You’ve built your shop from the ground up, making new products you think people need or want, and satisfying an ever-growing niche market. Everything is going great, and you just keep getting busier and busier.
But then, you start to get overwhelmed. It becomes harder to find time to fill orders, manage your website, coordinate with suppliers, and manage your marketing. Things start to slip through the cracks and you only have a few options left: You can either hire more help or find ways to automate different tasks. Here are some aspects in your marketing that you can automate to free up some of your time.
Managing Your Social Media
Social media automation is one of the simplest and most helpful tools you can utilize. It allows you to schedule out posts as far in advance as you want and notify you of any important comments, responses, or messages you receive.
One of the major benefits to automating your social media is being able to post and interact without getting distracted by being on social media. You can plan a week, or a month, of posts in advance, and then get on with your work. If something pops up that you need to address immediately, you can interrupt your current schedule of posting or delay a post to insert something.
This is especially helpful if your business utilizes social media very actively, like posting to Twitter multiple times a day. That way, you can manage and grow a community online without having to spend every second glued to your accounts. Many automation software for social media even have ways to set up alerts for specific words, terms, or topics so you can keep an eye on what’s going on without constantly being on social media.
Email Automation and Your Marketing Funnels
For most eCommerce sites, email is an essential part of life. You send purchase confirmation emails to customers, handle customer support through it, and answer questions about your products for potential leads. It’s also a helpful sales tool that allows for a lot of the work to be automated.
Email automation helps you manage leads into different funnels so they don’t become annoyed with offers that aren’t relevant to them. For example, if somebody purchased a specific product and joined your email list, email automation would help prevent you from sending them emails marketing the product they just bought. All you do in that scenario is annoy the customer.
The key to pulling off email automation is segmenting lists properly and personalizing your emails to consumers in each list. Some examples of lists are customers who have made a purchase, leads who have made an account and placed an item in a cart but didn’t buy, and people who have made accounts but have done little else. All of these groups of people are at different parts of the buyer’s journey and require their own approach.
In the next step in email automation, you need to create emails to accompany each of these lists and set them up. As people make progress or new developments occur, they can enter different lists designed to match up with their new needs. That way, everybody doesn’t receive the same mass emails, and you can keep unsubscription and “flagged for spam” numbers down.
Over time, you can even fine-tune your emails so they perform better. You can find tactics to increase open rates, get more sales, decrease unsubscribe rates, and start actual conversations with customers.
Large Quantities of Product Pages
Some eCommerce sites survive by selling a few key products, but many have a plethora of items. The more items you have, the more opportunities there are to make a sale. Especially if you sell other people’s products on your site and operate as a third party seller, you might offer a ton of products.
A way to help cut down on the time is to set up a way to automate your product pages. A great way to do this is by creating a template for the page that only requires you to enter photos and product descriptions.
Improving Your Automation
Automation saves time, but it does lead to a new host of tasks to do. Instead of spending time crafting individual emails or keeping track of social media, you have to do the work to set up the automation, and then from time to time, identify ways to improve it.
This is when your site’s data becomes valuable. The future of business relies on data, and automation is a part of that. For the short term, you can use data to make tweaks to your processes, the content that goes into the automation, and find new tasks that can be automated. Looking to the future, technology like chatbots and IoT devices could help automate entire tasks that now require human input.
Your biggest source of data will be your site. Make sure that for every process you automate, you have analytics that you can measure. For emails, that could be how many opened messages you have or how many people put it into a spam folder. Social media can mak sure you maintain a certain amount of reach or measure how many people liked or interacted with your posts. Use this data as an alarm in case something goes wrong, but also as a way to measure experiments.
Automating Other Processes
Marketing isn’t the only operation of your business that can be automated. It’s possible to automate how you process credit cards, pay your recurring bills, or go through your email to separate the important messages from the spam. Find simple tasks Like these that take up large amounts of time and find ways to automate them instead.
When Automation Isn’t The Answer
Automation is helpful for freeing up time, but sometimes a personal touch is needed. In the world of marketing, “automation” has become often associated with instant success, and that isn’t the case. Certain tasks require a person being involved.
If you see performance on a marketing tactic go down after implementing an automation tool, take time to seriously consider it. Ask questions like “Am I doing this automation wrong or is it just not working?” If needed, cut an automation tool loose until you feel you can utilize it better.
Finally, if something requires one-on-one communication, don’t automate it. Don’t automate your customer support to the point that it’s impossible to talk to a human being. If a person emails with a question, maybe include a single part of automation saying you received the email, but let a human being email back. Over-automating a business is a dangerous path. It could make your customer service seem robotic, and people don’t really like doing business with robots.
Automation does have a place in marketing, and utilizing it can help eCommerce businesses free up time while still having effective marketing. The key is simply knowing what things to automate, what tools to use, and how to set it up for success.
About the Author
Ben Allen is a content creator and digital marketer who is passionate about helping small businesses succeed. When he isn’t working, he writes about education, social issues, and video games. Read more of his thoughts by following him on Twitter