Make leads grow on trees!
Lead generation and conversion are some of the biggest challenges for small businesses. For many entrepreneurs and small business owners, it is one of the tasks they spend the most time on, and one of the most frustrating.
Fortunately, many tasks of lead generation and management can be helped along by automation.
What is automation?
Automation, in this context, is using various apps and software to automate various workflows and processes.
Automation leverages advances in AI, machine learning, natural language processing, and other technologies to accomplish tasks automatically without human intervention.
This can lead to greater efficiency because it frees up the time spent on these tasks, as well as higher accuracy since computers accomplish tasks with far fewer errors than humans (so long as the input is good, that is!)
Automation advocates state that any task that aligns with one or more of the three Rs is a candidate for automation.
While users must be conscious of cost-benefit analysis to determine if a given task should be automated, the benefits of automation are easily seen, especially as your business scales up.
This can be a game-changer for small businesses as the demands of doing everything with a small team are made much simpler when you automate where you can.
If you can automate aspects of your lead generation, this allows you to focus on closing your leads and building relationships, which can dramatically increase your sales.
You can’t automate creativity, strategy, or human interaction, but by using automation, you can focus on those items and, as a result, watch your business grow!
Email marketing: Far from being dead
Check this out: email marketing is a great place to introduce automation and highly effective in both generating leads and moving them along on their buyer’s journey!
Email marketing is one of the earliest digital marketing channels, but it is still relevant and highly effective.
While human interaction is critical in email marketing, that doesn’t mean there aren’t ample opportunities for automation!
It’s important to note that email has to be personal to be most effective. Success lies in the intersection between personalization and automation.
Taking the time to identify your ideal customers and craft emails that speak to them and demonstrate an understanding of who they are and what their needs are is important.
Using personas can really help with this process. Obvious form letters are often discarded, but you can send automated emails while achieving a personalized look if you know your ideal demographic.
There are three broad categories of email marketing where automation can make life a lot simpler.
1. Follow up emails
For existing leads, follow up emails can make a huge difference in converting them to customers. But with the sheer volume of email that most people receive and the constant demands on one’s time and mindshare, it often takes repeated emails to catch someone at a time where they can act on your email.
Finding the time to send emails to everyone on your follow up list eats into your time to find new leads, but there is a fix for that.
Check out automated follow-up email tools to ensure that you keep trying until you get a response, sending an email every day or two based on a sequence you select. You’ll never miss a follow-up again, and you don’t have to remember to send follow-ups manually.
Using a dedicated email follow up tool can pay huge dividends in converting potential leads to leads and leads to customers.
2. Trigger-based emails
Trigger-based emails are emails that automatically go out given a certain trigger.
For example, if you run an e-commerce site, you might wish to send out an email when a customer abandons a shopping cart, to let them know they forgot to complete their purchase or offer incentives to lure them back, or a referral email to a recent new customer letting them know that they can refer a friend and receive a reward or incentive.
You might also send them based on customer data. For example, if you are running a sale on products the customer has purchased before, or that the customer has earned a reward if you have a loyalty or rewards program.
3. Content-based emails
Content-based emails are a key part of content marketing; these are designed to convert people to customers by providing valuable, relevant content such as an e-newsletter, often with a call to action.
Whether you focus on letting people know what types of sales you are running or you are demonstrating thought leadership through the news about your industry, e-newsletters that are relevant and informative keep your brand in the consumer’s mind and enhance your credibility and brand awareness.
Content marketing: Give value, Get leads
Crafting relevant, informative content can pay dividends in lead generation.
Content is evergreen. You provide information or solutions on the internet that provide immediate value for a potential lead, asking only for some data in exchange (and in a low-pressure way).
For example, a how-to guide on something related to your business, and they have to provide their name and email address to obtain it.
While creating the content can’t usually be automated, once you distribute it, it is an automatic lead generation channel.
Best of all, it is evergreen. That content will be out there forever, generating leads for your business.
Text messaging: Local leads
Text messages have the highest open rate of any lead generation channel, as high as 98 percent.
While text messages can often be seen as more intrusive than other methods of communication, a focus on providing relevant info and value can ensure that this remains a strong channel for your business.
While sending texts can be time-consuming, you can use automation tools to automatically text prospects once they’ve opted in for a variety of reasons.
This includes wishing them a happy birthday, informing them of special events for your business, reminding them of meetings or appointments with you, thanking them for a purchase, or inviting them to engage in a discussion with you so you can overcome objections and/or close them on a sale.
Automation allows you to text at scale, providing personal interaction in an automated fashion.
Automated lead generation: A win-win for your sales
There are many tools out there to automate your lead generation processes and bring in more strong leads.
Lead generation is a challenge, but the whole reason you’re in the small business world is your confidence in doing great work for your customers, right?
Once you’ve got solid leads, all you have to do is be the amazing entrepreneur you know you are and the business will just roll right in.
Automation helps! Good luck!
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Michael Habiger is a content marketing specialist with over 6 years of experience, currently head of the marketing department at FollowUpFred. He is a marketing nerd and front-fighter for big data and automation.