Automating aspects of your business can save you time and money while freeing up valuable resources, including your staff. Your business can operate independent of you and continue trading long after you’ve closed your door for the day.
Simplifying and automating your processes also makes it more convenient for your customers. In today’s online world, they expect to be able to communicate with you and order from you whenever they’re in the buying mood, not just during your operating hours.
Automating key business functions will free up time for you to focus on important areas such as research and development, scaling your business, or other growth areas to increase profits.
Automation may feel like a steep learning curve at first, but once you’re automated, you won’t look back. If you’re not sure where to start, here are three areas where automation can make a big difference to your business.
1. Automate your sales and marketing
Today’s customer is tech-savvy and to reach them, market to them, and win them over, your business needs to be active in the digital sphere. It used to be enough to have a website, email address, and phone number, but not anymore. Your business needs to be available online, 24/7.
Inbound marketing enables your customers to find you, research what you have to offer, make an enquiry, or complete a transaction quickly and easily.
Of course, you don’t want to be completely automated, as customers still want to talk to a human when necessary. However, you can use automation to greatly assist in the sales process by offering a variety of touchpoints.
First and foremost, your business needs to ensure it can be found. If you’re not ranking in search engines, that makes it difficult. It’s worth investing in your digital presence. There’s no one system of online marketing that suits all businesses, but there is an ideal way for every business.
The simple rule is to meet your customers where they’re at, which starts with a little research. The investment will be worth it as you’ll learn so much information about your market that will enable you to spend your money more wisely, on better-targeted campaigns.
When you know how to reach them, the sales process can be automated. You’ve no doubt been a customer of a business where you’ve completed an online form to get something for free: a blog post, a report, an eBook, etc. From there, you’ve probably received an email (or many), each designed to build trust and move you further along the marketing funnel until you become a customer.
Once a customer, the automation continues with instant invoicing and sale processing, transaction confirmation, and automated shipping. Imagine how much time and energy that would save your business!
HubSpot is a platform that can automate your business workflow from email marketing to effective lead capture and eCommerce. Another great platform used for automating social media posts to get more customers is Hootsuite. It allows you to automatically schedule your posts and optimise them for greater engagement with your audience.
2. Simplify your internal processes such as HR, payroll, and accounting
In a small business, the HR manager and payroll manager is usually you. Still, you can save yourself time by automating these processes, which will free you up for more enjoyable pursuits!
While many areas of HR can’t be automated (such as recruitment) there are still ways to work smarter, not harder. Everything from background checking and screening, time and attendance, and record-keeping as well as pay, benefits, and rewards can be automated to some degree. You can even automate notifications and reminders to make sure no task is overlooked.
Automation enables you to process your payroll through a computerised system, whereas a manual payroll system is a considerably slower procedure and prone to problems.
Few platforms can handle the lot, but those like Xero can take you a long way from a clunky excel spreadsheet to a cloud-based automated system that can help you with everything from payslips to supplier invoices and a whole lot more.
3. Streamline your email responses
Are you still sending customer-based emails one by one? Worse still, are you sending off hundreds of impersonal marketing emails hoping they don’t land in the junk folder? Chances are, they have been.
Email automation has come a long way in recent years and is super easy to set up and use thanks to platforms like Mailchimp and HubSpot, which we mentioned earlier. These email automation services enable you to send the right message to the right people at the right time, whether they’re current or potential customers.
You will shave hours off your week and probably save a few grey hairs by automating your email marketing strategy so you can spend more time on your business.
Learn more about achieving more with your business
If you found these ideas helpful, check out Bartercard’s blog where you’ll discover many more ideas to help you grow your business.