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Imagine owning a coffee shop on the corner of your home town. You make a mean cappuccino and are known for miles around as the barista to beat when it comes to customer service. Now imagine that one day a million people come into your shop interested in buying coffee beans from you. They continually ask questions and take things off the shelves only to put them right back again and walk out. Some of these people were never really interested in buying coffee, but rather are just bored, others will buy coffee a month from now but need to stay in touch with you every week before feeling comfortable enough to do so. At the end of the day, you are exhausted and tired, but haven’t sold very much coffee because there simply wasn’t enough time to give every potential customer the advice and personal attention they needed to make a purchase.

This story is the reality for online businesses. Although the web has given us access to the world’s consumers, it’s also presented a problem of personalization. The local shop keeper can spend time with each new customer, but your website can’t. Brick-and-mortar stores are able to harness the power of two-way communication, your website can’t. Physical stores remain in the same place, allowing the same foot traffic to pass by naturally every day, your website is just another link on the web.

This problem is why marketing automation exists. See, in the real world, business owners tend to repeat tasks every single day. Whether it’s a common greeting to customers, or the same style of follow-up, certain aspects of business are very similar day in and day out. Marketing automation attempts to bundle those common tasks into software you can use online.

marketing automation

Web definitions
Marketing automation refers to software platforms designed for marketing departments and organizations to automate repetitive tasks. …

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marketing_automation

Let’s go back to the local coffee shop you own. Your website is still getting awesome traffic thanks to how great you are, but now you are using marketing automation. The front page of your site features a ‘Taste Preferences Quiz’ you wrote, helping visitors find the coffee blend that fits their pallet, just like you’d do if a customer walked into your shop. At the end of the quiz, you ask the visitor for their email address so you can send them articles they would find interesting based on their interests. If the visitor chooses to give you their email address, it is added to a list of people with similar taste preferences so you can send them articles they find interesting. After entering their email, the visitor is shown a variety of coffee blends that match their style and given more information about your coffee.

If the visitor chooses to buy today, they are shipped your coffee and receive interesting articles and new blends that match their profile based on the list they are on. If the visitor chooses to wait, they still receive your targeted articles and remember you as the guy who was willing to take the extra step to make sure they felt cared for.

Your website can now adequately handle throngs of people with the same care and attention to detail that you yourself would provide, but on a larger scale. Now your site makes more money, makes your visitors happier, and takes less of your time.

 

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