Marketing Automation encompasses or affects almost all areas of Digital Marketing. With such a large task set and so much required of any platform trying to live up to the name it’s not surprising that Marketing Automation for small and medium businesses hasn’t been a realistic option until recently. SMEs are often forced to make do with pay-walled and watered down versions of popular Software As A Service (SAAS) offerings. Fortunately there are no pay walls blocking SharpSpring features or lengthy contracts hurting cash flow. SharpSpring has been designed and developed specifically for SMEs and Agencies, as such it provides maximum power for realistically affordable cost.
1. Visitor ID
Generating traffic and driving it to your website is one of the most basic fundamentals of Digital Marketing. What we know about that traffic we generate is very limited generally, or at least it has been in the past. With a blend of off-the-shelf analytics programs, a bit of luck and careful tracking you can find out where a visitor may have come from and what search term they used, but little more than that. Without more information it’s very difficult to know what is working and what isn’t. Driving traffic is brilliant, but if 90% of your visitors visit only once and never again then it’s nothing more than a nice vanity metric.
SharpSpring features a ‘Visitor ID’ function that allows far more information to be gathered on the behavior of leads. From the first visit to one of your SharpSpring enabled domain names a record is created for the visitor. The Visitor ID function stores data on the behavior of the lead until such a time as they provide some identifying information, such as a name and email address. Once that happens all of the lead’s retrospective actions can be attributed to them.
The prospect ‘Mr.X’ may only have come on to your radar today through the submission of a Contact Us form but if you check his Contact Record you can see that over the last two months he’s regularly visited your website and blog.
2. Lead Tracking
Within the platform you can easily see which pages a lead has visited, how long they spent on them and what links were clicked. You can even set up alerts that let you know when pages are visited or links are clicked.
An example of a simple alert we’ve set up for clients is as follows.
If a lead visits our pricing page and has already contacted us or has been exhibiting buying signals then an alert email is sent to the Lead Owner, if that email has not been opened and clicked within 24 hours an alert is sent to the Sales Manager letting them know they may be missing a vital moment of communication.
Email interaction tracking and site interaction tracking are not revolutionary, many pieces of software can provide this service. What SharpSpring provides is all of that tracking in one place, in a uniform format and an accessible dashboard.
3. Life of The Lead
You can collect all of the data in the world but if it’s not easily analysed and actioned then it’s of little value. The ‘Life of the Lead’ is an auto-generated timeline of every interaction a lead has had with your website and team. Easily navigated and digested it presents a Sales Person with exactly the kind of clues and cues they need to coax a prospect further along their buying journey. Marketing can easily see which kinds of content and communication generated key conversions.
The behavior of a lead will accrue (or lose) them ‘Lead Score.’ This is a simple ticking counter that can give you an instant idea of how engaged a prospect is. The scoring is hugely customisable and scores can be attributed for almost anything SharpSpring can measure. Big Data is invaluable in improving your data-driven marketing but this additional personalised information means that your automation should never feel impersonal.
Before an exploratory meeting with a prospect a quick check of their ‘Life of the Lead’ will highlight their interest areas and allows you to leverage data passively collected online to build real world rapport.
4. A/B Testing
The idea of ‘Data Driven Marketing’ is a cornerstone of Marketing Automation. In 2016 you should never need to make a decision about your Marketing based on a ‘gut feeling.’ In order to improve the Return On Investment of your Marketing efforts you must be able to;
- Gather data on current and future leads
- Access and analyse that data
- Extrapolate possible avenues of improvement
- Test these in a controlled and measurable manner
- Identify what is working, what isn’t working and why that is the case
SharpSpring features a built-in A/B testing function for your email marketing, allowing it to be far smarter than a simple 50/50 email blast. Modifying the appearance of forms, the duration of workflows and the content of emails is all a simple process. A huge amount of content can be created and stored within SharpSpring which helps to make ongoing testing a smooth process.
Fun Fact: when someone in the office read a few blogs on the ‘Psychology of Colour in Marketing’ we ended up with over 15 different form buttons of varying hues.
5. In-Built CRM
The sheer amount of data generated by SharpSpring can be intimidating, especially if your business doesn’t already use a Customer Relationship Management system. SharpSpring has a CRM system built in which helps to cut the cost of over-lapping systems and make Marketing Automation for small and medium businesses more affordable. Importing and exporting data is a simple process with minimal fuss allowing you to keep your data clean and complete.
6. Open API & Zapier Integration
Getting new software to ‘play nicely’ with your existing systems is one of the biggest challenges an SME can face when trying to upgrade their capabilities. Manual data transfers and updates not only take time and effort but they can also cause data corruption or loss. Many Marketing Automation platforms keep key parts of their platform closed to third-party developers which means that integration can be much more of a headache.
SharpSpring has an open API and 100% native integration with Zapier. Cross-platform collaboration is quick and simple with more Apps being developed by a variety of parties simultaneously. Rather than having to wait and hope the Marketing Automation platform develop a solution to a problem it is perfectly possible to develop an App to integrate a program you use with SharpSpring by using Zapier.