As your business grows, you’ll need to create ways to improve efficiency and accomplish more in less time. Keeping up with your customers’ demands requires extra attention and effort that you can’t put in unless you employ marketing automation.
According to the most recent Small and Medium Business Trends Report, small businesses that are embracing automation are thriving, while those not embracing automation are struggling.
An automation strategy allows you to systematically apply the right tools to optimize the benefits of these technologies and boost your bottom line. If you have yet to use automation, now is a good time to understand its benefits and how it can help your marketing troubles.
Why Automation Works: The 80/20 Principle
The hardest part of automation isn’t actually the implementation, but rather the strategy. Determining which aspects of your business and customer service journey can be automated takes careful planning and consideration.
When thinking about this, it’s important to remember the 80/20 Principle, also known as the Pareto Principle. This principle specifies that 80 percent of consequences come from 20 percent of the causes.
In business, a goal of the 80/20 rule is to identify inputs that are potentially the most productive and make them the priority. For instance, once managers identify factors that are critical to their company’s success, they should give those factors the most focus.
Identifying the 20 percent of inputs that are the catalyst for the most growth and then automating them means more time for you to run your business. You could spend that time developing new products or services, or learning new skills.
While there are ways to automate many facets of your business, we will be focusing mostly on automations for marketing, and for operations.
There are many components that make up the whole picture of marketing for a small business, which means that there are many ways to automate to improve workflow and increase efficiency.
Drip campaigns are one of the simplest ways to get more sales for your business.
Drip campaigns are also called automated email campaigns, lifecycle emails, autoresponders and marketing automation. This effective marketing strategy sends prewritten messages (also known as “drips”) to prospects and customers over a certain period of time.
The message timing has a set course and arrival, and are released to certain subscribers depending on their status and behaviors.
For example, the system sends an email as soon as someone subscribes to an email list, and then every following Monday for the next ten weeks.
Simply put, drip campaigns are all about delivering subscribers the right information at the right time to push them further down your funnel to eventually convert.
Social Media Automations
Scheduling your social media posts in advance is just one way to enable automations in your workflow.
Pre-scheduling your posts will afford you more time to devote to the other aspects of running your business.
Pre-scheduling will also allow you to post to your feeds at the best possible times for engagement. Most, if not all of the social media scheduling platforms offer audience engagement metrics that estimate the best times to post to make the greatest impact.
Depending on the platform you use to schedule your social media, you can schedule your posts up to a month in advance or more. You are also able to schedule to multiple social media sites at once, saving you the time and hassle of having to log in to each one individually.
Website Form Automations
“Sign Up For Our Newsletter”
In your time browsing the web, you’ve probably seen these calls-to-action countless times. You might even have them on your own business website. If you do not, these are great tools to capture information, and get a contact into a funnel that may help them on the journey to becoming a customer.
You can also use these calls-to-action to direct people into different marketing automations. You could set up an informational welcome drip campaign and assign people who sign up for more information or who reach out to contact you about a specific product or service into it.
Automations speed up processes in the operation of your business. Whether it’s just filtering emails, or answering reviews, automation offers a wealth of ways to increase operational efficiency.
How many of the emails that you receive each day are actually important? It’s likely that number is only a very small ratio. More time cleaning out cluttered inboxes can impact timelines in other areas of the business, so it’s important to always stay on top of that pipeline.
Email filters allow you to cut down on the noise that comes through your inbox on a day-to-day basis. By setting up filters, you can automatically send all emails that meet specific criteria to the trash or just mark them as read. “Out of sight, out of mind,” as the old saying goes.
You can also use email filtering to highlight specific messages. If one important email always has the same subject or is always sent from the same address, you can use a filter to automatically mark it as important or add a star to it.
With email filtering, you’ll spend less time looking for important emails, and more time working on your business.
As we’ve discussed before, reputation management is one of the more important aspects of business that many businesses are still ignoring.
Automating portions of reputation management is easy, and can help to make this sometimes stressful task a little more tolerable. Automations will allow you to send immediate responses to positive reviews, and can give you notifications of reviews that may need your attention.
You can even create automations to generate more reviews. While a lot of customers are perfectly willing to leave reviews for your business, all too often, they aren’t going to think to do this on their own. To get the reviews you need to establish your credibility, you have to ask.
Billing is one of the things all businesses need to do, but most people would rather not do.
Automating your billing system will create a system that generates bills or invoices for customers without human input. This system works especially well for businesses that charge customers a recurring amount every month through a subscription, but can work with other revenue strategies as well.
By automating billing for your business, you will save time, and also see more timely billing for all of your customers. Additionally, with automations, you reduce the chance for manual, clerical errors popping up, which could potentially anger your customers.
Platforms To Try
For businesses just starting out with automations, the best recommendation would be to start with scheduling social media posts for publication, and creating a simple email drip campaign new customers or website visitors can be funneled into.
We recommend these first steps because they are both easy to implement, and because in a lot of scenarios, they provide the best immediate response.
Some platforms that can accomplish this include Hootsuite for social media and ConstantContact for email, Zapier for more advanced automation, and Certify’em for educational certifications. There are many different options available, so if you don’t like a particular platform, or it doesn’t fit your needs, there are others out there that will.
BBB Can Help
Taking care of automations for different pieces of your business can be time-consuming, and can require the use of various software solutions. BBB wants to alleviate some of that software burden with THRIVe.
THRIVe is BBB’s all-in-one business software to help you grow your business. Whether you are looking for ways to schedule social media content, or deliver emails to your customers, THRIVe is an all-in-one marketing solution that can help you get there.
To get more information on THRIVe, simply head over to our website HERE. Be sure to use the chat feature to get all of the answers you need to make this next year your best yet.