel Norton

Joel is Chief Strategy Officer of <a href="http://Boosthq.com.au">Boost Marketing</a>, a specialist small business marketing consultancy. He is an accomplished marketing professional with 22 years experience, and is passionate about delivering strategic, practical marketing solutions that help small business to be more profitable. Joel is also a sought after speaker on the elements of small business marketing. You can follow Joel on twitter <a href="http://www.twitter.com/boosthq">@BoostHQ</a>

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