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Time; We all want more of it. No matter your position in a company, getting through your to-do list can be hard. Particularly when emails keep coming in, colleagues require ‘just a couple of minutes of your time’ (it’s never two minutes) and there’s an unexpected customer issue or technical problem to deal with.

So, how can we make more time for ourselves? One word; automation.

Once you find yourself doing the same task, over and over again, you can almost be sure that there is a way to automate it.

This will allow you to optimise how the task is done, limit the daily hours you spend doing the task and also measure the performance of the task continuously.

It can really be utilised in many areas of business but, since we’re a marketing agency, we’re going to focus on helping you to automate your marketing.

What is marketing automation?

As defined by Salesforce, “marketing automation is technology that manages marketing processes and multifunctional campaigns, across multiple channels, automatically. With marketing automation, businesses can target customers with automated messages across email, web, social and text.”

Many of our clients come to us because they lack consistency with their communications. They send the odd email, post sporadically on social media, send a Christmas card but they don’t keep reinforcing their brand and offering to their prospects.

If you are fortunate enough to afford an agency to do this for you, then by all means, stop reading and get in touch. If, however, you don’t have the spare money or are skeptical about automating your communications then you should prepare to invest a bit of time initially to create your customer journey, mapping out your automated series. You can then write and schedule your various messages, whether they be emails, social media posts, etc and let them run – freeing you up on a daily basis to focus on that never-ending to do list.

What automated tactics should you implement?

As we’ve mentioned, there are numerous communication channels that you can automate – the most common being emails and social media.

Ideally, you will look at your automations holistically across all of your channels – there is no point in pushing people to book a meeting with you through your emails, if you don’t also promote meetings on your social media channels – sometimes your prospects just need that extra nudge or need to be in the right place at the right time to finally get around to taking action, and that’s why consistency in your communications is key.

Here are some top tips for each channel you might consider automating:

Email Marketing

Automated emails can make your life a lot easier; they ensure that your message is reinforced over a set period of time and they work to keep your prospects warm too.

The most common automation is something called a ‘drip campaign’, which is a series of emails that drills down the interest of a customer. It starts with a “Welcome” email usually triggered from a landing page click/newsletter sign up/purchase, which stores the customer’s email address in your database.

Many mailing platforms, such as Mailchimp, allow you to set up automated series for a price. Here, you can write an email, ask the platform to wait for a set period of time, write a second email, and so on. We recommend that you try to keep this going over a period of two months, not bombarding your prospects with emails – keep it to once a week or fortnight, depending on how much you have to say. If you have promotions, growth hacks (such as refer a friend discount schemes), or webinars that you want people to sign up to, use the email series to focus on one thing at a time for the most effective results

You can also include asking for customer reviews in a drip campaign or you may look to simply automate this as a stand-alone email – ensuring that after X amount of days from purchasing, your customer receives an email asking for a review. This is not only a good way to reconnect with a customer, it allows you to gain vital feedback. Don’t be scared of getting negative reviews – these are simply opportunities to show what excellent customer service you can offer, as long as you handle to situation efficiently and effectively.

Other automations can include abandoned cart emails – we’ve most likely all seen these in action, and renewal of membership emails, which most of you will have had from an insurance company as an example. Automations like this allow you to simply reconnect with a customer at a key time in them making a transaction with you and encourage them to purchase/repurchase without you having to do any of the leg work on a day-to-day basis.

Social Media Posting

Everyone wants more followers, everyone wants more engagement but what good is engaging content if you don’t share it often enough with your audience or indeed when they are paying attention.

It may suit you to fit your social media posting into your working day but are your customers online and looking to buy your product during their working hours or are they more likely to respond to your posts on an evening or over a weekend? Even if you are a B2B company, if you are targeting busy Directors/Managers with an offer, they probably don’t have the luxury of being on their social media platforms during the day and, by evening, your post is well and truly hidden by their friends posting pictures of their food/kids/dogs etc.

There are several third-party services you can subscribe to in order to schedule your social media ahead of time, some are even good enough to provide you with optimum times for your post to go out. If you’d rather use the platforms directly, Facebook has a scheduling option that is user-friendly and will save you time in the long run too.

When it comes to social media you should be prepared to invest a few hours a month (or less) in scheduling your content for a month ahead or at least try to schedule a fortnight in advance as you never know what might happen at work or home that will take your eye off the ball.

Remember, when it comes to social media, you will still need to check for comments, direct messages, likes, shares, etc, and respond accordingly. There are apps that you can schedule to auto-respond to certain requests from customers and some apps that merge your messaging into one platform but our advice is to keep it simple and, if possible, simply link your work accounts to your phone so that you receive notifications at all times, should you need to.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Tracking

Investing in a CRM tracker to track calls, emails, meetings, etc for each client/customer can be time-saving and very beneficial to your business. There are several systems you can connect to your CRM system to automate this process, but most CRMs have this capability built into the system.

In terms of marketing, keeping track of your customers behaviour and interactions with your business can be so lucrative. You can see what they regularly purchase, when they may look to purchase again, any patterns in their habits, etc. A good CRM system will also ensure that no customer, no matter when they last transacted with you, gets forgotten about. Depending on your product or service, you may not do repeat business with someone for a few months, annually, or longer. Automating key touchpoints over such a long period of time is therefore essential if you want to remain front of mind for when they look to repurchase again.

Marketing Analytics

There’s no point in undertaking marketing if you don’t report on it. How can you measure what works, what needs to be tweaked, and what is giving you a good return on your investment?

Setting up automated analytics can help you monitor your marketing as long as you have clear targets set out and milestones for when you are looking to achieve these. Don’t spend hours investigating analytics week after week. Instead, find software that will do the work for you. Google Analytics, as an example, will enable you to set up a dashboard so that you view stats on website visitors, duration length of each visitor, your most popular pages, etc whenever you wish to.

In summary

If you find that you are struggling for time and as a result, regular prospect and customer communications are suffering then investing a bit of your time initially to automate your messaging, will free up your workload substantially in the long run.

If, however, you are in the fortunate position of having more money than time, the sensible thing is to get a marketing agency to do this for you. If that’s you, then book your complimentary marketing consultation with us today and see how we can help free up your time and keep your communications consistent.