How would you like a steady stream of new potential customers coming to you from your website 24 hours a day? What if you could track them, follow-up with them, and move closer to the finished sale automatically, without devoting any of your own time or energy to the process?
That's the dream of marketing automation… and it's something you can accomplish with your business website if you know how.
Here is how marketing automation works: You build a process for attracting attention from potential customers over the Internet, along with some ways to capture their contact information. Afterward, you follow up with them through an automated system, until they eventually decide to pursue an expanded business relationship with you.
For example, you might direct your search engine optimization strategy or a pay per click ad campaign to a landing page that contains one or more unique, promotion-free offers. In order to access the offer (whether it’s a white paper download or viewing a webinar), interested prospects must enter their e-mail addresses and/or any other identifying information. Next, at pre-defined intervals, you send these prospects a series of helpful emails with information they can use, building a solid relationship that turns leads into customers.
The beauty of this system is that once it's set up, it’s a gift that keeps on giving. If that sounds pretty good to you, then consider these seven steps for getting started with marketing automation:
1. Know who you're looking for. It's not enough to simply look for "customers." To differentiate yourself from the competition, you need to be looking for the right customers – the men and women who are perfect for your company. Start the automated marketing process by identifying exactly whom you want to sell to, because it will make everything else easier.
2. Think of ways to grab attention. What are the issues your potential customers think and care about most? The answers to that question should form the basis for your marketing automation campaign. To make the system work, you have to grab attention, and that means answering questions and solving problems for the people you want to market to.
3. Make a flowchart. Once you have some focus, envision exactly how you want to move potential buyers from one step to the next. Don't just know what you're going to send, but what kinds of themes and messages you're going to include, and what the timing will be like.
4. Build the right content. Of course, for an automated marketing campaign to be successful, people have to want the content you're sending them. For that reason, having the right kind of content – something that's interesting and informative – will make or break every other step.
5. Test the system. Before you can expect to find new customers through your marketing automation program, it's a good idea to test it a few times yourself to ensure that everything works the way it should. The last thing you want is to spend time, energy, and money attracting traffic to your landing page, only to find that the follow-up systems aren't working the way they're supposed to.
6. Start with small and simple. A classic automated marketing mistake is to attempt to do too much, too soon. Begin with some simple reports and follow-ups, and then you can move on to a more advanced campaign later after you've had a chance to measure the results.
7. Measure, measure, measure. Speaking of measurement, the only way to tell which parts of your automated marketing system are working is to study the relevant metrics and numbers. Pay close attention to the way people react to your campaigns; making small improvements over time can greatly increase your profitability.
A well-designed and executed marketing automation plan can be a steady source of leads and income that never stops. To get the most out of yours, though, be sure you take the time to find your perfect customer, think through the steps, and have the patience to let it grow into something spectacular.