Running a small business requires a lot of time and dedication. In the realm of the internet, there are dozens of tasks to do to maintain a strong presence and attract and retain customers. Automation allows you to complete some of these tasks with less work, freeing up valuable time. Let’s consider 5 aspects of your small business that can benefit from automation.
Many companies send out a weekly, or biweekly, email newsletter to customers, telling them about new products or services and special deals. These emails can be similar to the flyers that you receive in the mail, or they can be more personal. But remembering to send the weekly email on Tuesday and making sure to send it to all of the right people, including new people who have joined the list since last week, but not people who have opted out, can be a major headache. MailChimp is a free product that handles those problems for you, leaving you to just write the email, and set it to send on the correct date.
While these are relatively new entrants to the automation market, they create a way for your company to interact in a slightly more personal way with the clients. Rather than having someone available all the time to chat with customers who try to message your business, you can set up a chatbot to handle common questions and problems. While bots can’t yet take the place of a human customer service agent for all interactions, many interactions are repeated over and over, and can be automated using a chatbot.
A lot of work goes into creating and maintaining digital ad campaigns. Fortunately, there are services available to automate this process. For example, Needls is an automated agency that handles advertising on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. It automatically generates your ads, based on information that you provide it with, and targets them to users posting about things relevant to your product or service, whether that’s photography, catering, gift baskets, or anything else.
Companies like Salesforce make products to help manage contacts and work with your sales team more effectively. They track metrics to do with performance, as well as providing sales forecasts based on previous sales and managing leads on potential new clients. They also automatically manage your contacts, maintaining history, internal discussion, and social media insights in one place. For businesses where sales reps are essential, these products can be real time savers.
When you have to keep track of things across a variety of apps, it can eat up more time than you expect. For example, keeping all of your email attachments in a Dropbox may seem like a great idea, but it takes a surprising amount of time to do it. Zapier lets you connect your various apps and social media accounts and create workflows to automate some of these straightforward processes. These workflows, called zaps, can automatically take info from one app and use it with another, saving you from tedious copy-pasting, and other mind-numbing tasks.
In order to compete with larger businesses, small businesses increasingly need to automate. They can’t afford to waste time with jobs that can be done for them by a program, when other jobs need a personal touch. These may not be all of the ways that automation can simplify running your small business, but it offers some great ways to get started.