With increasing regulations, high inflation and geopolitical uncertainty, small businesses can really benefit from incorporating more automation. But, automation can be a daunting endeavor for even the most seasoned small business. So, we have asked the CarolRoth.com contributor network of business owners, experts, advisors and entrepreneurs to share their best automation tips for small businesses. Their answers are presented below, in no particular order.
You may notice some similar ideas listed, but I kept them separate, as something in the way one is framed may resonate differently with you.
1. Save Hours on Your Accounting
Accounting is definitely not the first thing people think of when they think of small business automation. You'd be surprised that it can save you dozens of hours and all the tax-time stress. Accounting integrations can automate data entry and fast-track bank reconciliation. Amaka offers 100% free plans for integrations that connect e-commerce and POS systems (such as Shopify and Square) to cloud-based accounting software (such as QuickBooks Online and Xero).
Laura Tien of Amaka
2. Use No-Code Automation Tools
Use integration and automation tools like Zapier and Integromat to scale down repetitive activities. Whether it's moving information between apps, adding a recurring task to your to-do app or another boring repetitive task, it takes a lot to manage data across multiple platforms.
With automation tactics such as scheduling email replies and managing task list with task management apps, you can achieve more during an assigned time period, free up time and maintain direct engagement with users.
Juliet Edjere of Maze
3. One Hour to Automation
As a consulting firm, we are always looking for ways to work faster and be more efficient. We use StartingPoint
. It's SaaS workflow management and customer operations platform that helps our clients and our full team have a central location for all engagements. It’s simple. It helps us streamline communication. It helps us see all end to end client information. It’s helped us manage growth of our company easily and we are more scalable.
4. Automated Calendar Apps
Of all the automation tools I use, the one I would never be without again is a calendar app.
Over the last 30 years, I have spent weeks, if not months of my life going back and forth with people trying to find dates and times for meetings that work in everyone's schedule.
Now, in my signature file is a link to my calendar app. They find a time that works for them, book it, and they get emails and text messages and a link to join.
It is magic. Where has this been all my life?
5. Personalize Your Automation
We use a handwritten note service automation to create a personalized service for our clients. When clients sign a new contract with our company, an automation email is generated that sends a request to our handwritten letter provider. From there, the customer is automatically mailed a handwritten thank you note. We are able to add a personal touch without dedicating the manpower to handwriting hundreds of cards per month.
6. Lead Generation Forms
Whatever platform your website is built on, your lead generation forms almost always provide the ability to incorporate automation directly. I use the CARROT platform for my real estate business. When a lead fills out a form, I have it set up to automatically email the lead information to the correct person on my team. Different forms have different automations set up, depending on the type of lead.
7. Schedule Social Media
Canva is a great way to quickly create social media posts. Take a few hours each month to mass design some content tightly focused on your core competency. Then, spend another hour to schedule them so they publish automatically every few days. You can do this directly with Facebook for Business (pushing to both Facebook and Instagram) as well as direct with Twitter. However, you may save more time with a social media scheduler, like Buffer, to link all your accounts and publish with one click.
8. Zapier Integrations FTW!
I love using Zapier for all kinds of automation. One of the very first I ever incorporated for my business was to automate my lead generation forms on my website to import into different MailChimp campaigns. Different lead gen forms get sent to unique MailChimp campaigns. Zapier makes it incredibly easy to connect multiple websites and apps to create just about any automation you need.
9. Use Social Media Automation
Tools such as TailWind and HootSuite are great for scheduling social media content. These tools can save you five hours a week solely on scheduling content on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.
10. Customer Service Comes First
Customer service is a great place to introduce automation into your small business and you can quickly do this through online chat features.
When someone reaches out online, you can integrate a system that will automatically respond and direct them to the right place. Preset questions can prompt them to provide all necessary info and even filter to the correct person. Even setting up an automated reply that will respond to them can help create a smoother process!
11. Effective Workflow Hierarchy
Sometimes, you need an effective workflow hierarchy to automate routine tasks and improve efficiency. A clear organizational chart or hierarchy clarifies everyone's roles, responsibilities, and objectives on the team. This can be done by constructing an organizational chart or creating a list of your departments, their roles and responsibilities, and how they relate to one another. A visual hierarchy is one of the most effective ways of making sure employees know how to do the job autonomously.
12. Enhancing Customer Experience
With POS systems, businesses can improve customer experience by spending less time worrying about which products need replenishing. Instead, you’re more capable of developing stronger relationships with your customers via active listening, product recommendation, and turning negative feedback into positive ones.
For example, small businesses will have more time to respond to customer feedback on online receipts. This lets them retain more customers and improve future experiences.
13. Automate Customer Relations
Juggling is not a good strategy for keeping track of people, companies, appointments or deadlines. Use a CRM (Customer Relations Management) program to keep you organized and keep you up to date on daily to-dos, while recording everything in one place. I use and recommend SuiteDash for a fabulous, affordable, cloud based CRM. Here is a link for free trial: https://suitedash.com#_r_kraytonllc
14. Don't Pick Up Everything!
Don’t answer all calls! Instead, use your voicemail wisely. Say something like “sorry I can’t take your call, because currently I need my attention to help my clients, just like you would expect. But rest assured, please leave a number and message and I’ll call you between 4PM and 5PM on business days.”. That way, you train your clients not to call you at night, during the day you don’t have to answer and you have time dedicated to return any calls. First step towards more efficiency.
15. Make Yourself Irrelevant
After a few years of running a very high-touch business, I decided to start a new arm that would be fully automated: a listing service that connects independent book authors with Hollywood producers where the authors pay a monthly fee to have a curated list of producers consider their books to option for movies and TV. So, my best advice for automation is to come up with an online community that allows people to join and get amazing value without you having to do anything beyond setting it up.
16. Email List Segmentation
For brands dependent on email marketing, I recommend automated email list segmentation based on shopping behavior, demographics, and customer profiles so as to personalize messaging, along with triggered email flows like Welcome, Abandoned Cart, and Post Purchase. This will require small businesses to partner with Email Service Providers within their budget, who are compatible with their tech stack, and, most importantly, are able to scale with them as their business needs change.
Greg Gillman of MuteSix
17. Zero Data Entry Bookkeeping
As a CPA specializing in financial automation for my firm and clients in all areas of accounting, bookkeeping is an easy win to reach the goal of zero data entry in bookkeeping. It's a no-brainer in terms of time efficiency and economics. Automation boosts profits. End of story.
18. The Fine Line of Automation
Automation is a double-edged sword; while it can increase velocity and produce incredible results, we often see business owners and division heads take shortcuts and wind up with nothing more than crushed dreams and massive disappointment. Having a well-defined, bulletproof process is the key to automation success. Hiring an outside consultant familiar with processes and automation will help ensure you achieve success and save you considerable time and money.
19. Automate Everyday Tasks
Every person has tasks that they do every day that become quite repetitive. The best way to counteract this big factor of burnout is to automate as many of these regular “to dos” as possible. Take a hard look at your daily or weekly tasks, and determine which ones require the same actions every time. Chances are that there’s a tool that can help you save countless hours every week. That way, you can apply that time to more tasks that actually require your individual skill and creativity.
Carter Reum of M13
20. Understand the Task First
Before automating a task, seek to fully understand it first. With a clear understanding of the entire process, you can break it down into smaller steps. Once you do this, you can identify which areas are most suitable for automation, and the impact it will have on employee workflow. Breaking the process down also allows you to include employee insight, needs and knowledge when deciding whether to automate processes they are directly involved in.
21. Automated Calendar Booking
Nothing takes up more time than going back and forth with a client or supplier trying to find the best time to schedule a meeting.
Signing up with Calendly has been the best automation process (so far) for my company. I have Calendly embedded on my website for browsers and potential customers to schedule a meeting in one click.
When there is an email correspondence, I embed the link in the signature of my email or dress it up with a polite message. It's faster and everyone is satisfied.
22. Keep it Simple
It's easy to get lost in new features and tools and make your job harder by trying to simplify it. All the time, new and attractive tools are being released to grab our attention. My advice is to focus on the needs of your business and look for tools and solutions that address them. Don't try to chase after the latest gadgets, but use what you really need. Automation is supposed to simplify our work, not complicate it.
23. Follow Advances in AI
Past advances in technology have made jobs or even industries obsolete. Artificial intelligence is advancing rapidly, and early adopters will gain an advantage over competitors. AI boosts numerous areas, including manufacturing, logistics, HR and even marketing and PR. For example, every online business needs content. We used AI-powered researching and writing software to produce a 4200-word in-depth article. We needed to edit and add to it, but we saved an estimated two days in creation.
24. Know Your Tools
My tip is to have a deep knowledge of the potentiality of automation and how it can truly benefit the business. For instance, automation in finance and accounting will save you time and sleepless nights. It reduces human errors that can cause you loss, deliver relevant and significant real-time data for your financial reporting and planning, managing tax and invoices effectively.
25. Confirmation Overload!
As a small eCommerce business, I like to make sure we provide excellent customer service and automated emails are a big part of this.
When a customer purchases from your website, you should make sure they receive a confirmation email as well as an email once the item has shipped. It is important to use automation in your eCommerce business to let your customers know the update on their product. This provides them peace of mind and they are more inclined to shop with you again.
26. Email Marketing Automation
Email marketing is one of the most efficient ways to consistently engage consumers and to continuously offer them value, but for small businesses with a lengthy to-do list, emailing can eat time and energy. Email marketing automation software helps businesses put important outreach and relationship building on autopilot, and with a bit of manual work can improve targeting, segmenting, conversions, and revenue. Plus, automation software can give you customer data to glean more from in the future.
27. Automatic Reminders
As insurance providers, we've begun automating service reminders to our clients.
If their current policy is expiring soon, it can be helpful to understand what will happen and what must be done from their end to ensure their coverage continues. An automated email can be quite helpful!
On our end, this saves us valuable time. We've been able to set up an automated system that is quite effective and does an excellent job for us. It's been a quality addition to our team!
28. Using Canva
Canva is a graphic design platform used to create graphics, posters, and more. It’s extremely helpful for small businesses and can be used by almost anyone, thanks to its smart tech and automated features.
Using a variety of layouts, backgrounds, and texts, you can quickly create sharp-looking graphics that will enhance your marketing processes. Test out Canva’s smart technology and benefit from the results in your upcoming marketing campaigns!
29. Social Media & Listening In
To build visibility, nurture audience relationships, and communicate value, social media is an indispensable tool, and small businesses can make the most of it by automating posts so that content is offered consistently. My favorite social media trick is to automate social listening to monitor hashtags, keywords, and mentions of your brand, as well as take a look at what competitors are doing and saying. Automating this process can give small businesses a leg up and save them precious time.
30. Don't Delegate, Automate!
More and more people want human connection. But, we can't be everywhere at once. I use the platform Dubb.com which bridges the gap between live, in-person and automated. Dubb is a video app that allows you to quickly add a video clip from your desktop and upload it to any and every mode of communication technology you currently use. So, when I email or respond to someone on LinkedIn, I send them a personalized video that takes the same time as writing an email, instead.
31. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
Automating HAPPY BIRTHDAY emails is a great way to use automation to make your customers feel important.
When they sign up, simply ask them to input their birthday. Then, an automated system can send them a birthday wish on their big day.
If the client has purchased and moved on, it might also be a nice reminder for them to return!
Bonus: you could offer them a special discount on their birthday. There are lots of opportunities here, and it all starts with an automated email.
Joe Davies of FATJOE
32. Start Small & Go Big
I had little to no experience with automation, and what helped me the most was starting small and expanding up from there. Start with something simple and small, such as automated log monitoring and you will find new, better ideas coming to you naturally. This approach will also help you be more confident in executing larger, more complex business automation projects.
33. Everywhere Always, & Everyone
Someone asked me the other day where I look to automate and my answer was simple: Everywhere and Always.
Always be asking "Can this process be automated?" and ask it everywhere of everyone. Ask it everyday too.
Ask it when you open your email, send out a client email, return a phone call - just do not stop doing it. Likely you will notice tons of redundant task that all can be automated to save you time and money!
34. Identify the Repetitive Task
Small businesses should identify the repetitive task first. They should list the activities they currently do daily. Identify how often each task is done and how long it typically takes. Make a list of all administrative tasks you currently do manually. After identifying the task, develop the right software to create the workflow.
35. Lost Password Automation
This is something that every small business should implement the moment they launch their official website. By automating your password recovery process, you won't be oversaturated with emails and calls regarding login issues. You want your website to be easy-to-navigate and accessible from the moment a consumer enters to the moment they complete a purchase. This will keep customers coming back!
36. Automate Delegate or Eliminate
Open up your calendar and schedule for either Friday mornings or Saturday to review your week's activities.
Look at any task that is repetitive and immediately find a way to automate, delegate or eliminate the activity.
Ask yourself if it's necessary and if so, how can you find a way to automate or delegate.
Personally, I have an accountability call weekly on Fridays and mastermind ways to take as much off our task plate so we can free up our minds to always focus on growth.
37. AI Mines Data into CX Gold
AI B2B chatbots power communication with clients. Conversational marketing is essential for any business. But it's the speed of that conversation that fastens the sales process. If your team is too slow to answer questions in the digital world, your lead may jump to your competitor's website. AI B2B chatbots use data mining to understand your leads' preferences in seconds, enabling them to serve up the most appropriate answer or content immediately for better engagement and higher conversions.
38. Email Marketing Matters a Lot
Email automation is key for small businesses. You want to make sure you’re providing the right messaging at the right time to show your customers that you truly care about their needs and desires. This requires planning in advance, strong personalization, and a handy automation tool. Consistency and personalization are really important in connecting and building trust with customers. Consistently meeting their expectations will foster irreplaceable relationships.
Alyssa Berman-Waugh of Level
39. Pick Something that You Hate
There are a lot of tasks as a business that you can automate, such as billing, emails, texts, newsletters, social media posting, etc. The trick to increasing automation in your business is to choose a task that you hate, that you always dread doing, then breaking the task down into simple steps that can be automated. This way you'll be motivated to automate the task properly because you hate it and don't want to do it again.
40. Deliver Automated Messages
The use of marketing automation to deliver marketing messages at the exact right time will continue to be important. Having wonderful content is not going to be enough as we move into 2022. You have to get that content in front of people at the right time when they are most likely to engage, make a purchase, etc. Using this strategy can help grow your business if executed properly.
41. Automate Social Media Posts
If you want to step up your social media posting as part of your content marketing strategy, using an automation tool like HootSuite to schedule your posts can be a game changer. HootSuite makes it easy to manage your social media content and ensure you’re posting regularly. This is especially helpful for posts that need to go live after hours or when you are out of the office.
42. Use Machine-learning and AI
Using machine learning and AI, you can start delivering personalized content to customers based on their past behaviors and apparent interests. The rising desire for personalization in marketing is something that can be difficult to do without some kind of marketing automation, so in 2022, it’s a good idea to start investing in it. You can use marketing automation to gather data on your customers’ prior purchase history, estimated interests based on shopping behaviors, and more.
43. Use Email Automation
We live in an age where technology has made almost every aspect of business and marketing easier.
But with the implementation of email automation, you can start selling online - while you're sleeping.
You can reduce costs, overheads, churn, all while increasing profitability and reaching more customers.
Email automation tools such as Drip and ActiveCampaign are extremely affordable. What used to be considered "enterprise software" is now commonplace.
Send the right email or text message at the right time. Every business wants to maximize the benefits of email marketing.
Small businesses should automate their emails; that will help in increasing customer engagement. The greater the customer engagement, the greater the return.
To do this, schedule the emails to send them at the right moment. Make sure the messages are personalized and sent at the time when engagement is expected to be at peak.
45. Prioritize Automation Tasks
Identify tasks that can not be done manually. If you do not know which tasks can not be done manually, you will not be able to automate.
Moreover, define any tasks that are repetitive in the workflow. In order to find opportunities for automation, look at the routine tasks which take up considerable amounts of time and resources. The more frequent the task is, the greater benefits it will yield if automated.
46. Use CRM Tools
It’s vital to keep customers engaged through constant follow-ups. A CRM tool can help automate the data entry process.
This platform can support different marketing processes personalized to clients' needs. You can choose the right CRM platform for your business by analyzing your needs. For example, if you have a team of 15 employees, you wouldn’t require a complex system. The in-depth analysis of your organization allows you to stay on budget while automating the sales process.
47. Segmenting Target Audience
Segmentation lies at the cornerstone of a good marketing automation strategy. Once you have categorized your target audience into its defined demographic, it’s time for you to start emailing them about your promotions.
This measure would enable you to direct the marketing campaign towards interested individuals rather than throwing arrows blindly in the dark. You should divide the audience according to their buying personas to automate the email process and improve customer engagement rate.
48. Integrate Simpler Tasks First
In large companies, setting up a business automation process involves entire teams of professionals. Since small businesses cannot afford this luxury, it is best to take it one step at a time. A complete automation solution involves the smooth integration of various business processes. But a small business owner will do well in first integrating the simpler processes, running thorough checks on how these solutions work, and then moving on to automating crucial tasks.
49. Hire an Automation Specialist
Although a small business owner may not always find hiring a specialist a financially viable solution, hiring an automation specialist does come with its share of perks. These specialists define core processes in a business, automate them optimally through experience and expertise, and even run required tests to ensure smooth operations. When compared with the risk of jeopardizing the entire business process that is a possibility during automation, hiring a specialist proves logical.
50. Integrate Error Notifications
Despite taking every precaution and following every automation protocol, a new automation structure may not function as smoothly as expected. This could mean a waste of valuable time and effort to a small business. One solution to tackle this possibility is setting up error notifications to highlight possible glitches immediately. Furthermore, integrating these notifications at every step of the automation process ensures that every glitch can be quickly defined and isolated.
51. Remote Employee Onboarding
Using automation to onboard new employees can provide a consistent process for each employee that ensures each hire receives proper training. In our remote world, this can also be helpful to the new employee, who can benefit from unique scenarios included in the automated onboarding process.
Companies can use new tech and advanced platforms to create and provide specific onboarding routines whenever a new employee is hired.
It's an easy, consistent way to train new employees for success!
52. Set Up a Testing Environment
Testing is an indispensable part of automation, and although it requires time and resources, a small business can never afford to skip this step. Testing should be the concluding step at every juncture while setting up an automation framework. This enables the process to be glitch-free at every step and minimizes the possibility of hurdles in the entire workflow. Once the automation process has been completed, a final run-through test will help iron out any final creases in the system.
53. Automate for Customers
My best tip for small businesses looking to go digital is to automate with customer satisfaction in mind, integrating software that eases pain points without sacrificing personalized service. At Pelicoin, we automate with customers by making cryptocurrency tangible, providing physical ATMs that simplify the purchase and sale of Bitcoin. Our user-friendly ATMs combine the convenience of automation with hassle-free transactions to take the confusion out of crypto.
54. Learn to Embrace Automation
My number one tip for small businesses looking to improve their automation processes is not trying to make automation replace human labor but instead, allow your employees to work alongside automation tools to better improve productivity, increase sales, and deliver an overall remarkable experience to customers. Many people think that AI should be aimed at augmenting human intelligence, not replacing it, and I highly agree with that notion in 2022 where automation is becoming the norm.
55. Start with Simple Tasks
Although larger tasks take up most of your time, you’ll probably face challenges if you try to automate them first. So, it’s better to start with minor tasks that are predictable instead of straightaway jumping to create complex automation for entire procedures necessary for your business. Focus on one process that you can improve and then move to another function. You’ll be able to see the benefits quickly and learn at a steadier pace.
56. Integrated Cloud Automation
Cloud-based business automation solutions provide considerable capabilities. They can help you bind your entire team together and make managing your business more systematic and seamless. They offer such benefits as frequent updates and built-in automation tools. You can start with a few basic features and add more as your business grows.
57. Free Your Finance Department
Automate your invoicing. Staying on top of billing is very time-consuming. To streamline the process, invest in software such as Invoicera or Zoho Subscriptions. These companies also provide supplier and purchase order management, payment handling, and expense management. They can help you set up recurring invoices, which gives you one less thing to worry about. By automating your invoicing, you’re freeing up your finance department’s time and resources.
Jean Gregoire of Lovebox
58. Reminders Save Time and Money
Adopting new ways to automate your small business can be a great way to make operations more efficient and optimized. There are many ways in which customer service can be automated, however, sending appointment reminders is easy to do and helpful for not only your business, but the client as well. Many clients may forget they have an appointment or not take the time to properly cancel. Sending a reminder with a link to reschedule or cancel if needed, can save your company time and money.
59. HR President on Automation
Automating your business practices can happen in a variety of different ways. At the end of the day, these will make your processes more efficient and require less unnecessary manual work. While different jobs can be automated, one that will help you save time is automating your routine tasks. For example, tasks in your on-boarding process or something you have to do every day can be set as a repeat reminder so that you can be sure you will never forget.
60. CEO on Business Automation
Many small business automation practices can help you retain more leads. For example, when a potential new client contacts your business, it is a great idea to have an automated email ready to send. This email should thank them for contacting your company and assure them that someone will reply shortly. This automation can help keep a potential lead interested while waiting for your reply, giving you a greater chance of doing business with them.
61. Increase Engagement with Email
One of the automation tools we use is email automation, which helps us engage with customers after they’ve made a purchase. It would be an incredible amount of work to reach out multiple times to each customer for these communication touch points manually. Emails like order confirmations, shipping and delivery notices, etc., are still able to be personalized with the customer’s name and product recommendations based on their previous purchases and more.
Sara Shah of Journ
62. Make Them Feel Special
Try to personalize your automated emails as much as possible. That way, your customers and stakeholders are less likely to be able to tell they are automated. Think of how you would feel as a customer receiving the email message. This will help you come up with the best tactic to use. The goal is to make each person who receives your emails feel special and valued.
63. Personalize with Personas
To be successful, you need to produce high quality content and plan/create/refine the content that you share to get more benefits/conversions out of your marketing automation platform. The more human/personalized it is, the more it can be effectively adapted to the industry/location/interests. For best results, create customer personas and build your own list organically/partner with like-minded organizations to grow your list vs. buying a list from a broker, which in my experience rarely works.
64. Importance of Automation
For customer service, you want to automate while also adding personalization. Personalization ensures that your customers are taken care of and their specific concerns are addressed, while also targeting the right people with your campaigns. However, automation is necessary because it just isn’t realistic to expect someone to do every little thing. Machine Learning can be extremely helpful here to solve more general problems, while employees are freed up to focus on more specific issues.
65. Organization Is Automation
For a small business, the most crucial aspect is organization, which will turn into automation. Take the time to organize all aspects of your business and create a system. You can then have an accurate direction to go and being organized will give you the ability to delegate tasks, automate tasks and make everything automatically run smoother.
66. Small Businesses Can Grow Fast
One of the most important things to do which a lot of small business struggle with is time management. Where do you put your highest rewarded time to? Many small businesses will take a lot of time doing tasks that won't really help the company grow, which is where automation comes in. Automating small things such as when you post to Instagram, it automatically posts to Facebook and Twitter as well.
67. Automation Tools for Business
We use two marketing tools that have helped improve our business. One is Leadsgorilla, a lead generation tool that uses an algorithm to identify Google My Business profiles that are performing poorly and provide insight information about the business and contact information of owners. The second tool is BuzzSumo that helps us identify trending topics on social media for creating content. Investing in these two tools has increased productivity, our client conversion ratio, and site visits.
68. Save Time/Money With Zapier
No code tool Zapier allows small business owners to instantly and automatically process any simple task. It does this by connecting your different software tools together and passing API calls.
Some of the powerful things you can do with Zapier include automatically updating your database when a customer takes an action or improving the workflow of your staff by turning hundreds of manual steps into a single movement.
69. Understand Beforehand
Before you implement any automation solution into your business’ workflow, it is important that you understand the process yourself. Knowing the deeper insights of a process will help you integrate automation into it much more seamlessly. You can break down one task into smaller ones and automate each separately to create one larger smooth automation. Once you have a better understanding yourself, you can resolve problems in the automation later down the road as well.
Jessica Kats of Soxy
70. Use a Scalable Tool
Every company is constantly growing, albeit at different speeds. Catering to this growth beforehand is always a good idea and helps you stay on top of things as your company expands. Likewise, when you incorporate automation in your small business, it is essential that you use a tool that will cater to your company’s growth. Tools that use cloud services generally have much more scalability potential and will work with your process workflows as your company grows.
Daniel Foley of 88Vape
71. Start Small, Then Go Big
You’ll face more challenges to program a task if it’s huge. So, the best tip for small business automation is to start with the little projects first before you completely automate the entire process.
This also helps you get in the proper work mode. Additionally, getting done with those small tasks initially means that you can spend more time focusing on automating the important processes. Thus, improving efficiency, and productivity, which helps you finish projects on time.
72. Know It Before Automating It
Before you automate any task, it’s crucial to fully understand the entire process. This allows you to break the project into smaller parts. Thus, making it easier to optimize and improve the program.
After all, you should know that you can’t do anything without having prior knowledge about the subject.
73. Automate Recruitment Process
In the current market condition, it can get complicated for employers to implement the right recruitment strategy and, furthermore, spend hours on the task. Automated tools like Cornerstone bring about coveted features like onboarding, handling internal HR, resume study, and one of the best self-service portals. Other tools like Upwork allow business owners to find freelancers in a very competitive setup. The process is simple, as you can pay your hires after the project.
74. Implement Automation for Team
With the introduction of remote and hybrid work, team management is proving to be arduous and time-consuming. Team members may or may not share the same workspace. Due to this reason alone, small businesses need to implement automated tools like Trello and Asana, which can be very helpful in simplifying tasks for employees. They help build work schedules and improve communication abilities as well.
75. Work Smart for Better Results
My number one tip for small businesses looking to go digital is to automate small tasks so you can devote your full time and energy to work that aligns with your core mission. Automating small, repetitive tasks makes your workload lighter without detracting from the essential things, allowing you to do the work you’re passionate about without getting distracted by routine tasks. And when you’re able to save more of your time and attention for larger projects, you can truly enjoy your work.
76. The Value of Email Automation
Sending newsletters is a great way to remain connected with your audience but can be time-consuming. You can, however, send automated newsletters while still keeping them personalized. If someone in your business funnel gets a customized email, it can help push them further through the cycle because they feel valued, and since it's automated, you're saving time. Put yourself in their shoes and think about what you'd like to see and then start content creation. Always beware of sounding robotic!
77. Start by Streamlining Sales
CRM automation is super important for sales teams. Clicking, calling, and following up with prospects is seamless. Not only that, but a sales team’s workflow can serve as a similar blueprint in other areas of the company. This is the perfect opportunity to start with a fully automated flow and move forward from there. The whole company will benefit and work smarter, not harder.
78. Start Small
Start by automating the tasks that are smaller, repetitive, or that you are confident will be able to easily automate. While automation is meant to improve efficiency and make things easier, trying to automate everything at once can be overwhelming and will likely lead to some hiccups - so start smaller/simpler and then add more automation over time.
79. SOPs Reduce Unnecessary Jobs
Put clear operating procedures in place for every job.
I used to spend hours of my time editing and formatting articles to go on my site, however now that I have clear operating procedures in place, articles are ready pretty much ready to publish as soon as I get them, which means I can spend my time on higher-value tasks.
Daniel Richardson of Dan Rich
80. Create If/Then Automations
The best way to automate your business is to look for repetitive processes and use if/then statements to automate software, which moves the task forward. We do this in my business through the use of ClickUp's automations, which allows us to hand off one leg of a task to another team member seamlessly. For example, when a writer is finished writing an article, they upload their draft to ClickUp and the draft is automatically sent to the editor to edit. Once edited, it moves to the next step, etc.
81. Get Data with Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a useful business analytics tool that gives statistics to help you know how you measure up & how to improve. It furnishes small businesses with helpful business insights.
As a small business, you should know your target customers and laser focus on them to maximize business growth & profits. You can get internal data from analytics to help streamline your efforts for intentional target marketing. It is especially effective for small businesses looking to scale up organically.
82. AI Copywriting Tools
Using AI for copywriting helps me to produce much more content for both my personal blog and my clients. Repetitive tasks drain both energy and morale, so by using AI tools I can produce much more content quickly. AI copywriting tools can be used to create marketing copies, social media ads, long-form blog content, etc… This saves my time for editing and perfecting this content before I share it.
83. Contactless Leasing
Post legislation reforms, COVID-19, and a booming sales market forced us to innovate & automate property management. We introduced 3D property scans to allow all inspections to be conducted virtually. We then automated our application processing, which included automatic reference follow-up. We automated the shortlisting process-based metrics for the most suitable tenant. We then automated the welcome stream for new tenants which included pre-recorded video introductions from Property Managers.
84. Automate Your Cart Emails
If you're an eCommerce business, one of the best ways you can use automation is in connection with your shopping cart. Whether it be abandoned cart messages or other strategies that you implement, using automation can effectively streamline your processes. Plus, it can even improve your ROI.
85. Automate Customer Follow Ups
Whenever you come into contact with a customer, set up an automation that reaches out to them to thank them for their interest in your company. This message can go on to include numerous other things, such as information on current sales, more details on products or services, or even to request feedback with a convenient survey form.
Lindsay McCormick of Bite
86. Aim for Organic Automation
My number one tip for small businesses looking to digitize is to make sure your automated campaigns feel organic. While automation saves you time and effort, you don’t want your emails to seem robotic or impersonal, so aim for a friendly, human tone when fine-tuning your brand’s voice. This will help you develop a real connection with your audience while still reaping the benefits of automation.
87. Possibilities In Our New Era
The pandemic necessitates changing how we conduct business—robotics, and technology helps level the playing field. One example, Calendly simplifies making and keeping appointments. Notable is the effort to include people with physical challenges. Another example is television captioning and automated Zoom transcription benefit people with hearing challenges. Discriminatory practices are traditional, but diversity and inclusion may be the new standard plus access to equal pay.
88. Automate New Project Tasks
By getting your small business on a work management platform, you can keep track of everyone’s tasks and automate tasks for new projects. If a new project at your company always begins with the same few tasks, you can create a template with these tasks, descriptions, and timelines that can be quickly replicated. Need to make sure certain milestones or deadlines are met? Assign them at the outset of the project, saving you time and avoiding the need to remember later.
89. Make It Centralized
Make sure to centralize your automation. A centralized business management system can be really helpful at keeping everything in one place so that you can oversee and manage your variety of automated tasks. If you start to automate a lot of different things without managing them in one location, it can get away from you and issues might occur that you have trouble fixing.
90. You Need a CRM Plus an Admin!
Every small business needs a CRM that automates lead flow and customer follow-up, and an admin who can fully optimize the usage of the system. A CRM is a given, but most small businesses are hesitant to add employee positions before they have the revenue to support it. That, however, is a reactionary growth approach. I find it best to strategically hire for the growth you are targeting in the next 1-2 years, as those hires are the reason you will be able to reach the next level.
91. Robust Document Templates
Robust document templates that have everything ready to go so making all new documents is a breeze. Also, build in quality checking to make sure things are not missed.
92. Regularly Optimize Workflow
One common blindspot many businesses have is that after they automate their processes, they go completely hands-off and leave the automation running by itself.
As your company grows, workflows become more complex. It's important to revisit workflows to know if and when optimization is already needed.
Automation will develop bottlenecks after some time. Regular evaluations allow you to catch blocks and issues early on. Introducing newer tools into the workflow can also be beneficial.
93. Sweat the Small Stuff
Don't write programs, solve problems.
Automating the little things makes the biggest difference.
Start small not just in the scope of what you're doing, but in the things that happen daily.
Talk to your team members about the repetitive tasks they do. Figure out how to automate them.
You only need half a day of solving problems using Zapier and Integromat, rather than weeks of building complex code.
94. Google Doc Add-ons for SMBs
The small business owners I meet are surprised when I inform them how significantly Google Doc add-ons have helped streamline my business. Most aren't even aware they exist!
These convenient add-ons help small businesses by enabling commonly used apps to be accessed right with-in the basic google doc editor.
Many apps that small businesses use are widely available as free add-ons. These include, but are not limited to e-signatures, flowcharts, thesaurus, AI writers, and even mail merges.
95. Focus on Customer Service
Marketers need to develop an easy customer service experience, and that starts with an instant message application during non-business hours. An after hours live chat automation can be extremely effective at answering frequent questions quickly - 24/7, even during holidays or off peak hours. Live chats offer fast-to-market solutions that can be customized in a professional way without compromising the brand, that way customer service teams can focus on tackling the more challenging inquiries.
Lance Herrington of UNICO
96. Let Data Come To You
Data collection plays a massive role in small business automation. Small businesses don’t have the luxury to hire entire departments to organize, sort, and analyze data about their customers and company performance. But, they can improve their data analysis process through an automated system. Tools such as Qualtrics can monitor and analyze information from various sources. By automating data gathering and analysis, you can collect hours of data in just minutes.
97. Automate Email Marketing
If there's one thing that businesses need to get better at, it's automating their email marketing. Email marketing is a great way to stay in touch with your customers and potential customers. But the truth is, too many businesses do this manually. There are tools such as Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign and many more where you can create campaigns that go out at scheduled times. You can segment your list. You can send welcome emails. In fact, you can do plenty and save time.
98. Automate the Online Help Stack
Every small business should automate their online help stack. When I work with startup founders and small business owners, it's incredible how much of their day is spent answering customer questions. In theory it's a great strategy and an opportunity: talk directly to your customer as often as possible. But in practice, you become bogged down in work that can easily be automated. Help is out there! Implement an online help desk tool, create tutorial videos or write a FAQ and start automating!
99. Configure Email Alerts
There will always be some issues with your automation, no matter how thoroughly you test. This is especially with cloud systems. For example, automation may fail to connect, or the data format supplied by the trigger event may differ slightly from what you expected. In these cases, setting email notifications will help you know what error has occurred so that you can correct it immediately and, if necessary, modify the automation steps.
100. Know Your Processes First
Before deciding to automate some of your business processes, you need to know every process at hand first. This way, it would be easier for you to choose which ones should be automated first. Make a list of all the processes and pinpoint those you do best and filter it out. If you’re just starting to automate, you must begin with the simpler tasks first to avoid frustration when complications arise. With it, you’ll certainly scale up at a steadier pace and can avoid further complications.
101. Start Small First
When we talk about automation, the first thing that usually pops out of our minds is automating the tasks that take up most of our time. And often, those are the larger ones. Yes, it is, but not if you’re just starting from scratch. Automating larger and more complex tasks is not wise since you’ll surely encounter lots of errors and complications. And you’ll likely end up not automating it at all. The simpler the task, the faster you’ll create a workflow and see the benefits right away.
102. Automated Spellcheck
At Radaris, we deal with organizing proper and correct information and we take pride in ensuring all details are correct, including the spelling of names and places.
Technology can help with proper spelling, but I would encourage small businesses to take it even further. Sign up for an automatic spell check system like Grammarly that will instantly check your spelling, offer tips, and help you improve your text and emails!
This automated online writing assistant is a lifesaver!
Lucie Chavez of Radaris
103. The Small Biz Solution
The longer I've been in business, the more important I realize how direct personal connection creates a link that not only helps business survive, but excel!
I show clients that a long-term email/texting program between owner and client simply cannot be superseded. It's true--larger merchants may offer lower pricing, or volume discounts--but nothing...is better than personal, involvement-in-your-business creativity through both communication and action.
And don't forget the action!!
104. Try Integrated Workflows
Our small business automation best tip is that integrated workflows are your friend. Automation allows workflows to prompt employees to do a particular task or attend a meeting. In addition, you can integrate your communication software with your workplace management dashboard and calendar. For example, Slack can use a workflow to prompt your employees to check an assignment board in Asana every day or send a brief message to themselves communicating what they are working on.
105. Automate Everything You Can
My automation advice for small businesses is to automate everything they can, and that's not crucial to their business. Meaning, if they can automate A, but A is hugely important to their business success, they shouldn't do it. Automation doesn't beat doing it manually. But, if B isn't crucial to their business, but it's still valuable to do, automate it and reap the benefits with minimal time spent. For example, blogging is task A for me, and social media is task B. Guess which one I automate.
106. Repeated Tasks Need a Process
For each task that is done more than once, write out the exact steps and log it. Even if someone will never replace you on the task, the automation for you will bring about continual improvements as you find gaps and improvements of what's there. As legendary author and marketer Seth Godin says, "If you don’t have time to do it right, what makes you think you’ll have time to do it over?" Make life easier for yourself and do this as you go and within weeks, you'll have built out a workflow.
107. Simplify, Simplify, Simplify!
Every minute counts when it comes to owning a small business. If you're wanting to create a stronger culture of automation within your business, one of the best places to start is employee onboarding. Onboarding is one of the most time consuming tasks for small businesses. By implementing an automation process that oversees tasks like documentation, approvals and communication, small businesses can complete each onboarding process before the new hire even starts working.
108. Jasper Helps You Write Faster
For my business, my favorite tool is an AI Writing tool called Jasper. It uses machine learning to help writers generate ideas, create content, and edit work. It makes it easy for anyone who writes online to produce more content in less time.
You won’t even notice how much this piece of technology has improved your workflow because it will feel like second nature after using it once or twice.
All you need to do is click on one button and let Jasper take care of everything for you.
109. CEO on Tips for Small Business
Keep track of your customers with a Customer Relationship Management system. A CRM system can help you manage notes on customers, track phone or email conversations, and follow up regularly to help you build long-term relationships. Tracking these relationships can make a huge difference to your sales.
Ouriel Lemmel of WinIt
Add a chatbot to your website. Having a chat function shows your commitment to your customers and their needs. You can program a chatbot to answer your customer's most common questions in a natural and engaging way, and for more unique questions, the chatbot can automatically send you an email with the conversation and let your customer know that you will get back to them.
111. Utilize Scheduling Platforms
My number one tip for small business automation is utilize social media scheduling platforms. Schedule in content you plan to run on sites like Twitter and Facebook at specific, targeted publishing times and dates. This saves time and establishes peace of mind in knowing when the content will be live.
112. Make Emails Automated
The beauty of marketing automation software is that it allows you to address your audience's requirements at the right time during their journey; nevertheless, it's all too easy to lose sight of the "human touch" that makes campaigns so successful.
Begin by defining a goal that you want your audience to achieve, and then list all conceivable decisions and replies. Consider how you would respond to your message if you were in your customer's shoes.
113. Integrate New Technologies
By identifying future automation opportunities early, you'll be able to make sound investment decisions about which technologies will benefit your business through improved productivity or reduced costs. You can then develop a roadmap for integrating these systems into your existing technologies to reap the benefits. It is also necessary to identify standard procedures across your business and develop standardized workflows to determine the best strategy for maximum efficiency.
114. Clever Little Automation Tool
I use a very handy tool called Expandi to automate all my connections on LinkedIn. Instead of manually adding connections on LinkedIn which takes a lot of time, I simply upload the LinkedIn profiles of those who I want to connect with, set an outreach message sequence, and Expandi does the rest. I've been able to grow my LinkedIn connections to over 5,800 using this method.
115. Call Tracking For Campaigns
Using our call tracking tool, marketers will gauge accurate information about the effectiveness of various digital marketing campaigns. CallScaler exists to track, record, and route phone calls in your business without breaking the bank. It is the perfect platform to test and scale Google ads, SEO, lead generation, and print performance marketing campaigns. Call tracking can reveal what marketing campaigns are generating the most calls for your business so that you aren’t in the dark.
116. Make Onboarding a Breeze
The onboarding process can have a negative impact on the team and the small business as a whole. Automating the onboarding process takes the pressure off small teams whose members may already be covering multiple roles. Although creating onboarding videos and other training materials can be time consuming, it is an investment that will pay off in the long term. With a standardized and automated onboarding process, face-to-face training will be reduced and progress can be easily monitored.
117. Check Then Proceed
The first thing you must do is identify your business's current needs. Are you burdened with accounting? Are you losing track of inventory? Are you having trouble communicating with customers? These are some of the questions that can be factors you must consider before automating your small business. Once you have identified these, you may start looking for an automation tool that perfectly suits your needs.
118. Get Your Data Talking
Invest in a tool that gets all your different software packages to talk to each other! Any business will have dozens of pieces of software in use such as email, social, website, CRM to accounting and order processing, and none of them talk to each other! Invest in a piece of software (or developer) and get everything talking to each other. Now you can start building automations, save admin costs, increase your marketing effectiveness from there... AND take advantage of a unified database!
119. Automate Upwards
Today's fast paced digital world necessitates small businesses to be incredibly agile. Automation, in any form, is essential to maintain the fluidity needed to succeed. From my standpoint, automating processes upwards using tools makes sense. A simple tool like Calendly that automates the whole scheduling and follow up process allows you and your colleagues to focus on more relevant work.
120. Conduct a Procedural Audit
A procedural audit is designed to help you critically evaluate your day-to-day workflow and identify areas where work could be streamlined. The first step in automating routine processes is to identify areas of repetition. Try to minimize team involvement in activities that keep coming up, such as personalizing outbound emails or filling out a CRM. Tasks that take up a lot of time and require little critical thinking are prime candidates for automation.
121. Focus on Creativity
I am a firm believer in working smarter rather than harder, and I achieve this through automation tools. Working in a very agile industry with incredibly talented individuals, it is hyper important to maximize our productivity. Automating the simple tasks promotes an environment where individuals can focus on creative challenges rather than the mundane. Using a power packed tool like Asana which integrates g-suite and more, simplifies the daily operation and promotes collaboration.
122. Use Email Sequencing
Use Email automation tools such as MixMax or MailChimp and create fully automated personalized sequences to reach out to your audience and/or potential partners so as to minimize time spent on emails and follow-ups.
Some of these tools allow for incredible amounts of personalization and can really be a lifesaver in terms of email marketing and outreach. Furthermore, subscriptions are usually on the lower end of the price spectrum, so it's a low-risk investment.
123. Automate Social Sharing
My biggest tip for businesses would be to automate sharing their content. I often see people manually sharing blog posts across social networks and to mailing lists. This social sharing can be easily automated from any WordPress site, using free plugins. If you're not on WordPress, then consider IFTTT or Zapier to share posts to social profiles. Sharing to your mailing list can be done by connecting your RSS feed to MailChimp, so that your subscribers get an email when you publish a new article.
124. Set Up Error Notifications
Regardless of the number of times you test your systems; there is still a chance of an error. So, you can sync the software with the cloud server to constantly receive data. It allows you to assess when an error has occurred, and immediate action can be taken.
This process can be tedious to keep track of manually, so automation is necessary. Any slight change will show up in the notifications, and you can look into the matter.
125. Cutting-Edge Tip
A self-service kiosk can be a game changer if implemented properly because it will not only save your employees time by doing what they are already paid to do, answer customer's questions, but also give customers the ability to complete transactions as quickly as possible. These kiosks typically provide self-checkout options for both purchasing items, and paying bills or making reservations and once you go through this process, you'll never want to go back to traditional interaction methods again.
126. Streamline Product Delivery
Small businesses can use automation to streamline processes of product delivery and consumption. Know what your customers need to make the most out of your products or services and see how you can automate the process for them for a great customer experience. When you provide a WOW experience to your people, they become loyal customers and raving fans who will tell others about your brand. And that's the free marketing to your advantage.
127. CMO on Automation
Automation can have a large impact on the success of small businesses. There are many simple adjustments that a company can make to not only increase company awareness, but customer engagement as well. At Truck Driver Institute, we automate our newsletters to resend to those who do not open the first email they are sent in. This is a small way to automate part of your marketing strategy, and has been shown to dramatically increase open and click-through rates.
128. Remove Manual Finance Process
Small businesses are often hesitant to invest in automation but spend a lot of time doing low-level finance admin processes. Automation will remove the manual financial processes and allow the business to do a lot more with fewer people. Let the tech do the time-consuming hard work and increase your overall efficiency and productivity. You'll be able to serve more clients than before.
129. Marketer on Automation Tips
A great way for businesses to improve their automation is to create a template for emails and repeated tasks. Creating a template cuts down on the time it takes to draft a new email and ensures that the correct information is included every time.
If necessary, a personal touch can be added to the email but overall, it saves time in the end.
130. Leave Only What You're Good At
Tasks that aren't directly related to your company's key skills should be automated wherever possible. In addition to allowing you to devote more resources to profitable work, this will also provide you more time to focus on strategies to develop and succeed in your market.
131. Automate Meeting Reminders
As a business leader, navigating a busy schedule can be tough, but ensuring all members of your team are ready and available for a meeting is even tougher. I recommend having automated reminders in place for both clients and staff to remind them of important meetings and appointments. This will save a decrease in productivity due to miscommunication and ensure that all parties are on the same page.
132. Find a Specific Gap to Fill
When beginning to apply automated processes into your business, you must first find where it fits in. This is often done by finding a specific gap in your company or service providing where automation can help.
Find the place you need additional help (or a space you aren't able to fill on your own) and find a way to make automation help.
Automation works best when it has a specific task, so figure out how it can improve your operation and then work at putting it in place!
133. Use Email For a High ROI
Use email marketing automation software for a high ROI. When you automate your email marketing, you’re increasing your business’ efficiency and productivity. Automate welcome emails, abandoned cart emails, birthday emails, and promotional emails. These examples are still personalized to your customers, despite being automated, which leads to a deeper engagement with your customer base.
Natalie Waltz of Tabu
134. Automate Everything You Can
One of the best ways to improve automation is by identifying all of your transactional processes and automating them as much as possible. In some cases, this may mean automating minor aspects of a business process through mobile apps or using more advanced software that performs specific tasks for you behind the scenes. In other cases, it may mean fully automating a business process by completely digitizing it with technologies like cloud-based accounting solutions or point of sale systems.
135. Birthday Automation Funnel?
Small businesses should automate birthday emails to boost their conversion rates. It is a proven marketing tactic that simultaneously boosts user engagement while increasing the likelihood of a sale with personalized discounts.
Experian published that birthday emails grew conversions by over 400% and increased revenue per message by over 300%. Consumers, especially younger generations, are becoming savvier to email marketing efforts, and the closer to home your strategy hits, the better.
136. Use the Cloud to Gather Leads
Use cloud-based software to help you generate and gather leads while also nurturing them. This automation tool can find leads from various sources such as your landing page and social media platforms. It can even go one step further and convert these leads into customers. As your company grows, it’s going to be harder and harder to generate leads on your own, so lean into software that can do it for you, saving you time to focus on other aspects of your business.
137. Always Monitor and Improve
No matter how many tests you’ve done in automating a process, there will always be something that could go wrong at any moment. Any delay could lead to more serious problems that could cripple your business operations once fixes are delayed. One surefire way of keeping yourself informed is by setting up an error notification. Once an error happens, you’ll be notified in real-time. With it, you can fix everything and prevent it from disrupting your business operation.
138. Start with Your Customers
Your customers should always be your main focus no matter what you plan in managing your business. And when it comes to automating your business operations, it should be geared towards a goal of providing better service to them. One crucial factor that you shouldn’t miss is optimizing and automating your website, as it’s where your customers interact with your business. Things like ordering and setting appointments should not remain manual or else your customer experience will be compromised.
139. Automate Simple Tasks First
Tasks that take up most of your time shouldn’t be automated first. If you’re just starting to automate, beginning with larger or complex tasks will just end you facing lots of issues in the process and you might get discouraged from continuing. Starting with simpler tasks, especially if you’re doing the specific tasks yourself will eliminate this possibility. With it, you can immediately see how automating the task can help your business without facing any major pitfalls in the process.
Dmitriy Bobriakov of Solwiser
140. Hire an Automation Specialist
Adopting automation in your business often equates to using automation tools. But, it doesn’t always mean that you need to learn those tools yourself. This is where an automation specialist comes in. Without involving yourself too much in the process, they can do the work for you. From assessing, designing and up to implementing your automation requirements, they’ll be there to do it for you. With them at your disposal, you can jumpstart automation in your business and see the benefits sooner.
141. Reduce Employees' Frustration
For a successful automation strategy, you must wisely pick what to automate. Some tasks can be automated, but doing so could harm your team. A good example is conducting job interviews. Automating it will decrease their job satisfaction if your employees enjoy doing it. However, maybe your HR professionals dislike the pre-employment screening? Thus, the goal is to automate tedious tasks, not pleasant ones. Automating repetitive processes saves not only time but also boosts employee morale.
142. Automate Repetitive Work
My number one tip is to identify repetitive work - which might seem like an obvious one, but it's often overlooked or rushed past.
I begin by listing all the activities that my team does on a regular basis. With each item, I noted how long each task takes (you might be surprised when you do this). For example, record all the administrative work that you currently do that takes up a big chunk of your time.
From this list, automate the simpler tasks and personally attend to the complex ones.
143. Start Small, Work Your Way Up
Automation saves time, reduces human error and helps your productivity. However, too much too quickly can be counter-intuitive. Over-automation leads to rapid changes which can be overwhelming for your team. As they work to figure out where their new responsibilities lie, it can create feelings of job uncertainty and stress. To avoid making changes at the expense of your team's peace of mind, automate processes gradually. This reduces disruptions and gives your team plenty of time to acclimate.
Patrick Casey of Felix
144. Automated Customer Service
Automated customer service does not require human support agents. It is rather performed by a chatbot, virtual assistant, or AI to perform the following tasks:
· Frequent questions
· Live chats
· Organizing and prioritizing tickets
145. Automate Lead Follow-Up Emails
After a trade show or networking event, following up with leads is incredibly important. By automating this step, you can save time and keep things from falling through the cracks. Write an email template that can be personalized with the contact’s name, the name of the event you both attended, a relevant detail from your conversation, and a way for them to get more information. If you use a CRM, you can automate the process further by adding leads and scheduling your follow-up email there.
146. Start with the Easier Tasks
Start with the easier tasks.
To begin with, you may assume you should focus on the most time-consuming jobs in order to get them automated since they take up most of your time. While this may be true, it is more probable that you will run into challenges when trying to develop complicated automation if you are just starting to automate. If that happens, it might be quite frustrating and you may not want to continue.
147. Find the Sweet Spot
If you have a time-consuming manual process, the best solution is likely to automate it. One option is to completely restructure the process, but that will make it more difficult for employees to get used to the new system. On the other hand, if you simply replicate your manual processes, you cut the learning curve down significantly, but the process may not be as efficient as it could be. The sweet spot is somewhere in the middle; it has to be an improvement, and it has to feel familiar.
Cody Miles of Ashore
148. Experts in Automation
Experts in Automation for Small Businesses
It can be tough to keep track of all of the automation activities that are taking place at once. In this situation, it may be beneficial to hire an automation expert. Each automated business process is examined by an automation expert, who looks for weaknesses, adopts tactics, and comes up with techniques to make the process more efficient. Your business's automation strategies will be on the proper road if you work with an expert.
149. Automate for Accuracy
To get the most out of automation, find the most repetitive, boring, and prone to human error aspects of your business. Admin and accounting fit these criteria perfectly. I've realized that automation is not just a time-saving solution, but a way to mitigate risk and improve the accuracy of your vital business processes. Even the best accountant can make a mistake. An automation program will get the report or the calculation correct every time, giving you peace of mind that can't be replaced.
150. Be the Diva in Your Business!
I think one of the best tips for small business is to automate their FAQ's on a Chatbot – from all their online spaces. It's amazing how many people want to know actual facts from a business (for me, I need to know if a business ships to Spain before I complete the purchase and get the message apologizing that they don’t!) and this way, you can give them what they need in a speedy and professional manner and then introduce them to other aspects of your business, like products or services.
151. Automation is Now
The first thing to understand is that automation is an ongoing process in any business. Secondly, nearly anything requiring computers can be automated. Find a local coding genius and become their best friend! At the very least, they can write a code to pull that information into a spreadsheet once a month or organize the spreadsheet into a dashboard of graphs & charts!
152. Automate your Email Marketing
Email marketing is a classic marketing technique, and in today's hyper-competitive business world, automating your email campaigns is the only way to go. Email marketing automation allows you to spend more time creating and designing premium content and less time actually getting the emails out there. Don't underestimate the power of email marketing, especially in terms of getting personal with your audience.
153. Social Media Marketing
Marketers can't be at computers 24/7. This makes automation important. Fortunately, automation tools are available to post to social media at optimal times. For instance, you can use Inssist and Combin to post from desktop to Instagram. You can also use Buffer to post to TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter. These schedulers are free. Use automation to post more on social media to boost engagement.
154. Automate Your Email List
One way that a small business can increase its marketing turnover is to automate their email list segmentation. Segmenting their email lists can help a small business provide personalized deals and messages to their customers. Using exit intent pop-ups, which appear when a customer clicks to leave a page, your site can pop-up automated deals based on what they viewed or what is in their cart. With over 70% of visitors never returning to a website, this cookie can increase lead generation, fast.
155. Automate Small Tasks
The best way to start automation is to focus on simple tasks first — tasks that are done manually and regularly but could be automated without much effort. Small businesses don't need automation for everything. It can be as simple as creating a recurring email reminder, checking inventory levels or processing payments. So instead of focusing on building total automation, focus on one or a few simple tasks in the beginning and then add more complexity as needed.
156. Client Onboarding
When you take on a new customer, you will likely repeat chores when you deliver a service. Make your customer feel at ease by providing a welcome letter that explains the crucial components of your services. You can send them a questionnaire to get the information you need to help them the best way you can. But even though you automate, you still need to personalize. Connect your CRM with Handwrytten; you can send a handwritten welcome message to new clients for an even more personal touch.
157. One Step at a Time
Don't automate all your processes at once. Think about the most time-consuming work you have and figure out how to automate them. Don't rush it. Just because you automate them doesn't mean you will succeed with your business. Look at the big picture and foresee how this move will help you in the long run. By carefully analyzing the pros and cons, you can find the aspect of your business where you can increase profit by being more efficient. Once completed, you can move on to the next one.
158. Outsourcing Automations
Small businesses can benefit from automations but rarely have the bandwidth to create them. This creates a situation where there's a real opportunity cost to doing processes manually.
That's why I strongly suggest outsourcing automations to agencies, freelancers, part-time workers, etc. This way, you can start enjoying the benefits of automating repetitive tasks without a huge automation/development budget.
159. Start Small, Think Long-term
Most businesses will start small when implementing automation. However, it's important to have the technology infrastructure planned out in the beginning. A business can face problems later on trying to integrate different software or hardware that they use in different parts of the business when it tries to roll out automation on a larger scale. Plan ahead to reduce headaches later on.
160. Automation for Scheduling
Utilize tools which can help to automate the process of scheduling meetings. For instance, in order for B2B businesses to meet with clients, they can offer calendar links for those from other businesses to schedule a time and date that is available on the B2B business’s calendar. Tools such as Calendly or Google Calendar are popular and worthwhile options to assist with scheduling meetings with clients.
161. Automating Customer Service
Here's the gist of what we do. Instead of manually sorting through and replying to each customer query, we create an AirTable database that automatically logs incoming emails. We then use AT labels to categorize these emails, and even send out pre-written responses to the most common queries.
The same database saves new responses as we write and send them out... All told, this lets us hire 1 person instead of the 3 we'd need to run the system 100% manually.
162. Automate Your Email Marketing
With email marketing automation, you can easily stay in contact with your customers as well as be sure that they’re getting the right type of messages. Automation allows you to send targeted email sequences to specific customer groups all with a few mouse clicks rather than a few hours of time. You can automate everything from welcome email sequences to newsletters and promotions.
163. Automate Onboarding
It's easy to automate a good portion of your employee onboarding including sending all new hire paperwork digitally, having employees complete self-paced online training, and sending emails with information such as logins and passwords automatically after the completion of prerequisite training modules. Automation helps to expedite the onboarding process as well as remove some of the burden from HR.
164. Automate the News
There's no need to scroll through a variety of news sources in order to get caught up on all of the latest breaking news.
Apps like Zolt, TheSkimm, and Circa will compile the news you are interested in and send it directly to you. You won't miss a thing and you won't waste time navigating through the news, which is important in keeping up with the world around you.
It's also a great way to stay away from unneeded negativity. Subscribe to positivity and have good news stories come to you!
165. Use Chatbots to Help Customers
I believe customers are the force that will turn leads into sales and profits. Customers must be served 24/7. Businesses can't predict when they'll need help using a device or finding a nearby store. It makes perfect sense to have chatbots that can answer every client query. Chatbots eliminate the need for a person behind the desk, as they are programmed to offer exact answers and handle consumer concerns daily. Chatbots are the appropriate automation for any organization to avoid losing consumers.
166. Using AI in its Operations
I believe AI is rapidly encroaching on every part of our lives, and businesses can benefit from it. AI helps firms ahead of the curve by automating duplicate and time-consuming processes. Use Machine Learning, OCR, NLP, and RPA to improve services and align products to meet the world's changing needs. Businesses can expect greater ROI, sales, a larger client base, and eventually devoted customers by employing AI technologies.
167. Reduce on Manual Labor
I think manual work equals more people to pay and more time to finish jobs. Manual work consumes a lot of resources and is prone to errors and blunders that turn into major issues. Businesses can increase productivity and efficiency by eliminating manual work and investing in automation software. These businesses will eventually make more money and have more time to focus on developing a more secure foundation and implementing efficient business processes.
168. More Data and Reporting
Marketing automation technologies, I feel, do more than automate daily duties. Customer data can be obtained and analyzed to provide a systematic analysis of their behavior and purchasing patterns. As a result of this automation, firms may track client buying patterns and demographics to better target them in future marketing efforts. It enables firms to develop more meaningful marketing content and promote their products differently. It creates more eCommerce product lines and automates news.
169. Social Media
I believe that social media plays a significant role in corporate marketing and the production of new leads. Simplify your social media operations by automatically posting new blog entries to your preferred social networking channel. You may also automate the creation of social media posts with information about your most recent newsletter or service to all of your social media accounts at once.
170. Handle HR from Anywhere
Human resources may, in my opinion, fall within the purview of a single employee or office manager in small organizations. This is where HR automation comes in. Robust technologies, such as Zoho People or Zenefits, can automate mundane tasks like new hire onboarding, staff administration, and leave requests. Furthermore, you can accomplish it all from a mobile device, allowing your HR manager to solve essential responsibilities while on the go.
Sara Johansson of Onsiter
171. Provide 24/7 Customer Support
A major difficulty for many small businesses, in my opinion, is only being able to give customer service during business hours. When you're ready to take the next step with automation, Zendesk can help you provide 24-hour customer assistance. With features like help centers and AI-powered answer bots, the Zendesk Suite ensures that your customers get answers quickly. What's the best part? Almost everything can be customized.
172. Get the Team Off the Sidelines
Automating mundane tasks reduces the responsibilities in every job that, while necessary, make team members feel like they're sitting on the sidelines. From manual data entry to invoice management, automation frees up valuable time so workers can focus on more meaningful aspects of their roles. It also lessens the need to increase work hours. When employees feel they're contributing to the end game, they're more passionate about their jobs, which drives their performance and improves retention.
Jason Sherman of TapRm
173. Automated Accounting
Automation can be extremely useful for accounting purposes. For example, you can find certain accounting programs can automatically put invoices together based on what a customer has purchased, rather than having to produce the invoice manually. This can save a lot of time, which will help your business to run more efficiently.
174. Chunk It
My best tip for helping small businesses with their automation is to use the chunking method for sharing content. In psychology, chunking refers to separating information into smaller portions for better understanding and retention. Chunking content into multiple segments helps customers to absorb it better while keeping business owners from being overwhelmed by too many details. It also helps their automation to work for them instead of being another item on an overflowing task-list.
175. Start with the Simple Ones
It's common for business owners to automate complicated business processes first, just because these tasks take up a larger chunk of the employees’ time. However, as someone new to automation, automating complicated processes first will likely result in issues in the long run. Instead, starting with the simple business processes when improving through automation will help a business owner learn slowly but steadily, helping them understand which bigger business task should be automated next.
176. Train Your Team
No matter how perfect your business automation is designed, it won’t work if the employees who use it can’t adapt to the new technology. Though automation can help improve different business processes and make things easier for the workforce, a change in the usual process comes with its pain points. Some employees may even resist it. That’s why it is best to run a training activity when you introduce automation in any aspect of the business.
177. Automate Your QA
Most businesses have a quality assurance process in place to ensure client satisfaction. The issue is that (QA) is subjective, and since human error can readily occur, it can lead to inconsistent results. By automating this process, you can ensure that your products or services meet quality standards. To determine what automation technologies your company requires, first assess your internal processes. This will show you where you waste the most time and resources, and where you can save them.
178. Use Automation Tools
The advantages of automating in today's society include having a broad selection of tools at your disposal. Having the correct tools simplifies everything from digital marketing to customer service. For example, Hootsuite automates social media participation. It connects to over 35 worldwide social networks so you can track and post to them all from one dashboard. Another great tool is MailChimp, which allows you to automate email marketing for free.
179. Switch to Painless Payroll
You probably didn't set up a business because you were passionate about paying your employees. Gusto, an outsourced payroll provider, can automate a lot of the manual labor that goes into managing payroll and benefits. Your employees can track their wages, benefits, worker's comp, and gather tax forms via individual personal accounts in these types of apps, and the provider sends out money transfers and paystubs on a timetable you determine.
180. Know Your Workflows In & Out
Automation can be a wonderful tool to increase productivity & give back time to your team. But it can easily do the opposite for your business unless you take the time to understand your workflows in & out - literally. My top tip is to physically map workflows out using whatever works best for you - spreadsheets, mind maps or post-it system for moving pieces - from beginning to end & find the tools that fit your processes best. This will make implementation & adoption more efficient.
181. Personalize Email Sequences
The proper mailing automation is not only about reaching more customers in less time, but also about optimizing it according to the recipients’ preferences.
In short, your customers are in different stages of a sales funnel. Creating separated mailing sequences will result in delivering more accurate messages. Moreover, many mailing automation tools have a smart-send option. Your emails will be delivered to the recipients in the best possible time, based on their activity on the internet.
Natalia Brzezinska of PhotoAiD
182. Ditch Those Cold Calls
The days of obtaining and managing leads via cold calls and sticky notes are long gone. To remain competitive in the digital world, you may leverage cloud-based tools such as Salesforce to assist you in generating leads - and nurturing them when you do. This makes lead management and conversion way easier than you can ever imagine with manual work.
183. Eliminate Back & Forth Emails
Fortunately, there are automated appointment scheduling tools for sales teams. They allow you to schedule meetings while eliminating tedious back and forth emails. For example, Calendly lets you set availability rules for scheduling appointments and you’re given a link to share with anyone. They choose the channel, such as a phone call, video conference, or in-person meeting. Then, the time and location are automatically added to both of your calendars.
184. AutoBill to Get Paid Faster
Automated billing helps you save on expensive labor costs and gets your receivables faster. It’s easy for SMBs with a limited team to fall behind on billing - without bills, you’ll never get paid. Use auto-billing to generate and send invoices, especially regular and recurring bills. You can even directly charge your customers within the system using their on-file payment information. Auto-billing reduces user error and provides convenience for your small business and customers alike.
185. Social Media Posting
For social media, use a posting automation program such as Buffer or Hootsuite. Plug your pre-planned posts into these scheduling platforms in order to have them go live on whichever particular days and times you designate to them. This will save much time otherwise needed to manually upload these posts and ensure that all details such as tagging, mentioning, and video thumbnails are correct.
Drew Sherman of RPM
186. Automation is the Key
We know that the thought of automation can be tantalizing. It promises to save you time, money, and headaches while freeing up your time to focus on the things that matter most. But it can also be overwhelming when you're in a small business that doesn't have a tech department that will guide you through the process.
And if you're just starting out with automation, it's tempting to try to automate every aspect of your business. You might want to get an automated phone call from now on.
187. Know the Process
If you don’t know how to do a task manually, you won’t be able to automate it properly. So before automation, you should learn every single step of the procedure and document all the processes step by step. By doing so, you’ll be able to see where problems are. It will be easier to create and automate the workflow and then take the necessary steps to optimize and improve it.
188. Calculate the ROI
Don’t automate for the sake of automation. Think about what your business will gain by automating a particular process. Compare the time and cost of creating your automation versus the time and cost of savings to be made. You’ll have to invest in this process so you should make sure that it’s an investment worth spending. Calculating the ROI will help you prioritize automations you want to implement.
189. Start Slow and Build Strong
The most important thing you can do is start out slow and build with consistency. Excitement can overwhelm a business as it begins to scale up. Moving towards greater automation in your workflow is a really energizing experience, but in order to actually make a positive impact on your ROI, you need to ensure that automation is well optimized to your business and workflow. Starting off slow allows you to expand with confidence, and eliminates the chances of running into major issues down the line.
190. Dynamic Content to Engage
Businesses can develop dynamic content with the help of specialized automation software. Customers are engaged when content is dynamic because it displays products depending on their browsing habits and purchasing patterns. It's important because if you show irrelevant things that customers don't want, they'll just abandon your eCommerce site and go shopping somewhere else.
191. Segmentation of Leads
Businesses can send personalized emails to different segments of subscribers using automation software. Businesses can automate this process to ensure that the correct email is sent to the appropriate subscriber list if an email message is addressed to subscriber class A and a separate email is created to be sent to subscriber class B.
192. Incorporating AI
Artificial Intelligence is rapidly entering every part of life, and businesses can benefit from this burgeoning technology. AI is what keeps firms on the cutting edge by automating operations that would otherwise be redundant and time-consuming. Machine Learning, Object Character Recognition, Natural Language Processing, and Robotic Process Automation can be used to improve services and realign products to meet the changing needs of the modern world.
Joanne King of ICMP
193. Business Integration
When it comes to using technology to automate your organization, one of the most important questions to examine is how this technology will interact with my existing apps and processes. This question is particularly effective at distinguishing between bad and good solutions and setting the tone for subsequent discussions. Technology must interact with existing systems unless your goal is to completely replace your entire business technology suite and retrain your staff.
194. Highlight FAQs
It's an old-school way of getting information out there to potential clients, but it works! The placement of your FAQs MATTERS!
I place my FAQs within the description of each product, on my contact page, AND on an automated email when a client sends a form.
Placing these common questions at the start of the interaction with the client and your product is a huge time-saver. This information will deter a potential client (saving you time) or give you a very motivated client.
195. Let's Begin with Your Customer
Begin with Your Clients
Customers now have more options than ever. Prioritize them as your top priority. Automation can help better serve customers.
The majority of customers contact your company by email, phone, or social media. Your website should be device-friendly. Internal client data should be prominently shown. Order information, appointment availability, etc. Your goal is to avoid adding new manual steps. It must be linked to other programs.
196. Build an Automation Culture
Humans aren't usually sympathetic to machines. Many employees are concerned that if businesses begin to automate, they may lose their jobs. In reality, while automation may eliminate some jobs, it will also generate new ones. It fosters an overall culture of increased productivity and higher-paying jobs. When explaining to employees why they should value automation, emphasize how the technology will benefit them. In-house automation will be a snap as long as you can get your employees on board.
197. Send an Immediate Response
Send an immediate response from contact forms.
Users expect a quick response when they fill out a contact form on a company's website. If they don't hear anything, it may appear that the communication has been lost in the ether. Even if you do respond, the chances of converting the lead have already decreased irreversibly. Sending a thank-you message that tells the user that someone from your team will contact them soon is a simple option.
198. Hire Automation Experts
You and your current employees will reach a point where the automation process is too much for you. You'll need to hire outside automation experts to examine each of your business processes and come up with strategies to improve efficiency. These outside experts bring experience that can help your staff understand the big picture and assist your leadership initiatives. Even if it means adding to your team from the outside, a massive organizational transformation like this necessitates profession.
199. Incorporate New Leads into CRM
Incorporate new leads into your CRM.
If you get a lot of leads, you'll spend a lot of time entering them into your CRM and updating their information as they progress down the funnel. A marketing automation system can generate leads for you and categorize them based on their actions and other behaviors. The software will also keep track of all of your interactions with leads, allowing you to track their progress toward being sales-ready.
200. Automate Your Emails
Email marketing was a 7.5 billion dollar revenue in 2020 and it’s expected to grow to 10 billion by 2023. Email marketing is a great way to connect with your customers, but it can be an absolute nightmare if not done correctly. Automating your emails is going to help small businesses in 2022 with better-personalized experiences, maximizing team efforts, improving customer retention with faster responses, and allowing small businesses to scale up faster.
201. FOCUS ON YOUR SYSTEMS
The way to improve automation is to create systems that are robust and reliable. Find a robust CRM system where you can integrate and automate most of your processes. Also, don't forget to hire the right people for your team. When you put the right people on your team, you are able to save time and worry less about whether tasks are being done correctly. You are able to focus on the core of your business, which greatly improves your business productivity and efficiency.
202. Trigger Happy
We use event-based trigger emails that automatically send out reminders based on our customer's buying history or their interests in our products online. We include a refer a friend message, as well as discounts in these emails and that has helped our conversion funnels. This saves us a lot of time and manual work for our small team.