Guest post by: Michael Zipursky

Marketing automation could just as easily be called Relationship Automation – because that’s what all good marketing does…it establishes and builds a relationship with your prospects and customers.

These days, as advertising messages clobber us on the head at every corner (it’s estimated we see over 3,000 ad messages per day), and where brands do their best to imprint their names on our skin, the value of personalized marketing has never been greater.

While it used to require a big budget to personalize your marketing, online technologies now make it within reach of businesses of every shape and size. Regardless of whether you have a marketing job, work in the media, want to be a consultant, or run a small business, developing your relationship building strategy is time well spent.

Here are 5 reasons and tips to start your own marketing automation system:

Response Time

    While sending an email to a prospect or customer doesn’t replace picking up the phone and giving them a call; a 2010 study in the insurance industry showed that leads are 20 times more likely to convert when contacted right away. Marketing automation allows you to set up automatic emails, fax blasts and other messages or actions you can take to get in touch with prospects not days, hours, or even minutes later, but right away.

Increase Lifetime Value

    If you lined up 100 prospective customers only a small group of them would be ready to buy what you offer this very moment. By creating your marketing automation system you can send emails and other communications to those prospects automatically on an ongoing basis. While a prospect may not be ready to buy from you now, by keeping in touch with them you increase your chances of making the sale – even if it takes a few months or years.

Highly Personalized Messages

    We all receive mail these days that includes our first names in the letter or email. With the right marketing automation system you can go way beyond the first name. By using special words, called “merge tags”, you can personalize a message to a customer by including the name of the product they purchased, the part of town they live in, the date they bought from you and so much more. Plus, when you use merge tags you only need to create one message, regardless of how many customers are on your list. For
    more details on merge tags see this great case study by Mailchimp.

Keep Your Staff Focused

    Would you rather have your staff and salespeople reply to every email your company receives or would you prefer to have a system in place that automatically responds to inquiries based on the questions and topic of each? Your system can increase the efficiency of your customer support while providing a personal touch by doing things like: responding to general questions from prospects with answers to FAQs, directing people to an area of your website for more information, offering them a free report, or providing contact details for the person they should get in touch with to name a few.

Finding the Right Technology for Your Business

    There are all kinds of solutions in the marketplace when it comes to marketing automation. From simple auto-responder services to more advanced rule based automation features. When deciding which provider is right for your business be sure to assess not only what your needs are at this moment, but what they might look like in 6 months to a year. You want a system lean enough that you’re not over spending for what you actually use, and at the same time one that has enough features and capacity that allows you to grow into it.

About the author:
Michael Zipursky is a business consultant and co-founder of, Canada’s leading job site for reaching pre-screened professionals looking for marketing jobs in Canada. He is the author of 4 books on consulting, including the Consulting Success System. His work has been featured in FOX Business, HR Executive, Financial Times and other media.