If you're running your own business, you might have heard about the wonders of automation. It can be a real asset to your business, but only if applied with care. Use these tips to extract the best results from using automation tools in your business, without the pitfalls of overuse.
1. Competition is fierce.
Automated systems are accelerators. Similar to hiring a new employee, a computerised system increases the work completed in a short time. Some systems can do the jobs of entire departments of people, but it's usually a little bit different than that. People are empowered and accelerated by automation, and they can do much more with it than without.
Many companies are using automation to allow them to work with faster, smarter, and leaner teams. For example, we use HubSpot to automate a lot of our menial sales and marketing activities.
If your profit margins are low, competitive companies will find ways to increase margins or lower prices with automation, which may leave your company no choice but to do the same. Best to start while you're ahead.
2. Attract at scale, engage one-on-one.
Automation allows you to send emails, marketing posts, and updates in a realistic way, targeting the best time of day, based on large datasets. Although it may be ok to send emails that are composed of a robot for a first touch, people can always tell when they are talking to a computer in real-time.
Use chatbots to solve challenging customer service problems, like assessing eligibility for a program from thousands of applicants, completing surveys, or gathering information from every customer. Please don't use them to respond to social media.
People are storytellers. The stories that they tell about their products are the ones that sell them to friends, families, and coworkers. You don't want your story to be about a chatbot. Make it about the personal connection they saw when the CEO responded to someone's questions on Twitter, engaging one-on-one with a customer. When those engagements are available for all customers to see, it creates much more positive marketing buzz than hundreds or thousands of auto-emails.
3. Don't allow your risk to manage you.
Get ahead of risk management. In the case of negative PR, one of your best friends is automation. Many people will be posting about your company, but you need to be cautious about how you respond. A/B analysis, performance analytics, and real-time response can be the critical tools you need to bring your company back to good standing.
Use document management software like Hootsuite to track your old conversations, media, and assets. Hard-earned contracts can be audited easily with electronic signature solutions, while Hootsuite can automatically detect when you can re-use old copy to create all-new, refreshed stories about your product.
4. Big Data is ready for you.
Accessible big data may seem like an enterprise tool, but small and medium businesses are using it more and more. With tools like Hootsuite and Buzzsumo, you can track information in real-time about the market factors that matter to you. Social media topics that are relevant at this moment are critical to engagement.
If you post repeatedly, or with irrelevant content, the market will begin to tune you out, no matter how exciting your product is. With tools like IFTTT, you can post prepared content, exactly when the buzz peaks for the topic. Reach up to 30% more people with the same posts, just by posting at the right time.
5. Some of your story doesn't click.
For reasons even the best AI can't explain, perfectly good stories sometimes fall flat. Don't keep telling them.
Use automated SMM and email marketing with A/B analysis to cut low performing copy. You can use apps like Agorapulse to judge the performance of your content and reduce spending on content that is underperforming.
Mention can help you quantify your impact. Every time your company gets mentioned on social media, you will know about it. Analyse trends with seasons, events, or marketing campaigns.
6. Design with AI
Use apps like Squarespace and Creativity 365 to help you design your content. With suggested blocks and syndication across multiple sites, you can quickly get started with automating your business. MailChimp and Google Adwords have partnered with Squarespace, so you have tools set up for you right from the beginning. You can focus on telling your company's story, not on inventing the book.
7. All at once, or sparingly, just not - not at all.
Automation should be used aggressively at times, and sparingly at times, just like the accelerator in your car. It's a force to be used to help you move forward faster.
Use it a little, and you can stay ahead of the competition. Too much, and you may find yourself lost, without anyone to tell about your great product. Apply with care, and your business will continue to thrive, inspiring others to raise the bar together.