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Robo-Receptionist: How Small Businesses Should Use Marketing Automation

Picture this; a customer visits your website, and after browsing your products and/or services, he/she chooses to leave your site in search of your competitors’ web platforms.

Rhyse Crompton

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Robot receptionist

Picture this; a customer visits your website, and after browsing your products and/or services, he/she chooses to leave your site in search of your competitors’ web platforms. But, before they leave, they’re told via pop-up overlay that they can leave their contact details should they wish to learn more about a product that they’ve been viewing.

A day later they receive an email regarding the product or service, with some industry related news. Your brand has now piqued their interest. They also respond to a prompt that urges them to send you an inquiry regarding your product. They are then provided a detailed quote, with the option of completing the order.

This has all happened through automation, and you, the business owner, has lost neither time nor effort in securing a sale. In fact, you’ve not had to hire a single person to convince potential customers to trust in your brand.

Related: What’s The Deal With Automation For Small Businesses?

All it has cost you is a minimal service fee to your online marketing assistant or automation software developer.

Customer Relations Manager

That’s exactly what your digital automation platform will become; a customer relations manager. With automation on the rise, researchers believe that within the next 10 years only a fraction of the sales process will be carried out by living and breathing humans.

Big business is already investing heavily in marketing automation. In fact, there are businesses that make money by custom-building marketing suites for even bigger businesses. These systems are already operational in sales pipelines of large corporations in South Africa (think banks and insurance brands).

Marketing managers that use automation know, without any shadow of doubt, that automation and data collection have given them a competitive edge in their respective industry. Unfortunately, small to medium sized businesses in South Africa have not even considered marketing automation, never mind sound digital marketing practices.

Here’s why these business owners are making a tragic mistake:

  1. Small/medium sized businesses have a limited budget. Surely, they require all the assistance they can get to streamline their sales process without needing extra staff.
  2. Digital automation is probably scary terminology for the aspiring entrepreneur (and even business owner veterans). However, automated emails doesn’t sound half as bad. Well, email automation is one of the most common forms of marketing automation, and the most efficient. Did you know that you can create an email automation campaign within a few hours, and it will cost you the equivalent of two movie tickets per month?
  3. Small businesses need to make sales. Fortunately, it is easier selling your product/service to an existing client rather than seeking new leads. Automation has proven to be twice as effective at generating sales from existing customers. Why? Well, a human salesman may forget to email certain customers your newest product launch… but a robot won’t.

If Not, Why Not

automatic-mode

So why do small businesses not consider automation as a way of streamlining the sales process, and adding a little simplicity to the mix?

There are quite a few answers to this question. The first answer is that the aspiring entrepreneur often does not have the digital marketing platform required on which to build an automation strategy. There are countless businesses out there that do not have the simplest of websites on which to place forms and overlays.

With so many website design suites on the market, it doesn’t take too much effort to create an awesome looking site that won’t cost a lot. Once this is done, you can create forms and overlays, collecting client data, and loading them onto an email automation suite. Check out Unbounce for some great overlay and automation advice. Yet again, I’d strongly consider MailChimp for all my email automation needs. All it requires is a little time to put together, which brings us to the second point…

Related: (Infographic) Marketing Automation: How to Make it Work for You

Many business owners don’t consider digital marketing automation because they simply do not have the time or interest in putting a campaign together. If you think that you might die from boredom when putting an online automation process in place, or you couldn’t be bothered to create some emailer content, then you’ll find that there are many agencies that can do this work for you.

Don’t think you have the money to outsource digital marketing services? You’re probably right in some respects. There are many agencies out there that charge an arm-and-a-leg for these services. But maybe look past those agencies on the first three or four pages on Google, and you’ll be surprised at how many fledgling agencies there are in South Africa. The smaller ‘new-kids-on-the-block’ will likely perform all your digital marketing, including simple automation processes, in short-notice and for very affordable rates.

Remember, the digital market is moving forward very quickly. If you don’t want to be left behind from a wealth of online leads, then get some help. Your online, robo-receptionist is not that much of a far-fetched idea.

Rhyse Crompton is a director of Optimal Impact, a digital conversion optimisation start-up based in Johannesburg. With a number of content marketing, SEO, CRO, social media marketing, and PPC marketing tricks up his sleeves, he is determined to take his business to the top of the digital marketing plateau. Alongside his business partner, Slindo Ngubane, the duo are passionate about assisting businesses of all sizes to improve their digital presence.

Online Marketing

Custom Content Via E-commerce Heralds The Future Of Marketing

Informative, catchy content is key to ecommerce engagement. It is an affordable marketing strategy with high impact on ROI.

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content-marketing

Content does not demand huge resources; a blog can be launched fairly quickly. However, consumer attention spans are pulled in many directions, so they demand the best on offer.

Peer pressure

With two hours per day spent by the average person on social media, it makes sense to harness the potential of these platforms for product inspiration and building hype and desirability of your brand. Studies have shown that most consumers value posts written by other consumers above scripted advertising. Advertising does still have a role to play, but the approach needs to be fresh in enhancing customer experiences alongside customers’ peer reviews to build relationships.

Millennials are so aware of an oversaturated market place that they are difficult to sell to. Images and messages are easily crafted and edited into being what they are not.

Likewise, influencer support can be faked or bought. Supposed sponsorship can be off-putting when relied on in excess to lend gravitas to a post. While influencer endorsement is rife, it must be approached with discernment. Fake engagements are equally rife. From buying followers to staging fake boosting of your friends’ posts, fraud is everywhere, but ultimately cannot sustain.

Related: 3 Ways To Build Your Brand Identity Using Content Marketing

Value +

What does sustain is authenticity, and this is what Millennials are searching for. Brands are wise to allow consumers inside the real stories that make their brand what it is.

Consumers value brands that stand for more. Ethics, social welfare, and edu-commerce. Content that encourages development, both personal and communal is a draw card. Enlightening consumers as to how to get the most out of your products means you are concerned about maximizing value. In the age of ecommerce, transparency and authenticity, brands need to be clear on their vision and mission. In this way, a brand can consistently stay true to its values, and build relationships and trust with the consumer. Next level transparency means revealing all aspects of what makes your product what it is; taking pride in manufacturing, reviews, and individual relevance.

Omni-potent

Shopping via the ecommerce is undeniably where it’s at for a myriad of reasons. Ease of price and product comparison, convenience, Generation X time constraints and techno affinity are all factors. Consumers now expect a slick, omnichannel shopping facility that meets their unique lifestyles and personal needs. A majority of customers value customer experience over price when choosing a brand. With sound content enhancing ecommerce engagement, the future of marketing has great potential.

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Staying Relevant In The Facebook Age Of Meaningful Social Interactions

With Facebook announcing that it is pushing brand and publisher content out of news feeds, how can businesses, especially small and medium enterprises in South Africa, remain relevant?

Madex

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It was deemed a “rude awakening” early in January 2018 when Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, announced that the social networking platform had changed its algorithm, basically meaning it had changed what users see on their news feeds.

This follows a pretty harsh year for Facebook, where it was criticised for not having the right countermeasure to stop the spread of fake news and propaganda. So now its set of rules has changed; bumping up users’ friends and family members’ status updates and photos, and underplaying public news articles and content published by brands.

But where does that leave the small or medium businesses reliant on communicating their brand messages through Facebook? How do they now reach Facebook users (estimated to be approximately two billion)?

There is still a way

jodene-shaer“’Meaningful interaction’ is not something new to Zuckerberg’s focus on how brands engage with their Facebook audience,” explains Jodene Shaer, international business owner and head strategist of social media engagement specialist, Chat Factory.

Related: 5 Marketing Missteps That Make Cash Flow And Business Growth Stumble

“There is a place for paid media, but if a brand is trying to be seen organically, then it must feel like it is part of the flowing content people want to see from friends and family. It is pushing for the reason that Facebook was created in the first place – to be social.”

Authenticity key

Truly embracing the power of live videos and video content on Facebook – and then creating reasons for the public to engage with those posts – is an excellent move for any business that is budget conscious, Shaer adds.

“The ranking for visibility of organic content is highest when live. Live videos are absolutely the route to go, as followers receive a notification that you are live and there is greater chance of visibility. A big advantage is that you can save that content to the page and it becomes shareable, and can be uploaded to YouTube, where there is still a strong call for business content.

“And it doesn’t have to be high budget either, but it must be authentic, informative, engaging and encouraging. Of all things, ensure that all comments are responded to and shares and reviews are acknowledged.”

Looking beyond Facebook

Shaer believes that smaller local businesses can make their ad rands stretch further on Facebook by moving onto Ads Manager, instead of simply using the Boost button. “The reach is different, so invest in watching some YouTube videos as tutorials,” she recommends. “Boost to unique target audiences and turn the boosting into a science, by watching your reach. Set up smaller boosts and spread your spend across a few posts instead of one big boost. Track your stats and see which audiences work best.”

“One way that South African SMEs could also make use of InstaStories, as these are gaining organic reach. They could also look at varying hashtags, but using a few to reach a very specific audience.

Related: Marketing Tips For Start-ups

“We’ve seen the opening up of the use of LinkedIn and had people return to using the power of Twitter, so it’s worth investigating how to maximise other platforms while trying to keep your budget low.

“None of this should put a small business off, but should create exciting and challenging opportunities to shift how social media is used and explore the outcomes of each post, to truly develop a social media presence,” she adds.

Shaer will be one of an entire panel of dynamic, expert presenters speaking at the upcoming Madex 2018 show, the ultimate marketing, advertising, design, social media and all that good stuff expo.

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Online Marketing

How To Market Your Hotel

An integrated digital marketing strategy that provides multiple channels to communicate on will help you to reach more potential customers.

Entrepreneur

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how-to-market-your-hotel-1

It’s imperative these days to enable customers and guests to interact directly with your brand in real time – and your ROI will reflect this success. To achieve this, your marketing team should utilise a number of different channels in order to achieve an integrated digital marketing strategy.

Why? When potential customers are only able to use one means of communication or booking platform, such as a hotel’s website or blog, Facebook, Twitter or a third-party booking site, their frustration could cause you to lose their business.

Your digital strategy

how-to-market-your-hotel

By engaging in an integrated digital marketing strategy and addressing multiple channels with a clear, consistent message, you are bound to reach the maximum number of potential customers. Through the creation of a larger online presence, your engagement reach will be far higher, solidifying your company’s brand in the best possible manner.

Related: 5 Marketing Missteps That Make Cash Flow And Business Growth Stumble

Your first step in achieving an integrated campaign is to determine your target market. The second step according to Robert Nienaber, managing director of Suiteres, is to “create a message – tell a story about your product or service and what makes it unique.

For instance, the history of your establishment’s location, the nature/wildlife, your amazing food or historical rooms or perhaps the owner’s unique story. Tailor that story for your target market to captivate them – they will buy into your brand as a result.” Be sure to keep your message consistent across all mediums, be it written, photographic or video.

According to Ivo Kittel, head of Development & Design at Suiteres, different channels can be described as such: ‘These consist of website and online booking systems, third-party channels – such as online travel agents or your global distributions systems – and social media platforms that support the aforementioned and drive traffic to them.

‘Print media, events and other offline techniques can also assist by driving clients to visit your website or to engage with you on social media. All these channels should be strategically linked for best effect.’

Online marketing

An unusual hero in the travel market? Smart phones and tablets, on-the-go devices that allow users to review and recommend hotels on social media profiles, as well as third-party sites. Together with the integrated digital marketing strategy, this increases potential customers’ connections to hotels, airlines, car hire companies or event organisers.

What’s more, a key driver in drawing in new customers and causing previous ones to return, is the offer of regular perks, benefits, freebies and discounts via a newsletter.

Bear in mind though, that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. Each company will have differing concerns and requirements, and these are what you should use to build an effective marketing campaign. The following should be noted:

  • Effective communication between marketing team members is essential. There needs to be collaboration across the multiple channels you’re utilising. In doing so, your overall offering will be streamlined and have maximum effect.
  • Choose your key channels, those that will receive the most attention and marketing spend. These need to be the channels that garner the most hits or collect the most bookings – also known as ‘converting’.
  • Determine your target market and get as much information as you can on them, over time. For instance, which platform do they opt for first? Do specials lead them to make a booking, and if so, what are they? This and any other informative data assists you in your decisions and allows you to use your marketing funds in the best manner possible.

According to Vanessa Rogers, head of Communications at Suiteres, ‘The above-mentioned strategy should ideally be supported by a skilfully crafted PR campaign – one designed to complement and support your marketing message.’

Related: 3 Ways To Build Your Brand Identity Using Content Marketing

Taking this into account, you should consider having relevant articles published on third-party websites and print media or arrange for a client to be interviewed on radio or a streaming site. These forms of PR are more cost-effective then an advertising campaign.

The details matter

Importantly, customers need to know they can contact you quickly and easily, whether they are making a booking or requesting additional information. One thing you can be certain of: if a customer is unable to communicate efficiently with you, they are very likely to book elsewhere.

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