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Added: August 24, 2021
Did you know that if you spend only five minutes per day on a menial task, that adds up to 20 hours a year?
So once you get to more time-consuming tasks that take 15 minutes per day, it’s 60 hours a year you lose. Those hourlong paperwork sessions you regularly log will suck up 240 hours per year.
That’s a lot of time you’re missing out on! How many more late hours or crunch-time projects do you have to do to make up for the lost time? Probably quite a lot.
It’s no wonder then that small business automation is quickly becoming the norm for many companies. If your small business has yet to hop on this bandwagon, it’s still a great time to get started.
This blog post will serve as your introduction to automation in small business.
First, we’ll present a definition of business automation. Then we’ll talk about creating a business automation workflow and how that can help your business.
Let’s get started!
What Is Business Automation?
Okay, so first things first, and that’s defining marketing automation for small business.
Business automation software uses a programmable workflow to carry out tasks without your physical involvement.
Menial tasks are quite time-consuming. We’ll talk about plenty more such tasks in the next section, but for now, let’s use one as an example.
Take posting on social media.
Sure, it doesn’t take you long to make a post, but even a five-minute daily task sucks up 20 hours of work per year, remember.
Instead of manually logging into your small business Facebook account, setting up your post, and hitting send, you can prepare the post and let the automation software take care of the rest.
By scheduling posts, you don’t have to stay up into the wee hours of the night or get up early to post on social media.
Okay, but how does the business automation software know to post on Facebook and not YouTube? That’s a good question, and it goes back to the definition we presented.
Automation software uses programmable workflows. We talked about automation workflows recently in another post, so you should check that out if you missed it.
Here’s a succinct recap for you.
Automation workflows are “if, then” rules the software always follows. So maybe your rule is that if you’re posting on Facebook, a post should go out simultaneously on your other socials such as Instagram or Twitter.
You can do that with marketing automation software.
You create the workflows, so the power of automation is in your hands. Having this power gives you the freedom to create workflows that are as simple or complex as your small business needs.
How Can Small Businesses Use Automation?
We talked about automating your social media activities, but business automation is available in a multitude of other areas as well.
Here are a few types of small business automation that you should know about.
Business Process Automation
What kinds of processes does your small business require for day-to-day operations?
You can automate more of these processes than you think, which will win you back dozens if not hundreds of hours per year.
For instance, your human resources professional can take a load off as they automate tasks like collections or payroll.
Do you sometimes forget to send invoices? Perhaps you’re slow to follow up since you’re juggling a lot on your plate at once. Automated invoice sending and reminders to follow up will improve your bottom line.
You can institute customer support through chatbots so your customers’ concerns get addressed in a timely manner even after business hours.
Lead nurturing is worth automating as well, as it’s a task you never stop doing.
Another area of small business automation is sales. Although your sales team may not yet be very large, creating a rock-solid sales process at this stage of your company will only serve you grow.
Fewer leads will slip through the cracks.
Their contact information will also be current and readily available.
Sales forecasting will accurately predict what your small business sales revenue will look like this month and this quarter.
Most importantly, sales reps will have fewer menial tasks to distract them from what is their biggest and most important job: making the sale.
Even though your customer base is still growing, you may need to send a lot of emails per day. It can be hard to manage your contacts list as you keep adding to it.
You can’t imagine what it will be like when your small business becomes a medium-sized company.
You hate to say it, but sometimes customers don’t receive a welcome email even though they should.
Maybe that follow-up you meant to send gets forgotten about for too long. By the time you email the contact, they’re no longer interested.
Email automation will help your small business in a major way.
You’re still writing the great content of your emails, but you can use the software to schedule when your emails go out, including follow-ups.
How Automation Can Benefit 6 Areas of Your Business
Every small business owner only has 24 hours in a day, but it’s how you use that time that matters.
With automation workflows for your small business, you’ll have more hours to tackle the tasks that always get left on the backburner.
These tasks add up and could lead to more growth for your company.
Here are 6 areas of business automation to focus on today.
When a lead lands on your website, are you working hard to convert them, or do you let them get away?
Automation software like EngageBay allow you to build an assortment of web forms and then create an automation workflow to determine which customer actions will cause the pop-ups to appear on their screen.
Let’s rewind a moment.
EngageBay is a sales, marketing, and support software for small businesses and startups.
Designed to be affordable for all businesses on a budget, plenty of EngageBay’s features are even free, such as the integrated and powerful CRM.
Within EngageBay, you can make any type of pop-up your business needs with a drag-and-drop editor. Feel free to customize your pop-ups so they resonate more with your audience.
When a lead sees a tailored pop-up that appears at the right time on your website, they’ll want to sign up for your small business newsletter.
Then it’s up to you to nurture them and convert them.
With EngageBay, your email marketing campaigns can become far more successful.
You can use the software to personalize the content of your emails, including every element, from the subject line and the fonts and images in the email body to the CTAs and headers, footers, all.
Then you can schedule when your emails go out using EngageBay’s automation workflows.
This is worlds better than manually hitting send, as you earn back hours of time per day.
That results in hundreds of hours saved a year!
EngageBay also has a feature for time zone-based email delivery, so you never disturb your potential international customers at an inconvenient hour.
As leads enter your small business sales funnel, you must segment them to increase your chances of conversion. In EngageBay’s automation workflows, you set the rules for how you segment your audience.
For example, perhaps you do lead segmentation according to actions they take such as whether they opened an email, clicked a link, completed an opt-in form, or left the form incomplete.
Once you have your lead groups, you can determine what the best means of reaching them is, and then get them to buy from your business.
Segmenting your leads is a start, but it’s not enough if you hope to determine which of your leads are qualified for sales pitches and which ones are just browsing through your website, not really looking for a product like yours.
If you need a reminder, a qualified lead is one who’s already relatively informed about your small business, your products and services. They’re aware of the pricing for some of these products and services as well.
In short, they’re usually readier to buy.
If finding qualified leads for your small business has until now been like shooting in the dark, automated lead scoring will change that.
With business automation software, you set the rules for how your leads are scored.
For example, if a lead signs up to your small business newsletter, you might award them 3 points. Clicking a link in your emails might earn them 7 points. If a lead unsubscribes from your emails, they’d lose 10 points.
Keeping track of which lead is doing what is exhausting.
As your number of leads grows, this task will only become harder.
Why not let a small business automation software (like EngageBay) take care of that for you?
When a lead wants to schedule an appointment with one of your sales reps, how do they go about doing it? Most likely, they have to pick up the phone and call.
Your sales rep and your potential customers can be on the phone for several minutes trying to find a time that works for both parties.
If your sales team gets dozens of these calls per day, think of how much time they’re wasting.
Automated appointment scheduling allows your customers to book an appointment with your sales reps using the software – no phone calls required.
The customers can see the updated calendar of your sales reps, and they’re free to choose the best date and time for them.
Since the slots on the calendar are only those that the sales rep has made available, the software prevents any double-booking or other kinds of overlaps in their schedule.
The last small business automation feature we want to discuss is notifications.
We’ve touched on notifications throughout this guide, and we can’t stress enough how important they are.
Through automation software like EngageBay, you’ll be notified when all sorts of important things happen.
Prospect tracking tells you when a lead opens an email or clicks a link. You can then choose when your marketers or sales reps will take action and how.
Sales reps will appreciate having a reminder of any upcoming appointments so they can stop what they’re doing and review their notes on a lead or customer.
You can determine which kinds of notifications you want the software to send you and EngageBay will take care of the rest.
This way, your small business will be on top of all its tasks.
You can send the same software to automate sending desktop and mobile notifications to your customers just as well.
Small business automation can be a confusing subject—what it is, why you should use it, and what to do once you’ve implemented it.
In this blog post, we’ve shared some key information about what business and marketing automation is, and why you should get started right now.
To wrap up, business automation can help save hours of your time and hence improve both productivity and revenue.
Perhaps most importantly, automation of business processes removes delays and repetition of work, which improves both employee and customer satisfaction.
This will be crucial when you scale operations.
With EngageBay small business automation software, you can easily manage thousands of contacts, track all your business tasks, and automatically follow up with customers. All of this from one dashboard, and for less than $1 a day!