‘Work smarter not harder’ is a phrase that we endorse at Alison Page Marketing. If there is an effective way to boost productivity and performance, without detrimental effects, we are on board! In this article, we share how automation can help you extend your reach and enhance customer relations. Equally, we want to highlight where automated marketing can’t replace the human factor, at least, not yet…
Technology can be highly effective at undertaking routine tasks with great speed and efficiency. Let us share five ways that automation can streamline your marketing efforts.
1. Retain Customers with a CRM system
It is common knowledge that it is harder to attract new customers than to gain repeat business from existing customers. Once we have convinced a customer to purchase our goods or services, we need to maintain communication and keep building that relationship and trust. However, without CRM software, this can be an arduous if not near on impossible task.
CRM (customer relationship management) systems provide an effective tool for collating, managing and segmenting customer information – and managing marketing campaigns. Email marketing becomes straightforward, with the bonus of tracking response rates and gathering data to inform future communications. If you haven’t already got a CRM system, take a look at the following, which all offer good features and value for SMEs:
- Salesforce – suitable for small businesses as well as large corporates.
- Hubspot – a fantastic free plan is available for small businesses, which can transform your email marketing campaigns. This is also easy to scale as your business grows.
- FreshSales – with simplified usability, this is an easy CRM solution to get you started.
- ZenDesk – a good option if your focus is on improving customer service.
- Zoho – offering great value with tools to aid sales and marketing.
Whichever CRM you select, please check that it is secure and compliant with data protection regulations. If you are processing high volumes of personal data, investing in Privacy Enhancing Technology (PET) is advisable.
2. Use Scheduling Software for Social Media Management
Working smarter means using time wisely. In terms of social media marketing, it is more efficient to dedicate a day a month to creating a plan and preparing content – it’s far easier than trying to generate posts off the cuff each day! Fortunately, scheduling software allows you to set everything up to go live throughout the month.
Hootsuite used to be the go-to option, however, we stopped using them when their fees became prohibitive. Our preferred tool for communicating across multiple platforms is SmarterQueue. It offers insight such as optimal times for posting, hashtag suggestions and a bank of royalty-free images.
Your posts can be scheduled across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram, with the editor feature enabling customisation for each. In addition, it offers good overviews, weekly or monthly, of your posting plan.
Now, we all know that a good social media marketing strategy is more than just outbound content. Scheduling tools aid one part of the process giving you time to respond to posts, share content and add to discussions. This is how to build your online community.
3. Establish Trust with Customer Reviews
We all check out customer reviews to inform our purchasing decisions; does the customer experience match expectations? However, it isn’t easy to gather ratings, feedback and sentiment from customers.
The good news is that software can do it for you! There are specific solutions for e-commerce including Feefo. Our preferred platform is Trustist which we’ve installed a number of times for different clients. Equally, there are options focused on building the reputation of service businesses, like Birdeye or CourseChecker for those who deliver training. Find an appropriate option and you will gain a regular source of customer reviews and testimonials. Then you can use your time to respond to this feedback.
4. Use Chatbots for Customer Service
We believe it is important to provide customers with a range of ways to get in touch. One popular option is Chatbots. Using Natural Language Processing (NLP) this automated marketing tool can operate 24/7, answering common questions and directing customers to the information they seek.
Chatbots can be effective for small businesses, as they reduce the number of calls or emails. However, we would absolutely recommend retaining in-person communication options – the Chatbot should not be a replacement, especially when managed poorly.
5. Generate Creative Assets
Many creative platforms will automatically generate creative assets at different sizes now for use, for instance, across multiple social media platforms, all from a single design. Often referred to as ‘busy work’, tools like Canva – which offers both a free and paid for subscription – can eliminate the time spent on more mundane tasks, without crushing creativity.
Canva revolutionised the design world back in 2012 by offering simple design tools for non-designers and designers alike. Complete beginners can now create a multitude of designs for presentations, blogs, infographics, social media and more. Adobe Express (formerly Adobe Spark), and Visme are viable alternatives and worth investigating. Whilst Microsoft’s Designer combines its new software with AI (artificial intelligence) built-in using the same technology behind Bing Chat to help draft ideas and create images – just enter a text prompt to get started.
It’s important to note that relying on automation as the only or main means of interaction is not the best answer. This was illustrated in an annual mystery shopper survey by The Grocer recently. It showed a marked decline in satisfaction with customer service in line with the introduction of self-service tills. So, let’s ensure that adopting technology works to our advantage, not our detriment.
Integrate Automation into Your Marketing Strategy
If you are keen to embrace technology and the benefit from the resulting efficiencies, we can help you integrate automation into your marketing strategy. With knowledge of the tools of our trade, let us advise on options to best fit your requirements and budget. For further information on our marketing strategy and planning services, contact us on 07963 002065 or firstname.lastname@example.org.