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where to start with marketing automation

If you’re just starting off with your business, you may be thinking of how to promote your brand and gain customer loyalty. The most efficient way to do so is to automate your marketing activities, thus saving yourself time and effort.

Before we start talking about marketing automation, let’s define marketing as a whole and find out exactly which processes need to be automated. Marketing is a set of actions and measures aimed at promoting a specific brand, achieving customer satisfaction, and retaining customers.

How Marketing Automation Platforms and Software Fit into Your Business

To develop a marketing strategy that converts visitors into clients, marketers often have to repeat certain actions. Automation is the best way to save time on those actions.

Types of Marketing Strategies

There are the following types of marketing strategies:

  • Relationship strategy. This strategy focuses on the development and nurturing of customer loyalty to the brand, which will eventually evolve into a long-term partnership.
  • Viral marketing. This type of marketing skills encourages the viewers to exponentially share the ad content via social media.
  • Transactional strategy. This strategy involves giving out shopping coupons and discounts to consumers, thus encouraging them to buy the promoted products at a lower price.
  • Stealth strategy. This undercover strategy keeps a customer unaware that the product is actually being marketed to them. For example, a YouTube video from 2007 where a bride cut off her hair on her wedding day was actually a part of Sunsilk’s marketing campaign.
  • Digital marketing. Companies typically use this marketing tactic to promote the products and services on the Internet via various online media such as contextual ads, landing pages, or social networks.

Stages of a Marketing Campaign Funnel

A marketing funnel is a sequence of stages that leads a customer from being interested in a product to making a buying decision. Basically, the funnel consists of the following stages:

  1. Lead generation. Making a potential customer (lead or prospect) aware of the product or service.
  2. Interest. Initiating the interest of the prospect in the product or service.
  3. Engagement. Engaging the potential customer, e.g. convincing them to click a link in an email or register with the company website or app.
  4. Decision. Giving the prospect an opportunity to decide, e.g. offering a free trial or product demo.
  5. Purchase (conversion). The prospect makes a final decision and buys the product or service, i.e. is converted from a prospect or visitor to a customer.
  6. Retention. Making efforts on retaining long-term relationships with the customer by offering personal discounts and gifts.

How to Automate Marketing

Marketing automation refers to the optimization of repetitive tasks with the help of technology. According to Emailmonday, 51% of companies are currently automating their marketing routine.

Here are the most common ways and tools to speed up your marketing-related tasks:

1 - Social media marketing (SMM) 

At the lead generation stage, you can write a series of social media posts and schedule them to be published within specific time intervals. Tools such as Buffer, SproutSocial, Hootsuite, etc. can help you to schedule and automatically publish posts across multiple social media accounts. As a result of such an automated process, your brand constantly remains in touch with its target audience. Moreover, regular updates of social media accounts drive more traffic to your website while you save time on repetitive actions.

2 - Email sequences

If your lead is already interested in your product and you have their contact information, you can assist them with onboarding and bring them closer to the conversion stage. To achieve that, write a sequence of personalized emails, e.g. a set of instructions on how to use your product. You can create, schedule and personalize your email campaigns with specialized email automation tools such as MailChimp.

3 - Artificial intelligence

A survey by Business Insider reports that 80% of businesses would like to use the chatbots by 2020. Based on Facebook Messenger, such bots act like virtual consultants or customer support representatives and help shoppers to make buying decisions. Unlike humans, chatbots are available 24/7 and thus can quickly bridge the gap between a decision and a purchase.

However, AI solutions are not limited to only chatbots – for example, some software can help you to generate tweets based on blog posts.

4 - Integrated marketing automation software

You do not have to learn programming to automate your marketing. There are lots of specialized software products and marketing automation platforms which will do that for you. You can integrate this software with your CRM system or Google Analytics to convert new customers and retain existing ones.

Conclusion

Marketing automation is a great solution for small businesses that need to promote their products and grow their customer list. There are various types of marketing strategies, some of which require automation at each stage of the marketing funnel - for example, an automated funnel for a digital marketing campaign.

The most common areas for small business marketing automation are social media, email sequences, artificial intelligence, and integrated marketing automation software. There are many software-as-a-service apps available designed to do this. Another accessible and affordable option is to hire developers to customize your marketing automation and artificial intelligence apps.

Our guest author Anastasia Stefanuk is a passionate writer and a marketing manager at Mobilunity. The company provides professional staffing services, so she is always aware of technology news and wants to share her experience to help tech startups and companies stay up-to-date.

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