(This is a guest post by Kurt Elster, a speaker at the upcoming Double Your Freelancing Conference. Don’t have your ticket yet? Buy your ticket while they’re still available and join Kurt and 13 other speakers in Norfolk, Virginia, this September 16th – 18th)
A year ago I was in the same position as many freelancers and agency owners. My professional life was a roller coaster of worrying if I could bill enough this month and then worrying about delivering on time the next. The worst part was that I, like many of you, had accepted my situation as the nature of the business.
Today things are quite a bit different. I get as many as ten new, qualified leads every day, on top of selling consistently to existing (and happier than ever) clients. And the best part is it happens almost entirely without me.
It’s not magic, it’s marketing automation. What’s marketing automation? Marketing automation is an entire category of tools and tech that you can use to streamline, automate, and better measure your marketing as a freelancer or consultant, so get back to doing the things you love while increasing your bottom line.
“But isn’t marketing automation for enterprises and annoying sales people?”
It’s for smart marketers — people like you and me who don’t want to get bogged down in repetitive tasks daily. I bet you’re using some kind of automation in your life right now (‘Zapier’, ‘If This, Then That’, ‘Amazon Subscribe and Save’, and ‘Email Out Of Office Messages’ are just a few examples), you just haven’t applied automation to your marketing.
I’ll give you the simplest example, and one of the most powerful: think about traditional email marketing. You build a list, and when you remember to write a newsletter, you blast one out.
But they’re inconsistent because you’re busy when you should be sending them, and you’re scrambling for new work when you do get around to send them.
Now what if, instead, you had a library of content and built an automatic pipeline that feeds your content across multiple channels to your audience? That way, when someone new subscribes to your newsletter, they get ‘dripped’ out a persistent stream of your best articles and content, not just the latest article you remembered to send out. This way, you ensure that people are continually exposed to your best content.
“Okay, Kurt, that sounds great, but I don’t have a big list like you”
No worries, you can use automation and some other smart marketing tricks to drive people into your list.
“Whoa, how many tools are we using here?”
As many or as few as you want. Ultimately, our goal is to build a system that has one goal: keep you at the top of mind with your clients, both current and prospective. I’ve automated my entire sales pipeline using a suite of five tools that anyone can use (you can see what these tools are and how I use them below).
In the past, I’d get busy delivering projects to clients and my marketing would naturally move to the bottom of my to-do list. Maybe you’ve experienced the same problem — and the same realization: if you’re not working on your business, no one else is either. Through automation, all of your marketing efforts continue relentlessly, no matter if you’re working on your marketing, working on a client project, or working on your tan.
And once you’ve taken yourself out of the equation, you’ve put the prospective client in control of when they choose to get in touch with you (if ever), ensuring that you don’t hear from them until they’re in a stage of the buying cycle where it’s not just appropriate to talk numbers, they want to talk budgets and timelines.
Marketing Automation Tools
Here’s a few tools that you can use right now to automate your marketing:
- IFTTT: IFTTT stands for If This, Then That. It’s a free service that lets you create “recipes” or simple triggers and actions that leverage the power of other services with APIs. Let’s use Instagram as an example. Whenever I post a photo to Instagram, IFTTT sees it and looks for recipes that start with “If new instagram photo by ethercycle,” and then it carries out any actions I’ve specified. I think photos are great content marketing, so I have IFTTT post my new photos Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter. I even have it backup those photos to my Dropbox.
- WuFoo: I’m a big fan of form builders like WuFoo for saving time and managing leads. You can use WuFoo to easily make customized contact forms for various landing pages and then automatically and immediately reply to them with a customized email template to help qualify your new lead while setting a new standard for response time.
- Drip: According to their sales page, “Drip is lightweight marketing automation that doesn’t suck.”. It gives you the ability to trigger an email, campaign or tag based on any action a user takes, be it expressing interest in a topic, downloading a sample chapter of your book, starting a trial of your software, or viewing your upgrade page. It’s practically magic.
- Facebook Retargeting: Most visitors to your site won’t convert. You need a safety net to bring them back. You can use Facebook to retarget visitors to your website. For $50/mo, you can have your ads follow your most engaged but bounced traffic around Facebook on all their devices like a lost puppy, keeping you top of mind.
- MeetEdgar: I’m sure you’ve seen or even used traditional social media tools like HootSuite or Buffer to schedule updates. But what if you stop updating your schedule? Those tools stop too. Edgar is smarter, it creates a library of content and posts at times you choose with random bits of content from your library- saving loads of times while getting the most mileage out of your content.
I was talking about this with my friend and co-speaker Philip Morgan, and he had this to say about my presentation:
The message for freelancers is great: you can do less and earn more. But what I really love about your presentation is that it really helps freelancers and solo consultants understand the real value of marketing automation without getting lost in the weeds. Marketing automation can be complex– you’re helping even a marketing newbie understand how to *apply* automation to their business.
If you’re ready to learn how you can use marketing automation to free up your time while filling up your pipeline, you should join me at the Double Your Freelancing Conference this September. I’ll be speaking along with a dozen incredible speakers who can help you level up your business. I know I’ll learn a lot there, and hope you’ll join me.