Learn how to Automate Sales…AND Keep Your Customers

Marketing and sales automation may be hot right now, but they can come at a price. If your automation efforts come off too stilted and robotic, you risk losing that connection you’ve worked so hard to build with your customers.

But with the right automation strategies, you can leverage technology to get more out of it while still engaging your customers 100%.

Know When to Turn Off Technology

Technology and automation can be great…in certain situations. The key is understanding your customer base deeply so that you know when a personal touch is preferred. 

You may be able to automate promotional emails to encourage your subscribers to purchase certain items, but when it comes to emails with a customer who is having an issue with a product, you’re probably better off having a customer service rep communicate directly with that customer to solve the problem.

How can you know which functions customers don’t mind being automated? Look at analytics. Your email marketing, which is easily automated, can tell you exactly how many people opened your emails and clicked links from them. Also look at customer reviews to make sure you’re giving a personal touch where it’s needed.

Automate the Easy Stuff

While you don’t want to lose the trust of your customers, there are many ways you can automate sales opportunities without customers batting an eyelash.

For example, you can use VoIP with an auto attendant that announces the latest promotion your company has, as well as diverting callers to the person they want to reach.

Your recording can also include key details callers want to know, like store hours and your website. This will also cut down on the calls you physically have to answer, freeing you up to help customers in the store.

Automate Without Depersonalizing

Automating sales and marketing doesn’t mean you can’t also personalize your efforts. Look into retargeted ads, which use cookies to track visitors to your site and then show them ads of what they’ve viewed on other websites through digital ads (eerie! How’d they know I was into those boots?)

Your email campaigns can also use segmentation to target customers interested in particular products rather than sending a blanket email to everyone, regardless of which types of products they’re actually interested in.

The more personalized you make your marketing efforts, the more likely customers are to purchase something.

Draw in New Leads to Your Sales Funnel

Content marketing is a great channel to attract new leads. Create an appealing whitepaper or ebook that your website visitors will clamor to get their hands on. They can get it…in exchange for their email address, which puts them in your email funnel.

Automate the emails you send after they receive the whitepaper to maximize the change that they’ll end up buying from you.

Use Automation as Part of Your Customer Service Funnel

Sometimes you need a combination of automation and personal contact. Customer service is a great example. To help customers with common requests, start with a chatbot that is programmed to answer common questions, like how to process a return. If the bot can’t answer the customer’s question, it gets pinged over to a live customer service agent.

Because a large percentage of those customer service questions should be addressed through the chatbot, your customer service agents have more time to dedicate to customers with complex issues.

Find Ways to Simplify Marketing Through Automation

Marketing is an ongoing effort, but there are ways to cut down on the time you spend connecting with your audience using technology.

When you write blog posts, you can write them in advance and schedule them to post later so you don’t have to write them in real time. Social media dashboards allow you to create social shares and posts in advance and set them up on a schedule as well. Spending even an hour a week, you can be set up for the entire seven days without having to log in every day to post to Facebook and Instagram.

Measure, Measure, Measure

There’s no exact science for determining what you can automate without your customers feeling disconnected from you. It really depends on the relationship you have with them. If they’ve felt like they’ve had a very personalized relationship with you, it may be jarring for them to suddenly receive automated messages from you. 

The best way to know what works and what doesn’t is to look at results. That means analyzing website traffic, sales conversion, email open and clickthrough rates, and social media engagement. These numbers will tell you how effective each is. As soon as any of them dip, you know that you’re seeing a reduction in customer satisfaction, and automation may be the cause. Pull back on your automation in favor of more personalized service and see if you can change those numbers.

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Susan Guillory is the President of Egg Marketing, a content marketing firm based in San Diego. She’s written several business books, and frequently blogs about small business and marketing on sites including Forbes, AllBusiness, and Cision. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.