Why you need to be using marketing automation

How to save time on marketing and focus on what you do best

Marketing is time-consuming. It’s also not necessarily your strong suit (unless you work in marketing, and sometimes, not even then). The irony is, the better you are at what you do, the less time you might have for marketing yourself – and vice versa. That’s why the best professionals aren’t necessarily the ones who get the business – because they’re too busy being great at their own gig to have enough time or knowhow to promote themselves.

That’s where marketing automation can make a difference. This is the kind of marketing that can happen while you’re doing your actual work – or even while you’re asleep or on holiday (well, maybe one day). Marketing automation complements your existing customer relationship management (CRM) to let you both streamline and step up your marketing efforts. Here’s our guide to making it work for you.

What is marketing automation?

Marketing automation is a broad term to describe any software, platform or tool that can help you automate some part of your marketing efforts. These handy digital services are ideal if you’re looking to scale up your marketing efforts but don’t have the budget for another team member.

Often it can be about automating simple yet time-consuming tasks, which are only really effective if done at scale. For instance, tasks such as posting on your business’s social media profiles and sending emails can be given to an efficient bit of software, allowing you to concentrate your efforts on establishing and nurturing new and existing relationships.

How does marketing automation work?

Let’s say you’re an independent financial adviser. You’ve built a website and post on popular social media platforms, but you’re now looking to expand without pouring hours you don’t have into manual marketing. Marketing automation platforms can help in many ways. Here are some examples:

  • If you’re not sure you’re hitting your target audience through your social channels, analytics software can show you which posts are making an impact, and provide more information about the people who are engaging with them. This way, you can create content your audience will enjoy.
  • If potential customers contact your office directly, you’ll have their email address on file and may be able to obtain their permission to contact them via email. You can add this to your database and distribute emails to them going forward. So even if they don’t choose you now, you’ll be able to remind them you exist in case they need financial help in the future.
  • If you use a marketing automation platform such as an Unbiased Growth plan, you can set your criteria for your preferred types of clients and the system will trawl for suitable enquiries in your targeted local areas. This can save a huge amount of time not just chasing leads but also fielding and filtering direct enquiries, many of which may be unsuitable for you.

What are the advantages of marketing automation?

If you’re time-poor, as most successful professionals are, marketing automation tools will allow your marketing efforts to continue in the background at the same high level. For instance, you can continue sending out emails that raise your brand’s profile without manually completing every step of the process. All you’ll need to do is fill in the gaps, and your software or platform can spread your message.

Some kinds of marketing automation is also a great way to gather data about your customers and prospects. You see what your audience responds well to, what misses the mark and which topics start the most fruitful conversations. (Be aware however that the Unbiased platform will not supply you with customer contact details unless you accept their enquiry, as we are committed to protect our consumers’ data from third parties.)

What are the disadvantages of marketing automation?

While it’s a great way to keep the momentum going, marketing automation has its limitations that you need to stay aware of. The biggest is that it can lack the personal touch that may be crucial to sealing the deal. Of course, there are many ways around this issue; you could split your audience into smaller groups and send several tailored emails that speak to each one in a more personal way.

And even though many marketing automation tools integrate well into existing CRM (customer relationship management) tools, some act as a standalone lead funnel. This type of software can be less effective if you’re not in constant communication with other teams, like sales and customer service. Your potential customers may be turned off if respective departments’ automation tools make the experience clunky and impersonal.

The Unbiased platform directly addresses these challenges with an end-to-end client management system including a chat feature, client notes, customised automated responses and a Kanban board, so you never lose track of where a client is in the onboarding process.

What are the different types of marketing automation?

There are a number of ways to automate parts of your marketing strategy. Here are some of the most common:

  • Email marketing
    One of the oldest yet most effective ways to communicate with customers is via email, and an automatic email marketing tool can further streamline your process. Advanced tools like Hubspot and Mailchimp will allow you to send segmented emails, automatically respond to specific triggers (such as downloading content or submitting a form) and allow you to check that your emails are optimised for mobile viewing, among other things.
  • Social media
    Posting regular content on social media accounts can help improve awareness of and engagement with your brand. Tools like Hootsuite let you schedule Tweets and Facebook posts in advance, meaning you can add a week’s worth of content on a Monday morning and let the software drip-feed it to your audience. You can even see metrics like how many people engaged with your post, allowing you to tailor your social posts to what your audience wants to see.
  • Lead nurturing
    Lead nurturing software is designed to help marketers track, organise and communicate with leads to turn them into customers. Depending on how advanced your chosen tool is, you can see how your leads are engaging with your email campaigns, website and social media.

You can initiate ‘drip campaigns’ – a marketing strategy designed to gradually feed content to your leads that’s relevant to their previous engagement. And if you’ve invested in a SaaS (software as a service) product, it’ll take on many of the tedious tasks and follow-up reminders. Which means you’ve got more time to put into scheduling all-important meetings and calls.

  • Analytics and reporting
    Want to find out more about your audience’s behaviour and demographic? Tools like Google Analytics can help you do that without having to sift through ‘big data’. You can see the impact your marketing efforts have on website traffic, how well traffic is converting into leads and get a better idea of the ROI (return on investment) of your marketing work.

You can also invest in SEO tools and multi-channel analytics that show you how easy you are to find on google and who is looking at your brand across all platforms.

  • Digital advertising
    Rather than having to work across several platforms to put together digital adverts, a quality marketing automation platform will let you manage your campaigns in one place.

I’m part of a small business - how can I use marketing automation in a cost-effective way?

If you’re just starting out or have a modest budget, there are still lots of ways to use marketing automation to your advantage. Squeeze all you can out of free tools like Google Analytics and Hootsuite to keep costs down, and save your money for quality marketing automation software that offers in-depth insights or advanced tools.

Five tips for getting started with marketing automation

Want to get started with marketing automation? Here are our five top tips.

  1. Use marketing automation software to complement your existing marketing strategy, rather than replace it. By automating tedious jobs, you can focus on tasks that require experience and brainpower.
  2. Explore free and low-cost options before investing in a costly piece of software. You may find that a comprehensive marketing automation package is unnecessary, particularly if you’re part of a niche business with a smaller pool of potential customers.
  3. Look at software and tools that can integrate into your existing CRM to make it easier to manage and convert prospects.
  4. Start off with simple and effective software like email campaign tools and progress to more complex ones as your confidence builds.
  5. Try and make your marketing as personal as possible. Splitting your prospects up into smaller groups and taking the time to personalise communications as much as possible will really pay off.

Unbiased offers four unique plans for automating your marketing. Browse the benefits and see which one might suit your business.

About the author
Nick Green
Nick Green
Nick Green is a financial journalist writing for Unbiased.co.uk, the site that has helped over 10 million people find financial, business and legal advice. Nick has been writing professionally on money and business topics for over 15 years, and has previously written for leading accountancy firms PKF and BDO.

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