Let’s face it. The allure of handing over your hard earned money to someone else and having them prepare an automated marketing campaign while you attend to more important tasks is hard to ignore. It’s actually seductive to the busy, overwhelmed small business owner.
The sales pitch of automated marketing is that it works, and you don’t have to do much. Think about it. How many e-mails do you receive from someone you don’t know that begin with ‘I have a great offer for you!’? Do you open those e-mails? I didn’t think so.
The fact is that most automated campaigns sound like what they are: a canned, ‘old school’ approach to selling you something. You are smarter than that. Old sales techniques don’t work anymore.
There are some that work, however. HubSpot sells marketing software. They enjoy a following of thousands. Why? They work hard at developing a relationship with you. They are masters at using the marketing ‘tools of influence’, listed below (from Robert Cialdini’s great book):
- Social proof
- Commitment and consistency
- Scarcity (this should seldom be used – it can be like yelling ‘the sky is falling’ to tell people they have to act now or the item/class/service will be gone)
Hubspot produces really great content – and they do it often. They give away good information – not just ‘teasers’ – but real, usable graphs, charts and lessons. They have excellent writers, who understand how to engage an audience. (FYI saying ‘Hey John, how are you doing today?’ ‘I have a great deal for you’ is not it). HubSpot has examples of bad automated marketing campaigns they call ‘the e-mail folder of shame’. It’s no wonder.
When you use several of their free products and feel you got real value, they send you an offer. Not a ‘shoved down your throat‘ hard sell, just an offer you may be interested in. You, feeling grateful for the wonderful free products you just got from them, want to reciprocate by doing something for them. It’s human nature. This is how Reciprocity works, and they are masters at it. You find that you don’t even care that they are trying to sell you something.
Why? Because you have a relationship. They make you feel as if you are important to them. They give you things with no strings attached. You like them.
Using Social Proof is also a way to engage prospects. Jeff Goins (Goinswriter -http://goinswriter.com/ ) does this in several ways. During a 90 minute free Webinar, (again, a real value) the host mentions several times that there are 562 people who have joined the Webinar. That may be true, but how would we know? We have to take their word for it (which we do). If 562 other people are listening to this Webinar, it must have value, right? This is Social Proof. So are the real humans who come to the webinar near the end to talk about just how much their business changed after purchasing Jeff’s product. (Especially the young Christian woman; a blogger. Who would dare think a young Christian woman would lie?) As are the stories sent in subsequent e-mails, describing how the product helped each one build their business. With even more ‘freebies’ of value given in the subsequent e-mails (free articles, free podcasts), you are almost giddy with the desire to buy something from Jeff and even the score.
I’m not saying that Jeff’s automated campaign is contrived. It’s actually quite sincere. But don’t think for a moment that he randomly chose to share what he did. It may have been true, but it was well-planned and superbly executed.
The automated marketing plans that actually end up getting read are those that really speak to the audience using the marketing tools of influence. The sad thing is that almost all are still using the old ‘hard sell’ methods – the language of ‘salesspeak’ we’ve all come to abhor.
So – the lesson? If you are going to use an automated marketing campaign, be sure you hire someone who can write great, focused content and understands the tools of influence. Participate in the design of your campaign. Understand that it will never take the place of good, old fashioned work (such as blogging to drive traffic to your site, networking in the right ways, great customer service, etc.), but it can be an effective piece of your marketing strategy – if you do it right.