Scale your business with marketing automation
How to use software tools to turn one-time customers into brand loyalists
Build long-term customer relationships
The relationships you build with your customers are a foundation for your long-term success. Far more valuable than the one-off transactions are the customers who become loyal advocates for your brand…and that takes time and energy to achieve.
This might be easier to accomplish when you’re just getting started and can afford to give every interaction your full attention. However, as your business continues to grow and more customers enter the mix, it can be harder to keep track of all the people in your network, their interests and responses to your promotions. Plus, you need to spend less time on repetitive tasks to focus on growing and scaling your business.
CRM and marketing automation
Enter customer relationship management (CRM), the approach transforming the way businesses build long-lasting customer relationships through a combination of strategies, software and processes. Marketing automation is the technology for managing marketing interactions to drive customer loyalty, retention, revenue and customer lifetime value.
Marketing automation software like Constant Contact and Mailchimp, among many others, automatically executes many of your marketing tasks, like sending emails, growing your database, and collecting data to help drive your strategy.
By connecting all aspects of your marketing, they can streamline your campaigns, maximize their impact and increase your ROI. By integrating data from spreadsheets and disconnected sources, they can identify your best customers and provide insights into their preferences. You can deliver highly targeted, personalized and relevant follow-up messaging that increases the frequency and value of transactions.
Most importantly, they can help convert one-time buyers into repeat, loyal customers, while saving you hours and keeping things from falling through the cracks.
Originally tailored to businesses with long sales cycles in which staying top-of-mind is critical, marketing automation tools are finding increased popularity across a wide variety of organizations where personalized communications is a priority.
Get the most out of marketing automation solutions
Here are some of the ways that businesses use marketing automation to strengthen their customer relationships and actions you can take today.
- Prioritize your outreach
Perhaps you have a core demographic that you’re trying to target, a demographic that early market research has suggested would be a good fit for the product or service you offer. Make sure that you can effectively tag these people when they interact with your business so that you can focus on keeping them engaged and even solicit their feedback. Create a field to capture a customer ‘grade’ that you assign. Your grading system can be as simple as A-B-C — the important thing is to establish a system that you and your team can easily remember.
- Identify customer preferences
Keep track of which customers are interested in which offering. Segment your contacts and organize them by their product preferences. This is particularly useful if you ever have special promotions or communications that are relevant to only a subset of your contacts.
If your email marketing platform offers contact tagging, consider creating a tag for each of your product categories to identify your customers accordingly. Otherwise, you can create a simple true/false field for each product category you maintain. These tags and/or checkbox fields will enable you to create dynamic filters to pull the data you need to send targeted communications.
- Empower subscribed customers
You don’t have to guess on your own what types of communications your customers want to receive. Allow customers to opt-in and out of different newsletters and lists by building out a preference center that they can access from every email. They may surprise you!
A maintained preference center will make your customers much more likely to open and engage with the emails that they receive, and you’ll be more confident that your emails are finding the right people. It’s a win-win.
- Stay in touch
One of the most important aspects of maintaining your relationship with your customers is providing consistent communications. This doesn’t mean blasting everyone with urgent calls to action every other day, but rather reminding your contacts that you exist on a cadence that makes sense for your business. Schedule messages in advance, using a calendar to time your messages in coordination with any special events or holidays. And don’t be afraid to reuse or repurpose images, copy and other content from prior emails.
How to select a marketing automation solution
There are now many free or affordable versions of email marketing tools originally developed for enterprises. Pricing is based on the number of users or contacts in your database, allowing you to leverage the same proven tactics that the big companies do…at a fraction of the cost.
Pricing, of course, matters. But you should also examine each option carefully to pick the one that is right for you. Compare factors such as:
- User interface How easy is it to learn and use? How steep is the learning curve?
- Features What features does it offer, and does it connect and transfer data from your existing technologies? Do any of these features impact pricing?
- Customer support How quickly can you get technical support – is it immediate or do you have to wait 24 hours or more? Is this support live via chat, phone, or email, or online documentation, or community forums? Is there a fee for onboarding or set up?
- User Reviews See how many other users does the platform have, are they primarily selling to consumers or other businesses, what do they say about the platforms and how they are using them
That said, keep in mind that at the end of the day, marketing automation software is only as powerful as the data it contains. Make sure to keep your contact database up to date as you grow your business.
For more tips on email marketing, be sure to check out this blog post here. Now get out there and grow, with the extra time these tools buy you!
Deandra Tan, Director Dupont Circle Solutions
Macollvie J. Neel, NYWIB Senior Editor
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