As a small business owner, time is of the essence, so anything automated tends to be a good thing. Automated payroll, automated timekeeping, automated invoicing and now, automated marketing is available at your fingertips to help you on your way to building a better business!
"But what does ‘automated marketing’ mean?"
This refers to software and platforms designed for businesses and marketing departments, to more simply and effectively market online by programming and automatically executing repetitive tasks. It utilizes multiple channels online such as email, websites and social media including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.
It include the emails you receive from businesses and the ads you see when surfing the web.
"That sounds complicated!"
Some aspects of automated marketing are indeed extremely technical, involving algorithms and tracking and all kinds of things costing a lot of money.
That said, automated marketing is no longer something only big corporations have access to. It's increasingly a mainstream form of marketing which is becoming available to businesses of all sizes.
A good starting point for a small business is automated emailing.
"How does automated emailing work?"
On a practical basis, it involves automatically sending emails to clients to encourage purchase of goods or services.
However, these emails are specifically designed to get results. It might be that they are sent at just the right moment (at a specific time, on a specific day when the client is most likely to be responsive to such an email), after a specific action (after a purchase, after receiving a price quote, after putting items in a shopping bag, after signing up to the website), or that they are tailored to just the right kind of client (based, for example, on their age, gender and location).
It might be that based on their business activity with you, a well-timed email and a money-off coupon will result in another sale.
You’ve likely been the subject of automated marketing for a long time. If you've ever received an email from a website or company thanking you for signing up, reminding you to log in again, asking you to complete your profile or offering you a voucher for being a loyal customer, then you most definitely have!
"How could it work for my business?"
It could result in an increased client base, improved sales, increased brand visibility and recognition, a better reputation and business growth.
"Where do I get it?"
There are numerous automated marketing solutions out there with a cheap starting price. Here are a couple of the most effective and popular automated marketing companies:
Campaign Monitor starts off at $9 for automated emailing. This includes 2500 emails to 500 people, basic email support and all core email marketing features. Not bad, when you consider that Campaign Monitor counts AirBnb, UNICEF, Apple and Ripcurl among their clients.
You can design your own, highly professional emails using a drag-and-drop interface. You can deliver highly personalized content to your clients based off of information about them such as age, gender and location. You can also track the impact and success of your email campaigns.
Cost: From $9 per month
Mail Chimp starts off completely free! Yes, you read that right. If you have fewer than 2,000 subscribers, you can send up to 12,000 emails per month absolutely free. In their own words, “no expiring trial, contract, or credit card required.” If you have more than 2000 subscribers or need to send more emails, prices are on a sliding scale.
It offers a host of features including a welcome email to clients who have just signed up or a series of ‘onboarding’ emails to get clients ‘on board’ with your services and products. Based on what your customers have previously purchased, you can send them specially tailored recommendations. You can also do this based on their action on your website, for example if they've visited certain pages or put items in the shopping basket. There is also a feature to help you win back customers who are no longer active by highlighting the products or services they are missing out on.
Site: Mail Chimp
"Is it right for me and my business?"
Automated emailing is definitely worth considering as a small business owner and can be effective for almost all kinds of business. The above websites are a good starting point but don't be afraid to investigate further. It might just be the kickstart your company name needs. At any rate, it’s a whole lot cheaper and easier than printing and distributing a stack of flyers!