GUEST POST: The very clever, stupendously organised and all-round tech smarty-pants Cassie Way from Virtually Cass, who specialised in all things email marketing management + automation and social media management, has generously shared the top 5 automation strategies she uses to help her small-biz clients stay on top of ALL of the things.
Automation. It sounds so robotic, and, well, boring. And that’s so not what you started your business for! You want to stay personal and show that loving touch to all your adoring fans clients. Right? Wellll....
Look at it this way. By automating certain aspects of your business, the more time you have to connect and engage with said clients.
So stick with me, and I’ll share some tips on automating certain aspects of your business, to let you get back to the things you enjoy most.
If you’re serious about this whole business thing that you’re doing, you need to start adulting and get yourself an accounting system in place. Gone are the days of spreadsheets, and with so many smart accounting platforms out there now, you’d be crazy not to!
These tools can help you automate so many things, from paying bills on time - both within your business and personal life - sending out regular invoices, keeping track of your spending, tax reports, payroll management, the list goes on.
● Zoho Books: If you have a product based business, this accounting tool helps keep track of inventory.
● Wave is handy for small business owners, featuring bank reconciliation, allowing you to link bank accounts, PayPal accounts and other sources of data for real-time transaction records. Their invoices are sent by email and allow payment via credit card.
● Freshbooks is a popular tool for freelancers, allowing you to track time, track expenses and brand your invoices all in one place.
2) Task Management
Whether you are a solopreneur or working within a team, a task management tool is essential, to keep track of that overflowing to-do list, to allow task allocation within projects, create automated workflows, and simply make communication much simpler!
● Both Trello and Asana are free tools on a basic plan and are very intuitive. Create lists and workflows, for yourself or within your team. You can invite team members and create team boards for members to use and contribute to, allowing for seamless project management.
3) Email Marketing
If you’re building an email list, you’re first going to want to automate your welcome/nurture series, a series of emails that will trigger as soon as someone enters your email list.
Depending on your type of content, you can really personalise these series' by segmenting subscribers into lists, depending on where they opted in, and what information you ask for on the opt-in.
Another way to save yourself time if you are answering customer enquiries is to create canned emails, for those questions that come up time and again! Write it up just that once in detail and save it.
A CRM system (translation: customer relationship management) can save you loads of time - however, your business size and needs is going to determine which CRM is best for you. Do your research and think about what aspects of your client/customer experience you want to highlight, and keep track of.
● Insightly is a free tool ideal for the solo boss, or for a small-to-medium team. It is user-friendly and integrates with Google Calendar, Gmail and Docs, MailChimp, Evernote, Dropbox, QuickBooks Online, Xero, and more.
● Hubspot CRM (also free) is a robust CRM system and is an ideal solution for businesses that are looking to expand in the future. It caters to companies of all sizes track and nurture leads and analyze business metrics. HubSpot offers a real-time view of your entire funnel. It allows you to track customer interactions automatically through email, social media or phone calls and every interaction is stored in a timeline organized by lead.
Social media can be a massive time drain, especially if you are aiming to have a presence on multiple platforms. And if you’re in business, the hard truth is, whether you like it or not, you NEED to be on social media in some way. It is by far the cheapest, easiest way to get your business out there in front of people, build a community and advertise.
Depending on what platforms you use, there are various scheduling tools to use.
● Buffer or SmarterQueue cover most of your bases, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus. However, as they are quite generalised, other apps more specifically designed for platforms may be better suited to you.
● Tailwind is also a great tool for those who use Pinterest, with multiboard pinning and its SmartLoop feature.
I know you’ve got a million things on your plate, so make life a little easier for yourself, and implement a few of these. You could save yourself hours (yes, hours!) Let’s just imagine all the things you could do with those free hours...
Written by Cassandra Way