Automation Doesn't Mean Losing Personalization

By Clate Mask,
business.com writer
|
Aug 06, 2020
Image Credit: demaerre / Getty Images
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One of the great challenges of automated systems is losing some interaction with your leads and customers. But automation, done correctly, doesn't mean losing a personalized touch with customers.

Automation separates good businesses from great businesses, as the more you automate your business, the more efficiency and organization you gain. That still doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your relationship with your leads or your longtime customers. Nurturing those relationships should always be top of mind, no matter how much you rely on your customer relationship management (CRM) system to automate your tasks.

Counterintuitive as it sounds, when you apply automation to your sales and marketing processes, you get not only more profit, but more leads, more customers and, most importantly, more repeat customers. Applying automation to your sales and marketing saves you time, grows your sales, and increases your profits. 

Here is how to maintain personalization with your clientele while staying efficient through automation.

1. Find your target audience.

It's imperative that you clearly define your target audience to get a better idea of who they are, their pain points, how your product will help them and where they go to find answers. Identifying targets within the right channels will help your business narrow down an audience for your niche market and use your advertising and marketing dollars more efficiently, ensuring you cater to those who will benefit from your business the most.

The best way to define your target audience is to create a customer avatar by gathering the following information around how your product or service will influence or improve the life of their persona:

  1. Location
  2. Age
  3. Generation (baby boomer, Gen X, millennial, Gen Z, etc.)
  4. Relationship status
  5. Highest level of education
  6. Occupation 
  7. Yearly income
  8. Housing status (own or rent)
  9. Family size

The most effective client avatars are based on market research as well as information that you gather from your current customer base. Here are some ways to get that information:

  • Conduct customer surveys to capture feedback from your existing customers.
  • Add a custom audience pixel (like Facebook Pixel) to your website, which helps you track and learn more about people who have visited.
  • Interview customers to reveal the motivations behind certain buying behaviors.

A detailed profile of your ideal customer will yield the optimal ROI with sufficient data on how they'll respond to the right product at the right time.

Once you've developed your customer avatar, you can implement this information into your automation tool or CRM to target and nurture your leads going forward. You can leverage this information to engage with the right people on the right channel so you know how to create your content and come up with better product placement that will fulfill your customers' needs. 

2. Simplify the buyer's journey.

Nowadays, many customers buy goods online solely for convenience, so if your business is strictly e-commerce, it's important to maintain solid engagement after they purchase an item from you.  

Sending your customers valuable content through automated messaging will help them feel catered to, because they'll see related products based on their past purchases in their inbox rather than general advertisements.  

To maintain your brand's relevance to them, you can also use retargeting after a customer has clicked through to your website, sending them automated messages with recommendations based on their search and buying history.

3. Leverage your CRM.

Once a customer has entered your sales pipeline – whether at the top, middle or bottom of the funnel – it's important to maintain interaction throughout the customer journey. You can maintain customer engagement with these automated features in your CRM:

  • Messages
  • Appointments
  • Sales pipeline
  • Marketing automation
  • Invoices and payments

Each of these features offers an opportunity to transition from automation to personalization with each subsequent interaction. Once you've collected the data to determine where your customer fits in the pipeline, it's time to nurture that relationship with a consultation or meeting, addressing the customer's concerns or queries about your product or service. 

4. Offer valuable content.

Leveraging great content to maintain your customers' interest and improve the customer experience will give your business a competitive edge. This is especially true when you understand the needs and motivations of your target audience, helping you create valuable content.

Start by ensuring your website provides material that will appeal to your target audience, such as the following:

  • Webinars
  • Infographics
  • Podcasts
  • Guides
  • Virtual conferences or events
  • Whitepapers
  • E-books
  • Surveys or quizzes
  • Product tutorials
  • Product descriptions with purchase links
  • Blog posts
  • Product video demos

Applying this content to your automation tools – such as in an email marketing campaign where you tag the recipient by name to make it more personal – will entice your target audience to access your content. The material you send will offer them additional support in the way of educating and informative resources, helping you nurture your relationship with them over time. 

Automated technology is a great way to enhance the customer journey. It can reveal purchasing trends and assist in the consumers' buying decisions with personalized offers. You can leverage analytics to build a promotional campaign or a social media marketing strategy that keeps your brand top of mind for your target audience. 

5. Use editable templates.

Editable templates are a robust tool for addressing your customers' common questions or concerns. Many CRMs provide templates, but some do not allow editing before sending. The editing option is important, as it gives you the opportunity to personalize your outgoing messages every time. 

6. Personalize behavior automation.

One more way to ensure personalization remains intact through automation is to trigger different pipelines based on customers' behavior, which is a feature Keap offers. This allows you to personalize the customer journey based on their actions. Think of it as "choose your own adventure" for the customer.

7. Still connect on a human level.

As tempting as it is to rely on your CRM's automation features to do all the work for you, nothing beats human interaction. You can combine automation with personalization in many ways, such as encouraging your team members to reach out to potential customers by making calls, sending emails, or requesting a connection on social media when someone downloads content from your site. Continuing that relationship as quickly as possible will prevent the lead from going stale.

Now more than ever, with the prevalence of COVID-19, human interaction and empathy among entrepreneurs and customers alike will only strengthen the bond of these relationships, as businesses continue to persevere and overcome the struggles of social distancing or temporary closures.      

Balancing automation and personalization effectively is an exercise in precision. Prioritizing one over the other can discourage leads and customers from maintaining a relationship with your brand, as they may perceive the interactions as systemic, calculated and unwelcoming.

The last thing a customer wants to feel like is a pawn for your profit. Once you've treated your clientele like that, you've failed at personalization. You may have mastered your automation game, but it's your customers who breathe life into your business. Treat them with respect and appreciation, and they will return the favor with their loyalty and hopefully referrals so your business may experience organic growth. 

As Keap's CEO, Clate leads the company's vision, strategy and growth. His entrepreneurial spirit sparked early in his career and evolved into the software industry while he was at About.com. Clate then co-founded Keap (formally Infusionsoft) to help small businesses succeed with smart marketing automation tools just for them.
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