You are probably on a path to choose the best marketing automation software for your business. In our latest post, we've covered all you need to know about marketing automation when you are a small business owner. Automation is a trend. And every small business can embrace this – it's not just a game for the big players. In order to choose the right tool, there are some things to keep in mind. There is not just one category of automation tools. Some help enterprises with their robust database and multi-channel campaign orchestration, others help small businesses get rid of the daily marketing routine. Let's dig into the 5 features you'd expect to find in your perfect marketing automation software solution.
You read that correctly, the options are unlimited. If you have your database of (even) a few contacts, you may want to segment them according to a criteria that makes sense for you/ your business or industry and communicate with them in a personalised way. Personalisation is crucial to get the best out of every message you send. If your audience does not identify with the problem and solution you bring, no one will buy from you. Understanding your audience comes first. Segmentation is something that helps you distinguish one segment from another. Technically platforms that automate your marketing efforts have to allow you to segment your audience based on many criteria – be it past purchase activity, website behaviour, demographics or firmographics.
Segments are groups of audiences that are internally the same, but externally different from each other. Segmentation in marketing is crucial as it allows you to differentiate between desires, problems, perspectives, characteristics and habits of your customers. Your overall marketing strategy – your content, marketing channels, budgeting etcetera – needs to come hand in hand with having your segments recognized.
Tools like EngageBay, Hubspot or Keap offer you CRM as well as an automation engine. This gives you the ability to collect contacts from more sources and segment them for further marketing communication.
This term might seem quite complex, but trust me, there is nothing complicated about it. People visit your website, fill out forms, interact with you on social media and answer (or don't answer) your emails. Say you have more than 1,000 contacts (leads) and you try to be as responsive as possible. Monitoring and reacting to all these touchpoints would be impossible – knowing you don't have 100 sales reps or marketing specialists at hand. These actions represent triggers in automation platforms that allow you to start any kind of action you desire – send an email after a purchase is completed, add a user to your remarketing list after she visits the website, send an SMS after a form is filled, send an alert to your colleague once your potential customer visits a website. These are all marketing activities that can be fully automated. You obviously want to have a solution that allows you to monitor those touchpoints and react to them accordingly.
There is nothing worse than not being responsive. Triggered emails (to name one of the channels) generate 24x more revenue per send than batch campaigns. The reason is that this approach works with the perfect timing to deliver your message.
I know, this one is obvious. The fact is, that not every tool has all channels covered for you. We continuously put stress on the 360° customer view & customer-centric approach. What we mean by that is simple: “Be where your customers are”. Does your audience use Instagram? Be there with them! Are they searching for something on Google or Bing? Be there too. Are they Messenger lovers? Engage with them there. And guess what, your customers are probably on all of them (+ many others)… We've spoken about the importance of a multi-channel approach in our latest blog. Make sure to check that out.
In order to be present on multiple channels, you need the right tools in place. Many tools, nowadays, use integration with major advertising platforms. Some go beyond and offer you SMS, Messenger or Whatsapp messages. Make sure to choose the channels wisely before you pick an automation tool. And make sure to pick a tool that improves with time – new marketing channels show up almost on a daily basis and users adapt pretty quickly. Look at Tik Tok, which launched in 2017, and now has more than 800 million people! Insane? Not at all – welcome to the 21st century. ActiveCampaign understands this well, offering you SMS, social, website messaging, etc.
Be where your customers are.
This really needs to be pointed out: content is, at the end of the day, what the users see and interact with. If you're backed up with best-in-breed tools, embrace the newest technologies and have everything technically covered, your message won't be successful if the content does not resonate. "Content is King." I know you've probably heard this Bill Gates quotes a thousand times, but it simply is true. Automation tools allow you to create emails (that's where these tools come from – email marketing), but do they allow you to create converting landing pages, forms or dynamic content that changes on your website according to your channel? It definitely should. Pay attention to the creative part of your messaging. If you fail here, nothing will help. A perfect marketing automation tool will back you not only on the technical side of things, but also the creative.
Having mentioned website personalisation, take a look at how Exponea does it. Even though it's a tool focused on bigger companies, there is some inspiration to be found...
With content creation comes hand in hand AB testing. You never know what will resonate the most, so you should constantly be testing. Let your customers decide what works best – and make sure to get the important data back to your tool so that you can constantly improve. If you're not sure what price the sweatshirt should be sold at, test it. Launch the website with two prices – showing the higher price to 50% of your website traffic and the lower price to the other 50% – and see the result. If you're not sure if a question works better over a simple sentence in your email subject, test it. If you're not sure, put your thoughts and best estimations away and let the users decide – it's them who buys your product, not you.
Overall, a good automation tool – and most of them do – needs to offer you AB testing on every channel and piece of content.
Numbers, right. Without analyzing your efforts, no improvement can happen. Metrics like email open rates, click rates, or cost per acquisition, might sound overly complicated, but once you understand them, they can help you continuously improve. Every software company that develops a marketing automation platform knows this and gives you some great analytical features in hand. Nonetheless, one thing that you should keep in mind is that less is sometimes more. Dashboards and cohorts tend to be complicated. You end up looking at 100 numbers without getting the context. That is not right. Choose a tool that interprets data clearly and in an organised way.
We've focused on campaign management across multiple channels and wanted to make numbers (the boring part) as easy as it gets. See the dashboard below that displays how easy it can be if you focus on a few key metrics (which you should):
We have covered 5 features you’d expect in your perfect marketing automation software solution. There is a plethora of tools that allow you to automate your marketing efforts, so choose carefully. It takes some time to set everything up and, believe me, you don't want to change your mind after your money and time were invested into the onboarding. Focus on these 5 factors and you'll cover the majority of what's most important. Remember, there are thousands of features, tools and channels. Zoom in on what brings you results – 20% of your effort brings you 80% of the desired results - said by Pareto as we all know.
Before launching any marketing campaign, we must ask ourselves the question: What is it that I want to achieve by running this campaign? In other words, what goal do I set. This is crucial as it determines the outcome that needs to be tracked – the key metric(s) that I want to analyse. Let us call the key metric the North Star for now.
Imagine you sell houses in the U.S.A. By making great content (e.g. pictures & videos of a new house near a lake) and running an online ad, you want to reach as many people as possible! You worked out how to effectively target your customer and now it's time to evaluate your efforts.
Did you sell a house? Tell people. It's not only a success, but also confirmation for others that you're an expert and can sell their properties.
Live stream house tours
You probably organize home tours. With a mobile phone, you can simply make a live stream through Instagram, in which you walk through the house, describe its advantages in your own words and show it to potential or current clients. The live stream, unlike a regular tour, reaches a larger number of people. Don't get me wrong, it is certainly not a substitute for real house tours. But it can help you reach people, who don't come, instead.
Live stream from the neighborhood
You will probably agree that the neighborhood of the house is one of the most important things to consider when buying a house. There is nothing easier than walking around with a phone in hand to show customers where the house is and what is nearby. Livestream that is done well can give them a real sense of the area.
Make quizzes and polls
It is a very simple and engaging thing you can do. Making quizzes and polls in Stories, or even as part of regular posts is a great way to increase engagement with people.
Chat in Stories
Now you can add the Chat feature to your stories. It means that everyone can join a group and chat with you or other participants. You can use it as a weekly FAQ and for a limited time to answer your followers' questions. It's personal and engaging.
Share existing content
There is plenty of interesting content on Instagram. And this is an advantage for you, because you can easily share the posts you like and show your followers interesting content that they enjoy. Sharing others content and mentioning their accounts alo increases awareness of your account.
Give people tips and ideas for interior design. People like this type of content. Take advantage of existing Instagram content and just share it on your network.
Do you want to squeeze more out of online marketing? That's always a good idea. Bear in mind these faults so your effort will not come in vain.
There are more than 7 billion people on earth. And 1 billion of those people are on Instagram. That means every 7th person uses this visual-based social media network. Launched in 2010, and eventually bought in 2012 by Facebook (with more than 30 million users back then), Instagram offers a huge opportunity to connect with your current and potential customers, as well as, your followers and fans. The growth has been tremendous, which makes Instagram one of the most well-known and most widely-used social media platforms of all.
You already know that you can leverage any platform if you have a clear understanding of the audience you can reach there – and whether or not it aligns with your target audience… To find this out, let's jump into the key stats about Instagram and its users!
Have you ever wondered if the journey of your customer is trackable or even viewable? I have good news for you – it is. You can – in many cases – track how many people know about your business, how many of them consider purchasing your goods and, of course, how many already bought and referred your product to a friend. Being able to view the customer journey, optimise its steps and analyze your efforts is crucial for any kind of business. Trust me, the size does not matter (in this case). Every business should do it.
Marketing funnel is a term that resonates with the majority of marketers. They tend to use this model to illustrate the customer journey – from brand discovery to purchase. As stated, measuring every step of the funnel brings you a much better overview of your efforts and, thus, a higher return on investment, which is your goal, isn't it? The more you can get out of every stage of your customer's journey, the better the results are in terms of number count or revenue.
Let's say your customer journey has three main phases:
Please note that in this case we don't cover the scenarios that happen after the purchase is made (retention funnel).
Each stage represents a different behaviour stage of your potential customer. Say she has a problem which she is able to name. She begins to search for a solution – which you offer with your product or service. As soon as she discovers your business – among others – offers the solution she is already in the awareness stage.
Your presentation, product, its price and other factors determine whether she will move further on the journey. The consideration stage, needless to say, is a phase in which a potential customer already considers your product, is comparing it to your competitors and is aware of its pros and cons.
Decision. That's the phase we aim for. We want her to buy our product, right? That's when a decision is made. In this stage, your potential customer has already conducted the research, has chosen you over your competitors and is happy to buy what you have to offer.
We just described (in a very simple way) what a customer journey can look like. Sometimes it takes weeks to guide her through all stages of the journey, sometimes it is a matter of minutes. Imagine yourself buying a coffee in the city center. You probably don't do any thorough research, but you certainly look for coffee quality and price. You don't spend days comparing the product to other cafés or bars. You make the decision according to a few key factors. Your journey is fast and your decision is made pretty quickly. But it does not mean the café owner should not pay attention to the key factors, like what the café window looks like, or if their prices are reasonable, as it influences the customer's journey.
The customer journey can easily be viewed as a funnel. Therefore, marketers use it to analyze their efforts. To explain the basic idea behind the marketing funnel, let's use the widely-known model AIDA which stands for attention, interest, desire and action. Each of these phases represent a stage in which you might find your customers.
Obviously, your ultimate goal is to guide them through the stages without friction and in the shortest time possible.
Let us look at an example of a basic marketing funnel:
People obviously start at the top – marketers call it the top funnel. This represents the awareness stage. As customers move further in the funnel, they know more about you and your offer and start, as well as continue to consider it more and more.
Here is what a perfect marketing funnel would look like:
This would mean that everyone who discovers your product will decide to purchase. Going back to our example, 100% of the people who enter your café will buy a coffee. Of course, that's a seller's utopia. In an ideal world, this would work, not in the real one.
Your task is to carefully measure your funnel and optimize its steps.
Let's finally give a more concrete example of what a marketing funnel can look like in your case. Say you run a real estate business, and aim to attract potential house buyers with your website. That's also where you generate leads that you can then convert. Your main channels would be:
You would try to attract as many people as possible with your marketing budget and lead them to your website to show all the products or services you have. After they land on the website, ideally you want them to fill out a form, in case, they are interested in a particular offer. As soon as they do so, you connect with them via phone or email and find out whether their interest can lead to a conversion.
This is what your funnel would look like:
Let's do some math now. Say your marketing efforts help you reach 10,000 people with your ad. 3% of them interact with your ad and visit your website. That would mean you have 300 people on your website, right?
How many of these people are you able to convert into leads? That depends on how your website attracts its users and how juicy your offer is, doesn't it? Let's say you have a 10% conversion rate (10% of website visitors convert into leads). In this case, you would have 30 leads waiting to be contacted.
How many of them can you convert into sales? Again, factors like your response time, will play their role now. If you made it to 50%, you just made 15 sales. Now go back and think about what can be improved...
You can see that there are more factors that influence the efficiency of your funnel (and your efforts). One bit of advice would be: measure each step of the funnel, focus on the customer and do your best to improve the areas where it falters!
Going back to our example, simply by making your ad more appealing, you can increase your outcome from 3% to 6% which (if other metrics don't change) make 30 sales at the end of the day! Improve your website from 10% conversion rate to 15% and you almost hit the sky… You know where I am heading, right?
You may be wondering where you can get all of this data? Tools like Google Analytics, Google Ads, Facebook Business Manager or our own app that simplifies the process of ad management, can give you great insights into how many people you reached, how many of them interacted with your content, how many made it to the website and finally, how many were converted into leads. There is a plethora of ways to measure your marketing funnel – the customer journey. Even a piece of paper and good data sources can create miracles…
One thing is for sure: if you don't measure your efforts carefully, you may be investing money and energy into something which does not bring you results at all.
Gone are the days of driving through different neighborhoods and searching for houses and apartments with the for-sale sign. With around 50% of new homeowners finding their new homes online and only 7% finding it through the traditional yard sign it is easy to see why online advertising is becoming very important and effective in the real estate industry. More and more buyers are using the internet to search and find their dream house and it is easy to see why. Today’s technology allows us to search for any corner of the country for properties from the comfort of our living rooms.
So, with everything happening online here are 5 effective ways to sell houses with online advertising.