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What marketing can we automate, and what do we need to keep manual?

Sep 6, 2019

What marketing can we automate, and what do we need to keep manual?

You might remember a while back we wrote a blog about the onboarding process and called it ‘The Machine With the Human on Top’. The blog talks through the importance of creating an experience for your client by using a balance of automation and personal touch.

Onboarding is just one element of your marketing. What about the rest? What exactly can you automate, and what do you need to keep manual to ensure you get the balance right?

Automate social and top it up

Your prospects and clients expect to see you on social. We appreciate that it feels easier said than done to have a consistent presence on social when you have clients to meet, employees to manage and offices to run. Not to mention school runs, dog walks, getting your five a day in and managing some semblance of rest. 

We have plenty of conversations with clients who understand the value of being on social, but feel they just don’t have the time to prioritise it. 

What to automate:

  • The idea sharing: You can’t robotise your brainwaves to generate ideas. However, if you’re doing your social media in-house and sharing the responsibility, what you can do is create a system for collaborating on ideas. At PF we have a dedicated Slack channel for social media. Every time a team member reads an article, snaps an on-brand photo, or shares a compelling client experience, we post it in the Slack channel. When it comes to scheduling the monthly PF posts, our Marketing Manager has a whole bank of ideas from the team to make use of. If you don’t use Slack, this could be an ideas g-sheet or even a dedicated whatsapp group.
  • Scheduling the posts: When it comes to managing your social media activity across all platforms, there are some great automation tools at your disposal. We wrote a comprehensive blog that lists and compares them here. Scheduling a whole month’s posts in one go can drastically reduce your time spent on social and means you’re consistently building up awareness and engagement with your audience. 

If you want to relinquish the responsibility of daily posting all together, we can take care of it for you by posting consistent high quality social posts on your behalf. 

If you’re not ready to invest in outsourcing or in a social media management software, start with the minimum viable marketing option and create your own monthly calendar on a gsheet. This way at the bare minimum you (and your team) will know exactly what you’re posting daily.

What to keep manual:

  • The personal top ups: We post on behalf of many of our clients, equipped with a knowledge of their brand, style and tone of voice. However, we do believe that the best social posting is a blend of consistent brand visibility and personal social networking. We encourage our clients to top up our efforts with their own posts, sharing client stories, personal experiences, presence at events and in-the-moment images. The same goes if you’re automating the firm’s social posting. Be sure to contribute (and have your team contribute) with the off-the-cuff stuff. 

You might even want to top it up with posts from your personal account. Find out if you need both personal and business accounts here.

Treat your pre-onboarding and onboarding process the same

‘Here’s what’s going to happen, and here’s what you need to do’.

Essentially this is the key communication for both your pre-onboarding and onboarding processes, and much of it can be automated. 

Recently at PF we’ve stepped up our pre-onboarding automation. We’ve always had a qualifying diagnostic at the point of enquiry. We identified the three things we were manually asking prospects to do after the enquiry, in order for them to understand our approach and figure out whether they were the right fit. Now, we’ve created a preparation page that lists these things out, and gives an indication of how long it could take to complete the prep and become a client. 

The process might be slightly different for prospects than new clients, but the automation principles are much the same.

What to automate:

  • The follow up: Whether you’re following up after an accepted proposal, or following up an enquiry, your next step is to show the client their next steps. Create a landing page to explain what’s going to happen immediately, and what they can expect further down the line. Lay out what you’re going to do, and tell them exactly what you need them to do. For pre-onboarding, this could be some reading material to help your prospect identify the help they need, or a video to get to know your way of doing things. For onboarding post-proposal, this could be a form for your new client to fill in so they can send you all the details you need to set them up. Bonus tip: you can even automate the internal emails that direct that information to the right person at your firm.
  • The game plan for ‘the hesitators’: Having a landing page ready for accepted clients assumes that all clients accept proposals in a flash and everything is always hunky-dory (wouldn’t that be lovely?). What about that awkward stage after you’ve sent a proposal where you hear nothing for two weeks? Again, it’s all about preparing your prospect. Send a video with your proposal that talks through the process of how to accept and what to expect. Tell them that you’ll check in with them by a certain date, and then do that. If you find you send the same follow up email to all hesitators, automate that email by (bare minimum) saving a draft in your inbox, or by creating a template in your email marketing software.

What to keep manual

  • The ‘thinking of you’ emails: Though you can automate a follow up when a lead has gone cold, sometimes the best follow ups are the personal ones. It can be as simple to say:

 “Hey, how’s it going? Just wanted to check in” or “Did you have any questions?”. 

Often you’ll find that your prospect has been meaning to get in touch and needed the prompt. If there’s a BIG why (a personal issue or difficult circumstance) it also offers a more private and personal opportunity for that conversation.

  • The custom service conversation: Though we’ve put an all-singing-all-dancing pre-onboarding process in place, once the client has identified the help they need, one of the team will need to have a conversation with our prospect about the specific services we advise as a solution. This might include sending a personal email,  jumping on a call or both. 

Use an email marketing platform for drip feeds and client updates

Most accountants are familiar with the idea of automating an email newsletter. Outside of the newsletter comfort zone, there are other ways to use email automation to keep leads warm. 

What to automate:

  • Drip campaigns: A drip campaign is a series of emails that is triggered by an action and automatically sent. An example of this: You have a cashflow download on your website. A user enters their email address to receive the download. This automatically triggers a thank you email. A few days later they’ll receive a follow up with another freebie for them, or a helpful blog to read to continue their learning. This keeps the lead engaged, informed and nurtures them whilst they consider you as a solution to their needs. 
  • Client reminders: Anything upcoming that is going to affect a portion, or all, of your client base can be automated in Mailchimp, Infusionsoft, Karbon, Senta (or whatever platform you use).

What to keep manual:

  • Anything personal: As you’ll know, there are always going to be times where you’ll either need to address a situation personally, or want to! If something goes wrong and you need to apologise, if there’s a real human situation affecting workflow, if you read an article that really relates to a client’s situation, if you want to share that hilarious dog meme with a pooch-loving prospect. These are the things in life that you can’t automate, and where a personal touch is a blessing. 

This tip is encouragement to take a step back from your systems and look at what further automation you can adopt to save time and improve the client experience. It’ll also make you think about all the areas of your marketing where it’s still really important for you to be you. To be present, honest and dare I say it, authentic.