10 top tips for those getting started with marketing automation

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Automation has been a marketing goal for many years now. Most companies have identified tasks, such as abandoned cart emails, which are better handled by an always-on algorithm than a marketer.

Yet at a recent Econsultancy event, Digital Cream Sydney, it seemed that many organisations were just getting started with marketing automation. And of those who had a few years of experience in the field, most felt they had only scratched the surface of what was available from major platforms like Adobe and Salesforce.

Fortunately, roundtable discussions allowed marketing automation experts, such as table leader David Arcidiacono, marketing effectiveness manager at Qantas Loyalty, to offer some tips, best practices, and things to watch out for to those who were just getting started on their marketing automation journey.

Here are the top 10 tips from the day: – Read

Top 5 Marketing Automation Tools 2017

Marketing automation platforms are designed to manage and automate repetitive tasks for marketing professionals and organisations. As a hospitality business owner or marketing employee, we know that correctly structured marketing plans require forethought and a long term strategy. Much of this can be planned, scheduled and actioned using a marketing automation software tool.

Common capabilities include management of social media and scheduled posts, email marketing, digital adverts, lead generation tools and insightful analytical reporting systems.

Below are five of LeadDigital’s preferred marketing automation software platforms in 2017:

Pardot by Salesforce | Pardot.com

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Pardot is the popular B2B marketing platform brought to us from the huge CRM provider Salesforce. Pardot focuses on the lead generation side of marketing automation, and is structured towards creating more meaningful conversations with existing and new clients. Going beyond features, if you’re a Salesforce CRM user, this platform is ideal given its air-tight integration with the CRM.

Pro: All the features you could need. Tight integration with Salesforce.

Con: Doesn’t play well with others, few additional integrations. At the higher price end for a marketing automation platform (standard £800/mo).

ActiveCampaign | Activecampaign.com

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ActiveCampaign are a much more affordable marketing automation provider, perfect for small hotels or events venues. They may be less known than some other platforms, but it’s very hard to critique AC. They have a huge feature collection including the ability to create automated workflows and the various integration possibilities.

Pro: Cost effective, from around £15/mo for their basic package. Lots of features and a strong focus on email marketing.

Con: Some areas of the tool feel outdated, such as the email builder, when compared to alternatives available.

Act-On | Act-on.com

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Act-on believe their niche comes in the form of “outstanding experiences for customers“. Much of their marketing automation capabilities are around lead nurturing, and their support for clients is very highly rated. We would like to see some improvements to their reporting features, but otherwise this is a strong, easy to use contender.

Pro: Flexible platform, built for marketing teams not developers/engineers.

Con: Reporting is somewhat limited, some tools can be quite basic.

Marketo | uk.Marketo.com

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If you’re somewhere between the small hotel and enterprise-sized corporate events company, then Marketo could be the right tool for you. It’s not for the faint hearted, but is very intuitive and offers solutions that go much deeper than many of its competitors. We particularly like how current they are, regularly developing new services to match the digital landscape.

Pro: An industry leader, huge range of solutions, always updating services.

Con: In the higher price bracket, considered to have limited reporting & analytics abilities.

HubSpot | Hubspot.com/Marketing

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HubSpot is very features rich. It’s a platform that can do basically everything, and in our opinion, does it all to an incredibly high standard. Although they do offer HubSpot Marketing as a separate platform, when combined with their CRM and Sales tools this software becomes an all-in-one tool for complete business management.

Pro: Easy to use, designed for small businesses, lots of support and educational learning facilities available. Always trying to help clients get the most from the platform.

Con: Expensive compared to alternatives. Some features only available at additional costs, and often there are lower cost software options that provide the same functionality.

Conclusion

Whilst we only name five platforms here, there are various other tools available online today which can serve the same or similar marketing automation tasks. The important thing to consider is what your hospitality business actually needs, what you will actually use, and choosing a platform that fits.

At LeadDigital we have experience working with a wide range of marketing automation software tools for various clients, so understand the best ways to get more from the software.

 

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Top 5 Email Marketing Services in 2017

We are often asked about the various email software platforms available today and with so many options out there, how should you decide which is best for your hotel or venue? In this blog I’m going to give an overview of LeadDigital’s Top 5 recommended services for Email Marketing.

It’s easy to be tempted by all singing, all dancing services like Infusionsoft (discussed below), but these are often overcomplicated, and require a significant investment. We’ve all heard the saying “Don’t try to run before you can walk”. In this case it’s better to start simple and select software based on your needs today. It’s easy to upgrade as your requirements become more sophisticated, but it’s very difficult to go backwards!

So without further ado, lets get started:

AWeber

“All The Tools You Need To Send Emails The Right Way.”

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Established back in ’98, AWeber is one of the original email marketing platforms and is considered a great starter option for people new to email. It’s very simple, offering most of the core features a small to medium hospitality business would need, without overloading you with too many tools.

Pros: All the basics are covered, simple reporting and functionality and it offers a useful WordPress plugin for quick website sign-up forms.

Cons: The subscriber importing capabilities are quite limited, no ability to build landing pages, overall it can be quite limiting for more established businesses.

Cost: Today you can get a 30-day free trial followed by $19 (£15) per month for up-to 500 subscribers. Standard pricing then peaks $149 (£120) per month for 10,000-25,000.


MailChimp

“Send Better Email. Sell More Stuff”

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If you want to design awesome looking emails without needing a web designer on-hand, MailChimp is the tool for you!

A fan favourite for many, MailChimp is a popular option for most email marketers given its powerful functionality and user friendly interface. Whether you’re adding new subscribers, creating new email campaigns or looking for advanced automated email options, MailChimp is a solid all rounder.

Pros: Integrates with hundreds of web services including e-commerce platforms, huge collection of templates to design from, quick to get started.

Cons: MailChimp use a unique language for features & processes, they only allow for one opt-in form per list, reporting whilst informative can be less comprehensive than competitors unless managed by a MailChimp expert.

Cost: Up-to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month you can sign up for free, however this only gives access to the most basic features. To access all functions including autoresponders, pricing starts from £8 per month for <500 subscribers, then £65/mo+ for over 10,000 subscribers.


Drip

“Quick And Easy Email Marketing Automation Software”

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Marketing automation is the ultimate dream of most email marketers. The ability to take insights you have on customers and turn them into personalised & automated outreach campaigns, makes for the perfect recipe to succeed in email marketing.

Drip take that one step further by building their entire platform around the premise of drip marketing. Intelligent workflows allow users to automate the entire customer journey, with sophisticated rules based on interactions helping you get the most engagement from each subscriber.

Pros: Specialists in drip marketing, advanced visual workflows & event triggers, automate everything, access to marketing automation normally reserved for only high end expensive email software.

Cons: Still quite a new software platform so constantly seeing changes, integrations are less available and can be complicated.

Cost: Free for 100 subscribers, or get 2 months free when buying an annual package. £39.50/mo for up-to 2,500 subscribers, £120/mo+ for 10,000 subscribers.


ConvertKit

“Email Marketing For Professional Bloggers”

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Like MailChimp, ConvertKit offer many of the essentials needed for hotels, venues, restaurants and other hospitality businesses. Its advantage over competitors however, is that it uses ‘tags’ rather than ‘lists’. List based systems store subscribers (email addresses) on a per list basis, such as ticket buyers or competition A entries. If one subscriber is in both lists (tickets & competition), you could get charged twice!

Alternatively a ‘tag’ based system like ConvertKit looks at all subscribers together as one. Using customisable event tags, segments are then created and personalised emails can be sent to a select audience only, without the risk of double charging!

Pros: Tag based software, easy to use, simple to create sign up forms, offers a basic landing page builder.

Cons: Reported information and email testing functions can be quite limited and the email composer is somewhat basic.

Cost: 0-1,000 subscribers is £23 per month, £64/mo for up-to 5,000 then custom price for above 5k subscribers.


Infusionsoft

“Build Better Connections With Leads And Customers”

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If your subscriber numbers are above 50,000, you’ve got everything you can out of platforms like MailChimp and need to step it up a notch, it’s probably time to look at Infusionsoft.

This is a marketing automation, CRM and sales platform all rolled into one, and is big, powerful and perfect for complete email marketing dominance! It has every feature you could imagine and more, but does also demand a significant investment in time and money so can’t be taken lightly. Its abilities extend way beyond just email marketing, so you’d likely see this service become part of every aspect of your hospitality company.

Pros: Ultimate tool for much more than just email.

Cons: Too expensive for most business owners, very complex.

Costs: £160/mo for 2,500 subscribers plus you have to buy a kickstart package from £804 up. Thats not including the cost of training and additional staffing this system would require.

In Summary

There is a huge range of email marketing services to choose from in 2017, and this list only scratches the surface, with other services like ‘ActiveCampaign’, ‘GetResponse’, ‘Constant Contact’, ‘Ontraport’ etc… equally deserving of mention.

So how do you choose? Stop. Down tools and just ask yourself one question – what do I actually want to achieve with email marketing? Be specific.

The right software is vital, but even more so is the right email marketing strategy. This is the point when you should talk to LeadDigital. We have over 20 years experience in email marketing and only serve businesses within the hospitality sector – with our team creating bespoke email strategies designed to increase bookings and sell more events!

 

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What Is Inbound Marketing?

Over the past 5 years the term “Inbound Marketing” has been rapidly growing in popularity.

The term Inbound Marketing is credited to being first coined by Hubspot’s co-founder and CEO Brian Halligan, during the company’s inception back in 2006. Hubspot are the developers of one of the leading content marketing platforms for business of all sizes – a platform we at LeadDigital are committed to using ourselves and one we know to be beneficial to hospitality businesses such as event venues, bars, restaurants and hotels.

Inbound marketing describes the marketing strategy of attracting customers through digital content and interactions to your website. However, you may be more familiar associating this description with the term content marketing. You aren’t wrong! Content marketing is the process of attracting prospects to your website through a variety of content formats, like video, case studies, infographics, etc. However, inbound goes beyond this.

Arguably, content marketing has been incorporated as a part, or subset, of inbound. Content marketing only covers the initial stage of attracting potential customers within the inbound methodology as you can see from the graphic below.

Inbound-Methodology

Inbound Methodology

The above graphic represents Hubspot’s Inbound Methodology. It is made up of four actions, along the top (Attract, Convert, Close, Delight), which companies must take in order to obtain visitors, leads, customers and promoters. Along the bottom are the tools companies use to accomplish these actions. It is important to note these tools are listed under the action where they first come into play. Tools, like email, can play a big role in several stages of the inbound methodology.

The overall practice focuses on turning strangers into customers and customers into evangelists of your brand. Here is a quick summary of each stage of the inbound methodology, with reference to the above graphic;

Attract

Potential customers discover your hospitality brand through content such as blogs, videos and reviews via social media publishing and search engines. This content needs to aim at providing helpful information and answer questions. These are questions you know your potential customers will have when researching and booking a hotel, event venue, or table at your restaurant, for example.

This stage of the practice relies on a strong understanding of search engine optimisation and content creation skills. It also requires a good understanding of your customer base and an ability to pick out characteristics of your ideal customers. See more on how inbound can help your hospitality business increase sales.

Convert

Having successfully attracted potential customers to your site, this is where you make your website work for you. Using a combination of Call To Action buttons, Landing Pages and Forms, you capture the details of your potential customers, turning them into enquiries (leads).

Close

This is where having a good CRM (customer relationship management) system, that keeps a record of all customer interactions, really supports you in turning an enquiry into a customer. Email also plays an important role at this stage as a form of drip marketing, which nurtures your prospective guests and encourages them into becoming customers. An email marketing platform, like Hubspot’s or MailChimp, can automate much of this process while providing a customised experience (see point 5 in Why Your Hospitality Email Marketing isn’t Working!).

Delight

Continually using your CRM system to manage communications with existing customers. You can utilise email and initiate social monitoring to connect with your customer, provide excellent service and keep your brand top-of-mind. It is during this stage where delighting your customer also turns them into an evangelist of your hospitality brand.

Conclusion

Inbound begins with the principles of content marketing and utilises other tools and disciplines, which you may already be familiar with, to generate qualified leads, increase sales and convert customers into promoters.

We at LeadDigital work with hospitality businesses to establish and manage inbound marketing strategies, which deliver high quality enquiries and increase bookings.

If you’d like to attract more guests to your website and increase the volume of repeat business, then click below!

 

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5 Capabilities Your Next Hospitality Marketing Agency Must Possess

Marketing technology (Martech) is constantly evolving and the capabilities of Marketing Agencies must evolve as well if they are wanting to stay at the forefront of their industry. They need to be offering their clients the latest marketing services and executing successful and measurable digital marketing strategies in 2017 and beyond.

Does your marketing agency tick all the boxes when it comes to growing your hospitality business?

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Hospitality Marketing Agency Checklist – Data Analysis, Web Design, Marketing Automation, Content Marketing, SEO and SEM

Below are the top 5 marketing expertise, we believe, any hospitality marketing agency must possess to deliver successful marketing campaigns for their clients.

1. Data Analysis

Arguably the most important aspect of any marketing effort in 2017 and beyond is data analysis.

“Marketing without data is like driving with your eyes closed” Dan Zarrella

Data is everywhere and in everything we do! By now, you should be aware of data and how it can be captured in every digital interaction we make. With the ever growing importance and abundance of customer data (which is only going to increase further with the development of the Internet of Things), every marketing agency must have the capability, knowledge and passion to measure, analyse and interpret data.

Data enables you to;

  • Create more effective and targeted marketing campaigns
  • Create comprehensive customer personas
  • Improve marketing personalisation
  • Reduce bounce rates
  • Improve customer experience
  • Attract more and higher qualified leads
  • Increase customer retention

Ultimately, data is the driving force to increased revenues.

If your marketing agency doesn’t analyse data, how can they decipher what marketing initiatives are working for your resort, restaurant or events venue? If they don’t know what’s working, how can they develop strategies that achieve your marketing goals?

2. Web Design

While “web design” includes the aesthetic design of your website, there is a lot more to it than this. There are too many websites that look visually stunning, but don’t actually work.

Websites MUST work on a technical level, aligning to your business goals and supporting you in achieving them. Website design must include all the backend processes that enable your site to track and generate leads before converting them to customers. This includes but not limited to; data tracking, landing pages, forms, CTAs, and integrating payment processing and booking systems.

Without this capability, your web presence is just for show and is not working for you. If your website isn’t working for you, it’s working against you, generating more demand on resources and if not optimised properly, wasting your resources. A good hospitality marketing agency knows how to deliver your visuals and make them work for you, converting visitors into customers.

3. Marketing Automation Tool Mastery

The marketing platform landscape is vast. Social media alone presents at least 5 major platforms for the Hospitality Industry (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, and Pinterest) for posting and sharing content.

With the growing network of communication platforms, for various types of content, marketing automation tools such as Hubspot, Mailchimp, Buffer, Salesforce Pardot and Marketo have become a necessity. However, it is important you have an expert in these automation tools, that can guide you on best-practices and efficiency.

Automated emails, social media and content marketing campaigns deliver more and better qualified leads, culminating in more sales. Marketing automation tools allow for more marketing efforts to be achieved in less time, generating better ROI, let alone the opportunity for greater personalisation.

To get the best out of these tools, you need a marketing agency that has tried and tested the tools, learnt how to get the most out of them and only works with the best. They can either manage your in-house marketing team efforts or manage your automated marketing efforts for you.

4. Content Marketing

Content Marketing has evolved in the last decade, largely due to the development of data enabling it to be measurable, and become the foundation to any marketing strategy.

Nobody likes receiving unsolicited emails or advertising pop-ups that fight for your attention over what you’re actually looking for. These are the intrusive tactics of Outbound Marketing. Content Marketing on the other hand, is the foundation of the non-intrusive, Inbound Marketing methodology, first coined by Hubspot.

Inbound Marketing is the practice of creating content that is informative and useful for your target audience – Content that directly answers the questions you know your potential customers will be typing into search engines. By addressing their questions you will attract your potential customers (earlier in the buyer’s journey) directly to your website. It is from here that you use your landing pages as tools for converting visitors into customers.

For example, say you run a Hotel in London. Creating a piece of content on the ‘Top 10 Things to do in London’ answers questions your potential customers are researching before booking their trip. Clicking through to this content will subject them to your brand and you can use this opportunity to convert them from a stranger into a lead – Link them to why your hotel is the perfect choice for a trip to London or place a CTA (Call-To-Action) to the latest offers that are available.

Content has become one of the strongest methods for lead generation. Working with a marketing agency that understands Content Marketing and the Inbound methodology is incredibly important for the success of your marketing strategies moving forward.

5. SEO & SEM

Last but by no means least, Search Engine Optimisation and Marketing. To get your website, content and services in front of your existing and potential customers you need to get them ranking highly on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

Search engines are constantly developing and becoming smarter with their algorithms frequently being updated. It requires an expert with their fingers on the pulse of Google and it’s competitors to keep you appearing at the top of the results pages.

A lot of businesses try to take this in-house, unaware of the skills, knowledge and resources it takes to be successful in this area. It is important to work with a marketing agency that lives and breathes SEO and SEM, advising and optimising your keyword strategies, to ensure you consistently rank highly.

Achieving higher rankings for your website content generates more traffic, which coupled with your content marketing strategy develops better qualified leads and more sales.

Summary

Proficiency in data analysis, marketing automation tools, website development, content marketing and SEO & SEM are the top requisites for your marketing success in 2017 and beyond.

Marketing agencies that boast these services are going to be the ones with the most successful marketing strategies for your hospitality venue. Be sure to review your current marketing agency and check that they offer you all of the above, or risk being surpassed by your competitors in partnerships with those that do.

 

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