Do you spend too much time on email? You’re not alone. Estimates vary, but the average person spends between a quarter and two-thirds of the week on email. If you average those averages, you’re looking at over 3.5 hours per day and over 18 hours per week.
Email is particularly sinister because it distracts us from the tasks we’re focusing on. In addition to the raw hours spent on email, we also lose productivity by being distracted. According to Gloria Mark, a professor of informatics at the University of California, Irvine, it takes 23 minutes to get back on task after being interrupted by an email. That’s a lot of circling back.
Luckily, there’s a better way to work. It will improve your productivity, drive new sales, increase client satisfaction, and more. It’s called automation. Yes, it’s an annoying buzzword, but I have five proven ways we and our clients use marketing automation tools to make our work life easier — and more effective.
1. Improve Sales by Automating Personalized Follow-Up Messages
If you have a mature digital marketing strategy in place for your business, you should be getting new leads from your website, social media, paid advertising, and other channels on a regular basis. Many small- and medium-size businesses don’t have the resources to follow up with all those leads in a timely way. When I say “timely way,” I mean “within minutes” — not hours or days. The shocking reality for most businesses is that 71% of qualified leads are never pursued, and 65% of companies have no lead nurturing process in place.
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The good news: if your competitors are dropping the ball two-thirds of the time, you have an awesome opportunity to pick up new clients. And you can do it without ever sending an email or making a call.
Marketing automation tools can automate the follow-up process to make your potential clients feel like they are getting the attention they deserve. And just because a message is automated doesn’t mean it’s impersonal. For example:
Send Personalized Emails From Your Inbox Automatically
If someone completes a contact form on your site, you can send an immediate response that is personalized for your potential client and looks like it came directly from your inbox and sends their reply to your inbox. If someone downloads something from your website, you can send a series of personalized follow-up messages specifically related to their interests. Essentially, any interaction a visitor has with your site can trigger automated email follow-up if they have opted in to receiving messaging from you in some way.
These powerful email marketing techniques can nurture your potential clients through the buyer’s journey and help them self-identify as highly qualified leads that can then be flagged for follow up by you or your staff. Instead of chasing after every lead that comes in, you can invest time in the best leads who reach out.
Automate Connections to Speed Up Response Time
If you’re the only business offering a particular service, maybe you can take a slightly more relaxed approach to your response time. For everyone else, there’s automatic call connection.
Using this automated system, if someone fills out a form to contact you, it will first call your office to ask if you can take a call. If you can, it will call the person who just filled out the form while you’re still on the line and connect you in seconds. It’s incredible.
Short of that, you can automate email notifications to your sales or intake staff to remind them when (and how often) to follow up with new leads. This keeps leads from getting left by the wayside — and contacting one of your competitors.
2. Nurture Your Current Customers and Accounts by Automating Check-Ins and Notifications
Your clients and customers want to feel like they are your top priority. They also want to know what’s going on. Whether you are selling products or providing a service, you should provide notifications at important milestones in the customer experience. These notifications should be personalized, and they should let people know what has happened and what is coming up next.
You can also cut down on your staff’s time by automating check-ins with your clients and customers. Avoid communications breakdowns by regularly asking them to check if their contact information is up to date. If there are things you often need from your clients, automate an email to ask them for it before your staff needs to waste time trying to follow up. Automate a personalized check-in email so you can focus on your business while your automation engages with your clients and customers; your clients will feel like they are getting dedicated personal attention while you can check in on their replies to stay in touch.
Similarly, you can stay in closer contact with your end-stage leads using automation. If someone asks you to check back in with them in a week, six months, or a year, you can automate an email to send to that lead while everything about your conversation is fresh in your mind. While you’re at it, you can automate a notification to remind you to call them after that email is sent.
You can even apply automation logic to your notifications: If you sent the check-in email, and the person has not opened it after seven days, then you get a notification or you can send an automated follow-up.
3. Cut Down on Confusion and Inquiries by Automating Client Education
Do you answer the same questions for most of your clients or customers? Are there common complaints or concerns people have that you often need to address in the same way? Do similar misunderstandings frequently arise between you and your clients or customers?
Rather than having to respond to these types of inquiries individually, you can get ahead of the curve by answering the most common questions through automated client communications. Addressing common questions and concerns before clients bring them to you allows you to nurture the client relationship and support them in making informed decisions. And when they inevitably do come to you with questions, those concerns are probably more nuanced and relevant to their individual needs — and more likely to be worth your time answering.
Most importantly, clients feel good when they sense that you care about their experience. Equipping them to make informed decisions and ask better questions sets them up to feel more connected to and invested in your brand throughout the buying or hiring process and beyond.
4. Monopolize on Satisfied Clients by Automating Review Requests
Humans are wired to be more critical of negative experiences than they are of positive ones, which is why we’re so motivated to share our disappointing customer stories. Unfortunately, this makes us more prone to write negative reviews than positive ones.
In fact, 88% of customers said that reading an online review influenced their buying decision. If the majority of reviews online (or of your business) are negative, that’s bad news.
Often, the thing keeping satisfied customers from leaving positive reviews is simply that they were not asked for their opinion. Automation takes otherwise tedious follow-up and transforms it into personal connections that enrich the client experience and leave you with positive reviews.
Automation can also capture feedback throughout the buying process that would otherwise go unrecorded. Quick surveys about customer experience and satisfaction are a simple way to check in with clients, make them feel seen and heard, and even evaluate your staff’s performance.
5. Stay Top of Mind With Former Clients by Automating Your Newsletter and Other Communications
So, your customer or client is satisfied, feels cared for, and left you a great online review. It would be a shame for you to fade from your former clients’ minds as time goes on. Automation can help with that.
You can stay at the forefront of your former clients’ minds through email newsletters and automated email check-ins. Maintaining your position at the forefront of their minds means they’ll think of you first if they have questions, need your help, or want to recommend your product to someone else later on.
Automated newsletters and check-in emails also maintain the personal connection that you nurtured throughout your client or customer’s journey. And just because an email is automated, that doesn’t mean it’s impersonal. Automated emails sent from your personal email address with merge fields —the client’s name, for example — can discreetly and automatically add a personal touch and foster connection without requiring you to spend your entire day writing emails.
Their replies, survey answers, and responses all come back to your inbox, which means you can reap the benefits of strategic email automation while being deliberate about how you stay connected.
Save You and Your Staff Time, Energy, and Focus With LaFleur Marketing
At LaFleur, we recognize the power of marketing automation. With certified marketing automation experts on staff and proven results across industries, our brilliant team of marketing professionals can help you automate important marketing processes in a thoughtful, deliberate way that builds relationships between your brand and your customers.
Anderson, M. (2014, July 7). 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. SearchEngineLand. Retrieved from https://searchengineland.com/88-consumers-trust-online-reviews-much-personal-recommendations-195803
Silverman, R. E. (2012, December 11). Workplace distractions: Here’s why you won’t finish this article. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887324339204578173252223022388