By Daniel G. Faggella
Most early stage companies aren’t eager to take on more work. Getting sales and delivering the product or service are difficult enough, so when it comes to marketing, the less learning curve, the better.
The good news is that marketing automation has taken off, and it not only allows companies to be more targeted with their marketing messages, but allows them to “set and forget” many main components of their marketing mix.
Despite the huge growth of some of these marketing automation companies (with Act-On recently raising $42 million, HubSpot preparing to go public, SilverPop being bought by IBM) many of these small firms are missing out on opportunities to put this funding to work. After failed attempts to get the marketing automation engine running, in many cases it just sits there, idling. The reasons run the gambit from a lack of proper training, to a lack of dedicated resources, to a lack of understanding of how marketing technology can help grow, nurture and retain a client base.
With this in mind, here are my tech marketing “must-haves” that can quickly give lift to an emerging company’s new business and customer retention programs, and allow new companies to free up more time for other tasks:
1. Collect any data that will allow you to target your future marketing effort.Don’t write a concrete automated email chain without knowing exactly why your customers buy from you, what problems you solve, and why your solution is best. This might just imply adding an additional survey form after your main website opt-in, or collecting critical customer information (about demographics, preferences, industry) on an order form or during online check-out. When companies collect useful information in a low-friction way, they gain the ability to save time by communicating specific offers and messages just to the people who are most likely to respond.
2. Initial email communication should be laser focused. Does everyone who submits a web form on your site receive the same “vanilla” messaging? Vary your initial email communication by industry, by company size, or by whatever factor might allow for the best. This can often be done within the web form itself, or by using a marketing automation software like HubSpot, GetResponse, or others. Prospects are more likely to become customers when they read your messages and say, “This is just for me,” and when you can write these messages once and have them kick off automatically front then on out – it’s a no-brainer. Opt into one of HubSpot or WayFair’s web forms and you’ll invariably get a stream of targeted, calibrated marketing messages to your inbox automatically. These smart, tech-marketing giants don’t count on customers remembering to visit their website to buy out of the blue – and as a small company, you shouldn’t either.
3. Map out an initial marketing game plan with your team, and stick with it. When marketing is relegated to the back-burner, it often takes more attention and makes less of a positive impact when it should. Thinking through your email communication, social media messaging once .What are the important online and offline events, sales, and specials that you have planned for the year? Prep the team ahead of time to mold your email communication to help with these priority events. Tools like HootSuite can allow teams to schedule activity months in advance, ensuring a well thought-out succession of messages, and eliminating the frenzied “last minute marketing” syndrome that can perpetually haunt a busy small business.
Thinking about messaging, targeting and scheduling ahead of time can help any company see a higher return on investment on digital marketing. For early stage companies specifically, leveraging these tactics with the technologies that make them easy means a more efficient use of marketing hours.
Daniel G. Faggella is CEO and founder of CLVboost, an email marketing consultancy based in Cambridge.