I’ve been on an automation kick lately. And I love it! What do I mean by automation? Well, it can cover a lot of ground, from streamlining marketing communications to getting meetings on your calendar, to my version of out-sourcing.
The fact is, if you aren’t paying attention to how you can automate a lot of the things you do every day in your business, it’s costing you time and money. Not to mention having you miss huge opportunities to build rapport and connection with your current and potential customers…which means missed revenue for you!
What should you automate?
Anything that you do repeatedly in the same way!
Here’s an easy way to identify where to focus first to build an automation priority list. For the next two weeks, keep a notebook by your desk, or an open list on your phone or computer.
Each time you find yourself spending time doing something that you do at least once a week, write it down. Think of things like…
- Sending reminders to clients for appointments
- Posting on social media
- Pulling off recordings of client calls and posting them/sending them out/etc.
- Sending out material for participation in a telesummit or interview
- Responding to an inquiry from your Contact Us page
- Sending notes to clients with next steps from a coaching call (yes, you can even automate that)
- And more!
There are lots of options to support you in automating tasks, leveraging technology and people assets.
Robust tools, such as Infusionsoft will offer more sophisticated automation options, but the truth is, simple tools like Active Campaign (an email management service I reccomend for my start-up clients) and Time Trade will cost you less than a cup of coffee A WEEK, and will get you a lot of the way there!
I could give you a list of a hundred places you can automate in your business. And you’ll come up with your own list if you do my little exercise above.
If in doubt, here are the top three easy places where I’d focus to start automating your work. They will give you BIG returns in the time saved and up your connection with your community.
Sign up with a simple calendar scheduling tool
There is nothing more frustrating than a series of back and forth emails to get a call scheduled with a client or a prospective client! For less than $20 a month there are a range of options for online scheduling that will save you oodles of time and make scheduling with you a breeze for your community.
My three “non-negotiables” for a scheduling system…
- Must send reminders automatically (it’s why you are doing this right?)
- Must allow you to set different open scheduling times for different appointment types
- Must “two-way sync”. This means that if you have noon – 4 pm “open” for booking appointments tomorrow, the scheduler checks appointments scheduled within the system, AND checks your calendar to be sure you haven’t booked something that didn’t go through the scheduling system. Avoid the nightmare of double booking!
If you are in start-up mode and cash flow is really tight, my go to solution is Time Trade. For just $49 a year, Time Trade meets all three of my non-negotiables, plus it allows the client to “add to calendar” on the confirmation page, block out individual days, and customize the Welcome Page.
What I wish was possible but isn’t currently? You can’t customize the reminder emails or choose when/how many go out, and I haven’t found an easy way to integrate it with my email management system!
Send a nurture sequence to anyone new to your list
What happens when someone opts in to your list? Do they get your auto-responder for whatever they requested….and that’s it? Maybe they get your newsletter or your next promotion campaign?
It’s so easy to build a simple nurture sequence to follow up on your initial auto-responder and it will do so much for building the relationship!
What should you send and how often? While there are a number of factors, the basic nurture sequence I recommend is a series of 5 emails over the first two weeks after the opt-in.
What do you say in the follow ups? Vary the content. Share your favorite part of the free gift you likely sent them. Share a case study or testimonial. Answer frequently asked questions about the topic.
Add more value to the original content and share a bit of your personality to help them get to know you. And always offer a next step call to action, be it to take action on something in the content, book a call with you, or purchase something you are offering. Your job in your emails is to guide them in the right direction.
Schedule your social media
It’s no secret that Facebook “prefers” organic, real-time posts, and you absolutely should make time, preferably once a day at least for organic posts. But who has time for posting 5 times a day, and how often did you mean to post something and just plain let the day get away from you? I actually did that today! I was a featured contributor in a gift giveaway today and I hadn’t set up an automated post….and I forgot to do it until 4 pm this afternoon!
By using a tool such as Hootsuite, Buffer, or Meet Edgar, you can schedule at least your recurring posts to get your content out there at regular intervals to keep driving traffic to your website in an automated way.
When you use an automation tool, you can set aside an afternoon and create your social media calendar and set up posts for the next month or two! Then supplement with organic posts to keep your content fresh and relevant!
There you go! Three easy places to start the automation process in your business!
I’d love to hear where you’ve automated in your business and how much time it’s opened up for you. Share below!