Maybe you should. And it needn’t cost the earth. Geof Gibbons at Stampwood has done a good blog showing some cheap or even no cost solutions if you want to automate your marketing. His blogs are a mine of information on this topic, and he gave us a guest blog laying out the what and why a year ago.

 Here’s something where a machine will do all your work for you and you will get sales. You will need to do some work first of course. You have to tell the machine what workflows actually make sense so that you will want to describe the customer journey and what should happen when, so that it provides a funnel of prospects that will narrow down into people you can sell things to. So expect to do some work first, and then sit back and it’ll be easy. So what’s not to like?

If you are selling B2C (business to consumer) this may be a very appropriate solution to get extra sales. Geof will argue that you need to be tuning this all the time to make it work which is what he does.  He’s right. Customers change, your products change, and your offer can change. He will integrate this into a marketing strategy which he, or we, will help you construct. Because if you do not know who your customers are and how to get to them, all this is for nothing.

Small businesses have a significant advantage in that they are close to their customers. You will, we hope, have proper conversations with real people, not just via machine and email.  Your marketing automation is meant to inform that process not replace it. So you probably need a light touch and not the full all singing all dancing solution. Also remember that most of these products are American-based and they may have a more direct approach which might get in the way of those vital conversations, such that that your real customer gets turned off. In other words, don’t let the machines, or the elusive prospect of an easy life, get in the way of the customer relationship.

Small businesses need a good bang for their buck, and that includes management time which is always in seriously short supply. Some of the more obvious tasks that will help get you some value from your marketing automation include:

  • Create regular articles or blogs with a download link which links to a “landing page” – this is what these tools can create: infinite landing pages. On the landing page you can then offer a guide or White Paper when you get their email. There is a plug-in for WordPress sites which is cheap to set up. Give them something before you try to sell them something.
  • MailChimp templates.
  • Social media tools and automation – such as Hootsuite and Audiense (was Socialbro).
  • CRMs like ZOHO

 That seems like work, and it is. But it’s also regular channels to customers, and who doesn’t want that? What else are you in business for but to provide solutions to customers that pay? Here’s a way to achieve that.

 So what should you do? If you’re selling to consumers and you don’t need that personal relationship, then a more automated solution might well suit you. Talk to Geof. If you are a small business who wants to maintain the personal touch with your customers, then keep it short and simple – do a strategy so you know what it is you want and when you get it, and get the right people on board and enthused about what you want to do. If you want some help with any of that, and some cheap or free marketing automation tools, you just have to ask.