Adopting automation in your business is the best way to et ready for the future. As a small business, you may feel that automation is optional. But processes get longer and more complicated as your business grows. For example, at the start of your business, you may pay just a handful of vendors monthly. A few years in, that number may expand to dozens of vendors expecting timely payment.
You can automate more processes than you may think. The more you automate, the more time you save and the fewer mistakes you open yourself up to.
So, what can you automate? Let’s explore the top automation tools you should consider for your business.
1. Automate your sales funnel with a lead generation tool
Generating leads is a time-consuming process. But are you generating quality leads?
That’s much harder.
Your sales team can’t afford to waste time going in the wrong direction. With quotas to meet, they need leads that help them and your company reach their goals. With a lead generation tool, you can scale your outreach, generate more leads, and vet them before your team hops in to nurture and grow those connections.
A lead generation tool helps you find quality connections, but it also allows you to track essential data about your leads. This information is crucial as it will continue to point you in better directions to target your customer base. On top of that, using such a tool allows you to provide access to this information to your entire team, removing knowledge barriers between team members.
2. Make your invoice system mistake-proof with an automated invoice approval workflow
Your vendor sends your accounts payable clerk an invoice for $1,000. As soon as they receive it, they need to manually input it into your company’s accounting system if you’re not using an automated invoice approval workflow.
It’s a simple data entry task, yet it leaves you open to various problems. For example, perhaps your clerk inputs it twice, and you pay it twice. Or maybe they add an extra zero, and suddenly you’re paying $10,000 instead of $1,000.
The best case scenario is you catch the mistake quickly, and your vendor sends the payment back immediately. But even in this situation, you’re still losing time you wouldn’t have had to spend if you’d automated this system.
Your accounts payable clerk may make mistakes, especially if many invoices come in. They’d rather spend their time elsewhere than do repetitive data entry tasks. Bringing in an automated invoice approval system spares you potentially time-consuming mistakes and makes them more likely to have the time to succeed in other vital areas of work.
3. Process payments to vendors with an automated payment system
Similarly to an automated invoice approval workflow, an automated payment system can spare wasted time and potential mistakes. For example, many businesses use many different spreadsheets to track their vendor invoices and pay them on time. Then, the accounts payable team often makes these payments themselves, which could mean spending precious time doing something they don’t have to do manually.
Afterward, your finance team is stuck doing manual reconciliation, which opens you up to many problems. Not only is it prone to human error, but those errors can have consequences.
Guesswork is a regular part of the process, and the wrong guess can:
- Result in inaccurate reporting
- Lead to fraudulent transactions, and
- Result in non-compliance with strict regulations
Each of these could cause you to face hefty fines and reputational damage.
With an automated payment system that offers automatic reconciliation, you save your relationships with your vendors by ensuring you pay them correctly and on time. You also save yourself from potential mistakes in the payment and reconciliation processes, keeping your business’s finances and reputation safe.
4. Send emails more efficiently with email automation tools
According to the Rule of 7, someone needs seven touchpoints before purchasing a product. But with so much in today’s online world drawing people’s attention in different directions, you ideally want to build as many touchpoints as possible. Therefore, email marketing plays an essential role.
Studies show email marketing has a higher return on investment (ROI) than any other digital media channel and is 40 times more effective than social media. But sending out emails manually is time-consuming. Imagine if every time someone signed up for your email list on your website, you had to send a “Welcome” email. Emailing these potential customers may not be difficult if you receive five sign-ups a week. But if 50 people sign up daily, you’re losing valuable time on something you can automate.
Email automation tools can make creating touchpoints with potential customers easier. For example, you can send emails automatically when certain triggers happen, such as when a new sign-up occurs.
You can also maintain your email list with notes about your customers, which can help you segment your list and send out campaigns to the people you want to reach. Many tools allow you to build and maintain templates, making sending emails quickly and efficiently even easier.
5. Schedule and organize social media content with social media automation tools
How many times should you post on social media per day? According to Sprout Social, 74 percent of consumers think one to two posts per day for brands is the magic number. But these numbers don’t paint the complete picture.
The industry average is to post 11 times daily across all active social media platforms. That may look like a Facebook post, an Instagram reel, multiple Instagram Stories, an Instagram post, a LinkedIn post, multiple TikToks, multiple tweets, and multiple Pinterest posts. All of that content needs to come from somewhere.
Asking a social media manager to post 11 times each day manually is a quick way to lead them to burnout. It’s no wonder that a 2020 study found 57 percent of social media managers felt ready to quit their jobs within two years. By providing your social media team with social media automation tools, you can help alleviate that stress.
Social media automation tools can help them schedule posts in advance, automatically post to multiple platforms at once, collect suggested hashtags, and transform content meant for one post, like a LinkedIn blog, into content for another platform, like a tweet. It can also help them track how their content performs so they can better optimize future posts.
Is Automation Right for You and your business?
Businesses can benefit from using automation, especially if they hope to grow sustainably. As you launch your business, you may feel that automation is optional. But as you build your business, you’ll find many more parts in motion, leaving you open to mistakes and missed opportunities.
Tools like lead generators and automated emails can help you take advantage of opportunities, while automated invoice approval systems can spare you from mistakes. Social media automation tools make your employees more supported and better prepared for their roles.
Thus, automation will help you successful and help you scale your business operations efficiently.