Think your marketing efforts are running at full speed? Think again

With all the lovely weather we’ve been having this past summer, I readily have worn through my trainers getting out and about in the sunshine. Now, with the nights drawing in and the temperature dropping, I’ve been somewhat reluctant to set about replacing them. The thought of another trip to the chaos of somewhere like Sports Direct on a Saturday afternoon just to be told that the shoes I want aren’t available in my size fills me with dread.

I tentatively asked around at work and got a recommendation from a colleague for an independent running shop not too far from the office. The friendly team had provided her with free gait analysis and a pair of quality, affordable trainers, all inside the space of her lunch break. The only thing missing from an otherwise perfect customer experience, she said, was the personal touch when it came to the post-purchase emails she received from them, the kind of thing we’ve become all too used to in the age of Amazon.

A shame, but hardly a surprise. The three biggest challenges facing marketing teams today are resource, time and the level of skill available. They lack the time to think beyond sending a message out, lack understanding around where they should be focused and aren’t setting objectives or tracking results. Whilst many may understand the word ‘personalisation’, they are floundering when it comes to apply it to their businesses on a day-to-day basis.

The fact remains that email marketing provides some of the best returns to be found from any marketing method and, in 2016, again did better than SEO in terms of profitably and return on investment, with three-quarters of all companies reporting an excellent ROI from their email marketing efforts. Yet it continues to be contentious and is often not well-executed because marketing teams aren’t informed enough of how they can do it well.

There is a huge shortage of time and thought given to email and what it can deliver for small businesses. Despite email delivering impressive ROI, the internal business case for taking it beyond simply sending a newsletter is a challenge because, more often than not, email marketing isn’t being properly initiated. As a result, its value fails to be recognised.

Smaller teams are capable of delivering big results that meet the competitiveness of the larger players, but understanding where their focus and investment should be, in addition to the tools now available is critical to achieving this. Businesses should never be afraid to take a step back and evaluate their marketing maturity – and identify what level of support they require in order to meet their objectives and deliver growth.

There are now affordable technology solutions available to smaller teams, but bosses need to be wary of just handing them a big piece of technology and expecting to see an immediate improvement in conversion rates and an increase in sales. Having a sophisticated piece of technology is all well and good, but without knowing how to use it, access to support or a true understanding around their individual business and customer needs, the technology isn’t going to be effective in delivering ROI or relieving the pressure points.

With the right support, technology can offer marketers two things – the opportunity to improve ROI and the means to deliver impressive customer experiences. Investing in technology means businesses are investing in improving their customer experience and growing revenue.

Small retailers and marketing teams are sitting on a wealth of data about their customers which they aren’t tapping into. It doesn’t take much to get technology up and running to really leverage this data and improve the customer experience as a result, with everything from email personalisation, real-time content and web personalisation to abandoned basket campaigns that can be sent to drive people back now practical and affordable options for all.

Automation helps take the headaches away for marketers but requires them to place an element of trust in the technology. It frees up the team from the gritty detail, allowing them to take a step back and focus more on the strategic and creative elements. In this regard, if you are an independent retailer, whether you sell trainers or not, getting smart about automation technology will certainly help your small team put their best foot forward when it comes to improving marketing efforts.