What is automated marketing? It can take many forms but for this post let’s just define it as predetermined and predesigned messages that are sent out to your potential customers via email that will be delivered on a predetermined set schedule. That definition in itself took some work to put together – and that is the key to successful automated marketing – it takes work.
I have found time and time again in the marketing seminars we put on for our customers and potential customers is they often fall in love with the theory of automated marketing. They buy in to all the bells and whistles of what an advanced CRM and email system can do. But they think that if they buy those systems, then their work is done. Very similar to all my screenwriting friends who went out and bought Final Draft because it can format a screenplay for you – but guess what – the software won’t write the screenplay for you – it only formats it!
Remember, software is just software – it only does what you tell it to do. You are the one who is in charge and must do the work of telling it what to do. If you aren’t willing to do the work that automated marketing requires – then don’t even think about doing it. But if you are willing to do the work, then once your plan is put into place, you won’t have to think about it. However, I do suggest you monitor it, and monitor it closely.
As small business owners most of our day is dedicated to putting out fires. Some days are better than others so when things are going well, we get out our marketing messages on time. But what about those days (and weeks) when we get slammed? We just don’t have time to think about getting those new business emails out because we can hardly handle the business we currently have. That is when most of us lose the leads we worked so hard to get simply because we did not set up a plan to automatically send out messages when we are too busy to send them out ourselves.
Ask yourself this question: How many times have you just cut and pasted information from previous emails for your new prospects? We all do it. So what if you just came up with five standard emails that answer questions your potential tend to ask or want to know? You can do that today. And if you build those emails in something like Constant Contact, you can set them up in an “autoresponder” series that will go out automatically on any schedule you choose. (For a detailed video on exactly how to use the autoresponder feature in Constant Contact, go here.) Let me lay out an example for you.
I love wines, and I have many wineries as clients. The way most wineries make most of their money is selling to their “wine club” members. You sign up for their membership and then they will send you 4 bottles of wine every 3 months or so. However, not all the folks who enter the winery will join the wine club right away. The typical business cycle for a winery is this:
Folks come in for a wine tasting. Everyone pays 10 bucks or so and samples 3 to 5 wines. Some folks will buy a bottle of wine if they really like one of the samples but rarely will they buy a case the first time out. But if the winery can stay “top of mind” of those customers, those customers may indeed buy more wine, and hopefully join the wine club down the road.
So the owner of the winery sends out emails with offers and information about their great wines over the next few weeks and months – or does he? Sure, he does for the first week or so, but then business gets in the way – he realizes he has to send out to his past clients; or he suddenly is running out of a particular type of wine; or he has to take a week to figure out issues with his shipping and billing service. Basically he is putting out fires as all business owners do. But what if he had set up that automated series before all the fires started burning? Just think if he came up with this series of five emails:
Thank you for coming out to our winery – we’d love to have you come back. Here is a coupon for a 2 for 1 tasting the next time you come in with a friend (this will help spread the word while also thanking a customer for coming in).
We specialize in three types of wine – great, awesome and yummy! No, seriously, we love our deep reds, crisp roses and our delicious selection of whites. But don’t worry, you don’t have to try them all at once, join our wine club and have 4 bottles delivered to your home every 3 months so you can try them all!
Do you know what goes best with our deep reds? Steaks and Chops – read more of what food pairings go with our wines.
We love everything about wine – including how to serve it. We offer all types of merchandise to help you enjoy our wines – from stemware to decanters; corkscrews to picnic baskets. Come in and get 20% off any item the next time you come in.
We’d love to offer you a free wine tasting for filling out our simple survey to see how we can serve you best – will you answer 5 quick questions for the reward of 5 great tastings? (HINT: with Constant Contact’s Toolkit, you can send out surveys too!)
Hopefully you get the point of how easy it is to set up a series. We could have easily kept writing but stopped at five. But just like all businesses, not all the wineries customers are ready to buy right away – and what about the next weekend, when a whole batch of new potential customers come into the store? That’s the beauty of setting up an automated series – no matter when a new customer comes in, you add them to the automated list and then they will receive these 5 emails at whatever time interval you set. A good schedule for wineries is to send every Thursday – the day before the weekend when folks might be planning their weekend get-a-ways to wine country. So with the above example, on the firth week of sending out these emails, some of their list will be receiving the last one and some of the list will just be starting – but no matter which email is going out – it will be more accurate and relevant to where those customers are in the buying cycle.
By setting up automated emails, you then have the advantage of knowing that all your customers – no matter what stage of your sales cycle they are in – are getting the right messages at the right time. No more losing leads because you were too busy to send out emails – they went out automatically – without having to think about it!
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