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  • 7 Chatbot Do’s and Don’ts for Small Businesses

    Monday, November 27, 2017 by
    should your business use chatbots

    Chatbots for Small Business

    Chatbots are the latest craze in the small business industry. Companies see the value in these interactive platforms to assist their teams and to accelerate the customer experience. Chatbots behave in a human-like manner and can integrate with your websites, live chats, and emails. “While web visitors are tired of seeing another web form and groan at the prospect of having to fill another one out, chatbots offer an engaging alternative. Chatbots are conversationalists and are much more convincing,” says Jeff Cole, the co-founder of ChatPath. Thinking about adding chatbots to your strategy? If so, you’re probably interested in knowing how to effectively use them. Keep reading to learn how your small business can take advantage of chatbots.  

    Chatbot Do’s

    Jumping head first into new technology can be quite daunting. Your goal is to ensure it benefits your business before you make an initial investment. Chatbots can be valuable for both your customers and team members. Check out what you can do with chatbots below.  

    1. DO Capture Customer Insight

    Research is vital to your business. It helps you learn your consumers’ interests and habits. With those insights, your team can build better products and deliver tailored customer service. Chatbots are paving the way to becoming an extension of your research team. They can gather data by asking consumers simple questions or having customers select a response. Plus, the interaction is less intrusive, as compared to a customer representative who may seem to possess hidden motivations. Craig Cares, a non-medical in home care agency, uses chatbots to quickly assist their website visitors. In the example below, you’ll notice three options: Ask a Question, Book Consultation, and Job Inquiry. Now, their team can filter through requests easily and calculate the types of visitors that land on their site. chatbot for customer insights You require consumer insights to make effective business decisions. Chatbots are a viable solution to gather that much-needed data.  

    2. DO Communicate Timely Messages

    Ubisend research found that consumers possess positive sentiments toward companies that use chatbots. Nearly 43% considered these businesses as innovative, while 22% saw the companies as more efficient. That’s good news for your small business. It’s an opportunity to use chatbots as a vehicle to share timely messages to your audience. With so many businesses vying for consumers’ attention, chatbots are a unique way to keep your customers informed about new products and upcoming promotions. Andrew Warner, founder of Mixergy, uses chatbots to remind his webinar registrants of the event date and time. The chatbot vibrates the person’s phone and messages the direct link of the webinar. chatbot reminders You’ll also want to experiment with your chatbot’s voice and tone. There’s no requirement to engage in a serious manner. Monitor what messages excite your customers; adding more personality may earn positive reactions.  

    3. DO Answer Customer Questions

    While chatbots are fairly new to customers, the idea of communicating with tech tools isn’t. Consumers already engage with automated phone and email support. So chatbots are a natural next step. Chatbots are especially useful for communicating with your audience. As a business, your team can only handle so many customer requests in a day. “The convenience of a bot is immense. It's working 24/7, easily accessible, it doesn't call in sick or have a bad day, and customers don't have to speak with an actual, real person, if they don't want to,” writes Inc. contributor Gary Golden. When developing a chatbot, you want it to have access to your knowledge database. That way, customers with specific inquiries about your product or service can get helpful information, like a video or step-by-step guide. It’s also wise to have chatbots know frequently asked questions. Immediate responses will please your customers.  

    4. DO Influence Buying Decisions

    In a competitive market, you’re constantly looking for ways to get more consumers engaged with your product. From soliciting user-generated content to hosting a social media contest, you’ve done it all— except chatbots. Here’s your chance to experiment with chatbots to transform interested buyers into loyal customers. With access to your product catalog, chatbots can issue specific product details to consumers, including price and availability. Brick-and-mortar stores can provide customers with their physical locations and phone numbers. More advanced chatbots also can provide consumers with images of your products. This feature makes it convenient for customers to verify the correct items they want without having to exit the chatbot screen. chatbot for ecommerce Chatbots offer your customers the flexibility to shop on their own terms. Employ chatbots to get more revenue into your monthly reports.  

    Chatbot Don’ts

    With all those benefits, what can go wrong? Unfortunately, plenty. Being aware of what you shouldn’t do will only help your team integrate chatbots into your business. Grab a pen and mark the following three don’ts down.  

    1. DON’T Ignore Glitches

    When it comes to technology, it’s never perfect. And chatbots aren’t an oddity. These platforms come with their own set of issues that your team will need to solve on a case-by-case basis. When they do arise, it’s your responsibility to not ignore the glitches. So what can really happen? Your chatbot could shut down while assisting several customers. This problem translates into irate customers flooding your other support channels. With an influx of tickets (that you weren’t prepared for), customers will wait longer to get their questions answered. This downward spiral can affect team morale and possibly your sales. Chatbots also can drive more confusion than clarity with their responses. Customers may have to ask multiple questions to get one decent answer. Or your chatbot may totally miss the mark and give inappropriate, irrelevant messages like this one: chatbot fail UX and product designer Jeśus Martin encourages chatbot testing with an objective mindset to observe how chatbots react to specific questions. By working with your tech team or developer, you can spot problems before they even happen.  

    2. DON’T Use As Your Sole Marketing Channel

    Business teams use multiple marketing channels to connect with their customers. That’s because no one channel will capture the interest of your entire target audience. So it's not in your best interest to make chatbots your sole marketing channel. Instead, you want to use chatbots to supplement, not supplant, your current efforts. Take advantage of chatbots to drive visitors to a specific page of your site, clarify simple product inquiries, or connect customers to the support team. Consider chatbots as a way to take your operations to the next level. Chatbots are especially effective for enhancing the mobile experience. You can dedicate chatbots to serve as a messaging tool to help customers who need information on the go. Their quick responses will ensure customers receive product details in an efficient manner. And that’s what you desire—more engagement Adding chatbots to your marketing mix is helpful for both your team and customers. But don’t rely on the tool as your only means to execute your plans.  

    3. DON’T Replace Humans with Chatbots

    When fresh technologies crop up, some business owners immediately think it can replace their largest expense—human labor. A few vendors will even falsely promise that chatbots don’t need supervision. Laduram Vishnoi, CEO of Tagove, offers his insight, “The biggest chatbot misconception is that they’ll take over services and automate everything so businesses wouldn’t need humans to function. This won’t happen; at least not completely.” Chatbots are only a tool to facilitate your strategy to nurture leads, acquire new customers, and maintain a loyal following. Without humans, you can’t configure the chatbots to achieve specific tasks. More importantly, chatbots can’t replace your talented marketing and sales teams. Chatbots don’t have the ability to brainstorm creative ideas, adapt quickly to complex customer expectations, or hop on an airplane to participate in an impromptu meeting with a client. In other words: you still need humans. Look for opportunities where chatbots can offer value to your team’s needs. Chatbots should assist your staff as they find methods to improve your bottom line.  

    Chatbots as a Strategy

    It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when new technology enters the market. But that’s no reason not to try it. Take the time to learn how chatbots can benefit your small business. They may revolutionize your operations and customer relationships.
  • 5 Ecommerce Holiday Campaigns to Inspire Your Online Shop

    Friday, November 17, 2017 by

    ecommerce holiday campaign examples5 Examples of Inspired Ecommerce Holiday Campaigns

    The holiday shopping season is here! From the latest fashion apparel to the hottest tech gadgets, consumers desire the best gifts to celebrate the upcoming festivities. Now is your time to ramp up your marketing campaigns. But before you do, William Harris, content lead at Sellbrite, offers some advice: “The first step in developing any successful marketing campaign for your ecommerce store is to first think about your goals. If you don’t know why you’re launching a campaign or what you’re hoping to get from it, it’s virtually impossible to determine whether your campaign brought your business any sort of value in the end.” With a goal in mind, you can take the next step toward boosting your sales. Here are five holiday campaigns to inspire your audience. Recommended WordPress Hosting

    1. Target: Gift Guides

    It’s the season of giving. For the everyday shopper, the holidays are a time to show their loved ones how much they care. Therefore, their shopping will focus on purchasing gifts that bring joy to their humble grandmothers, talkative college friends, and funny spouses. For businesses, this attitude of gratitude should present itself in your campaigns. Tuck away the marketing collateral that spotlights the buyers and bring out the websites emphasizing products for the giftee. Gift guides are an effective way to satisfy your consumers. Categorizing your products makes it easier for buyers to locate the perfect gift, while also ensuring the recipient gets an item that fits their interests. Well-known brand Target implements this strategy for its online store. With a click of a button, shoppers can locate gifts for kids and pets—and items under a specific budget. holiday gift guide ideas for ecommerce When creating gift guides, think about who will receive the product. You can offer complementary product recommendations, too. For instance, if you highlight a comfy sweater, give consumers links to your scarves, socks, and gloves. Gift guides are all about convenience for everyone involved. Release the stress from your shoppers and earn sales in the process.  

    2. Nordstrom: Personalization

    Say goodbye to the days of generic trinkets during the largest shopping season. With customization as a top priority, consumers crave products that will create memories for the special people in their lives. The need of personalization is an advantage for your ecommerce store. It’s your opportunity to distinguish your inventory from competitors and build brand recognition with your target audience. Personalization will vary depending on your consumer base and product offerings. You can provide buyers with the choice to add hand-picked designs to an item, or deliver the gift in a unique manner (maybe a drone!). Michelle Hoang, marketing at Beeketing, gives a suggestion: “Why not allow your shoppers to directly send the products to their loved-ones with an e-Gift card? This way you make the shopping easy for the gift senders because they won’t have to wait for the packages to arrive before they can gift them.” Nordstrom lets its shoppers include a personalized message to their gifts. For a few extra bucks, they also can get products wrapped in a box with tissue paper, a ribbon, and a gift tag. ecommerce gift wrapping option Gifts are an expression of the customers. Let them participate in building the gift through personalization options.  

    3. REI: Social Movements

    Your customers are more than just occasional shoppers who love your products. They are people who live in a world of injustice, struggle with medical issues, and champion ideals bigger than themselves. So it makes sense for your business to join local and national movements with your audience. Work with your team to decide which issue aligns with your company’s values and fits the dialogue of your customers. And it’s not always about being right or wrong when it comes to advocating for a cause. Instead, you can strive to bring a solution to a social movement. That’s exactly what REI did. While brands rushed to compete for Black Friday sales, the outdoor gear chain closed the doors of its retail locations, headquarters, and distribution centers. With its #OptOutside campaign, the company encourages employees, along with communities, to enjoy the outdoors, rather than missing time with family on Thanksgiving to wait in line for a Black Friday doorbuster. social movement cause for ecommerce Be mindful of how you execute this social movement strategy. It should be a sincere approach to raise awareness about a problem and to contribute your resources to help. What causes matter to your customers? It’s time for you to step up and add your brand’s voice to the conversation.  

    4. Lenovo: Contests & Giveaways

    You get a car! You get a car! Okay, maybe not a car. While your business may not dish out free vehicles like Oprah Winfrey, your brand can still spread the joy of surprises. Contests and giveaways during the holidays can bring some much-needed attention to your business. Develop amusing contests with relevant themes and cool prizes. This is the perfect time to display your brand personality and build trust with your consumers. Lenovo prepares its customers for a season of winning. Lucky entrants have a chance to win everything from a gaming monitor to a tablet after they fill out a simple form. holiday contest example for ecommerce While you may want to get your contest started today, it’s essential that your team craft rules for the contests and check local laws. Alexandra Sheehan, a freelance writer/editor and content specialist, says: “Before you run a contest or giveaway, remember that there are a number of legalities and guidelines to consider, and these rules depend on the type of promotion you’re running and what platform you use as a host.” Attract new customers to your ecommerce store with contests and giveaways. The influx in traffic will boost your efforts to earn more revenue for the business. Learn more about running a successful Facebook contest here.  

    5. Old Navy: Email Marketing

    As your team gears up for the holiday rush, don’t forget about your existing customers. They still hold value for your brand and possibly will drive more sales than new customers. Email marketing is one of the best channels to nurture your loyal fans during the holidays. Your goal is to send specific messages to different customer segments. Let’s say your ecommerce store sells a variety of shoes. To cater to multiple audiences, you may send basketball shoe recommendations to your athletic consumers and offer limited-edition shoes to your sneakerheads. Email also works well for delivering time-sensitive coupons. In the example below, Old Navy tells its customers about a 40% promotion. (And the email fits mobile devices!) holiday mobile email example for ecommerce Spice up your holiday email marketing with user-generated content, from photos to testimonials. You want to remind customers of the blissful feeling they get when shopping with your brand. It gives them another reason to visit your website sooner than later. Communication never grows old as a marketing strategy. Take advantage of email to retain your most faithful customers.  

    Inspire Your Audience

    Don’t let your business miss out on holiday revenue. This season, do something different and revamp your marketing campaigns. Try gift guides to direct consumers to specific products that match their needs. Use personalization to turn an ordinary gift into a memorable moment. And it never hurts to host a fun-filled giveaway to pique consumers’ interest. Ignite your audience’s holiday spirit to increase end-of-year sales.
  • 5 Tips to Reduce Your Email Bounce Rates

    Wednesday, November 8, 2017 by

    How To Reduce Email Bounce RateStop Bounce Back Emails With These 5 Tips

    Business managers often discuss email list management once it’s too late. It’s easy for teams to get so bogged down with nurturing their customers that they forget to monitor the overall health of their lists. So, they keep sending emails and only focus on their sales. However, bounce rates are another important metric for managers. It represents whether your emails actually get delivered to your subscribers. High bounce rates mean you’re failing to reach your intended audience. But no worries. You can take deliberate actions to fix this problem. Check out these five strategies to reduce your email bounce rates. Create Your Blog

    1. Avoid Purchasing Emails

    In business, it’s tempting to take the easy route. We see a new tool that promises to deliver 100x results in two days, and our initial reaction is to try it. It’s only later that we learn about the negative effects. This principle holds true for email marketing. There’s a lot of vendors guaranteeing email addresses of qualified leads. Don’t trust them. You’ll soon realize that you bought incomplete and out-of-date information. You’ll be addressing someone in your email as Sam, only to realize the person’s real name is Mary. You ruin the potential customer relationship from the start. Plus, most purchased emails won’t even make it to the subscriber’s inbox. You’ll lose lots of money for buying a fake list of leads. Have you ever thought of purchasing an email list? While experts issue clear warnings to stay away, some businesses continue to try their luck. Below is a job posting on Upwork from a company seeking to buy an email list for a specific industry. purchased email list If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Consider the CAN-SPAM laws you might be violating. Your business is too valuable for a list of fake email subscribers.  

    2. Set Up an Opt-in Form

    If you shouldn't purchase a list, what is your alternative option? Here’s where the hard work begins for your team. You have to roll up your sleeves and start engaging with your audience. To gain people’s trust, you must be open to giving away something of value. This strategy involves responding to fans on Facebook, answering questions on live chat, and creating interesting content that offers useful information. It’s all about developing a genuine customer relationship. After you establish that connection, you want to take the next step and ask customers for their email addresses. Asking for permission is ideal, as “77% of consumers prefer to receive permission-based marketing communications through email.” Capture people’s email addresses by adding an opt-in form to your website. There are several types of opt-in forms, including overlays, widget bars, and scroll mats. Professional blogger Mary Fernandez offers this recommendation: “With a lightbox popup, the rest of the screen becomes darker and the user’s eye automatically goes to read your message and view the email sign-up form. This makes it perfectly clear what the user should do next.” With an opt-in form, you earn more qualified leads because subscribers willingly entered their contact details. For your business, this means a well-deserved drop in your bounce rates.  

    3. Get Your Own Domain

    Professionalism matters in business. Your customers will judge every move you make. That’s why you want to build a good brand perception early. In email marketing, the sender of the message determines whether someone will open and read your email. If the recipient doesn’t recognize the “From” name, your email will remain unopened. To increase your chances, you want to use a combination of your name or an employee’s name and the brand. For example, it’s likely a subscriber will open your email if it says: Tim from HostGator. There’s another big issue hindering subscribers from seeing your emails. And that’s your “From” email address. It’s vital that you avoid using free webmail accounts, like Gmail and Yahoo. Most email service providers don’t give you the option. Email servers deem these free accounts as more suspicious, and email platforms prefer to maintain credible services. So, what’s the solution? Buy a custom domain. It pushes your business toward professionalism, and you get to dodge those high bounce rates. get custom domain name from hostgatorGive your email recipients peace of mind that they’re receiving the right message from the right business. Still looking for the best domain name? Get one right now with HostGator.  

    4. Clean Your Email List

    Around April of every year, people start removing their winter clothes from their closets to make room for the new season. Some folks even donate items and do an extra scrub of their homes. People refer to this annual routine as Spring cleaning. Your business should do something similar. On a yearly or quarterly basis, your team should clean your email list. Cleaning your list is the process of purging invalid email addresses and dormant subscribers and addressing any spam complaints. You want your list populated with only the most responsive subscribers. A quality list ensures you send messages to people who want to receive them. But don’t press delete just yet. Pamela Vaughan, a principal marketing manager at HubSpot, suggests you give subscribers one last chance to show their interest: “Before you remove subscribers, try a re-engagement campaign to regain their interest. You might offer a special incentive to recapture their attention. If that doesn’t work, simply ask them if they wish to remain on your list and include an easy way for them to opt out.” It’s also recommended that you validate your email addresses. With Quick Email Verification, you can check your bounce rates before your next email campaign. quick email verification service You don’t have to wait until Spring to clean your list. Take action right now to get your email marketing in tip-top shape.  

    5. Manage Your Account Reputation

    Company reputation holds significance in every industry. A tainted brand image means less customers and less partners willing to do business with you. For that reason, you’ll see major businesses go to great lengths to protect their brands. While email account reputation isn’t a highly publicized crisis, it still can affect your relationships with customers and your email service provider. In this case, a poor reputation impacts your email deliverability. With a decrease in delivered messages, you can’t earn more sales from your products or advertisers. Your bottom line will take a nosedive and sponsors will seek ads with your competitors. The experts at AddThis agree: “Sending emails to nonexistent addresses or to spam folders dings your IP reputation. It’s a vicious cycle: a lower reputation results in lowered deliverability, and even fewer emails actually reaching your customers.” It’s also key to practice ethical marketing habits. If customers unsubscribe from your mailing list, honor their wishes. And stay away from spammy phrases, like “no strings attached,” “satisfaction guaranteed,” and “no purchase necessary.”  

    Improve Your Email Marketing

    There’s more to email than writing copy and adding cool designs to your messages. It’s also important to refine your email deliverability. If no one is getting your emails, you’re not nurturing any leads. Experiment with different strategies, like opt-in forms and list cleaning, to ensure your emails get received. Check your email bounce rates. It’ll improve your overall email marketing strategy.
  • 5 Fresh Ways to Optimize Your Marketing with Automation

    Monday, October 16, 2017 by

    how to optimize marketing automationMarketing Automation: Get More Out of Your Efforts

    Marketers give automation a bad reputation. As you look through your Facebook posts, you’ll notice dozens of articles about how automation doesn’t work or how it’s not helpful. Well, that’s not necessarily true. Marketing combined with automation offers an opportunity for you to connect directly with your audience in a more efficient manner. Not only can your business save time with routine tasks, but your team can also gather new insights about your customers. So, don’t subtract marketing automation from your strategy. There’s a chance to nurture your audience and increase your revenue. Here are 5 refreshing ways to optimize your business processes. Dedicated Server

    1. Share Relevant Social Media Posts

    Research shows that 97% of online adults have visited or used a social network within the last month. If your business is aiming to earn new leads, social media is your destination. However, most companies fail to maximize the potential of their social media presence. You’ve probably scrolled down your favorite brand’s Twitter timeline and noticed all the tweets referencing their products. When brands focus solely on themselves, customers get annoyed. They don’t like that icky feeling of being sold something 24/7. Instead, companies must gear their social media efforts toward educating and entertaining their audiences. You can share unique experiences from customers, post a vintage employee photo for #ThrowBackThursday, or even share funny GIFs during the holiday season. Social media is all about giving your brand a vibrant personality that customers can relate to. Once you build that trust, your audience will feel more comfortable purchasing from you. You’re thinking: that’s going to take several hours. Not exactly. With social media management tools like Buffer, you can now automate your posts days in advance. You’ll reach your audience at the right times and drive more engagement. Buffer social media automation Explore how you can share more relevant posts, and don’t forget to automate your social media tasks.  

    2. Track Visitor Behavior

    Do you follow your website visitors? Are you monitoring how they interact with content on your pages? If not, there's a possibility your team is missing an opportunity to really learn about your consumers. Some businesses find it creepy to watch their customers, and it makes their teams feel like a bunch of stalkers. If you feel that way, perhaps you’re taking the wrong approach. Tracking visitor behavior helps you understand the customer. When you know more, you can create better online experiences. “By analyzing where your visitors come from and what content leads them to your site, you can better track your content ROI, learn more about how effective your efforts are, and create more of what your visitors find most valuable,” states Ashley Kimler, a communications specialist at Heroic Search Tulsa. For example, if you set up Google Analytics on your site, you can observe which channels lead visitors to your products. You can learn how much time each visitor spends viewing a specific page. Your team also can track specific interactions on your website, such as video downloads. More importantly, you gain all this data automatically. Monitoring your visitors helps you serve your customers. When you focus on that goal, you eliminate the doubts of whether to track your visitors or not.  

    3. Capture Interested Buyers

    Brick-and-mortar businesses are notorious for luring shoppers into their stores with catchy sales signs and window displays. And once a customer enters their doors, they grab the person’s interest with a friendly sales clerk and limited-time promotions. As an online retailer, you can replicate this strategy for your business. All you need is a landing page, a content asset, and a pop-up box. Landing pages work as a tool to earn your visitor’s attention. You’re not selling them on your product just yet. Rather, you want to encourage them to give you their email address in exchange for a content asset. The asset can be a five-part email course or a coupon for a future purchase. “The content on the landing page primes the reader for what your asset will give them. It should provide a quick, digestible summary of what they’ll learn if they download it. This is the ‘exchange’ point in the process, where they decide if your asset is worth their time and their contact information,” writes Ben Silverman, marketing writer at Brafton. But how will you collect their contact information? Will someone need to be online operating the site? Of course not. You’ll add a pop-up box onto your website. So when someone clicks a specific link or button to sign up for your content asset, they will have the option to fill out a form. Below is a pop-up box from ThriveThemes. popup box email newsletter You can capture interested buyers any time. That’s the advantage of marketing automation.  

    4. Identify Qualified Leads

    You are thrilled when new prospects come through the pipeline. It’s a sign your marketing strategy is working. Yet, most business strategies stop here. They have interested buyers and immediately start selling products to them. That’s not quite how you want to do it. Instead, you need to create a system that moves consumers down your sales funnel. You want to turn prospects into qualified leads. Work with your team to define activities that signal when consumers are ready to buy your product. These actions may include opening three promotional emails, visiting your product page five times within a week, or contacting a customer support member. “Marketing automation provides a framework for your potential customers’ progress as they traverse the buyer’s journey, and makes it easy for marketers to manage leads. You define characteristics, such as a title or industry, and behaviors, such as attending a webinar, that indicate when a prospect will likely become a buyer,” says Chris Hardeman, vice president of sales at Act-On Software. If you had to manually qualify leads, this labor-intensive task would take forever. Marketing automation platforms, like Pardot and ActiveCampaign, offer lead scoring that track customer engagement over time. You have the power to improve team productivity and increase sales. So, start figuring out how to qualify your leads today.  

    5. Send Targeted Email Campaigns

    Communication is important when it comes to online marketing. It matters how and when you send messages to your audience. In the past, businesses dominated the communication with their customers. Companies made unilateral decisions about what they would say. With advances in technology, the brand-customer relationship favors the buyer. Customers control when and where they want to receive sales messages. As a result, businesses deliver multiple emails to their customers every day—all vying for their attention. To separate yourself from the pack, it’s imperative that you send targeted email campaigns. These personalized messages fit each customer’s shopping behaviors and specific product interests. Customized emails ensure that buyers read your content and pay attention to your services. Plus, your subscribers get the sense that your business understands their needs. Email marketing software makes it easy to deliver personalized automated messages to your list. For instance, with Constant Contact, your team can send automated birthday emails to each subscriber. constant contact email automation You want customers to listen to you. To do so, send targeted email campaigns to strengthen the consumer relationship.  

    It’s Time to Automate

    Automation isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for all your marketing challenges. However, it is useful for streamlining your business workflows. From social media to email campaigns, marketing automation facilitates the customer journey. You can attract, nurture, and convert leads without the unnecessary hassle. Give automation another chance. It’s worth the investment.
  • Do These 5 Things Before Investing in Marketing Automation

    Monday, October 16, 2017 by
    marketing automation tips for getting started

    How To Get Started With Marketing Automation

    Learning a new business process takes time and money. You have to train team members and select software that fits your budget. Right now, many companies are evaluating their options when it comes to marketing automation. The primary question being asked: Is it worth the investment? Colin Bentley, group product manager at Intercom, offers his opinion. “The key benefit of marketing automation is its ability to provide a personal experience that directly relates to the action each person takes. Good marketing automation creates a connected set of personalized and relevant messages that enrich the customer journey and help them discover and use your products.” If you’re struggling to make a decision, no worries. Here are five things you should do before investing in marketing automation. Dedicated Server

    1. Assess How You Identify Qualified Leads

    Every consumer that walks into your store or visits your website isn’t going to fit your ideal customer type. And that’s okay. You don’t want to be all things to everybody. However, it is your responsibility to filter through potential leads and determine who can benefit from your products and services. For example, a high-end shoe enthusiast won’t find your comfortable, low-priced sneakers appealing but a cash-strapped father might. Qualifying leads requires examining your customers’ demographic profiles and behaviors. Specific actions can indicate a consumer is ready to move to the next step in the sales funnel. We call this process lead scoring. Below is a chart from Wishpond listing a few possible actions that hold significance in identifying leads. lead scoring Marketing automation makes lead scoring easier for your team. Instead of tallying your consumers’ actions with pencil and paper, there’s software that can automatically do these tasks for you. It’ll record what actions occur and notify your team when prospects become leads. eMarketeer reports that “companies that nurture prospects with the help of marketing automation, see a 451% increase in qualified leads.” If you’re still guessing whether a visitor is a lead or not, marketing automation is a natural next step for your business.  

    2. Study Your Current Nurturing Process

    Gone are the days where a consumer learns about your brand, sees your merchandise, and buys your product immediately. Competition is fierce in the marketplace today, and with choice comes consumers’ hesitations to purchase things quickly. When a consumer comes across your product, they start investigating. They ask their friends about your brand and even visit multiple review sites to get other people’s opinions. The time it takes to make a purchasing decision has extended. For your business, this means creating a nurturing process to keep buyers interested while they do a little research. Lead nurturing is a major part of the sales cycle. You’re educating and engaging consumers to persuade them to purchase. Nurturing activities may include making courtesy calls, sending promotional emails, or suggesting a blog content to read. lead nurturing activities The entire process is tedious and involves several courses of action. How you nurture a teen buyer would be different from how you would nurture a middle-aged consumer. Then, you must factor in the individual’s interests and buying motivations. With marketing automation, you can create the system and then run the lead nurturing process on autopilot (with some supervision). For instance, you can automatically send consumers an email with a coupon after they abandon a shopping cart. No more reminding yourself to follow up; let the software do the heavy lifting.  

    3. Track Marketing Activities

    Your team is working on a big project to increase customer retention. It’s a brand-new initiative with no set procedure. So, everyone is basically creating steps from scratch. As retention ticks upward, the team declares the project a victory. So your boss wants to replicate the success. But there’s one major problem. No one on the team tracked the marketing activities. You don’t even know how much time it took to achieve results. While it may seem obvious to record marketing activities, this mistake is common in many businesses. Tivi Jones, a contributor for The Arizona Republic, offers her insight on the topic: “Keeping track of your marketing projects regularly enables you to not only monitor your activities, but also your results. Based on your current marketing goals and objectives, set up marketing projects or campaigns in order to group activities and results into chunks you can manage and analyze for return on investment.” Don’t know which marketing strategy led to results? Marketing automation may be your solution. The right tool can track what marketing activities you did and when you implemented them. For instance, if you run an A/B test in January and forget which strategy won, you can retrieve the results in May when you revisit the problem.  

    4. Gauge Your Personalization Strategies

    As more businesses open their doors, the market becomes more crowded. Consumers get bombarded with messages from their local gyms, doctors, and chain retailers. Everyone is vying for the buyer’s attention. Breaking out of the mold may seem difficult. Because, quite frankly, it is challenging to showcase your brand and product when 20 other competitors exist. But the battle isn’t impossible. Stop thinking about how you can be different. Instead, communicate differently to your target audience. Personalization combined with marketing automation opens doors to nurturing your consumers based on their desires. Nearly two-thirds of email marketers worldwide use email automation, according to a GetResponse survey. However, only 25.4% of email marketers are personalizing with dynamic content. marketing automation survey Marketing automation offers a unique opportunity to integrate specific customer data into your email campaigns, sales collateral, and site messaging. By eliminating the boilerplate text, you show customers that you really understand their needs.  

    5. Understand How You Collect Data

    Data is a hot topic for businesses. Experts advise teams to collect every single piece of data to understand their customers. So, that’s what most companies do. They gather data from a recent campaign, pull information from an old database, and import contacts from an external source. Before you know it, teams have accumulated data from 20 to 30 different places. Then, after it’s collected, the data sits idle on a supervisor’s desktop, waiting to be accidentally deleted. This isn’t a sound strategy. Marketing automation can help your team centralize all your data. That way, you’re getting accurate information to make better judgment calls. If you need to look up a new customer, the data is at your fingertips, rather than a filing cabinet. “We track every single acquisition channel through which our users register. This includes blog posts, press, organic search, paid ads, partnerships, etc. We do weekly meetings to review the data. It shows which channels convert the highest, generate the most loyal users and more,” says Danny Boice, founder of Speek. You don’t want your data scattered around like toys in a child’s playpen. If it takes you days to find your data, it might be time to invest in marketing automation.  

    Get Ready to Automate

    Introducing marketing automation into your business is a big decision. You want to be well-informed before you take the leap. Evaluate how you identify qualified leads in your pipeline. Track your marketing tasks during campaigns. And of course, assess how you currently gather data. Get informed. Then, invest in marketing automation.
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