When you think about small business marketing and automation by ActiveCampaign, a good insight can be had just by looking at your email inbox, says Maria Pergolino. The chief marketing officer says that there are emails that you’re excited to read and ones that are just noise.
The company is helping companies activate their entire customer experience. In other words, it’s helping companies send the emails people are going to open. For Maria, it’s really about, a lot of phrases often thrown around but are rarely put into action by small businesses. Phrases like being at the right place at the right time, or having the right message.
Think about companies you love, like Netflix or Amazon. They always seem to have the right thing in front of you. However, what allows them to do that are resources that most small businesses do not have. “We’re trying to give small businesses that same power, but without the complexity,” says Maria.
Scaling Small Business Marketing vs Personal Customer Relationships
Maria says people are increasingly seeking out small businesses. This is evident in the growth of search terms like “craft” and “bespoke.” However, there’s a problem with that increase in interest.
When a small business has a small client base, they can treat every customer like they’re family. But what happens when the business becomes more successful because of this? Scale ruins the experience. Suddenly the emails do not feel personalized. The relationship becomes generic or even irrelevant.
It’s really how do you allow for that personal relationship to scale so that you don’t ‘success yourself right out of business’
It’s something that doesn’t get talked about often, but it actually happens to so many great creators and businesses. At its core, it’s what ActiveCampaign is all about. The company is focused on customer experience automation. So its clients can scale personal relationships and continue being successful at marketing.
Essential Questions in Planning Small Business Marketing
So how does your company do automate marketing? Everybody is looking for a one-size-fits-all solution, Maria says. “The reality is, it’s different for every company,” she explains. More importantly, it’s about following a process that yields a customer experience automation strategy that’s tailored for your business. The following questions are essential when you’re building your plan.
What are you trying to accomplish?
Bring that whiteboard to life, Maria says. That means thinking about your business and what it has set out to do. Where does your company bring value. Obviously, you’re thinking about customer experience automation. However, you have to know what exactly is your company doing in terms of marketing and customer relationship management. What is working, what is not, and what can be improved?
Where is your personal touch important?
Zero in on the areas where your personal touch is critical in the business. Knowing what points in the relationship deserve your attention to build that relationship up is useful. If you know this, you know where to allocate resources, such as time and personnel. It will also lead to answering our third question.
What can you scale and automate?
There are some areas in your business that are better left automated, Maria says. Simply, it’s those tasks that are repetitive, add little value, and can be offloaded to a machine. Your time is better spent elsewhere. On the other hand, there are also other processes that while requiring a personal touch, can be scaled with the use of technologies offered by companies like ActiveCampaign. “If you think about where you need to get to and what you are not going to be able to scale yourself, then you can make the decisions,” Maria says.
What is the experience like from the customer’s perspective?
You also have to think beyond your company’s processes, Maria says. Think about the experience from the customer’s perspective. When does it make sense to reach out? What messages could make the most impact
Where and who can you turn to for support?
Borrowing a term used by Seth Godin, who Ramon has recently teamed up with to launch a workshop for small businesses, Ramon says you have to know who are the linchpins in your organization. These are the people you can turn to who do amazing work so that you can focus on what you do best. “What are you going to do when you can’t do everything?” Maria says.
We watch business owners run themselves ragged and put their time in the places that aren’t going to matter the most in the business.
How ActiveCampaign Has Thrived Even During COVID
ActiveCampaign braced itself for the storm wrought by the pandemic on the business landscape. It prepared early by organizing thrice-weekly meetings looking at hotspots around the world and seeing what the pandemic’s effect was on every metric they could get their hands on. The company has more than 100,000 customers globally. More importantly, those customers were in more than 170 countries so the data was available.
Maria says that one of the things the company leaned on to thrive even during COVID-19 is optionality. In addition to traditional businesses, ActiveCampaign is also great for e-commerce, digital first, and B2B organizations. It’s an area that businesses should look into, she stresses. How is your business diversified?
The company also leveraged its strengths. More specifically, it leaned on the fact that it is value based. Businesses actually moved to the company because they were seeking lower prices. What the company did was launch two new products but did not raise prices, to make the value of what they’re offering all the more attractive.
And the company thrives just by empowering its customers. Beyond offering small business marketing tools and automation services, ActiveCampaign also has a study hall. Maria says it’s where you’ll learn nuggets like this:
You want to reach and engage, but also equally nurture and educate, convert and close, and support and grow.
What Small Businesses Should Realize
In addition to small business marketing and customer experience, Maria and Ramon also discussed what ActiveCampaign saw businesses doing during the pandemic. One is they started bringing their contacts in one place. Maria says clients wanted to reach out to their contacts. More importantly, they wanted to do it from one place.
Maria also shared three things small businesses should realize. The first one is a piece of advice. She says there’s one thing that businesses need to be doing right now. They should be establishing a cadence of communication with customers. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling right now, just maintain contact. It will benefit your business down the road, she and Ramon agree.
Another nugget Maria shared is that businesses should realize that the world is more digital now. That means more than just email. That includes the technology people have in their hands and in their homes. Businesses should think about how they are engaging with people through these. Consider that in your customer experience automation.
The last thing Maria shared was a lesson she personally learned making the transfer from enterprise technology to dealing more with small businesses. Small businesses are a force to be reckoned with, she says. Small businesses do not simply want simpler or easier. “I am everyday impressed by the sophistication of small businesses in what they’re trying to do,” she says. “Their aspirations are just as big.”
“The sophistication is rising, they’re putting things together, they don’t want the watered down,” she says. “Just don’t underestimate small businesses. They are thinking about things in ways just as interesting as any big company.”
She says that’s why at ActiveCampaign, their imperative is to give customers something complete but not complex.