Automate your business: ways to save time...and be more profitable
Running a business is hard work: when you're not actually providing services or fulfilling orders, you're getting bogged down in marketing or admin tasks.
Automating many of these aspects of your business is more straightforward than you might think however, and can free up a lot of your time — meaning you can either concentrate on growing your business or spending some time with your kids (you pick).
So, in this post I look at a few ways that you can automate aspects of what you do in a way that saves time and potentially generates more leads and, ultimately, profit.
1. Use online advertising
Using online advertising isn’t the cheapest way to automate your marketing – but it can, when done well, be very cost-effective in driving traffic to your site while you are busy doing something else.
If you have some budget to put into Facebook, Twitter or Google ads, then it’s definitely worth experimenting with these platforms to get more visitors to your site or social media profiles.
Importantly, you should tie some sort of lead generation initiative with this — i.e., try to capture email addresses as part of your ad campaigns. This allows you to create and build relationships with site visitors (and automatically, using autoresponders, as we’ll discuss in a moment).
2. Use autoresponders
Everybody who signs up your mailing list can therefore automatically receive encouragements to follow you on social media; buy your products; attend an event and so on without you having to worry about scheduling e-newsletters in automatically.
Autoresponders have in recent years become increasingly sophisticated — you can create sequences of automated messages based on very specific pieces of user behaviour — for example purchases, email opens, clicks, web page visits and more.
3. Use an RSS feed to disseminate content automatically
Most modern websites contain a blog with an RSS feed.
This RSS feed can be used to power all sort of stuff automatically – if you set things up correctly, your RSS feed can:
convert your blog post into an e-newsletter which goes out to your mailing list every time you add a new entry
share your new posts on Twitter, Facebook and other social media feeds
allow others to display links to your articles on their websites which are automatically updated every time you post new content
‘ping’ news services and blog directories with new content
display your new posts to anyone using an RSS reader.
All this helps anything you publish on your website's blog travel further — without you having to lift a finger.
4. Take advantage of search algorithms
Algorithms are constantly trawling the web, sifting through sites and picking the best ones to place at the top of search results. Setting up your website in a way that gives it the best chance of being automatically discovered by one of these algorithms means that you may end up on the receiving end of a lot of web traffic without much effort.
Doing this successfully basically boils down to employing search engine optimization techniques — for some simple information on how to optimise your site correctly for search engines, you can read our SEO tips here.
5. Split test your content
You can use split testing (“A/B tests”) to automatically test what content works best for your business.
Whether you want to find out which version of a web page works best, what subject header for an email generates the most opens, or what kind of landing page generates the most leads, A/B tests can automatically ask the question and give you the answers.
A/B testing tools work by
Showing two different versions of a web page or email to a sample of your visitors / subscribers
Evaluating which generates the most engagement (be that in terms of how long people stay on a website or how many people open an email)
Automatically rolling out the best performing version of your content to the majority of your web visitors or subscribers.
Most email marketing tools allow you to split test out of the box; for running A/B tests on websites, check out Unbounce or Instapage.
6. Use cloud accounting tools to automate invoicing and bank reconciliation
Bookkeeping and accounting often constitute the most time-consuming aspects of running a business. Thankfully, by using a cloud-based accounting tool such as Xero or Quickbooks Online, you can automate some of the key aspects of managing your business finances — for example invoicing, credit control and bank reconciliation.
7. Use Hootsuite to post social media content automatically
If you know that you’re going to be too busy to post on social media during a certain period, you can use tools like Hootsuite to schedule posts in advance – on multiple networks –so that the posts still magically appear even whilst you’re doing something else.
Not convinced yet?
Not convinced by the power of automation yet? Well, you’re probably reading this post because one of three things happened:
A search engine or social media algorithm automatically decided that you should.
Our e-newsletter system automatically sent you an email about it.
Our RSS feed and an automated tweet sent news of the article’s existence to the Twittersphere.