When you ask most writers about marketing automation, it tends to elicit one of these three responses:
- It’s too expensive.
- It’s time and labor intensive to get it to do what I want.
- I don’t want to sound like a robot.
Well, I’m here to tell you, that’s simply not the case.
Yes, there are marketing automation tools aimed at enterprise companies which are notoriously expensive.
But these days, there are so many inexpensive automation tools out there which small businesses and freelancers can take advantage of.
As for being robotic and overly complex, that’s a sign of trying to use tools to create a process.
A far better approach is to create a process first, and then leverage those tools to make it more efficient.
In this article, I’ll show you three examples of how you can leverage automation processes to get more done.
How Do You Spend Your Time?
The reality is most of us waste hours every day doing repetitive or administrative tasks that we shouldn’t be doing.
By using a tool like Rescuetime, you can track how much time you’re spending on your computer and where that time is spent.
Try letting it run in the background for about a week while you work. At the end of the week, it can show you how you’ve spent your time.
With these results, you can adjust your daily habits to increase productivity and efficiency.
And once you know exactly what you are spending time on, you can get smarter about automating and delegating those tasks you don’t have time for.
These will probably fall into three categories:
- Tasks you absolutely must do (i.e., requires managing relationships or identifies as a big win).
- Those tasks which you can delegate to others (i.e., team members, freelancers, interns, volunteers in your community, virtual assistants, etc.).
- Tasks that you can automate via tools like Zapier, which I’ll explain in a moment.
Now, it’s time to write and update SOPs for any repeatable processes you do.
The goal is to either train someone else to take this task off your plate or find a tool that can automate the work.
This can free up a surprisingly large amount of time for you to focus on the big wins.
Use Apps to Automate Processes
I’ve been using Zapier for years, and I’m convinced it is the duct tape of the internet. Meaning, it puts the internet to work for you by creating “zaps” to do certain tasks.
Zapier is great for automating all those little tasks that eat up 10 minutes here, 15 minutes there, and can add up over time.
Here are a few basic examples of how you can use this tool:
- Automatically send a Slack notification anytime someone subscribes to your newsletter.
- Send a Slack notification whenever you receive a PayPal or Stripe order.
- Automatically create a support ticket in Help Scout when someone fills out the contact form on your website.
- Automatically save your Facebook and Instagram posts in a Dropbox folder.
Use Automation for Email Efficiency
If you are like me, you could probably spend 75 percent of your day just sending and replying to emails.
And unless your entire job consists of replying to emails, that doesn’t leave a lot of time for getting actual work done.
Here are examples of several tools that can help you better manage and respond to emails:
Yet Another Mail Merge (YAMM) works great if you find yourself sending the same email or a variant of the same email over and over again.
I was hesitant to use mail merge tags because they seemed intimidating to someone like me who doesn’t know how to code websites.
But YAMM makes this process easy.
First, you write an email template incorporating placeholder tags.
Next, you queue up your emails and personal attributes in a Google spreadsheet.
Then, YAMM will send it for you.
This allows you to send 50 personalized emails (or however many you have) in one click as opposed to having to copy and paste the same email 50 times or use a non-personalized approach like “BCCing” everyone.
Boomerang is another useful tool for responding to emails. This tool allows you to set your email to send at a certain time and date. You can set reminders to help you in remembering to follow up with people.
FollowUp.cc is a similar tool which allows users to set task reminders to help keep them on track.
Or you could just set up canned responses in Gmail. If you find yourself repeating the same few lines over and over in an email, you can save it as a canned response in Google Apps or Gmail. Another tool that also performs this function is TextExpander.
Choose the Right Tools for Marketing Automation
Those are just a few examples of how to use simple automation tools and tactics to streamline tasks.
Choose the right tools and you’ll be able to streamline your marketing and email processes. By doing this, you’ll increase work efficiency and be able to concentrate on bigger goals, like increasing your revenue.
What are your favorite marketing automation tools? Let us know in the comments.