But there’s a fine line between working smart and going overboard with task automation that you don’t want to cross. Here are the do’s and don’ts of task automation to live by in your business:
Marketing Campaigns and Follow-Up
For any email marketing campaign, some types of projects lend themselves to automation while others do not. Content writing, determining your customer segments and deciding timing between messages are all things you’ll want to do manually. Actually posting that content, assigning customers to segments and sending your messages can (and should) be automated.
With marketing automation systems such as ONTRAPORT, you can run your full email marketing campaign by setting up automated Sequences with custom messages and pre-designed templates, and set them to fire to customers based on those customers’ actions. For example, you can create a Landing Page about your offer and include a form to capture leads’ names and email addresses in exchange for you providing a free piece of content, such as an ebook. Those leads’ information will automatically go into your CRM and the leads will be placed on a follow-up email Sequence to receive messages related to whatever the Landing Page offer was about. This helps you build relationships with your leads and continue to provide them with valuable information so they trust you and gain more interest in your products. You can also use Sequences to automatically follow up with leads and customers after they purchase a product or abandon their full shopping cart.
The best part is, once you’ve got your segmented messaging and Sequences set up, it’s all automated.
Sales Force Automation
Manually identifying your most engaged prospects is a long and cumbersome process. Lead scoring is one system that’s better when automated. You can set up what constitutes a hot lead for your business and let your automation system evaluate and update your contacts based on those factors. The factors can be explicit information, which is information leads provide to you by filling out a form, and/or behavioral information, which is information based on their clicks on your site and ads. Ultimately, lead scoring allows you to focus on the leads who are most likely to buy and keep your sales reps from wasting wasting time on those who aren’t.
Once your leads are scored and you’ve decided which contacts your sales reps should reach out to, you can automate the lead routing process as well. Automated lead routing ensures the right sales reps are handling the most appropriate leads based on their skills or areas of expertise, and it manages their time more effectively.
Is your head spinning with dozens of important, non-automatable tasks such as sending handwritten thank you notes to customers or having your sales reps call hot leads? You can still automate the reminders for these tasks as well as the checks and balances that those tasks are completed. This ensures these tasks don’t slip through the cracks.
Experts recommend that businesses post at least five to 10 times a week on Facebook, five times a day on Twitter, once a day on Instagram and five times a day on Pinterest — and there are optimal posting times for each platform and demographic.
If you were posting upwards of 12 times on social media manually throughout the day, it’s safe to say you wouldn’t get much else done. Luckily, scheduling software like CoSchedule (what we use at ONTRAPORT) allows you to easily automate the process and plan your posts days or weeks in advance.
Here’s where people get carried away: Just because you’re automating the act of posting doesn’t mean you should automate what gets posted. Writing your own posts and curating them to fit with your brand’s strategy is extremely important.
You also want to remember that automating your posts is just the baseline. The posts you’re able to write and schedule in advance are the bare minimum of your social media presence. Always try to keep in mind why people use social media in the first place: They want to be engaged with. When someone asks a question or makes an effort to engage with you on your social media platforms, write them back. Even if it’s a simple “Thanks, John!” or “We appreciate your feedback, Sarah!” it fosters a relationship with customers and prospects. Liking, retweeting, sharing and following people back are also important for building a community around your brand on social media. These types of customer engagement can’t be automated in advance, but because they’re essential to your brand’s social media success, always carve out the time to show your customers you care.
Most marketing, sales, social media and other software tools automatically pull analytics for you. While these tools are convenient and provide lots of useful information, they don’t always analyze your data tailored to your business’s needs, so reviewing and assessing your analytics yourself is key to making decisions for your business.
Take Facebook’s “insights” tool for example. It provides you with how much you spent on boosting a post and how many engagements the post got, but it doesn’t automatically tell you the cost per engagement. Knowing that extra bit of information can help you decide if you’re going to continue boosting a certain type of posts or not, if the content could use some tweaking and much more, so it’s important to assess that information regularly on your own.
With marketing and sales software, you can easily customize all measurable stats in your account to get a top-down view of things such as how many products you’ve sold within the span of a month or how many contacts have clicked a link in your latest email over the last week. This information allows you to view what’s happening inside your business at-a-glance at any given time. It’s important to view these automatically generated analytics regularly so that you can determine improvements for your business — so this is a situation in which a mix of automated and non-automated tasks are necessary.
In any customer service-oriented part of your business, there’s a fine line between interactions that should be automated and ones that shouldn’t. Customers and prospects want to feel cared about, and the five-minute “press one for questions regarding X or press two for Y” set-up can leave them feeling frustrated (especially if there isn’t an option to speak with a representative at the end).
Automation is helpful for customer service in small doses. Ask yourself this question: What can we automate that will save our team time and add value to our customers and prospects? At ONTRAPORT, we use Zendesk to automatically filter support tickets to the most relevant recipients. Questions about payments go to our billing team’s queue, anything related to our campaigns or newsletters goes to marketing, and so on.
We even split tasks within the support team so that newer support reps are answering the more basic questions, while experienced reps automatically receive the more complicated needs. This saves our support team time and allows us to provide a higher level of customer support.