If you’re in the process of launching a business, chances are you’ve experienced just how tedious marketing can become. As an entrepreneur, freelancer or business professional, you’ve got a million other things to worry about: sales, product market fit, client calls, walking your dog, you name it.
Partly as a way to cope with how time-consuming marketing often is, automation has become a hot topic across the landscape in recent years. Yet, despite the popularity of marketing automation, knowing where and how to start is often unclear. Additionally, according to Hubspot, most entrepreneurs and marketers are unhappy with their automation systems, so it’s apparent all the kinks haven’t been ironed out yet.
That being said, the dissatisfaction many entrepreneurs are experiencing can be traced back to this common misconception about marketing automation: by applying it, you’ll never have to worry about marketing again.
While we aren’t too far from AI-powered marketing assistants, believing automation can be applied to all stages of your marketing funnel is far from the truth. The top of the marketing funnel (consisting of brainstorming campaigns, creating content and overall strategy) isn’t anywhere close to being automated, so whipping out the whiteboard is something you’ll need to do for years to come. For now, only the middle of the marketing funnel (responding to direct messages, sending thank-you emails to newsletter subscribers, etc.) is capable of being automated.
Once this idea sinks in, the fun of automation can begin. The primary aspects of your marketing which you can automate are social media marketing, email marketing, and landing pages. Here’s how to get started with all three.
Automating Your Social Media Marketing
It’s hard to think of a more time-consuming task than social media. While most entrepreneurs know how essential social is to keeping their community up-to-date with their brand, very few of them want to spend their precious time responding to Tweets from angry customers. To help ease the load, here are some areas of social media you can automate, plus how to do it.
Publishing is the main part of social media that you can (and should) be automating. By using tools like Hootsuite, Buffer or Agorapulse, you’ll be able to “set it and forget it”, saving yourself loads of time throughout the content creation process. You can also use a tool like Tweetdeck to pre-schedule Tweets.
Another fantastic pre-scheduling app is MeetEdgar. The thing that makes MeetEdgar unique is it automatically recycles and publishes past content you’ve created across different categories (blog posts, YouTube videos, Tweets, etc.) so you don’t have to manually comb through your content graveyard to find something to repost.
Repurposing Your Content Across Multiple Platforms
Another time-sucking task within social media is republishing pieces of content across multiple social media platforms. That’s where applications like IFTTT or Zapier come in handy. With these tools, you’ll be able to set up a number of “triggers” that’ll spare you from copying and pasting content from one platform to the next.
Whether you’re looking to automatically send Tweets out every time you publish a new blog post, republish your Instagram posts to Twitter or anything else, chances are high you’ll find what you’re looking for in IFTTT.
Pro Tip: IFTTT even has a whole collections page dedicated to “applets” (their fancy word for triggers) designed specifically for social media.
Things to Avoid
Before you get too excited and automate every last part of your social media, it’s important to be cognizant of some common rookie mistakes that could make you appear tacky and inauthentic if used improperly.
#1.) Automated Direct Messages
Most of us have been a victim of these canned responses on Twitter, LinkedIn and beyond. These messages are typically sent immediately after you follow someone, and they almost always contain an unsolicited pitch asking you to download an ebook, subscribe to them on YouTube or whatever else the person wants from you. While these messages may seem harmless, keep in mind they could easily make your brand come off as needy, self-serving or both.
Just because someone made eye contact with you doesn’t mean they want you to ask them on a date. Similarly, just because someone followed you on social media doesn’t mean you two are best friends and future business partners. In short, when it comes to automation, use discretion.
#2.) Buying Fake Followers
Steer clear of tools that automatically add followers to your social media profiles. In addition to looking shady, the possible repercussions make it far from worth the risk. Anyone could use a tool like Social Blade to discover you bought followers, causing people to lose trust in your brand.
I know it’s tempting, especially after a long day in the office working on every other aspect of your business besides social media. That being said, it’s better to have 100 engaged, real followers than 10,000 bots that could damage your reputation if you got exposed.
Automating Your Email Marketing
Let’s make this clear: email marketing is far from dead. In fact, it’s one of the safest ways to cultivate and sustain a community of loyal users over a long period of time. With social media platforms like Vine and Meerkat rising and dying right before our eyes, it’s best to never build your house on rented land when it comes to marketing. In order to start building a house of your own, you’ll need an email list.
Some amazing tools to help take the tedium out of email marketing are Mailchimp, Autopilot, and Constant Contact. These platforms help you seamlessly create email templates, send out emails to distinct segments of your list, and much more.
When it comes to automating your email marketing, arguably the most useful feature these platforms can provide you with is segmentation. Simply put, segmentation allows you to automatically send distinct emails to members of your audience in different stages of your marketing funnel. For instance, anyone who signs up for your next promotion via email would receive a “thank you” message while anyone who didn’t sign up for it would receive a follow-up email covering the promotion in further detail, and more.
There are endless tricks you can do with your email marketing. Start by watching a YouTube tutorial or two (or ten) covering the email marketing platform you choose to utilize.
Automating Your Landing Pages
A solid landing page could mean the difference between you converting 0.2% of your leads into paying customers or 20%. Lucky for all of us, it’s a whole lot easier to create landing pages today than it was in years past. Prior to tools like Instapage hitting the marketplace, designers and developers would usually need to create a unique landing page from scratch for their marketing campaigns.
Now, with apps like Leadpages, you can easily create proven, high-converting pages to promote your next product launch, webinar, blog post or anything else you’re looking to get more eyeballs on.
On your homepage, you can also automate the email capturing process by integrating your website with a product like List Builder from Sumo, which creates pop-up pages to make sure you don’t miss out on engaged visitors.
It’s true that marketing can get extremely time consuming. While there will always be a lot of legwork involved, there definitely are ways to optimize your time and automate the mindless portions of the process. Start by automating these 3 facets of your marketing. Once you do, you’ll already be 10 steps ahead of your competitors.