5 Tips For Internet Marketing Automation

Infusionsoft - Customer Relationship ManagementAny overworked small business owner will tell you that internet marketing automation is critical to growth and success in today’s business world. You’ve got to be marketing online and using electronic tools or you just can’t compete.

In my Infusionsoft review on this blog, I talk a lot about online and electronic marketing techniques, but when it comes to automation there is usually a time and money cost, so it’s important to answer a few questions first.

How can I pick the right CRM software? How can small business owners get started automating or get more automated?

Great questions. And answers are all around us – too much information, in fact, we are swimming in the latest and greatest fads and technology that it’s hard to tell what is good and what is a waste of time.

I’ll describe 5 tips you can use to get serious about internet marketing automation for your business. These are the result of lots of trial and error, plus lots of earned experience from many business mentors.

Here’s the short version for the skim readers:
* Start at Home Base
* A is for Automatable – online CRM system
* Multi-Media Messaging – a powerful marketing plan
* Single System Sanity – CRM software review
* Super Size It – scalable marketing CRM

All of these 5 tips are focused on customer relationship management, or more specifically, on the small business owner’s ability to manage relationships with their customers. Customers are at the heart of business profitability and therefore the capability to effectively interact with them is at the heart of how a profitable business runs.

Let’s go through them one at a time and I’ll show how they build on each other.

Home base usually means a blog or a website, some central hub for online marketing. The reason that this is so important to a business owner is that it provides an anchor and a focal point. In the beginning, it’s the default place to send your customers. Plus it invites repetition, which leads to efficiency.

I won’t go into all the benefits of having a blog, but consider the NOT having a central site. No place to send your customers means low sales or no sales. And having too many places, instead of a single optimized site – well that’s almost as bad. It leads to confusion, and a confused customer leaves, so we are back to losing sales. Start at home base – it’s the foundation that supports your marketing plans.

Automatable techniques kind of go without saying because that is the point, trying to increase automation. However, it’s so important, I always put it in. Choose your marketing strategies wisely. An email marketing campaign or a monthly newsletter is easy to automate and send out to 10 customers or 10,000 customers. However, a hand-written thank you know, while touching and effective, is nearly impossible to automate with the same effectiveness.

Multi-media may seem to be leaning toward complexity, but bear with me a minute.

Why not single media messaging and then automate only one method? Well, at the end of the day, marketing must be effective – no customers, no sales, no profit … no good. Multiple times in multiple ways is the most effective plan for communicating, and converting, your customers. It’s been proven over and over, so don’t try to swim upstream, just figure out how to handle multiple, well chosen, methods effectively.

For example, an email campaign plus a post card campaign plus a sales call is multiple methods; and don’t forget about your website, that’s four. There are so many options, and many can be easily automated; even two or three methods is far more effective than just one.

Which brings us back to the need for focus. A single system, if you can get it is ideal; a minimum number of systems is a common stepping stone. I’ve coached entrepreneurs who had more than one autoresponder system, plus a contact management system, plus a separate email system, plus … well you get the idea.

Infusionsoft talks about avoiding multi-system chaos in “The Edge of Success”. The costs are so high for buying, using, and maintaining multiple systems that I refer to single system sanity as the ultimate goal. Most people sneak up on it by dropping overlapping systems, then reducing total software, then finally consolidating into a single CRM and emarketing system.

Super Size it really means planning for growth and building your strategy with that in mind. I remember having ‘grow into’ clothes for my children – it made sense because I knew they were growing. Hey, I have an older brother; I had plenty of grow into clothes myself.

Apply that concept to business and the search for single system sanity and it makes sense to look to the future as well. Consider two steps down the road when conducting a CRM review and understand what types of features and options exist; that type of thinking is powerful and it will impact your business planning. Most business owners should be looking for a system to grow into, one that has what they need today plus what they will need tomorrow.

The five guidelines that will help accelerate your marketing automation and efficiency are: optimize a home base online presence, choose easily automatable marketing methods that cover multiple media types, and pick a customer relationship management system that can handle your current business scale with room to grow.

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Comments

  1. Sam says

    One of the most important is be diligent about putting the information in your crm software.. The information from it is only as good as what you put in.

  2. Sally says

    I am considering several Network Marketing Companies, in health and wellness, and trying to decide which one is the best for me.

    Do you have any recommendation for ones that would have very good online marketing materials?

  3. Mark says

    Michael, thanks for the good post. I’d like to point out one important thing though that stood out to me after reading this. Many CRM systems for small to medium sized businesses do not provide marketing automation. They provide many operational advantages but they lack the processes that standalone “marketing automation software” brings to the table. Some larger companies, such as Teradata, IBM, and Oracle do provide combined CRM/marketing automation solutions but typically they’re very distinct solution sets. How do you feel CRM provides marketing automation?

    • Michael Wilson says

      Mark,
      Thank you.

      You are correct – most Contact Management systems (CM), like Oprius, and some Customer Relationship Management systems (CRM), like Infusionsoft, do not include any real marketing automation capabilities.

      However, that is one critical distinction – Infusionsoft DOES include a very powerful marketing automation capability. Infusionsoft is extremely good at transforming manual marketing processes into automated solutions. As you know, the beauty of a true marketing automation system is that once you’ve got your marketing processes set, the system continues to help you build the customer relationship … in the background, doing the exact tasks and communications (at least digital) that you used to do.

      I am not intimately familiar with Lead Liaison, but it appears that there is some similarity with how Infusionsoft, at least in their approach. If you haven’t already, you should register for a free Infusionsoft Demo, at least for comparison purposes.

      Infusionsoft does have marketing automation capability plus CRM and related capability; Oprius is a contact manager with email and related relationship building features that helps streamline processes, but not true marketing automation.

      I agree it is rare that small and medium sized businesses have access to this level of software at affordable prices; the IBM and Oracle level solutions are typically out of reach for small businesses.

      Thanks for your comment – you obviously know a lot about the topic. I appreciate your input.
      Michael

  4. Jon says

    Yes I totally agree if you can figure out how to automate a large portion of your business you can definitely take it to the next level and earn alot more money as opposed to doing everything manually. Great post.

  5. Taylor says

    Are you saying I should buy a bigger CRM system than I need right now? Isn’t that a waste of money? I understand the idea of grow into clothes, but doesn’t it make sense to expand after I’ve already got the business, or in this case, the customer lists?

    • Michael Wilson says

      Taylor,
      Kind of. I’m definitely saying to plan ahead, and plan for growth.

      If you’ve ever outgrown a system – because your business got too big – you know what I mean when I talk about how much of a pain it is to move to a new CRM or contact manager. And I’ve done it a couple of times myself, not usually because I outgrew the system size-wise.

      Usually, I failed to plan ahead far enough and foresee other tools or capabilities that I would need. So, my Contact Manager system wasn’t a hosted solution, so I couldn’t share it with others when I started to outsource my work. Big mistake. I had to switch systems; now I ONLY use hosted solutions (accessible online by more than one person).

      Ecommerce capabilities and Affiliate programs are two common things that people fail to foresee, but that come into play pretty quickly, especially when a company really starts to grow. So in these examples, it is not a waste of money, it’s good planning!

      You are right, though – it is a balancing act and business owners need to keep an eye on expenses … always. In general, the ideal situation is to expand right as you are increasing your business. That’s easier to do with stock – buy more widgets or restock sooner – if you are selling widgets. It’s harder to do with systems, so best practice is to lead it a little further; that is, upgrade your systems slightly in advance.

      Thanks for the comments.
      Michael

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