You’ve probably seen the social media posts and YouTube videos: jet-setting digital entrepreneurs who travel the world on passive income. These online business owners claim that their business is on autopilot, making the income they need to visit a new country every week, while they’re lounging on the beach with a cocktail.
Although these may be extreme examples, it is undoubtedly true that many processes can be automated or at least streamlined, particularly in an online business.
Doing so will take various tasks off your to-do list, freeing you up to focus on other things. Whether you choose to spend this time on other aspects of your business or relaxing on the beach, is up to you!
1. Automate Your Email Marketing
Email marketing is a valuable tool for many kinds of businesses. It helps to build strong customer relationships, it can drive new leads, and it will encourage repeat business. However, to be effective, email marketing needs to be consistent.
Sporadically shooting emails out when you have time isn’t going to have an impact. Luckily, this process can be automated by creating and scheduling email campaigns in advance in a tool like MailChimp.
2. Use a Scheduling Tool for Social Media
Social media is incredibly important for promoting your business and attracting new customers, but it can also be time-consuming.
You can, however, largely automate this process by using a social media scheduling tool like Hootsuite or CoSchedule. These platforms allow you to draft and schedule your posts months in advance, and you can usually copy posts across multiple platforms, making things even more efficient.
Many of these tools also have excellent analysis and reports functions, helping you to lift your social media game at the same time.
3. Outsource Your Accounting
Outsourcing is perhaps the ultimate way to automate any process because it removes it completely off your plate. If you are looking to outsource parts of your business, accounting is an excellent place to start.
This is a critically important area of your business and something that can have extreme consequences if you fall behind or make a mistake. It is also a specialized field that you may not have the skills to do yourself.
Outsourcing your accounting will mean that not only is this a whole section of your business you don’t need to worry about, but you can rest easy knowing this critical function is being taken care off by an expert.
4. Use a Website Builder
In order for your website to be effective, you need to make sure it stays current and up to date. Website builders are incredibly useful for not just creating your website, but for automating processes once the website is built, making sure you improve your website’s performance.
Continually updating and changing your site can be time-consuming, especially if it involves coding.
However, if you build your site on a simple platform like Wix or Weebly, updating it periodically is quick and easy. You can minimize the need to do this by limiting the information on your site to generally fixed information, and avoiding posting news or coming events directly to your website, as these will need to be constantly updated. Instead, think about having a social media feed on the front page of your site which is automatically updated.
5. Run Automated Survey Responses
Surveys are great ways to build customer engagement and loyalty: people love telling you what they think, and by asking your customers for feedback you are showing them that you value their opinions.
However, they are most effective if you don’t just send out surveys for customers to complete, but reply to the responses too. Additionally, you don’t want this to be an empty process: your customers will likely have great suggestions you should take on board!
Luckily, the development of AI technology means that you can now use AI bots to not only reply to survey respondents but even distribute their suggestions to your team so they can be actioned.
6. Integrate Your Apps
Like many online business owners, you’re probably using a wide range of tools and apps, from mail and calendar apps to project management and time tracking platforms.
Although these tools are designed to make things more efficient, working with so many can become cumbersome and inefficient. Streamline your tools by using an app like Zapier to coordinate them, meaning that when you enter data into one, it is populated into the others.
7. Automate Customer Reminders
The wealth of tools and technology available today means we can now automate many processes which were once entirely manual.
One of these areas is customer service: you can set up your systems so that customers receive automatic messages and emails, for example when they sign up for a service, or when they have not bought a new product for a while.
This, of course, will not completely replace the need for personal interaction with your customers, but it will streamline a lot of processes, and probably increase overall engagement.
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