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3 Areas Where Every Small Business Should Automate

We all know that technology and the internet have “leveled the playing field” in a variety of ways, and perhaps one of the most powerful of these is access to automation.

It wasn’t that long ago when only the big players could truly automate business processes. Today, everyone from the wannabe entrepreneur launching a new side hustle to the owners and managers of small and medium-sized businesses can strategically automate important areas of their operations.

Discover how many of these automation opportunities can be a good fit for your operation.

Marketing

Marketing is a broad category and the one with the most choices. As much as I love apps like Hootsuite and Buffer, they don’t really automate social media marketing. Granted, they make it much easier and give you greater control, but when we’re talking automation, we need to focus on tools, apps, and services that allow you to essentially “walk away” from them once they’re up and running.

Social Juke Box: Do you know how pop radio stations are automated? They schedule a playlist for days and times, and then, like your favorite shampoo, rinse and repeat. (Okay, they don’t rinse.) This is what Social Juke Box does. You set up social media posts once — or grab a free group of topical posts — and create a schedule, and then hit “play.” They loop until you stop them, or hit the end date you’ve programmed in.

Paper.li: Create a daily “newspaper” on the topic of your choice. This is social media based and very useful if you’re looking to build your following. When Paper.li creates a newspaper for you from curated social media content, it credits various original posters, and often they will, in turn, follow you.

Operations

As much as we live in the Internet Age, we still need to accomplish real things in the real world, and automation in your business’s operations can pay off handsomely.

Warehouse automation: Many of us have probably marveled when Amazon has hyped different aspects of its warehouse automation. However, you don’t have to be a player of that size to get onboard. In its company blog, Cleveroad looks at the movement of goods and the decision-making process when it outlines different levels of warehouse automation — low automation, system automation, mechanized automation, and sophisticated automation — and gives a great overview of various systems. Although adopting warehouse automation isn’t as simple as downloading a landing page from your favorite SaaS, it’s a must if you want to stay efficient going forward.

Employee scheduling: If there’s one universally thankless task in business, it’s creating employee schedules. Fortunately there are apps for that, even a free one (When I Work) if you have 75 or fewer users. Different businesses have different scheduling needs, so you might want to find out what others are using in your industry and see how they like their systems.

Call centers: If you have teams working to create prospects over the phone, a predictive dialer can boost efficiency. CallTools offers one such service. It eliminates the time your reps would waste dealing with calls that don’t go through to a live person on the other end.

Sales

Whether your sales are fully web-based or you have reps working the phones and making personal calls, there are great automation tools for you.

Keap: This was formerly Infusionsoft, the granddaddy of fully featured internet sales and marketing software. While virtually every email service offers excellent autoresponders, Keap/Infusionsoft gives you more ways to guide the buyer’s journey, tag prospects, follow their progress, create branches in your campaigns, etc. With its morph into Keap, it now offers fully featured customer-relationship management software as well.

CRM: If you don’t need an internet sales funnel creator that’s fully automated with all the bells and whistles, PipedriveZohoSalesforce, and more are available. And, I’ll take this moment to recommend Capterra to help you get the full picture of what’s available — and with a decent amount of user reviews — no matter what kind of software as a service (SaaS) you’re looking for.

Sales funnels: On the other hand, if your needs lean more toward creating online sales funnels, check out apps like ClickFunnelsLeadpages, and Builderall. Also, find out what you can accomplish with the autoresponders offered by your email service provider.

Facebook messenger bots: You have a Facebook business page, right? If you do, you’ve probably noticed the chat box at the bottom of the page. With services like ManyChat and Chatfuel, you can create a “bot” for Facebook messenger. Think of these as a string of email autoresponders. In a similar way, you can create chat bots for your website.

My hope with this overview is to get you thinking about areas where you can apply automation to boost results and/or decrease costs. It’s certainly not a comprehensive look at what’s possible, but if you aren’t working to increasingly leverage automation, you can be sure that some of your competitors are.

This article was written by Megan Totka from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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