5 Things Every Small Business Should Automate in Sales and Marketing

5 Things Every Small Business Should Automate in Sales and Marketing

5 Things Every Small Business Should Automate in Sales and Marketing

Across all industries, automation has become a key to success: Nearly 80 percent of top-performing companies have used marketing automation for more than two years, according to the research firm Gleanster. But automation isn’t reserved for big corporations. Small and medium-sized companies, too, can incorporate automation in every aspect of business: from capturing leads to closing sales to serving customers to checking routine office tasks off the to-do list. When repetitive processes are automated, business owners like you can instead devote time to the goals that really matter—like growing the business. In this article, you’ll learn about 5 basic things every business should – and can! – automate and how automating processes is easier than you might think. Download the full list of 25 Things Every Small Business Should Automate below.

1. Respond immediately to an email contact request.

If the “contact us” email address listed on your website really means contact you, you’ll quickly be overwhelmed by the number of emails awaiting your reply. And responding days later isn’t an option. Waiting even 30 minutes to make contact decreases your odds of qualifying a lead by 21 times, as compared to calling within five minutes, according to the Lead Response Management Study. With automation software, you can respond immediately every time—without even having to think about it. Instead of taking requests via an email address, add a “contact us” form to your website. Automation platforms like Keap can give you the HTML code needed for your site. When a prospect completes the form by entering her name, email address and comments, the automation software issues an email reply right away. The response is a pre-written template, but it can sound like you just fired it off.

“Hi, [First Name]! Thank you for contacting us. I wanted to let you know that we received your note. Someone will be in touch shortly.”

Your potential customer will be glad that her “contact us” note didn’t disappear in an online black hole. Meanwhile, the software assigns you or a staff member to follow up with a phone call.

2. Follow up with new networking connections.

At a conference or other events, networking efforts can pay off in the form of a big stack of business cards. But merely collecting business cards isn’t the goal, of course. Start communicating with your new contacts immediately—before you both forget about the conversation you had (or before the business card falls victim to a tragic laundry error). Transfer contact information from the business card to your CRM tool, tagging each person as a conference or event contact. Then use automation software to schedule an email to be sent, whether you want to follow up an hour later or the next day. Writing even a brief “nice to meet you” email to each new contact can drain your time. Streamline the process by writing an email template that feels personal but could apply to any new contact from the event:

“Hello again, [First Name]! It was great chatting with you at the conference this week. If my services can be helpful to you, I’d love to continue the conversation.”

Want a shortcut? Download an app that scans business cards using your smartphone’s camera and uploads contact information to your records. Snap, a free app, adds a person’s name, contact information, address and company directly to Keap.

3. Welcome a new customer.

A sale isn’t the end of your relationship with a customer. In fact, it should be the beginning. Make a good first impression by sending a series of welcome emails to show new customers that you value their business and care about supporting them. Staying in touch is effortless with automation software. Set up your software so that a purchase triggers an email series. In the first email, sent immediately after a purchase, include a thank you and an introduction to your company—whether that takes the form of answers to frequently asked questions or an overview of what your services entail. Consider sending a thank you gift, like a discount on the customer’s next purchase. Check in again shortly after the customer has started using your product or services to see how she’s doing. Include helpful content, like tips about using the product or a how-to video, or suggest complementary products that may be of interest. A few days later, solicit feedback by sending a survey or asking how your company could improve. If the customer is dissatisfied, you’ll want to take action sooner than later. Welcome emails have benefits beyond the warm and fuzzy kind. According to a study by Experian Marketing Services, welcome emails have an open rate of nearly 58 percent—compared with less than 15 percent for other promotional emails. Now more than ever, you have your customer’s attention.

4. Send appointment reminders.

In our overscheduled world, customers need reminders about appointments—and reminders of reminders, too. Forgotten appointments translate to wasted time and money for your business, but you and your staff members can’t afford to spend hours playing each customer’s personal assistant. While you’re responsible for booking appointments, software can handle things from there. With automation software, customers can receive appointment reminders via email after you or a staff member completes a web form containing the customer’s name, email address and appointment date and time. The form prompts a sequence of emails: an appointment confirmation, followed by reminders in the days or hours prior to the appointment. Along the way, a customer can ask to change or cancel an appointment by clicking a link within the email. That action alerts a staff member to follow up with the customer to reschedule. Still, the task of comparing calendars and manually scheduling appointments can consume hours of your day. To take automation a step further, consider integrating your automation software with an app like AppointmentCore, which syncs with Keap and Google Calendar. Using your business calendar, the app allows customers to view available times and book a slot—making the appointment process completely automated.

5. Remember every customer’s birthday.

With automation software, remembering birthdays is a piece of cake. But before you can send a birthday message, you need dates. Collect birthdays by sending an automated email asking, “Can I get your birthday on file so we can celebrate with you?” A link takes the customer to a web form. She enters her birthday, which the software adds to your contact records. Then set up an automated sequence to send a birthday email on the big day (or perhaps a few days in advance if you’re including a time-sensitive offer). Use an email template with a bit of personalization:

“Happy birthday, [First Name]!”

Whether you’re sending a coupon or simply wishes for a good year ahead, your customer will be touched that you remembered.

Looking for more basic automation ideas?

In our free ebook you find the 25 things that every business should automate. The 5 examples you see here can probably be seen as the most common or most basic ones, but the author Amy Saunders has curated a much more comprehensive list for you in this ebook. Download it now.

Send me the complete ebook with all 25 things to automate​

Send me the complete ebook with all 25 things to automate​

About the Author Amy Saunders is a content creator at Keap, where she helps small business owners learn about automation. Writing about business brings Amy’s work full circle: She began her career as a business reporter at The Columbus Dispatch in Ohio before becoming a features writer. After more than six years there, she moved to Phoenix, where she was an editor at a content marketing agency before joining Keap. As a lifelong Midwesterner, Amy promises to never take Arizona weather for granted and spends her free time riding horses, playing tennis and hiking in the sun.

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