When online marketing is not the core function of your business, you can’t afford to spend unnecessary time on relevant tasks that are repetitive and ongoing. At the same time, you also can’t afford to neglect marketing projects, or your business won’t grow.
What to do? Automate initiatives as far as possible by using tools for the most basic but necessary tasks. 74% of marketers use marketing automation software primarily to save time.
In this article, we’ll discuss online marketing tasks, the benefits of marketing automation tools, types of tools and how to choose the right ones for your business.
A brief look at online marketing tasks
Online marketing can become complex, so let’s start with the basics:
For online business, the equivalent of a brick and mortar building is your website. Think of it as the home base. Although the website is an informational tool about your business and how you can help prospective customers, it’s goal is to get visitors onto an email list for marketing purposes.
The reason for this is that in general, first-time website visitors do not buy, and when they leave your site, it’s au revoir forever. Unless you can hook them to solicit their email address, to “groom” them to buy from you in future. In addition, repeat customers make up about 40% of your entire online revenue, so it’s important to do all you can to keep them coming back, and email marketing caters for this.
Email marketing is at the core of online sales.
Image Credit: VirtualBusinessSolutions.Biz
Now, a beginner online marketer will often conduct these basic tasks, all in order to a) get more traffic, so that b) they can collect more email subscribers:
An example of online tasks as part of a basic marketing strategy.
Image Credit: VirtualBusinessSolutions.Biz
- Blogging, in order to get more traffic via search engines.
- Promoting blog posts on social media, in order to get more website traffic, and to direct people to targeted landing pages.
- Search engine advertising, to get traffic as fast as possible, to targeted landing pages.
- Hosting webinars would be considered a lead magnet, with the aim of collecting more email subscribers.
So. Blogging, content promotion, webinars, advertising, landing pages and social media are all tasks geared to pull in email list subscribers.
But…these tasks can obliterate chunks of your day, which is why marketing automation tools were developed.
The benefits of marketing automation
The most necessary tasks are often the most time consuming, laborious ones. For instance, promoting blog posts on social media would gobble up hours of your time if you were to do it manually.
But with a marketing automation tool, it can take minutes, saving you time so you can do other stuff that can’t be automated, like blogging or hosting a webinar. Other benefits include:
- Better organization and tracking of tasks.
- Saves money as you don’t need to employ someone to do things manually.
- Promotes task consistency.
- Better analysis of outcomes.
- Performs tasks on your behalf, so you could even go on holiday, and much of your business keeps running on its own.
- Some tools help marketers to perform tasks without needing to study them first. For instance, using a landing page builder means you don’t need to be skilled in graphics design or have a psychology degree in what works to get better results, because the page is built by pros for you, so all you need to do is make a few changes without the need to know too much about how it all works.
Types of tools & how to choose the right ones
There are thousands of tools, free and premium, that you can use to automate daily assignments.
The trick is to find the right tools to fit your marketing strategy, because they are not all the same. Often, you may start with one tool and in time, as you master more marketing skills, you’ll need features that the tools you’re using don’t offer. The best way to choose the right tools is to develop a marketing strategy first, and then select the tool to carry out the tasks needed to achieve your business goals.
We’ll have a look at types of software that can be used for basic marketing tasks:
- Social media management automation. These generally allow you to schedule social media posts in advance, and provide analytics of how your posts performed. When you first start out, you may want to try the free versions until you find the tool of your choice. Look out for things like bulk uploading and which social media networks are supported. Some tools allow you to “repeat schedule” while other’s don’t. Some also have tools that have been created around them, for example, BulkBuffer – although it’s not affiliated with Buffer, it nonetheless allows you to upload bulk posts and sends them to Buffer on your behalf.
- App connectors. These handy tools allow you to connect services to “speak” to each other, so that tasks are streamlined and automated. For instance, IFTTT has “If This Then That” recipes while Zapier offers “zaps”. If you want to keep track of published blog posts, for instance, you would create a recipe between WordPress and Google Docs – when the blog post is published, the URL is sent to Google Docs so that you don’t have to manually copy and paste the URL into a document.
- Email marketing automation. Software in this category revolves around email marketing, and connects many essential, and sometimes arduous tasks, to email lists. Features can include landing page builders, workflow planners, webinar hosting, surveys, email segmentation, website tracking, etc. These tools are powerful; in fact, 78% of effective marketers report that these systems are the reason for improved revenue. Be aware that these tools have different features, and are targeted at different businesses or business size. For instance, if you are a small business or entrepreneur, you’d select software that’s targeted to owner-marketers instead of systems developed for the more stable company looking for CRM and sales team collaboration.
Marketing automation tools primarily save time, and when used correctly, have multiple other benefits, including increased ROI.
Basic online marketing involves blogging, social media and search engine advertising, of which three types of tools can help streamline much of the workload, such as social media management software, app connectors and email marketing automation systems.
Make your choice by first researching the features of each tool, and make use of free trials before making a final commitment.