Image courtesy of: bplanet/freedigitalphotos.net

Your life is busy. You’ve got to worry about marketing campaigns, talking to customers, making sales, managing product, and more.

We’ve all been there. But how do you get out of the constant chaos? Constantly asking ourselves how to do less and make more sales.

Maybe a short story will help.

A junior manager is working 10 - 15 hours a day. He is constantly getting thing done just in time and doesn't seem to be able to look more than 2 days ahead.

One day his boss walks in and says "I want you to attend this time management workshop." The junior manager responds saying "Thanks but I'm just too busy to go." 

His boss responds, "I know, that exactly why you need to go."

The moral of the story being that sometime we keep ourselves so busy, we don’t stop to address the root off our problems.

Marketing automation is the digital marketers “time management workshop”. Marketing automation can help you, and your company

  • Spend less time talking with customers
  • Improve quality of service
  • Make more sales

Marketing automation is more than just automation, right?

If you’re new to marketing automation, it can be daunting to understand what it is, let alone what tools your company should be using and what to do with them.

Darin Brown, VP Marketing at Excelerate did a great job summing up exactly what marketing automation is.

“That’s why the “automation” in marketing automation can be misleading—because it’s about more than automating tasks. It’s about bringing together your data, channels, and relationships to connect with your customers…”


1. Share the workload and respond to customers faster

In the age of instant communication customers are now expecting brands to respond to their questions in real-time.

According to a survey by Lithium Technologies “70% of surveyed Twitter users expect a response from brands they reach out to on Twitter, and of those users, 53% want that response in under an hour”

As you can imagine, that can quickly turn into a large time investment if not managed properly, especially if you’re working in a fast-paced company. That time spent managing social, support and customer relationships can cut into your time to get that next feature built, test out a new marketing campaign or prospect new customers. Companies are identifying this as a major pain-point in their organizations and are looking to get it solved.

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“40% of buyers said that improving lead management was their companies main reason for looking at marketing automation software.” – 2014 Marketing Automation BuyerView from Software Advice, a company that reviews these kind of systems

There’s also a strong business case for spending time and personalizing your emails when nurturing your leads. Many companies automate too much of their communications with their potential and current clients, which can lead to low engagement and response rates. Finding an efficient way to personalize your emails should be a top priority if you’re looking to up your email response rate.

“Lead nurturing emails get 4-10x the response rate compared to standalone email blasts.” (Source: SilverPop/DemandGen Report)
Front App Product Shot

One tool built exactly for these types of customer problems is Front, it’s designed so you can collaborate with your team by helping you assign tasks internally and handle social network mentions, support emails, customer questions, comments,etc. within a shared inbox. For companies that are moving towards full email transparency, like the popular social sharing app Buffer does, this is a great tool to take advantage of.

Front Product 2

Email transparency can help with many business cases and it’s laid out beautifully in this great article by Buffer. It can help guide product development decisions without sacrificing engineering time as the team can just review the customer feature requests before roadmap meetings.

One aspect of their tool I really like is getting rid of accidentally looping the wrong people(especially customers) into entire email threads when forwarding emails internally.


2. Accelerate word of mouth

Referrals are one of the oldest marketing strategies. In fact, lawyers, accountants and other small businesses depend on them for a significant part of their revenue.

A survey from Constant Contact shows that Eighty-two percent of small business owners have said their main source of new business is referrals”

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A recent Nielsen study found that  “92% of consumers around the world now say they trust word-of-mouth or recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.”

Now the challenge here is to bring this concept online and into the world of marketing automation successfully. After some time, we’re now seeing some of the hottest Silicon Valley startups use referral programs to grow their userbase. Dropboxs’ referral program is the shining example that gets talked about as one of the all-time growth hacks. Uber, Wealthfront and many others have great referral programs that are an essential part of their growth strategy. Offering users a double-sided incentive to drive sign-ups not only increases your userbase but can also help you combat churn and bring in users with higher LTV.

According to a recent Wharton Business School study “The lifetime value of referred customers was 16% higher than non-referred customers”

referral home roojoom edit

These referral programs were built in-house and took significant engineering, design and marketing resources. The value of referral program platforms like Referral SaaSquatch can help subscription companies set up a customer referral program with custom theming and analytics. You drop in their javascript widget and start giving out double-sided incentives to your users which will reward customer brand advocacy and drive user acquisition through a competitive CPA.

Having a referral program also can be complementary to other paid acquisition strategies since you are technically bringing in a fraction of another user.

In our interview with Shoeboxed CEO Taylor Mingos he said “A referral program for us is something that enhances all of our marketing channels and allows us to spend more on an Adwords Ad because instead of bringing one person we are bringing let’s say 1.3 or 1.4 or 1.2. So our CPA cost is effectively a lot lower and we can spend more to get a click.”

Referred users also have a significantly higher trial to paid conversion rate which is something many SaaS businesses are battling with on a daily basis. In our interview with FreeAgents’ Biz Dev Director Kevin McCallum said We can see a 60-70% increase in conversion rates for trialists that were referred, compared to those coming unreferred through other traditional methods.”

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3. Think content curation, not just creation.

jawbone

Staying active on social media means you need something interesting to share with your community. You’re going to need a steady content pipeline, which takes marketing, design and sometimes engineering resources.

This can become a huge drain on your company, especially when you have designers and engineers focused on building product. Some companies are seeing the gap in the content marketing industry and there has been some interesting development with tools that help you curate relevant content.

 

One service I’m interested in is Percolate, aside from being a content scheduling platform they also recommend relevant content for you to share with your social community. Which helps immensely as keeping a steady content pipeline is no easy task.

Our friends over at Jawbone have seen great results from using their service, seeing increased engagement, post reach and content output. (37% Content Output, 65% Reach/Post, 92% Facebook Engagement Rate, 93% RTs/Tweet) Source: Percolate


Conclusion

Marketing automation is about more than just automating your job. While it’s true that your time and/or budget is limited, marketing automation is really about providing ways for us to engage, encourage, and interact with our customers that otherwise wouldn’t be possible. In other words, how to do less and make more sales.

You will find great success with marketing automation if you are always looking for ways to:

  • Provide a better customer experience
  • Increase company responsiveness
  • Reward customers for their loyalty and passion
  • Engage with customers on a meaningful level

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and get your hands dirty!

Image courtesy of: bplanet/freedigitalphotos.net

LinkedIn Profile1Brandon Gains is a Growth Marketer at Referral SaaSquatch – The customer referral platform for subscription businesses. You can connect with him through email brandon at saasquat.ch or twitter @brandongains