If you’re like me, hearing the word automation conjures thoughts of tediously selecting numbers when calling customer service only to be routed to the wrong department.
I’d like to challenge that notion. Using automation can help you and your staff be more present and helpful, as well as more productive.
Here are some examples.
Many times, leads aren’t quite ready to purchase when they hear about you. Offering value is a great way to build trust as leads move through your marketing funnel.
If you can identify their struggles – even if only partially related to your product or service – you can offer a solution via an automated email campaign. Let them know you understand the industry. Real estate agents could offer a home-selling prep checklist, neighborhood market report and links to local painters, for example. What are you doing to keep yourself top of mind?
A subscription model
Subscriptions can work wonders in a variety of business models. HVAC companies offer yearly maintenance subscriptions so customers don’t have to worry about picking up the phone to schedule them.
Pair this with automatic emails reminding the customers of the appointment, and a phone call from a friendly human who verifies when the customer will be home, and you’re removing most barriers to serving them. What kind of maintenance can you offer to your own customers that will give them one less thing to worry about?
Many business professionals are offering courses online now.
They only have to create the material once, yet they can reach clients around the globe for as long as their material is relevant. Which of your knowledge and tasks are teachable?
Some products like software and equipment require a large learning curve. Sending a series of daily emails after purchase with training information in bite-sized pieces helps get users on the right track for success.
Links to videos, frequently asked questions and case studies can add to the value. Are there any issues that you frequently receive calls for after a sale?
Other products require DIY updates or maintenance to keep them running smoothly. Sending automated reminders to users extends the life of the product and lets them know you’re still there if they need support. Do you get after-sale complaints that are easily rectified by product upkeep?
Project management systems
Every business can benefit from project management.
There are lots of free and paid platforms that range from a simple to-do list to Gantt charts, workload overviews and custom widgets.
Most of us have created to-do lists to get tasks out of our mind and somewhere actionable. For small businesses, a project management system can serve as a to-do list that allows you to schedule recurring tasks, assign tasks to team members and manage scheduling of long-term projects. Larger companies or those with specific workflows can use the system to track client issues or “tickets” and customize them to their needs.
Templates can be created so when you onboard new staff, they can simply follow the established process. How can you organize your projects, tasks and information in a centralized place?
Taking a look at your numbers is a necessary part of doing business. If you’re spending time tracking down website performance, search engine optimization rankings, social media, sales pipeline data or other numbers each month, having just one dashboard to analyze can save you time.
Many platforms have ways to export this data, you just have to sacrifice a little time upfront to get it connected. Data visualization systems can pull everything in and help you create the charts and graphs that matter.
Data Studio, a free tool from Google, can be a great way to get started. Once the report is built, schedule it to be sent to all stakeholders once a month. What reports or numbers do you have to search for every month?
I invite you to take a look at your own business to see how automated systems can give you more time, encourage sales, strengthen trust and build loyalty.
Jahana Uchtman is a website designer and digital marketing consultant. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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