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Artificial Intelligence Will Steal Jobs But Automation Might Just Save Your Business

With all of the talk about artificial intelligence either stealing your job or revolutionising your industry, it’s easy to overlook something that can be revolutionary for your small business, right now.

I’m talking about Marketing Automation.

No, this doesn’t involve machine learning, natural language processing or algorithms. Instead, taking some fairly simple steps to implement small business marketing automation can make a huge difference in customer engagement and conversions.

This is nothing new, of course. Marketing automation has been around for years now, and most of the big brands and organisations have jumped all over it.

But what about the small business website?

You’re probably already blogging, but do you have a strategy for leveraging all those blog posts? What can you do to convert them to sales?

Let’s look at five basic marketing automation sequences that almost any small business can implement.

1. Leverage your blog content, nurture more leads

So you’re blogging. Great. It’s a fantastic way to attract new traffic and engage your visitors. But what’s your strategy to nurture them so they convert to leads? You’re probably thinking, ‘Hey I’ll get them to subscribe to my email newsletter. There. Done’.

Not so fast. Building your email list is one of your best strategies, but you need a more defined strategy to turn them into customers. After all, they’re not all the same. They came to your site with different questions, and you’ll have to overcome different obstacles to convert them (if they convert at all).

So with the aid of marketing automation, segment different lists based on what blog posts or pages your email subscribers have visited. Now you start to understand who they are and what they want, and you can nurture them accordingly. If they visit the site again, suggest they might be interested in a new post or sales page, or alert them to a new product. There are many different ways you can use your blog to increase sales. 

2. Creating a feedback and review sequence

Are you asking your clients or customers for feedback or reviews? If not, you should be. Of course, customer feedback can help you improve your customer’s experience, but you can also turn that positive feedback into online reviews. Getting rave reviews from customers is one of the most powerful ways to attract and convert leads online.

How does this work? Using marketing automation, you can send emails to your customers asking for their feedback. Use the Net Promoter Score on your site, and create different sequences based on their responses. If they respond well, then trigger another email thanking them and asking for a review on your Google My Business profile, Facebook or YellowPages. If they don’t respond well, then trigger another email apologising and sending them something in compensation, to improve their customer experience and impression of you.

3. Personalising the site experience for your visitors

Personalisation of marketing began with the simple ‘Hi Jane’ in your email newsletter, but since then, it’s progressed. Here’s an example of how you could use marketing automation to personalise the experience on your website.

Jane subscribes to your newsletter whilst reading a blog post that is linked to your Service A. This adds her to that specific list. Once she is added, you have an automated email sent to her. Perhaps this email suggests other posts and sales pages she should read.

Depending on the link she clicks in that email, she then begins a separate and automated sequence. When she visits the site again, she is presented with a discreet message/popup addressing her by her name and suggesting something that is tailored for her based on her previous behaviour. This is where you can get really creative.

4. Creating your own email course

Online education is a booming industry, but that doesn’t mean you have to sell an online course to create and offer one. Perhaps you’re in a competitive industry and you’re looking for an edge. Maybe you’re new to your niche, and don’t have the authority of others. Maybe you sell a service or product that takes the client or consumer a while to go through the lifecycle. This is where a FREE email course can work wonders.

Create a series of 5–10 emails. They don’t have to be novels. Remember, these are just emails. But you must always provide value. Then you can create a call to action on your site. When they opt into your course, they trigger an automated sequence of your email course.

Send them two days apart, if you like. Or only send the next email once they have opened the previous one. Then, in a closing email, promote your product or service.

At this stage. the prospect is significantly more qualified, as you’ve gained a great deal of influence, authority and goodwill during this process. If they don’t take the hook, add them to a separate list, and create a sequence that continues to nurture them until they do convert.

5. Encouraging repeat purchases

We all know it’s cheaper to keep a customer than to find a new one. If you can scale the process of encouraging repeat business, well, you’re flying!

It’s crucial, though, that you understand your different customer personas. Only then will you know which products/services they will buy and what the product lifecycle is. After they’ve moved through the feedback and review emails, prompt your prospect near the time you expect them to be looking again. Get them back to the site. If they don’t purchase or contact, and haven’t been back to the site in seven days, consider sending them an offer to rekindle their interest.

Marketing Automation is a tremendously powerful opportunity for businesses both big and small. Don’t forget, though, that you must always offer value and usefulness in every single interaction. If not, your prospects will lose interest quickly.

And whatever you do, keep monitoring the performance of each automated action. Changing the email subject line, the content, the button, or delivery time, could mean the difference between converting your site visitors or losing them to your competition.

About the author 

Quentin Aisbett is a data-driven digital marketer running Melbourne and Geelong-based agency OnQ Marketing.

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