If the thought of keeping in constant contact with your customers online sounds overwhelming then you’re not alone; 24 percent of small businesses don’t use social media at all. The biggest reason for this is a lack of time. Social media doesn’t stop when the workday ends, so it can be a daunting task to commit to a strategy. And your digital presence doesn’t take vacation time – and you wouldn’t want it to. Digital marketing and social media are great ways to continue to build and engage your customers to drive conversions. With the help of free, online resources, automating your business is more attainable than you think. Use these five tools to get started:
1. Facebook’s Response Assistant
This tool allows you to cut back on time spent monitoring your messages like a hawk. It allows you to automatically respond to anyone who messages your business’ Facebook page with a personalized message. While it’s still ideal to have an employee manually go through the messages at some point to give your customer more relevant information, this feature will help you maintain your page’s response rate. To access this tool:
- Go to your Facebook page’s “Settings”
- Then “Messaging”
- Under “Response Assistant” click “Yes” next to “Send Instant Replies to anyone who messages your Page”
Pro Tip: Place the answers to some frequently asked questions in the message to save yourself some time.
If you’ve tried to manually publish a social media post every day at the same time, you know how hard it can be. After all, we’re only human. Thankfully, digital tools have a much better memory than we do. Buffer allows you to schedule posts to your social media accounts with ease. On the free plan, you can schedule up to 10 posts per account on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Instagram. Buffer also provides in-depth analytics on audience engagement, which is a great way to see what works and what doesn’t. Try adding a mix of photos, videos, questions, and promotions to keep your audience both entertained and engaged.
Like Buffer, Hootsuite allows you to schedule posts to your social media accounts beforehand. On the free plan, you can have 3 social profiles, basic analytics, and an unlimited number of scheduled posts. Hootsuite can also run lead capture campaigns through sweepstakes and even has RSS feed integration allowing you to pull content from other websites. As with Buffer, experimenting with different forms of content can help you determine what’s working.
4. IFTTT: If This, Then That
This tool can be a little confusing at first, but can deliver some truly powerful results. IFTTT allows you to set up simple automation “formulas.” It can do everything from automatically posting to Twitter when you publish a Facebook post or keep track of the time you spend on projects. There are plenty of pre-existing formulas that are great for work or for your personal life, but you can also set up your own. There are seemingly endless possibilities with IFTTT, so play around and see how it can benefit you.
As one of the best email autoresponders out there, MailChimp just got better because it’s now completely free for less than 2,000 subscribers. MailChimp can help you keep in touch with your audience by sending automatic emails. You can send a ‘Thank You’ email after someone completes a purchase, ‘Welcome’ new subscribers to the club, and even keep your followers up-to-date with a regular newsletter. MailChimp also collects data on your email campaigns and can segment your audience based on email clicks, open rates, or even geographic area. You can then use this information to drive new marketing tactics and increase your conversions.
Make the Most of Your Digital Marketing Strategy
While tools like these can help you save time, remember that nothing beats real human interaction. You and your employees will be able to better answer a prospective customer’s question and provide more empathetic customer service. At the end of the day, a customer wants a genuine relationship with your company. Meanwhile, it’s also important to continually update your strategies to cater to your audience. These tools can help you strengthen your online presence while letting you focus on your brand and your customers.