One of the buzzwords and a key trend in marketing is automation. Even though it may sound complicated and unaffordable for small businesses, the opposite is true – you only have to know where to begin. If you know what to focus on, choose the right software and analyze your efforts, marketing automation can truly get your business to the next level.
Marketing automation is, as the name suggests, a category of technology that streamlines your marketing activities. It gives you the power to focus on customers with the highest potential and saves your time by triggering messages (campaigns) across multiple channels without you having to start them manually. A miracle, I know.
There is always a buzz around new technologies. We recommend reading our article about the difference between Hype & Trend. Marketing automation, we believe, is a trend to stay. Jump on the train as soon as you can. No matter how big your business is. If you choose an affordable solution, your business can never be too small for this.
There are more arguments to start using a marketing automation tool:
Stop. Doing. Manual. Work. Period. Let technology help you automate. It's not as hard as it looks. You will find out soon, just bear with us…
Let us guide you through the very first steps to start using marketing automation that will take your business to the next level.
Be clear about what you want to achieve and how you'll track it. This is a prerequisite to get started. If you don't clearly set your expectations, you won't know where to go and you won't recognize when you get there.
Do you want to save time? Great! Are you more interested in increasing your response rate? That's cool too. Would you like to generate more leads? That counts as well. Goals and expectations should come out of your status quo - no one will help you here, just you, so start by defining your goals.
Know the journey of your customer. You can only optimize if you know what leads your customers to purchase. We are fans of marketing funnels that help you (in a simplified way) understand the customer journey. Draw one for your business – you will get a better idea of where your customers get stuck.
Let us give an example here. Say you run your real estate business. Your primary selling point is your website with all the listings and offers. You run Google, Bing and social media ads to generate traffic. You might send some newsletters too.
Your primary goal is to generate leads and close them, right? There are multiple touchpoints throughout the customer journey (before you close the deal). Here is what a customer journey may look like:
Now that you know how your customers behave – you've identified the touchpoints, let's slowly start automating. Or better said, let's find out what can be automated. Tools like Hubspot, ActiveCampaign or Keap are mostly focused on email marketing, social media ads, search & display ads, SMS, widgets and pop ups on the website. These represent the channels that you can use to get in touch with your audience. Let us expand on our example above. The touchpoints where the communication can be fully automated are now marked in red:
There are plenty of tools to choose from. Going back to your potential question: “Are these tools affordable for small businesses?”, note that you don't have to pick Marketo or Hubspot to automate your efforts. These are tools mainly for enterprises that operate with big marketing budgets. Not in our case. We go small. But effectively…
Let's list some of the tools you can use to start automating your communication:
ActiveCampaign gives you not just marketing automation software, but CRM on top. Its pricing starts at 9 USD (if paid annually) and offers not just email marketing, but also SMS, Facebook targeting, subscription forms and personalised content on your website. It's a great tool.
You will have to go deeper into your pocket here. Plans start at 49 USD, but they offer you a sales pipeline plus invoices & payment management on top of what ActiveCampaign gives you. If you lead a sales team, this can be a great choice.
As well as other automation tools, Drip focuses on campaign orchestration – creating a single view across multiple channels. We worship the 360°customer view and so does Drip. Their focus is ecommerce and they offer great features, like personalised product recommendations.
It started solely as an email marketing tool, and is now moving into the automation platform. Mailchimp offers features like landing page creation, social media ads and soon-to-be-launched marketing CRM. Pricing starts at 9,99 USD plus they offer a freemium to play with the tool and use basic features.
We love Zapier – the glue of the internet. It allows you to connect two platforms that, by themselves, do not communicate with each other. Say you generate leads on your Wix website and need to send them to your Drip account. Zapier helps you do that – automatically of course. With more than 1,500 platforms, they are the real glue of the internet...
As much as we love Zapier, we adore our own solution – groost. The name itself says that it'll grow & boost your business. We do it by automating and simplifying your campaign management. If you need to generate more leads, increase website traffic or get more post engagement on your social media profile, you probably run paid campaigns – knowing that organic reach is constantly decreasing – which can be overwhelming. Learning how Google Ads, Facebook Business Manager, LinkedIn Campaign Manager or Bing Ads work takes ages. Not with groost – a single platform for all your marketing efforts. We do offer freemium too to show your business on both Facebook and Instagram – try it out!
Make sure to come back and analyze your efforts. As Peter Drucker said, if you can't measure it, you can't improve it. Analyzing what works and what doesn't is crucial. We recommend running continual AB testing to optimise every step of your funnel and every touchpoint with your customers. All tools that have been listed above allow you to do so easily.
These are the 5 easy steps to get started with marketing automation. Some of them might seem obvious, but believe me, there is no shortcut. Set your priorities first, define the customer journey and touchpoints, find out what can be automated, choose the right tool(s) and after some period of time, come back, analyze and improve.
Is affiliate marketing effective for small businesses? Can this channel help your business get more customers and earn more money? The short answer is yes. The long answer is thoroughly described below, with all the details and explanations you need to successfully jump into leveraging affiliate marketing for your brand or product.
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.
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.
There are hundreds of metrics you can measure today. That's the biggest advantage, as well as, disadvantage of digital marketing.
The truth is you can measure almost anything. You can build a detailed report with real time data, refresh and make those business decisions based on precise data, visualize insights in all those bar charts, funnels, pie charts, cohorts, heat maps, numbers, percentages, etc. That's what the theory is about.
And I partially agree with that, but the reality may be a bit different. Yes, this is important for large companies that, thanks to comprehensive measurements and reports, can optimize their processes and save a significant amount of money.
However, at the SMB level, the situation is quite different. You probably don't have an IT department full of specialists and data analysts who are able to invest hundreds of hours to set up your data platform, connect dozens of data sources, transform the given data and from that, build strong reports. Also, you probably don't deal with a billion dollars in revenue, so sophisticated analytics can be counterproductive because you don't have enough quality and precise data to optimize individual processes and earn a significant savings.
I'm not trying to say that you should completely ignore data analytics. Rather, it is about finding the right balance between not getting overwhelmed with data and gaining valuable insights that can help your business.
In this article, I’ll cover the most important metrics that actually give you valuable insights into your business and online marketing efforts. At the same time, I will highlight the metrics that are less effective and easy to misinterpret.
Klipfolio, an analytics tool, says: Marketing Metrics are measurable values used by marketing teams to demonstrate the effectiveness of campaigns across all marketing channels.
Sounds a bit complicated, but in other words, marketing metrics are numbers that tell you how effective your marketing efforts are. You set a goal, and your metrics tell you, whether you have achieved it or not. Based on this you can make a change and try a different approach.
Example: My goal is to get 100 website visits per 50 USD invested in Facebook ads. My metric in this case is Clicks. Two scenarios could take place:
Metrics can tell you, how effective your efforts are and help you to make changes before you spend hundreds of dollars.
Digital marketing is unpredictable, and a strategy that worked well the last couple of months could eventually become less effective or stop working entirely. Metrics tell you immediately if your efforts are paying off.
Setting the wrong goals and misinterpreting engagement metrics is pretty rife. Let's check out some common scenarios. Maybe you will even spot some of your own mistakes.
You probably wouldn't speak English in Portugal. The same principle applies when it comes to social media. Every platform works in a slightly different way, has a different user base, and people behave differently. Your message shouldn't be the same for all platforms. We wrote an article about demographics and the specifics of individual social media networks, so make sure you read it to understand how all those platforms work and what makes each one different.
Tip: You don't have to be a marketing PRO to master campaigns across multiple channels. Try tools like groost that simplify this process.
I'm not saying that likes are not important. But in and of itself, they mean nothing. Nowadays, it is possible to buy likes for posts or a page for a few dollars, but it doesn't help your business at all. It usually does the opposite. It is necessary to look at the number of likes in context of the given situation.
You can measure almost anything you can think of and probably much more. I understand the allure of this idea, because in the beginning it sounds amazing…the theory about having precise real time data on a beautiful dashboard... but reality is usually different. In most cases, you can end up with an over-complex dashboard where you could easily get lost. It takes a great deal of time and energy to make this work.
The extreme opposite of measuring everything is measuring nothing. With the vast amount of information around us, it's understandable that one would just want to ignore everything. But with this approach, you are probably losing your money and throwing its potential out of the window. You can't tell if your spending on social media advertising is effective or if you are losing money, if you're not analyzing what is working vs. what is not. You don't need a complex dashboard with many metrics to keep proper tabs on this.
You know it already, there are hundreds of metrics out there. But you should focus on those that are most important for you and your business. From our perspective, these are the ones which you should be keeping track of:
Reach tells you, how many people were able to see your content. It doesn't mean real views, rather it refers to potential views. If someone with 1,000 followers retweets your tweet, your reach increases by those 1,000 different people, but not every single one of those people may see it.
A higher reach is better, but if you don't get enough leads or engagement, something could be wrong.
This metric tells you, how many direct contacts you got. A lead is a person or even a company that is ready for a follow-up. This person has usually reached a stage where they are ready to become your customer.
Engagement measures the amount of likes, shares and comments your content or ad received. This metric tells you, how much your content is resonating with your followers. It's an important metric to check when optimizing your content strategy.
The engagement rate is influenced by many factors like platform, number of followers, industry, time of posting, etc.
Tip: See our article on What to Expect from Social Media.
This metric is an exact number of how many people targeted, eventually became paying customers. Remember, that this isn't just about this exact number. It has to be compared with the Conversion Rate, which is a percentage metric that shows you a ratio between visitors and converted customers.
Conversion rate may vary across industries and required action.
Tip: See our article on What to Expect from Social Media.
This is a monetary metric telling you, how much revenue your ad has generated. At the end of the day, this is what counts.
ROI demonstrates how your marketing time, energy and money spent are contributing to your company growth. You always have to know how much money you spent on advertising and how much money it has brought. It tells you, if and how effective your advertising efforts are.
ROI (%) = (income/spend)*100
Your ROI should always be higher than 100%, otherwise a given strategy was ultimately, a waste of money.
Well, now you should understand the basics of Social Media Metrics. But the most important thing to understand is how to implement metrics in real-life scenarios. These are 4 steps to successfully start your measurements.
In the beginning, find some time to write down your goals. All social media platforms could be used in many ways. What do you want to accomplish? The more specific you can be, the better.
Here is a list of examples to help you brainstorm:
Tip: We made an article about defining goals, where you can read all about the process behind it.
The next step is to understand which metrics to use, to see if you are achieving your goals or not. This process is quite easy. Basically you are trying to find those numbers, so you can recognize how effective your efforts are. Your goal should fit into the following categories:
Awareness – Use metrics like volume, reach, exposure, and amplification. How far is your message spreading?
Engagement – Look for metrics around retweets, comments, replies, and participants. How many people are participating, how often are they participating, and in what forms are they participating?
Traffic – Track URL shares, clicks and conversions. Are people moving through social media to your external site and what do they do once they’re on your site?
Advocates and fans – Track contributors and influencers. Who is participating and what kind of impact do they have?
Share of voice – Track your volume relative to your closest competitors. How much of the overall conversation around your industry or product category is about your brand?
Social media platforms usually do provide some basic analytics. For most cases it's enough, so if you're new to analytics, start small. In our case, we built groost. analytics right inside the app.
Tip: If you want to see groost in action, sign up here for free.
Keep in mind that social media interactions happen in real time. Look for a tool that allows you to access data immediately, without delay. You can't afford to wait weeks or even days for a report. Having real time data allows you to react and make quick changes, in order to stay effective.
To make all previous steps valuable, take a data-based action. Don't forget to see data in a wider context and compare it with industry benchmarks.
These questions will help you optimize your social media analytics process.
If you're wondering where you can get your articles published, so that it reaches a broader audience, we have great news for you: LinkedIn allows you to create and publish articles natively on their platform. Not only can you leverage the wide user base that LinkedIn has, but you can also use their analytics to see how your posts perform.
Like Facebook did with Instant articles, LinkedIn has switched from being a solely networking-based platform, focused on professionals, to a content-based platform that allows its user to educate themselves while spending time on their platform. That's also what both LinkedIn and Facebook (amongst other platforms) desire – to keep you, me and other users on their platform for as long as they can.
Does this feature represent the potential for you to share your knowledge among other people? You bet it does - if “done well”. Let's jump right into how you can publish articles natively on LinkedIn like a pro.
To get started, click the “Write an article” button. Can’t find it? It's right there, have a look:
Isn't this one of the features that has been in front of your eyes the whole time, but remained undiscovered?
Once you hit the button, magic happens. You are redirected to an interface where you can create your native LinkedIn article. Having said that, you can now configure the content: add a headline, background image, write the article, add engaging or educating infographics or other visuals and finally, publish!
We won't leave you without any tips and tricks to get started (just keep reading), but we recommend you play around with this feature to get a better idea of what all you can do.
Are you using Instagram to attract qualified real estate leads? Or are you merely relying on Facebook?
Things changed in the last years and social media platforms as well. Instagram is one of the platforms that has grown dramatically in the last decade. In the beginning of 2012 it started with “just” 15 million users. After 8 years the user base grew to over 1 billion in 2020. Not just these numbers is a reason to consider using Instagram in your business.
In most of 2019, almost forty percent of adults were on Instagram. This number will grow rapidly in the next few years, so it makes IG a great place to reach your potential clients.
Instagram is based on connecting people. It is therefore, very easy to communicate directly with your followers or even potential customers, whether publicly in comments or in private messages. In addition, the Instagram application is very well optimised, so it is comfortable and easy for the person on the other side of your communication.
Instagram is based on visual content. People like it and spend a lot of their time looking at a variety of photos, pictures and videos. Embrace it when you have something to show. Photos of houses are very popular on Instagram and this is a huge opportunity for you! Show the properties you are currently offering.
Instagram is an engagement powerhouse. Brands see 10x higher engagement here than they do on Facebook. It's because the interaction with the content on instagram is much more natural and convenient for users.
When you offer your services on Zillow, Realtor, or Trulia, you compete with almost all real estate agents. On the other hand, according to FitSmallBusiness.com, only 14% of agents are on Instagram. It gives you a big advantage. Up to 83% of buyers want to see pictures of properties online.
Instagram is a part of Facebook. It brings great advantages. Via Facebook Business Manager, you can publish ads on Instagram with very precise targeting. This allows you to reach potential customers using a number of parameters, such as where they live or even whether they are considering buying property. If you are not sure about the Business Manager, try our groost app, that simplifies the whole process to just 7 steps.
Essentially, hashtags are an SEO on Instagram. It is a tag in the description of your post and it allows users who are not following you, to find your content and, hopefully, follow you. Basically, you have two types of hashtags, global and local. Local hashtags are best if you are running a business account or have a physical location and want to promote locally.
From the very beginning, Instagram was designed to publish visual content. With the official mobile app, it's very easy and fast. You have a variety of tools to edit your photos and videos on the go.
Live streams are becoming more and more popular. It turns out, according to this study, that up to 82% percent of people prefer live videos compared to social media posts. And 80% of users would rather watch live videos from a brand than read a blog. Because it is honest and authentic. Take this opportunity to present the property you are currently selling.
On Instagram, you have basically 2 types of profiles. Personal and Business. The business one offers you more features that are essential for your business. One of the features is called Insights. You can see several charts and numbers here and use this to analyse your audience to find out what is and isn't working.
In the end, Instagram is a free platform. Anyone can use its features for free and that is the reason why Instagram has over 111 million active users in the U.S. alone.
What to say at the end? Instagram is apparently a platform that you shouldn't ignore in 2020. It has many benefits for your business and its influence will grow.