Marketing is necessary for business growth because it creates Markets. That’s a given. Content Marketing is even more critical to create Awareness, raise Brand Value,create Communities and generate leads. It’s logical then for Small Businesses to be more Marketing Savvy than their larger counterparts. But that’s not the case. Most Small Businesses suffer from MDD (Marketing Deficiency Disorder), particularly when it comes to Content Marketing.
Typical alibis are: lack of budget, lack of time and lack of resources.
Invariably, it is because thin founding teams are wearing multiple hats trying to run the business with the aim of saving costs. Outsourcing to an agency is a luxury most SMBs cannot afford. If this is true for you and you happen to be digitally savvy, we just may have a hack for you to continue your frugal path towards growth. We discovered the model while on that exciting sprint we ran for the niche Auto Repair industry in the US.
Here are 7 tips for you to create your own Automated Content Marketingengine in 2019, at a fraction of the cost required to hire an external agency. Follow these and you can sit back, relax and watch an amazing Marketing Engine chug along, while you concentrate your energies on doing what you love best – run the business!
Tip 1 – Assess where you are and where you want to go
Put yourself through a survey, answering some simple yet incisive questions like:
- Where are your primary customers located and how many of them are active/ been retained?
- What are your business goals for the next 12 months in terms of revenue growth and customer growth?
- Are you expanding business – adding a new product/ service line?
- What is your competitive advantage? Check a list – quality, delivery, price or other
- List out your top 3 competitors and why? What do you admire about them?
- Where would you want your ideal customer mix to come from – same zones or new markets?
- Do you have partners/ resellers?
- How many members do you have on your sales team?
- How many leads does it take to convert one customer?
- Who is your best customer and why is he/ she your favourite?
And so on…..
Here’s a great guide to creating a survey.
Tip 2 – Assess where you are on content-marketing
Typical questions to which you need to have answers are like this:
- Do you have a website? (I HOPE the answer is a BIG YES!)
- Do you have an app? What type – iOS or Android?
- Have you used SEO (if answer to 1 was a YES)? At what level?
- Is your social media presence complete and active? Check a list of the must-haves – LI, FB, Twitter, Youtube, Insta etc
- How often do you post social updates or engage?
- Do you blog? How often?
Here’s a great reference for a questionnaire
Tip 3 – Craft your strategy based on your own responses
Analyze your responses to the above questionnaires. These insights will help you craft your own strategy. Here are some examples:
- If your targeted customer base is local (within your state, region or country) – zoom in to geo-target messages in the identified zone. If it is spread across countries, you’ll need to have different approaches to the geo-zones.
- Determine how much effort will be needed by default in the coming year based on your existing customer base – you’ll need additional effort to meet your new goals!
- If your customer retention is low, you’ll need to think of a retention program, pronto!
- Based on your existing revenues and new business goals, you’ll get a pretty decent idea of whether you need to introduce new products/ services OR continue riding on your current portfolio.
- Understanding competition should be among your top priorities. Insights gleaned from this exercise is better than any other avenue you can imagine. Identifying your differentiator and ergo your new strategy comes from this understanding.
- Recognizing what it took for a business to become your favourite customer is the second most valuable insight. This more or less gives you a target prototype for your strategy – look for similar!
Tip 4 – Identify the right set of Subscription MarTech solution partners for Automation
- Start with SEO – First up, get your website checked thoroughly for all the errors, improvements etc that need to be done. Loading speed, Tags, Meta Tags, Descriptions, Headlines, Alt-Text, Hyperlinks etc must be updated and correct. This MUST be your priority task – the website should be error-free, performing well to inform engagingly AND featuring HIGH on Google’s search results. After all, your business MUST be easily discoverable as a measure of customer awareness, right?
2. Next up – Run automated Google Adword campaigns so that your searchability improves dramatically. Your prospects must discover your business before they find your competition, everytime they’re searching on Google for solutions that you provide. As simple as that. A powerful tool that does this is Cobiro – fully autonomous, powered by AI.
3. Then – Google Analytics – Sign up and explore the amazing ways to gather insights and then trigger suitable content marketing actions, especially continuous experimentation. Use the simple “if-then-else” logic to define your actions. Here are some specific examples we used to connect to second and third party MarTech solutions to trigger Automated Content Marketing.
- IF bounce rate is greater than average OR new visitors is less than average OR page-views per session is less than average THEN the action is to recraft content. How? We connect now to our secondary tools like VWO or Optimizely to experiment with A/B testing for optimization. Test headline ideas, images, CTA’s, colors, graphics, in-code pricing algorithms and more. Optimizely lets you control how many people see your experiments and then measures their responses by segment.
- What if new trending topics are emerging which aren’t a part of your keyword list? Then connecting to a tool like BuzzSumo or DrumUp come in. For example, with a tool like DrumUp, it can discover, curate and leverage all the relevant, new and trending topics in your industry to share with your audience, automatically, via all your favourite social channels. You can even link your blog and review performance via in-built analytics! It even lets you use it as a primary AND secondary tool for automating Social Post triggers like this – If likes/ shares/ comments for a particular post are less than average, then it can find trending articles and push them onto your social channels to increase engagement!
4. Finally – Email and SMS campaigns. Both are low cost and help to increase revenue for small businesses. Powerful tools like Intercom, Mailchimp etc allow you to run Automated email Marketing Campaigns that reach a wide, targeted audience with definite CTAs. Back this up by linking to secondary tools like SlickText to run Automated SMS marketing – run rewards, contests, discounts etc using a tool that goes straight to the palm!
Tip 5: Get automated content created using appropriate online tools
- Blogs/ Articles: Did you know that an entire blog post or educational article can be completely written by AI tools like ArticleForge available online? Sample this – The Washington Post has been using a ‘robot reporter’ that has ‘reportedly’ churned out 850 articles in 2016-17 and most readers didn’t even realize the difference! Tools like ArticleForge, WordAI, Articoolo etc are quite remarkable in the samples it churns out for chosen keywords, with automatically added links, images, videos and even catchy titles, all aligned with your SEO efforts!
- Infographics: Amazing tools like Easel.ly, Visual.ly, Venngage etc are sleek, fast and super effective in creating automated, attractive, informative infographics from data inputted. The only challenge here is that a lot more effort is needed to input data and manage these tools than other examples shared above. Nonetheless, the speed and results are totally worth it!
- Videos: The most influential content type also has a roster of automated video-making tools like Genial.ly, Biteable, Canva, Animaker etc. They offer ready-to-use library of gifs, music, video frames, characters and even voice-overs! All in simple, drag and drop interfaces. Now, connect this with trending topics found by a primary tool like BuzzSumo and you’ll have plenty to keep your social audiences hooked!
Tip 6: Manage Reputation and earn referrals automatically
The simplest way to manage reputation in an automated way is to set Google Alerts in you business name. You can also use more advanced reputation management or social listeningtools. If you aren’t already listed on review sites such as Google and Yelp, make sure you set up accounts. On Google, for example, you need to claim your listing on Google My Business. This not only lets people review you, it makes it easier for them to find you on Google Maps. If review ratings are above 4 Stars, for example, link to a secondary tool like ReferralRock to automatically ask for referrals and manage them.
A rider to this automated system is that it is advisable to make special effort to respond to reviews/ comments/ complaints promptly and with empathy – we’ve not yet found a tool to do that for you! 🙂
Tip 7: Hire a good dedicated MarTech resource
Yep. One reasonably experienced but MarTech savvy resource is all you need to manage this seemingly complex interlinking of online partner solutions. The CTC is a fraction compared to costs for hiring an agency of repute (even if you add subscription costs for all the partner solutions listed above!). In fact, over time, this one resource can market at least 10 other businesses for you with very little incremental effort!
What’s crucial is you’re self-dependent, can monitor or guide, if and whenever you find time. Else, you can, as we suggested at the start of the post, just sit back, relax and focus on running your business, assured that Marketing is going to be chugging along automated, in-house, 24/7! Now that’s one heck of a luxurious thought, isn’t it? Go ahead and give it a shot! It worked for us!
Credits and acknowledgements – Learnings shared in the above post were actual experience during a short sprint done for the US auto repair industry. This exciting sprint would not have been this insightful or enjoyable without the awesome inputs from my friend, collaborator and brilliant Marketer (although she calls herself more of a technologist!) Cynthia Albanese.