Business Automation and How It Can Play A Vital Role For Small To Mid-Sized Businesses.
Before we dive into the HOW, I would like, to begin with, a short story. When I started my first business (an online clothing store), I knew nothing. Ziltch. Nada. ZERO. I knew what I wanted to do but did not have the slightest clue about how to bring my vision to life. In other words, I had the vision, but no valuable skills or knowledge within the realm of business.
While I was on my entrepreneurial journey, I came across an abundance of information that at one point or another I was going to need. So, I started using online bookmarks to keeps tabs on it all.
Then within a few short weeks, it became extraordinarily apparent that there was much more to operating an online business than met the eye. As a business owner, my task list grew from two or three tasks such as posting new products to my website, collecting payments, and order fulfillment to:
- Design New Products
- Order samples
- Take professional photos of all the products before uploading
- Upload new products
- Receive payments
- Order fulfillment
- Create content for the online blog portion of the website to keep website visitors engaged with the brand.
- Post content to blog consistently throughout the day, week and month.
- Create content for social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
- Post content to multiple social media channels continuously throughout the day, week and month.
- Send multiple emails to blog and social media followers/subscribers. (Offers, content, etc.)
- Reply to any and all emails that came in.
- Search for new ways to get the brand and products into new spotlights.
Now, this is a vague list of what I had written down for day to day tasks, but as you can tell it became overwhelming quite quickly. Needless to say, there were a few things I had to do to ensure I did not end up going crazy. The first thing I had to do was bring on a partner to tackle some of the workloads. The second was figuring out how many of my daily processes I could automate to free up as much time as I could.
I spent an entire day or two researching automation systems and well, you have to love the internet…There was an abundance of resources and tools right in front of my eyes.
Types Of Automation
If you’re just starting your business, you won’t need this right away, but the moment your business begins to gain momentum is the second you are going to want to explore this option. A workflow automation system is one of the most valuable tools we use to date, and it helps to eliminate much of the hands-on process. For example, let’s say you find a lead you’d like to convert into a paying customer. You would create a workflow that would automatically send out an email and then a follow-up email three days later. The possibilities are endless and will simplify your day to day routine.
The two workflow automation systems we have used before and recommend you look into to see if they are a good match for your business are:
Customer Relationship Management (CRM):
This type of software has more than one purpose. Most times business use this to analyze customer interactions and data throughout the client’s lifecycle. The main reason for using this system is to figure out what your customers are doing and looking for when visiting your website and social media accounts. CRM’s essentially allow you as the business owner to improve your relationships with your customers, which will inevitably prove a higher retention rate.
Content Management System (CMS):
This software is for the sole purpose of creating and managing any and all digital content. In other words, rather than flipping back and forth between your social media profiles, and your website, you can see everything in one dashboard. The best part about this software is that it provides insights as to how your website visitors or social media followers are consuming your content. For example, you can see what information they ‘digested’ more of, which in turn gives you insight as to what types of content interests them.
Our go to for Customer Relationship Management, and our Content Management System is Hubspot.
Sending emails to your subscribers can become quite tedious, especially if you’ve got a list of 1000+ subscribers. That’s why creating the content you want to provide your readers and having it sent to your entire list in by clicking one button is important. Let’s face it. There just aren’t enough hours in a day to be sending out individual emails. When it comes to setting your business up with an email capturing and automation tool, MailChimp is by far one of the most effective.
Social Media Automation:
You should automate your social media for the same reasons you would use email automation. Imagine if you had to sit there and plan out your day around creating content, and later posting them to all your social media channels. You would go crazy. That is why automating the process as much as possible is key to freeing up all the time you can, so you can tackle other tasks you need to get done.
There are many providers for you to consider, so it would be a good idea to do your research and find a provider that suits your business needs.
We know that as a business owner your time is always filled with tedious tasks that run half a mile long. So why not free up some time?