Marketing automation is big business, these days. Let’s face it; we’re all marketers in the age of blogging and social media. Even if we’re not marketing our companies in the workplace, we’re job hunting on LinkedIn, promoting the blogs that we write or merely seeking a little attention and validation from a Facebook update.
At the same time, large companies are deploying social media marketing campaigns supported by digital advertising, or they’re hiring marketing agencies to do the work for them. For smaller companies, or for individuals and self-employed workers who are trying to cut through the noise, it can all seem a little daunting.
But there’s good news: you don’t need to spend a fortune to do marketing like a professional. In fact, marketing is more about strategy and engagement than flat out spending, and it’s often those with the smallest budgets who can outmaneuver the big spenders and who get the biggest and best results. Here’s how.
When it comes to running a marketing campaign, the strategy is vital. The beauty of today’s tools like Facebook and WordPress is that it’s easy to sign up and get started, and that’s often better than flat out doing nothing. But at the same time, it’s important to put some thought in up front so that you’re investing your time where it’s going to make a difference.
To do this, it helps to create buyer personas for each of your most common types of customer and to make sure that every piece of content you create would be of interest to them. If you’re a blogger or your company is predominantly a publisher, the same thing applies – you just need to profile your readers instead of your customers.
Let’s face it, in this digital world there’s no escape for your customers. No matter who you’re trying to reach, there is a cost-effective way to reach them. Even when their computers and their mobile phones are off, their Amazon Echoes and Google Homes are still listening. The key is to find out where they are and how you can help them, and then to deliver a piece of content that does the job.
Now, you’re probably curious how you are going to handle all of this. Tailoring your message to every single customer takes a lot of time if you do it manually, which is why most people turn to marketing automation tools. At their most basic level, automation tools can help you to schedule social media posts or emails or to set up autoresponders, while at a more advanced level they tap into customer relationship management (CRM) systems or they nurture leads along the buyer’s journey until they’re ready to make a purchase.
There’s a perception that these tools are expensive to purchase and cumbersome to use, but that’s not true anymore. In fact, one of the best things about digital marketing is that the barrier to entry is relatively low. All you need to get started is a website with a domain name and an email address. For do-it-yourself marketers, this can cost under $100. From there, you can sign up for social networks or create a free MailChimp account to start building your email list.
Back in the early days of digital marketing, if you wanted to get something done, you had to use expensive specialist software to do it. And don’t get me wrong, those tools are still relevant. It is often worth splashing out on HubSpot or Salesforce if you’ve got the resources. When you’re marketing on a shoestring budget, though, that’s out of the question. Luckily there are alternatives.
In May 2017, MailChimp announced that it would be providing marketing automation services for free to all of their customers – including the free accounts. This decision is huge news because it opens up marketing automation to the masses through an interface in which many are already familiar. In 2016 alone, MailChimp users sent nearly 250 billion emails, leaving no doubt that it’s a significant player in the email marketing marketplace. And if you have less than 2,000 subscribers, it is available for free!
With MailChimp, you can set up free drip emails to your customers, but it’s not the only tool you’ll want to use. Social networking sites are your friend as well because their advertising options allow you to deliver your message to only the people that you want to reach. For example, if you are a Red Sox fan located in a specific town, social media websites know this by your activity (who you follow, like and mention) and freely share this with advertisers.
Facebook takes target marketing to the extreme by letting advertisers create and upload a custom audience of customers and target them directly with your ads. Hence you can focus only on your customers and reach those who have already purchased from you. Happy customers are always more likely to buy from you again.
MailChimp has partnered with Facebook so you can run those same ads without leaving MailChimp. MailChimp makes it possible for you to run ads targeting Facebook users that are already on your email list. In other words, with MailChimp, you can send the same message to the same person both in their inbox and on Facebook the same day at a low cost.
In a similar vein, Google will allow you to use a simple piece of tracking code to create ads that will follow your website visitors as they surf the web. Google calls this Remarketing, and it works even if someone visits your website for a short time.
Smart advertisers combine the email marketing automation of MailChimp with the extreme targeting capabilities of Facebook. This lets them reach known prospects and customers easily. They also use Google Remarketing to follow those who stumble on their website. Therefore, by the right combination of the services described above even a small business owners can market like a pro on a shoestring budget.
You’ve got your buyer personas, and you understand how automation can help you to reach the right people with the right message at the right time. You also know which tools you can use to increase the relevancy of your messaging without burning a hole in your wallet. Now it’s time to think about the customer journey.
The customer journey is the term used for the path that someone takes between first discovering your company and making a purchase. It even continues far beyond that in terms of the aftercare that you provide. It can also include whether customers go on to recommend your company or make a second purchase. You can’t control the path that your customers take, but you can map it out and try to usher them along the way.
Your website visitors and your email subscribers are waiting for you to tell them what to do next. In fact, the reason why marketers use calls-to-action is that they work. Furthermore, if you use a free split testing tool to optimize your calls-to-action, you can guide as many visitors as possible along their journey. (you can do it using Google Analytics)
The same thing applies when people sign up to your email list. You’ll want to use the emails you send them to guide them along the buyer journey until they’re ready to make a purchase. You can test subject lines and other factors within MailChimp to see what gets results, and you can even follow up on transactions to make sure that people are happy or to ask them to complete a survey.
This approach will help you create a picture of individual customers so that you can send them even more targeted messaging. For example, if someone has purchased from you in the past and has shown an interest in a specific product or service, you can send a targeted message to them. This approach is more efficient than if you didn’t have any data on who they were and what their interests were.
This article should give you a good idea of how the pros use automation and personalization to market their companies. You should also know which tools are out there to help you to get started on a shoestring budget. Using MailChimp marketing automation alone can help you to make more sales, boost customer loyalty and encourage repeat purchases. MailChimp becomes even more useful when you combine it with other tools like Facebook custom list advertising.
When you get the strategy right, and you perfect your messaging, you’ll start to see results flowing in, and the good news is you can scale this approach as it begins to deliver an ROI. MailChimp is only free for up to 2,000 subscribers, but by the time that you have 2,000 subscribers you’ll be making enough revenue for the investment to be worthwhile. MailChimp is betting its entire business model on this assumption. Likewise, you might want to scale up your advertising efforts as your shoestring budget starts to increase from all of the sales that you’re making.
And remember that while your shoestring budget might feel like a hindrance, you have something that those huge companies with global marketing departments don’t. You can be nimble and authentic instead of slow and corporate, and people respond to that. If anything, you’ve got an advantage. So why are you waiting? Start automating your marketing efforts and bring in the customers?
If you need help setting this all up, don’t hesitate to contact our team of marketing consultants. Just call 978-851-9077