There's more scope for automation in your business than ever before. With automation, you can schedule emails to be sent at the perfect time, follow up with leads that have abandoned their basket, sync data between apps and notify team members of new tasks.
However, all of these options can be overwhelming, especially if your business isn't a huge corporation with a lot of budget and resources to throw at automation.
You might be wondering:
- What types of automation will benefit my business the most?
- What should I stay away from?
- And how can I easily implement these while keeping life simple?
Let's explore the best types of business automation so you can easily start implementing a strategy in your own organization.
1. Email marketing automation
When you think of automation, email marketing automation might come to mind first. It's not only one of the most popular types of automation, it's one of the most accessible, too.
Types of email automation include:
- Triggering emails based on actions, such as webinar sign up confirmations or abandoned basket notifications
- Email drip workflows to send content at set intervals
- Delivering content or requested information after filling out a form
- A/B testing content and automatically sending the best performing version of the content
- Personalizing each email you send
- Segmenting groups based on data and automatically sending the right email to each group
A good way to get started with email marketing automation is to have a look at the automation capabilities that your email marketing platform already has and think about how you can use them to execute your strategy.
All popular email marketing tools, such as Mailchimp or GetResponse, have built-in automation functionality.
However, if you haven't picked an emailing tool yet, make sure to pick an option with enough automation funcionalities to meet the needs of your business.
2. Marketing automation
What about the other types of marketing automation beyond email marketing? We can divide these into external automation that is customer-facing and internal automation that helps streamline the workflows inside your team.
Examples of external marketing automation:
- Automated SMS messages
- Scheduling or republishing social media messages
- Unlocking new course content at set intervals after enrolling
Examples of internal marketing automation:
- Lead scoring and qualification
- Routing qualified leads between apps, such as from your CRM to your email marketing platform
- Notifying team members if a contact meets conditions or takes certain actions
- Creating a strong bridge between marketing and sales
- Streamlining multi-stage processes such as publishing content or setting up a new marketing campaign
3. Sales automation
Sales automation is about managing your pipelines more effectively, reducing friction and increasing conversion rates.
Automation enables your sales team to:
- Stay on top of a busy pipeline
- Manage their calendar and get meetings scheduled
- Identify and focus on the most sales-ready leads
- Collect and act on data insights
- Sync the latest data across all apps
- Creating a strong bridge with marketing
- Pass new customers to onboarding
- Avoid spending time on bad-fit leads
To get started with sales automation, first look at any built-in automation functionality that your CRM offers. You can then look into adopting and integrating other apps to automate more powerful workflows.
4. Data automation
Although automation is great to streamline repetitive tasks and free up your time for your most important work, it's also powerful at managing data behind the scenes.
While our brains can be good at looking at data insights to draw conclusions and plan actionable next steps, we're not so good at manually managing that data. We don't have the time, attention to detail or accuracy to control large data sets – and we don't need to.
With automated data management, you can leave the heavy lifting to the machines and free up your time for taking action on the insights and next steps instead.
Data tasks to automate include:
- Trigger/action workflowa that pushes data between your apps
- Syncing contact data two ways between apps and automatically making updates as soon as anything changes
- Sending all contact data to your CRM for a centralized database
- Combining data from all apps for integrated reporting on one dashboard
- Automatically merging or fixing duplicate contacts in your database
To get started, first optimize the data in your individual apps. You can then use software integration tools to allow them to communicate data with each other.
5. Customer care automation
What about your support and customer care teams? Automation is a fantastic solution to:
- Optimize customer experience
- Personalize interactions
- Make sure your customer care team automatically has access to all available customer data
Automation is not about removing the human element from 1-1 interactions. In fact, it's about making more time for these and providing a better experience for your customers.
You can automate notifications to let you know when is the right time to reach out to a customer, meaning you can spend less time working out what you should be doing every day.
You can automate customer satisfaction surveys that alert you when a customer needs quick attention to reduce the risk of churn.
You can introduce chatbots or knowledge bases with built-in AI that quickly answer simple questions, or route a customer to the best support rep for their inquiry if that doesn't fix it.
Simply put, automation enables your customer care staff to manage a higher volume of customers more effectively, without burning out or diminishing the quality of 1-1 interactions.
6. Ecommerce automation
It used to be that to sell products, you had to do it yourself. You had to oversee production of your inventory. You had to open up your shop in the morning, answer customers' questions and process their payments for your products.
But that's all changed. As an ecommerce store owner, you don't even need to be there. You can keep your store open 365 days a year, even while you're sleeping or traveling.
Any store owner can automate:
- Purchases via an online shopfront such as Shopify or WooCommerce
- Online payments through providers such as Stripe and PayPal
- Discount codes to prospects, first-time customers or engaged buyers
- Abandoned cart notifications to customers
- Product suggestions based on previous purchases
- Inventory management
- Requesting reviews post-sale
With dropshipping, you can even automate all of the fulfillment work of an order. As someone else creates the products, stores them in a warehouse and sends them to the customer, all you have to do is create an online storefront and get eyes on it.
7. Management automation
As with customer care automation, management automation isn't about removing the human-to-human interactions. Instead, it can free up a manager's time to look after their team and support their growth.
Managers can automate:
- Team reminders to prep for meetings
- Chasing overdue work
- Following up on tasks after set intervals
- Sharing onboarding materials with new hires
- Collecting daily feedback on wins and blockers
- Self-reviews and performance tracking
- Reporting dashboards
- Syncing data with meeting slides
For simple ways to start automating management processes, Trello, Slack and Asana are tools you might already be using that also offer great automation functionality.
Automation is a long-term strategy: it's not about trying to change everything at once or creating processes that are overly complex for the stage your business is at.
Take a look at where your business is now. Where are the blockers, manual tasks and inefficiencies?
Ask yourself how can you start automating these areas to free up your focus for the areas where you have the most impact.