Anyone who is running a small business will appreciate how time consuming it can be, especially if you’re just getting started. The key is to improve efficiency through good planning and organisation. But we can go a step further and look for ways to automate some of the more tedious tasks; if it’s repetitive there’s probably a way to automate it.
The old saying “time is money” is true and there are certainly a number of distinct advantages to be gained from automating basic tasks:
- we free up time to dedicate to activities that don’t lend themselves to automation.
- we can be more focussed on achieving our objectives, such as sales or sign-ups.
- we improve overall efficiency and can achieve a lot more in a day, potentially saving money and reducing running costs.
At the same time there are also a few disadvantages to be aware of. Automation is not creative—you still need people to come up with new, engaging ideas. It is also not personal, so there is a risk of losing the personal touch if the automation directly affects your customers. Ultimately, you’re looking at improving efficiency without compromising quality.
So what kind of things can be automated?
1. Mailing Lists
Regular mail-outs can be automated. You can use software like MailChimp, or if you’ve already opted for more comprehensive marketing software you might find that your emails can be tailored to the behaviours learned from your clients.
2. Online Posts
Like mail outs, online posts can also be automated. That includes posts on your blog as well as posts on social media accounts. It’s common to develop a month’s worth of content and use automation to space its delivery out over the rest of the month, by using Facebook’s scheduling function for example.
3. Prioritising Leads
If you’re using professional marketing or CRM (customer relationship management) software, you’ll probably find that the tools employ Artificial Intelligence to prioritise leads from your customer database. You can use the software to analyse sales history and customer behaviour to predict which customers are best for following up with new sales offers. This helps to increase the efficiency of your sales team.
4. Shopping Cart
There are a number of ways you can improve the shopping cart experience too. Lots of potential customers add things to the cart but never complete the transaction. Things we can do to make it easier for them include:
- calculating shipping automatically (no one wants to go through the entire registration process disclosing all their personal details just to find out that shipping is too expensive)
- trigger a free shipping offer—if they’ve stayed on the page for quite a while without completing the process perhaps you might utilise a pop-up banner promoting a one-off free shipping offer to entice them to finish the purchase.
- if they don’t complete the transaction but they’ve entered their email address in the form you can also automate the emailing of a discount coupon to encourage them to come back.
- you can also trigger suggestions for related or complementary products (cross-selling and upselling).
5. Scheduling Appointments
Most online calendars have powerful features that can allow you to show times that you are available for meetings or appointments with clients. This allows customers to select and book appointments themselves without needing direct input from you. Popular examples of such software include Calendly.
6. Website Testing
If you sign into Google Search Console and add your website you can make use of lots of their free tools for monitoring your website and its health. Google will automatically test your site and record useful metrics such as traffic and crawling results. That saves you manually testing your site one page at a time. While you’re automating your website don’t forget to subscribe to a broken link checker tool that will email you as soon as one of your links break so you can update the page and prevent users from getting frustrating 404 error messages.
So, there you have it. Six, super simple tasks that can be automated today! What other tasks do you automate? Let me know.