As a small business owner you probably have heard about sales marketing automation. But what is it? And is this something that applies to your business?
What Does Sales Marketing Software Do?
Sales marketing automation replaces hiring a large team of email marketers, outreach specialists, salespeople and account managers (or trying to do it all yourself!). Marketing automation software gives you the tools to keep track of leads, personalize and customize your emails automatically, and get easy-to-understand reports on how your sales and marketing efforts are working.
Sounds good, doesn’t it?
For small businesses, the efficiency that sales software gives them is good. But for it all to work best for your business, you will need two things:
- Integration with your CRM software.
- A content creation plan for email campaigns that move your customers through your pipeline.
You might be asking yourself, “What is an email campaign?”
Don’t get overwhelmed by the idea of running a “campaign.” In email marketing terms, a campaign is simply a set of emails related to a topic that is interesting to your target market.
Marketing Automation is a Hot Topic
Sales marketing automation software has gotten very popular, and it’s easy to see why. Imagine you have 100 contacts in your Outlook email, and you want to host a webinar for these potential customers. Here are the four emails you might send out to your contacts to related to the webinar:
- The initial invitation for your webinar.
- A reminder to RSVP.
- A reminder the day before the webinar.
- One last email with a recording of the session and a call to action with a promotion for your product or service.
Manually reaching out to these 100 people means copying and pasting names and email addresses into 400 emails, and keeping track of the replies in Outlook. Is that realistic?
Of course not. To manage this email campaign, marketing automation can help you to:
- Create one announcement email that reaches everyone on your list.
- Track the people who have RSVP’d, so they don’t get the second email—the reminder to RSVP.
- Send the day-before reminder to a select list of people: only those who have RSVPed.
- And finally, send your follow-up email to webinar attendees with a recording of the session and your call-to-action.
Automating this outreach with software keeps you from having to drop everything and manage it yourself, manually, in Outlook, or having to hire someone to design the emails and manually send them out and track replies.
Beyond the Campaign: Tying Marketing to Your Sales Pipeline
And how does marketing automation tie into your potential customer pipeline? In the example above, the final step of the email campaign was to send an email with the recording of your webinar with a call-to-action. By integrating your sales marketing automation software with your CRM, you’ll see the people who clicked that call-to-action and be able to move those contacts to a different stage in your CRM pipeline.
But automation doesn’t happen automatically (ironic, right?). For the software to operate as described, it needs to be configured to track users’ interactions with your emails. That will help you identify who moves to the next steps in the campaign.
The automation part of it comes into play when you create a campaign (that set of communications about a specific topic), and you use your sales marketing automation software to release these communications in a set schedule.
It makes sense to use sales marketing automation when you can streamline repetitive steps.
A word of caution: For sales marketing automation to work, you need to know your customers very well. You need to understand what they need from your business and provide content that addresses their questions and concerns. This is not an easy task, but automation can make implementation easier, so you can focus on getting to know your customers.
Use Cases: What are other companies doing?
Here are some examples of how small business owners are using sales marketing automation:
Doing Business with a Personal Touch (B2C)
A small business owner configured his software to send an automatic email with a coupon for each customer on their birthday and on their anniversary date as a customer.
Following Up a Sale (B2C)
A month after a customer purchases a product, they receive an email with a special offer on a complementary product.
Educating Interested People to Create New Customers (B2C)
SafeRide4Kids provides products to keep moms-to-be and kids safer in cars, and they educate their customers through blog posts that invite website users to subscribe to emails with more educational content.
SafeRide4Kids tracks how potential customers interact with their emails to automatically keep them engaged. When an email reader shows interest in purchasing a product, the sales software moves that contact into a prospecting campaign, and the marketing automation program starts sending that person more information about SafeRide4Kids’s products.
Touching Base with Past Customers (B2B)
A small business owner creates a campaign to re-engage customers that have not made any purchases in the year. A nudge email goes out to these past customers, and more targeted information about new products or services automatically goes out to those contacts that respond.
Are you ready?
Before jumping into sales marketing automation, you need to see how it fits with your company’s overall marketing strategy. If you determine it is a good fit for your business, then you can start looking at products to help you implement your strategy.
Does one of the use cases above sound like something you’d like to do? We can help you determine if automation is a good fit for your company’s marketing efforts. If you’re thinking about automating your inbound marketing and customer relationship management, let us take a look at your process and recommend the right software to fit your business.
This post was originally published on LinkedIn.