How To Go About Automating A Small Business Sales & Marketing

How To Go About Automating A Small Business Sales & Marketing

Typically, growing your small business is about expanding your reach with adequate resources to support it. It involves more cost and people on board. And investing more than you need can drain your resources quickly. But if you look at automating most of your tasks, it can save you the hassle of getting more people on board. By defining your business targets, you can narrow down where and what can be automated. Also, consider any automation pitfalls on the way to creating an excellent CX for your business.

But first, read on to know why and how to automate your small business.

Why is automation necessary?

Small businesses are bootstrapped. Automation can help you scale up your marketing and associated operations without building a larger team.

Automation can help you scale up and down as well on demand – so in lean times, you can quickly bring down operations without having to let go of people. It also helps you pivot your business without making significant changes that affect your daily business operations and continuity. 

Before you automate all aspects of your business, take a step back and consider the best way to do it so you can track the outcome.

Related reading: 7 Reasons to Use Automation Inside Your Business Operations

How to Automate your Small Business

The objective of automating is to be more productive with limited resources. Imagine using a chatbot to offer sales support to your thousands of website visitors, instead of having to rely on human agents.

Automate by first setting business targets. Factor in the end goal of each automation so you know what you need to achieve. This way, you work backward on the effort required and determine the amount of automation.

One way to know if you’re taking on too much automation is if you’re not reaching your end goal despite automating. You may then need to ramp up the automation. However, too much would mean you would acquire more customers than you can service, leading to a poor CX, defeating the purpose of automating.

For this, consider segmenting your business to automate appropriately.

Segment your Business into Different Departments 

Segmenting your business allows you to automate the right tasks and monitor their contribution to your overall business numbers. It also helps you fine-tune processes for profitability. Start with segmenting your sales into inbound, outbound, and marketing operations. This way, you can see what’s working in your business and what needs improvement.

Outbound Sales: Outbound sales can help you actively reach out to new customers as an early-stage startup or small business. Automating outbound sales can be a fruitful process if you operate as a sole business owner, especially if scaling is your goal.

Inbound Sales: Consider automating inbound sales if you’re committed to using inbound sales to get in users through your sales pipeline. This way, you can save on costs, especially on repetitive tasks that would ideally take more time and effort.

Marketing Operations: Automating parts of your marketing can take the weight off getting new leads and nurturing them once they are in your funnel. It also helps reach out to your audience at different stages of their customer journey, thus managing your customer lifecycle management in your business through automation.

Recommended Reading: Best CRM System for SMB

Identify the bottlenecks 

Some essential components in your business cannot be automated.

Product-Based Business: If you are a product business and your consignment comes from a Chinese factory, you can only scale up to the units in stock. Otherwise, you risk stocking out, leading to other complications like non-fulfilled orders, chargebacks, and poor CX overall.

Customer Support: Another case for poor CX with automation is using it in your customer support with the help of chatbots. This is especially if your business relies heavily on customer interaction. Customers often want quick answers to queries that might not suffice in a prolonged automation sequence. 

Complex Processes: The entire purpose of automation is to get things moving quickly. Using automation for complex processes with many moving parts might render the solution impractical or, worst, riddled with errors that require human intervention.

Human interaction: Some sales processes cannot be automated. For example, if you sell a high ticket product that requires personalized demos over video conferencing, then this is a bottleneck you have to live with – unless you plan on overhauling the entire sales process.

ROI on Automation: Factor in the total automation cost before executing it in your business. Understand how the respective tasks will pan out, so you don’t end up spending more than the cost of automating the tasks.

Set your business targets

Once you identify the bottlenecks, set the targets for your business in terms of sales and conversations at each stage of the funnel.

Revenue Generation: Set sales targets and map them to your marketing plans, so you’re in sync with target versus actual achievements. Assess your plan against industry benchmarks, so you’re not way off in setting realistic targets.

Conversions at Each Stage of the Funnel: Once you set your sales goal, factor in the number of people you need to reach to achieve your sales goals. For example, if you want to sell 100 units a month, and the conversion rate from sales is 2%, you need to reach 5000 people to meet this target.

Related Reading: Simple Guide to Build your Own Lead Generation Funnel

Automate to achieve your targets

Once these targets are set, the next step is to crank up automation to consider what it takes to move from your current levels to your target.

PPC Automation: Use PPC automation to save time and run PPC campaigns efficiently. It’s useful for small businesses on a budget to ramp up ads. Scale up your ads to increase the number of qualified visitors hitting your website.

Sales Automation: Reduce the reliance on people to chat with your online visitors. Instead, use chatbots to talk to visitors, capture lead information, and make a sale.

IVR: IVR systems are immensely useful in resolving customer queries. They can be tasked with taking phone calls from a phone number on your website and also be connected to a call center after qualifying as a lead. Besides, you can also use IVR to set up promotional offers, payments, and brand interaction to direct customers in different sales funnels.

Email Automation: An email automation platform enables you to have a direct interaction with your customers. With email automation, people who express interest on your website are sent an email sequence to convert them into customers. It’s easy to set up and requires the least manual intervention, making it easy to nurture new leads as they entire your funnel as subscribers and convert.

While automation can lend a hand in reducing human effort, there are a few things to consider before you deep dive and implement automation across your processes.

Things to Watch out for During Automation

Every automation will require effort to understand how it works and fits into your existing business process. Because each automation tool comes with its features and functionality, consider these points before taking the plunge.

Less Personalization: Automation leads to less personalization that often lends a poor user experience, especially if your business is high touch and requires niche-specific personalization. Always keep measuring customer satisfaction to assess the impact of automation.

Niche-Specific Automation: If you are in a small niche with only a small pool of targeted buyers, automation may not work since you will run through all your targets in just a few days or weeks. Either take an alternate approach or expand your market for automation to be effective.

Costs Involved: There’s a sizable cost commitment when you choose automation. Consider the upfront automation costs and set the timeframe within which you’ll be able to recover the costs.

Reskilling: Automation may require you to reskill your employees or hire automation experts who can handle the automation swiftly without any hiccups. 

Related Reading; Advantages & Disadvantages of Marketing Automation

Wrapping it Up 

Automation may seem like a swift solution to the growing tasks as your small business grows. However, before you embrace automation, understand the bottlenecks that can strain your existing limited resources. Once you factor in your resources, establish sales numbers to achieve your targets. 

Map these to the marketing plans and align your automation to these plans, so you allocate resources and budgets accordingly. Pick a select few automation tools that can kick-start automation in your business and monitor their impact. Remember to reskill your staff so automation can create an excellent CX in your business.