Today’s consumers are empowered in more ways than ever before.. Rather than making their decisions based on sales presentations, your customers are making their purchases based on the research they’ve done online. A GE shopper research study found that 81% of shoppers research the product online before buying.
As a result, focusing on the way you market your products or services in the digital space is more important than ever. Whereas traditional marketing was designed to promote name recognition and lure people in the door so salespeople could do their jobs, digital marketing is all about making sure that you’re a key resource during that consumer research period. You need to produce high-quality content across the digital platforms your customers frequent–and, for SEO and to produce true market value, it needs to be produced on a consistent schedule.
That’s where local marketing automation steps in.
What Is Local Marketing Automation?
Marketing automation is the process of automating your repetitive marketing tasks through the use of a specially designed software system or platform. Marketing automation software can be used across multiple channels to automate digital marketing tasks like scheduling and sending emails, posting blog content, and posting to social media.
Local marketing automation software is software that has been specifically designed to help small and medium-sized businesses broaden their reach in local markets. It accomplishes this goal by increasing the efficiency of your marketing team, which allows them to focus on the creative and strategic tasks that only a human can do.
Many local marketing automation software systems can also be used as (or connect with) your CRM, or customer relationship management tools. With the aggregated customer data you’ve gathered over the years loaded into the software, you can group customers by attribute for specific campaigns.
Divide your customers into relevant buckets like “geolocation,” “age,” or “return customer.” Grouping by attributes and behaviors allows you to customize and target your messaging. These lists make it even easier for local marketing automation to draw prospects through the sales funnel and transform them into paying customers.
How Local Marketing Automation Fits Into the Customer Journey
Before the internet, the customer journey was pretty simple. If someone needed their roof replaced or a kitchen floor installed, they would ask their friends and neighbors for a referral or open the Yellow Pages and call right away. Now, with people doing an average of 79 days of research before pulling the trigger on a major purchase, the customer journey is a little more complex.
Your business’s exact customer journey will vary depending on your industry, company culture, workflow processes, and digital marketing efforts. Even your website design can affect the order in which your customers take certain steps before signing a contract or making a purchase. But generally, the modern customer journey includes the following stages:
Local marketing automation software can aid your efforts at every stage of the customer journey. Let’s find out how.
Awareness – Lead Generation
The interest and awareness stages are the marketing efforts that most of us are most familiar with–brand awareness campaigns, social advertising, loyalty programs, TV (or YouTube) commercials. These marketing efforts are meant to capture attention and garner name recognition for your company.
Marketing automation can help your business gain awareness by streamlining all of your online marketing efforts through one, central platform. Different platforms offer different levels of access and integration, but a great local marketing automation software should allow you to:
- Schedule social posts and blogs
- Manage reviews and referrals
- Build and schedule email marketing campaigns for segmented customer data lists
- Examine analytics on all of your marketing activities
- Advertise on social and search
- Manage your online directory listings
- Track lead generation and management
Having all of this in one place consolidates and streamlines your digital marketing workflow, which allows you to concentrate on designing unique creative and compelling campaigns and programs that draw people to your business.
Findability – Nurturing Prospects Into Qualified Leads
Findability is a crucial step in the customer journey. You can do all the awareness campaigns you want, but if your potential customers can’t find you online at that crucial moment when they decide to start their research, you’re going to lose their business. So how do you make sure you’re showing up in their search results?
There are a variety of digital marketing and SEO tactics that work together symbiotically to raise you in search rankings and make you easier to find. Organic search, pay per click (PPC) advertising, map listings, mobile optimization, and “near me” optimization can all affect your business’s findability.
Local marketing automation software can aid your findability efforts by streamlining your SEO efforts, localizing your PPC ads and map listings, and giving you a resource for managing your online directory listings.
Reputation – Turning Leads Into Customers
After your potential customers are able to find you, they’ll likely add you to their list of possible providers as they continue their research. This is where reputation management and meaningful content creation strategies can really aid your business. Soliciting reviews through social and email drip campaigns, making frequent and relevant social posts about your services, and offering meaningful content that gives useful information and answers real questions can all help your qualified leads become paying customers.
Local marketing automation software can help you structure those drip campaigns, schedule those social posts, manage and respond to your reviews across multiple platforms, and publish your website and blog content.
Conversion and Advocacy – Driving Repeat Business and Building a Loyal Fanbase
After your leads have moved through the funnel into conversion, building loyalty and garnering good reviews is all about the experience that you provide. Excellent service, high-quality products, friendly and helpful staff–this is your business’s time to shine! Once you’ve set yourself up for success, you want to make sure that you’re following through with the lowest-hanging sales fruit–your existing customer base.
If you’ve done your job well, then people are usually happy to tell their friends and family or leave a good review. But we’re all busy, and the best intentions fall to the wayside in favor of picking up the kids, starting dinner, and getting back to work. You have to go a step further to delight and engage.
Marketing automation can help you build email campaigns triggered by specific events. Once your service has been completed, send an email thanking them for their patronage and asking for a good review. If they click the button to leave a review, send them an email thanking them again! If the email is unopened or the review button isn’t clicked, have an email ready to gently remind them in a few days and ask if there’s anything you could have done to make them happier with your services. This kind of drip campaign can be set up once and then run automatically for months, sending to every client you have in your CRM.
You can also engage with clients after your services in more unexpected ways – ask them to post photos of their new kitchen on Facebook and Instagram. Have your techs take pictures with clients they know and see often and post those selfies calling them out for their kindness. Celebrate large purchases by sending them a bottle of wine or a gift basket that’s social media worthy. There are countless strategies for customer delight–and automation can give you the time you need to fully implement those killer ideas.
Leverage an All-in-One Local Marketing Automation Software With A.I.
While your web presence is more important than ever, it’s now just one part of a digital ecosystem that you have to cultivate in order for your business to thrive online. 73% of customer engagements happen off of your business’s website. You should also be connecting with your clients on social media and through review sites and local business directories.
Technology is only expanding, and as the digital landscape broadens even further, consolidation and automation are the best way to keep your marketing team from becoming overwhelmed. Surefire’s Local Marketing Platform was custom-built for small and medium-sized businesses to help them engage customers, boost SEO, manage their online reputation, and move customers through the sales funnel by nurturing and converting them at every step in the process.
Our all-in-one, cost-effective, scalable Local Marketing Platform will help you grow your business with functions designed for local marketers. Save time, money, and effort with automation; create transparency around your marketing spend and ROI; and manage your content, customers, and creative assets–all in one place!
If you have any questions about local marketing automation and how it can benefit your company, contact Surefire Local. We’re happy to provide you with a free, full demo of our Local Marketing Platform and answer any questions you may have. Our friendly and knowledgeable support staff are always available to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your platform!