Easy (and FREE) Marketing Automation for Solopreneurs

If you’re anything like me, you’re always looking for ways to make managing your brand online more efficiently. I rely on marketing automation because the investment gives back the thing I value most – time.

What is Marketing Automation?

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Marketing automation is the use of online services or software to complete tasks and processes for you. It replaces the need for repetitive administrative tasks with time-saving automated systems. With these new processes, you’ll be able to expand your growth and become a more efficient business owner.

Automation software can seem intimidating at first glance. API keys, webhooks, developer codes… say what? Truth is, it’s not all that complicated. Several automation systems will actually do the hard work for you.

I’m sharing a few of my best-kept automation secrets. These are integrations once taken for granted that I can’t fathom living without now.

 The Challenge: Becoming too “Impersonal”

Initially, I was concerned with losing the “personal touch” in my lead nurturing process. If you’ve ever felt the disappointment after opening an obviously templated email response from a brand you idolize, you know what I mean. I knew I didn’t want that for my own business. When it comes to automation, it’s all about finding the right balance. 

The Solution: Be “Automated-ish”

Establish what parts of your business should be set to autopilot and what needs to stay personally handled.

Here are the actions that I do automate:

  • My initial inquiry response
  • Online booking and contracts
  • Client questionnaires
  • Gathering reviews
  • Email marketing

And here are the things that I don't:

  • My secondary and follow up inquiry response
  • Social media engagement
  • Thank you gifts

Depending on the action, some of my functions are fully automated,
whereas others are only triggered by my intervention.

How My Process Works (As a Wedding Photographer)

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For my wedding photography business, I’ll break down how I put these integrations in place and how they save me time.

Example: New Client Inquiry

  1. A new bride reaches out to me via my contact form on my website.
  2. An email notification is generated with my new potential bride’s information.
  3. The information is sent to my business management system.
  4. A new contact is also automatically sent to my CRM.
  5. A new wedding client questionnaire is triggered by Pixifi and sends the bride my initial response.
  6. When the bride has answered her questionnaire, I receive an email.
  7. At this point, I step in. I review the information from the bride and take over with any correspondence needed from there.

Integrations used:

Ninja Forms – $99/year for WordPress
Pixifi – $24.99 – $49.99/mo
Hubspot – $50/mo

Free alternatives:

Contact Form 7 – super simple HTML-based contact forms for WordPress websites sites.
Hubspot CRM – offers a tracking pixel you can install to automatically detect contact forms submissions.
Zapier – the first 5 integrations allow for a free account.

    Why I Do It (And Why It’s SO Important for my Business)

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    I’m a busy solopreneur!

    Not only that, I receive lots of inquiries each month from brides who are looking for a photographer at different stages of the planning process. Truthfully, not everyone ends up working out. Some brides are only hunting for the lowest price. Others never respond to any of my emails at all. Sometimes, I’m already be booked for their wedding day.

    My inquiry automation process does two essential things for me:

    It filters out unqualified the “unqualified” leads. For the bride that is just window shopping, they never get around to filling out the questionnaire. That’s fine with me. My ideal clients are couples that are invested in the wedding photography experience I have to offer. If they want me, they will take the time to fill it out.

    Additionally, my questionnaire captures vital information that helps me know how much of a match they are with my personal style.

    It responds to my potential clients, even when I am unavailable or busy. I receive new inquiries all throughout the day. Occasionally it occurs in the middle of an appointment or wedding. Sometimes, I am just plain busy. I’m working, running errands, cooking, sleeping, or WHATEVER life throws my way. It’s not always possible for me to drop everything for an email. This helps me save my sanity and allows me to maintain a personal life balance, which we all need!

    Now, I can save my precious time to focus on nurturing the relationships with the brides who have the time to invest in me.

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