How to automate your company without losing your head

Automation systems are incredibly popular nowadays – 51% of companies are currently using marketing automation, with more than half of B2B companies (58%) planning to adopt the technology. 

The problem is, in some cases the automation system was bought only because the company was either scared of staying behind or because they believed marketing automation will give them one successful deal after another with barely any effort.

Result? Most often, disappointment and wasted money. 

For automation to be successful, it has to be well thought out and carefully planned out before implementation. Rather than just following marketing trends and buying automation system because you fear being left behind, you need to have precise goals and plans for the automation system before getting one. How can you automate your own business without getting a headache? How to pick a tool that is the right fit for your business and your audience? And what parts of your business you shouldn’t even try to automate? Read about it all in this article.

Don’t get into marketing automation just because it’s trendy

Several companies decide to get into marketing automation just because it’s very popular. Maybe they heard on a marketing conference that everyone is using marketing automation now, and they will be left behind if they don’t buy a system. Or they saw that rival companies are boasting they started to use a marketing automation system. Outcome? The company owners decide they need a marketing automation system bought and implemented as soon as possible – and that’s an awful move! 

Not every business needs an automation system – if you don’t have a lot of leads yet or you’re sending only a dozen emails a week, there’s no point in investing in a marketing automation platform. However, if you are spending your time on repetitive tasks every day (such as sending emails to each customer who contacted your customer support team, to ask them for their feedback), you can continue to spend time doing this manually or think about getting an automation system to help you with it.  

What automation type do you need for your business?

If you are convinced you do need to automate your business, the next question is what kind of automation tool you should choose. But without defining your needs and expectations, it’s tough to decide what tool you really need. Try to answer a few basic questions:

  • Do you have chaos in your data and need one place to store all your documents?
  • Are you spending too much time on preparing and sending your emails?
  • Or maybe you need an effective way to answer your customers’ questions?

Having the answers, let’s explore some of the options available!

Email marketing for those overwhelmed with emails

Feel overwhelmed with the number of emails you need to send every day or with the number of emails you need to respond to? It might be a good time to get an email automation tool. Email marketing platforms are systems with which you can plan, execute, and monitor email marketing campaigns – they usually include tools like email builders, scheduling features, campaign automation functionalities and reporting/analytics options. With those tools, you can schedule your newsletter to be sent at certain times or prepare an automatic email to be sent whenever a customer performs a specific action.

CRM to end the chaos in your data

Using an excel spreadsheet (or several ones) to keep track of your data sounds like the right choice at first – it’s free, quick to use, easy to edit and share. That is, while you don’t have much data to add yet. As the amount of data you have to store grows, you notice that it is far too easy to make a mistake in the sheet or to forget what data is where. Besides, putting up all data manually into the sheet is time-consuming – and updating all this data is virtually impossible! CRM can quickly deal with all those problems: customers’ data is added and stored automatically inside the system’s database. The data stored is also clearly organised and easily accessible by your whole team, so there’s no need to search for the person who has access to “that one file”. Moreover, there is no such thing as “being too small” for CRM – almost every business can benefit from its implementation.

Live chat to give your customers a way to contact you easier

B2B companies are often reluctant to implement live chat in their company because they fear the number of live chat requests will be overwhelming, and they will need to hire another person. However, that’s not necessarily true – live chat can be used by the same customer support team that takes care of phone support or support forms. Live chat is also a much faster and more convenient way of contacting customer support, that’s why plenty of customers prefer to use a live chat widget rather than call or mail the support. Another advantage of live chat is that one customer support rep can take care of 2-3 live chat requests at once, which will definitely speed up the time it takes to deal with customers’ issues. 

Chatbots can help with generating leads, answering basic questions or getting basic information

Newest tool available by plenty of companies (us included!) that can also help businesses is a chatbot. Automated chatbots are a great help when it comes to dealing with simple requests such as scheduling a video meeting with a salesperson or answering basic customers’ questions. They are also handy when it comes to gathering data about a website visitor before they contact the support centre. Depending on your needs, you can get either a simple chatbot that will answer simple questions being in its database (such as office hours or office location) or a smart chatbot that (thanks to artificial intelligence) learns from interactions with customers and gives them personalised suggestions or recommendations.

Lead scoring tools for easier segmenting 

 

While you can’t leave technology to take care of your customers from start to deal close, it can make your marketing and sales job a bit easier. How much time your marketing team spend on lead scoring? And how often it happens that the sales team get a lead that is not ready to convert yet? What is more, they most likely lose a good amount of “hot leads” while they are working with leads not worth their time. Lead scoring tools will not only help with separating the best leads from those needing more attention but can be useful in a few other ways. How exactly? 

With lead scoring tools, you can create processes based around specific actions that will automatically score and segment the website visitors for you (for example – a website visitor gets one point for visiting a particular website, two for scrolling till the bottom of the site and five for subscribing/downloading a lead magnet). One glance at the tool and your team already knows which leads can be passed to the sales department and which needs more attention.

What marketing automation can’t do? 

Even though automation tools are quite powerful already and are getting new abilities in the blink of an eye, there are still limits to what they can do. The main reason for why some companies end up disappointed with automation results is simply that they overestimated the system. Even with the rapid technological advances, there are still several things where automation is helpless – failing to realise it increases the risk that instead of successful automation, you will have to deal with a marketing disaster.

So what should you be aware of while thinking about automating your company?

  • Automation isn’t a quick fix for the company’s internal issues – instead, it can make the problems several times if misused.
  • They cannot create high-quality content – that will be a job for your marketing team for a long, long time.
  • Automation tools run on data added into them – if the data is faulty, the system will give you incorrect suggestions or execute wrong processes.   
  • Analytic tools can point out ineffective marketing processes or places where your marketing strategy can improve but cannot create a marketing strategy and marketing processes for you. 
  • Chatbots are useful for answering simple questions or gathering data, but you absolutely shouldn’t leave them to deal with difficult or unhappy customers.

Most importantly, you have to be aware that automation tools (even the most powerful ones) won’t do anything if there won’t be a knowledgeable person behind it.

If the system is handled by a person who knows what the system can do and how to do it, the benefits of automation will quickly become visible. If not, the tools either won’t help the company at all or might make the situation even worse – remember that like all tools, automation tools are also prone to errors and failures! So instead of panicking you are staying behind because you still don’t have an automation tool in your company, think carefully about whether your company even needs one – especially since automation tools aren’t cheap. And if you decide you want to automate your business, don’t rush into everything available but select those tools that will really help your company grow. In most cases smart application of a few helpful functionalities is by far a better approach than implementing everything just because it’s trendy. 

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