One of the biggest challenges out there for any small business is a lack of resources, at least if they’re new to the market. As a small business owner, you’ll often find that your employees and yourself are spread too thin. And while this hands-on approach does have some upsides, it prevents your company from what it should be doing: growing. Obviously, hiring more people isn’t always an option, which is reason enough to start relying on automation, at least to a certain extent.
For instance, more than 70% of businesses are using or planning to use a marketing automation solution to help them with lead generation and prospecting. Of course, because marketing also involves creativity, human employees aren’t going away anytime soon, but automation does help them with some of the mundane, everyday tasks that eat away at their productivity. According to research, office workers spend as much as 69 days per year on administrative tasks.
In addition to that, constant task-switching, which is what happens in understaffed small businesses, accounts for 40% of lost productivity. However, it’s not all about productivity. Here are seven reasons why your small business needs an automation strategy, along with how you should go about it.
1. Provide a Better Customer Experience
Good customer experience is what today’s customers are after, from the moment they land on your website to the time they need you to provide customer support. One of the main reasons why automation leads to better customer experience is because it allows you and your team to streamline processes such as ordering and delivery, as well as provide timely customer support even when they don’t necessarily have the staff to match the demand.
2. Do More on Social Media
Little can replace interacting with your followers on social media and engaging them, but there are aspects of social media marketing where you can let automation shoulder some of the burdens. For example, scheduling all of your updates and posts in advance can be done with tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, or CoSchedule, which also gather valuable analytics data from social media.
While this may not seem like a huge time-saver, if you’re posting across multiple platforms (and you most likely are) on a fairly frequent basis, it adds up to a lot. Not to mention that you won’t have to switch your focus from one menial social media task to another.
3. Improve Email Marketing
Email marketing is the most effective form of digital marketing, if we were to look at it from an ROI standpoint. Even though it’s not as hip as video or social media, it’s still an essential segment of your marketing strategy. You can do a lot with it, including:
- sending out regular emails reminding your customers about your latest updates, products, or services
- retargeting prospects who abandoned their shopping carts
- encouraging repeat business by advertising products that are complementary to those the customer has already purchased, and so on.
To automate these tasks, you can use email service providers like Mailchimp and Vero. You would also be able to send trigger-activated messages, nurture your leads, or simply keep your business on your customers’ radar – but without having to do all of that heavy lifting yourself or asking your employees to do it.
4. Increase Scalability and Agility
Imagine a situation where all of a sudden, there’s a huge demand for your product/service and you need to handle an order volume that is 50 times larger than the usual.
Hiring additional staff may not necessarily be the solution here, because you would need to spend time and resources training them, and time is exactly what you don’t have in this case. You need to respond immediately so you don’t lose any customers, who are impatient to receive the goods they’ve purchased.
If you’re using a solution like Delivrd, you can manage your inventory, fulfill orders, and handle payments automatically. It also integrates with WooCommerce and Shopify, which is great news for all you e-Commerce retailers out there.
5. Automate Invoicing
One of the biggest issues nearly all small businesses face during the first few years of operation is stable cash flow or lack thereof. This can happen even if your small business is doing great. How so?
In case you need to ship more of your product, you’ll dump all of your cash into production, but if you’re too slow to collect your bills and invoices, you won’t have any cash left. And that’s a vicious cycle. Relying on loans or credit lines is the usual practice here, but even then, you still need to make sure your customers are paying you on time.
With solutions like Invoicely and Invoicera, you can automate a number of financial activities, such as invoicing, recurring billing, and accepting online payments. They also enable you to track time, expenses, and mileage for your small business.
6. Reduce Errors to a Minimum
A lot of the methods and tools we’ve listed above, apart from their main benefits, also come with an additional one: they help your small business keep the number of errors down to a minimum.
Once you create an invoicing template, it stays the same for each automated billing. That means there is zero chance of entering the wrong data or forgetting to send the actual invoice. The same goes for bookkeeping, inventory, finance, orders, and shipping.
Your employees will also welcome automation, because it helps them do what they were hired for in the first place, and not some administrative tasks which are only a distraction from your company’s real goals.
7. Have Analytics Come to You
Google Analytics is a great tool that lets you keep track of pretty much every thinkable metric and KPI for your website, blog, and landing pages. However, as good as it is, you’ll spend a lot of time logging in and out of it, as well as sifting through different menus and data to find what you really need. But you need as many numbers as you can to eliminate the amount of guesswork in your strategy.
Here you could really benefit from tools like Cyfe, which acts as a multi-purpose dashboard, allowing you to add whichever metric or data you need and view it in one central location. You can pull data not just from your analytics software of choice, but also your financial, sales, marketing, bookkeeping, and shipping solutions.
There are plenty of tools and solutions out there that you can implement into your automation strategy to save time, reduce costs, improve productivity, and a whole myriad of other activities that are crucial for any business. Automation is here to stay, and it’s up to you to make the most of it. Good luck!