As crazy as it sounds, a lot of companies don’t take advantage of the benefits of automation. Through sheer inertia or a lack of information, people often power through certain aspects of their venture that could save both time and money. Not every part of a business should be automated, though. Deciding which areas of your business require automation will help you implement a plan that can take the pressure off of you and your employees.
Automating tasks is a huge time saver. Many repetitive tasks that you do with a browser can be automated to free up time. There are a few options you can explore when considering automating tasks. Using macros is a great way to automate tasks that you may find yourself doing inside spreadsheets over and over. If you’re feeling brave and are comfortable programming your own automation bots, there are bot making software options on the market that allow you to write your own bots to perform a task that can be done in a browser.
There are also services like ifttt and izaper, which can help you connect services you use to each other to automate almost anything. Whichever way you tackle task automation, you’re sure to free up a load of time that can be used for more important parts of your business.
Generating Leads Automatically
Generating leads drives the growth of any business, whether they are brick-and-mortar operations or on the web. The Internet makes finding new potential customers even easier as people land on your site and provide their contact information to you. Most sites do this by offering something of value to customers like an ebook or a newsletter. To get the freebie they want, customers input their email and other relevant data and then a new lead is born!
Sales and Delivery of the Final Product
Once your leads are coming in regularly, the next step has to do with sales and delivery. Rather than have someone actually manning the phones or answering chats, sales can proceed from the initial contact all the way to completion without any personnel hours wasted. With the back-end sales and delivery components set up correctly, customers should be able to pick what they want and pay immediately. Again, the time spent setting this up will let you focus on other areas of the business as the sales continue to roll in. There are many ecommerce and sales delivery platforms on the market that can help automate this process from inception to completion.
Generate Traffic While You Sleep
This doesn’t mean paid ads on big Internet sites. Instead, with a focused content strategy, traffic can begin to generate itself. Basically, quality content that actually helps your prospective customers will eventually find itself high up on search engine results and people will find you through their daily searches. This requires careful consideration of who your customers are and what kinds of keywords they are using to locate your product.
This takes some time, but once it gains momentum, traffic will begin to compound on its own and you’ll have a constant source of traffic whenever you hit publish. Couple this with updates to your mailing list about new articles and you have a powerful traffic summoning duo.
Maintain Customer Relationships
Sometimes people sign up for a membership or a newsletter at a site and then promptly forget about it. An autoresponder can help ensure that you remind these prospective customers that they have an interest in your product and that you are innovating to provide them the best product possible. Depending on your product and business model, you can set these messages to go out every few days or just weekly or monthly.
Keeping your list updated about your business and products will help prevent a stale and unresponsive list. There are many options available on the market from which you can choose to communicate with your list.
Streamline Your Market Research
In a similar way, market research can help you maintain a presence in the customer’s mind while also teaching you about their concerns and preferences. In these automated emails, members can choose to take a brief survey about your product so you can collect the data and get to know how your product resonates in the market. Over time, this strategy generates a significant amount of data directly from your customer demographic.
Things You Should Not Automate
Content and your actual product should not rely on automation, on the other hand. In the end, customers respond to quality, so no one should risk the actual driver of the business. Truly great content will give your business a sleek, professional look and will communicate the unique aspects of your product to your customers in an intimate way.
People can sniff out generic content or a shoddy product. In the long term, these things will make the difference between a fluke company that fools a few people and a company that builds a steady following of loyal customers.
Through automation, companies can spend more of their valuable time on the more important and time-consuming parts of creating an online presence, like content creation and a product that customers love. A strategy to free up manpower from mundane tasks can allow you to channel those energies into the next spark of entrepreneurial creativity.
Mike Bonds is a marketing enthusiast and lover of Internet automation. He writes primarily around topics in the online marketing space with a focus on small & new businesses.