If you’re like most business leaders I meet, you have probably used some form of technology in your marketing efforts. In most cases, I hear about email and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) apps the businesses are using. And typically, the no-cost version of a tool is the one people will start with, and sometimes continue using even though they’re not sure the time they must put into these tools to use them is worth it. In my opinion, if you’re going to invest time (or money) into anything, it needs to return at least as much as you put into it. If you agree, read on.
Apps like ConstantContact, MailChimp, HubSpot, Keap (formerly Infusionsoft) and similar programs that offer a low-cost or no-cost version of their platform do so by providing only minimal features. So if you’re using the free version, you may not be getting much value from those apps, and you may not know about all of the things you can do with the same technology if you have access to more of the features. So, I thought I’d highlight three ways to use the more common apps and technology to improve your business – even if you are using the no-cost version.
Automatically Set Appointments – And Reminders
If you are using an email platform that gives you the ability to create and schedule emails on a specific date or after a specific amount of time, you can create a series of emails that go out to a contact when it’s time to reconnect. To be clear, almost every email platform will do this, but not necessarily with every version of the app. If you can schedule emails to go out on a specific date, you can create a reusable email – or series of emails – and set them to start on the target date.
Let’s say you have a meeting with a prospect and they tell you they’re interested but won’t be making a purchase for 6 months from the date you meet with them. You could add that prospect to your calendar and set a reminder to call them closer to when they will be making the decision. Or, you could add the contact to a pre-made email campaign that starts before your next meeting is needed and sends them a reminder email that solicits the follow up appointment. And, if you combine the email app with a calendar app, you can set it up to automatically add the appointment to your calendar (and theirs) – and even send reminders to the contact.
Prioritize Meetings Based On Revenue Potential
Anyone who has worked with a CRM app likely knows the concept of lead scoring. Lead scoring keeps your team focused on doing the things that are most likely going to generate revenue while avoiding things that are just a waste of time. The more accurately you score your contacts and prospects, the more productive and profitable your time will be.
As I said, almost all CRMs include some type of lead scoring functionality. The tricky part is that you have to use the CRM consistently and have a standardized lead scoring system. Even if you are the only sales person in your company, setting up a solid and scalable lead scoring strategy now will enable you to bring in new sales people and make them as productive as possible as you grow. But don’t treat your lead scoring system as a “set it and forget it” system. Refine it with data from your actual contacts, successes, and missed or lost opportunities.
Segment Your Contacts And Provide Customized Content
Perhaps the single most powerful use of automation technology is the ability for you to segment your contacts to provide more personalized content. Most businesses send out blasts of the same email to all of their contacts. And your contacts may all enjoy the content you share, but what do you learn in return from the content they read? Are you using what you learn to refine your segmenting strategy?
When you use the full power of a marketing automation platform, you can customize the content each of your recipients receives in their inbox, and, at least with some platforms, even serve custom content on your website. This is a more sophisticated use of the apps and the functionality they provide, which means – as you can imagine – that it takes more skill and time to set up. But it is worth it! Increasingly people want more tailored content, and we are finding that the more tailored content leads to great conversions of real prospects. It also helps you prevent the loss of contacts who are valuable to your network but who may never be customers themselves.
This functionality is not typically included in the no-cost version of any of the apps. And it may not even be available in the lower-tier service levels. But it is becoming a function that is worth the additional cost – especially if you are using other methods, like lead scoring, to segment your contacts and make your time as productive as possible. The more you know about your contacts, the more you can tailor your message to show how your offerings address their pain points.
These are just a few of the ways smaller companies can increase the value of their marketing automation technology investments. Can you think of others? Here are a few more blogs that I’ve posted in the past about Marketing Technology and its value to the small business community.