I love efficiency but beyond efficiency, I love when I save time. Time is my currency, it’s that non-renewable resource that we can’t earn more of, so if there are ways to not only save my time but spend it in the right places, you better believe I am all in. That’s why I’m borderline obsessed with automation.
This isn’t just about me and my efficiency preferences, you know I love a good stat – so the marketing software tool FindStack shared in an article that “Marketing automation drives a 14.5% increase in sales productivity and a 12.2% reduction in marketing overhead.” Aka, you can make more money through sales and save more money in marketing!
When you don’t have to focus on repeating the same menial tasks over and over again, you can instead focus your efforts and energy on bigger things like serving your audience, sales conversions, honing your messaging, or creating new incredible offers to push out – not too mention, saving time gives you more time to simply enjoy life. Plus, automation saves time and therefore money on tasks that you might otherwise have to pay someone else to do, or spend your own valuable time doing.
So in this episode, you’ll learn 10 different ways you can lean on automation in your business to simplify your marketing efforts and make your life a whole lot easier along the way!
First off, you know that my email list is the #1 way I drive profits in my business. It’s where I serve and connect and also share about my new programs. My email list is my priority and it’s also the place where I want to be showing up thoughtfully, intentionally, and consistently.
Let me tell you, there’s something super rewarding about planning out your email content ahead of time, batch-prepping it, and then scheduling it to send automatically. Not only is it awesome to have things go out to your list without you haven’t to manually hit “send,” but when you can batch a few emails ahead of time, you can be more focused on serving and strategy so that each email has a purpose.
So rather than realizing it’s been a few weeks (or months) since you’ve emailed your list and feeling frantic to send out an email last-minute in real time, you can look at your calendar and see what events or launches or business activities might be happening, and plan your email topics to align with whatever’s going on. You can ultimately set it and forget it, which also frees you up to have time to respond to all of your email subscribers when they hit “reply” and tell you how much they loved your email!
Long-Form Content Plan
Whether you show up on a blog or podcast or Youtube — however it is that you create long-form content, you should be able to batch record or write and then schedule the content to release on a consistent schedule! Again, intentional time blocking to get you in the zone and focused and then setting and scheduling – both of these strategies will save you oodles of time but they will also help you be more thoughtful and strategic in the creation process.
We do this for both the blog and podcast, and it’s a huge time saver for everyone involved, plus it also helps us to see the big picture. We can look at content themes and map out our plan for bigger promotions, and again, we can set it up, strategize around it, and then schedule the content to release way ahead of time.
We use the tool monday.com to house our content calendars for our long-form content – which for us is the blog and podcast. Inside of monday, we can look at a month and all the topics that will go live and make sure that we’re releasing content that hits on all of the brand pillars and supports the bigger brand. It gives us a birds eye view that helps us release relevant content and stick to a plan. We’re often at least a month or two ahead on our long-form content like blog posts and podcast episodes so that we can keep our content plan strategic and well balanced.
Payments, subscriptions and invoices
If you are someone who sends invoices or pays invoices, having the ability to automate that process can save you a ton of time. We’ve had a lot of our contractors move to retainer packages since our hours are consistent and it makes our monthly expenses more fixed. It also allows us to automate payments since they are consistent on a monthly basis!
Any way that you can automate making payments for things like subscriptions or even requesting consistent ongoing retainer payments that you can set up for auto withdrawals can help save everyone time and make sure you stay on track with your budgeting and timely in how you pay your invoices!
A quick caveat here but it’s important to acknowledge, while it is super nice to automate your payments, I recommend checking in one to two times a year to make sure the subscriptions and tools and softwares and even team members you are paying for are all still being well utilized and are well worth the money you’re paying. If you notice that you’re on autopay for a certain tool or expense you no longer use, be sure to cancel the subscription so you can better allocate those funds. They even have apps for that now that help you see everything you’re subscribed to and paying for, so leverage any tools to make sure your money is being well spent!
This can look different based on what industry you’re in or how you work and communicate with your clients, but across the board, this is something you likely do and especially if you are in the service industry, this is something that likely takes up a lot of your time.
If you have never sat down to map out the journey a new client goes on with you or created templates that help you make sure you have everything you need to serve a new client, this one could be life changing for you. Whether it’s getting an intake form, signing a contract, collecting a retainer, learning more about your clients needs… so much of that can be thoughtfully created once and then set up to be delivered and collected without you having to manually communicate every step of the way.
I know, I know, here we are again with the theme of creating a workflow or information that can be sent on auto-pilot so that you’re not in the weeds of correspondence all day every day. Look, you know it takes time to send thoughtful replies to client inquiries and to get them onboarded smoothly, but that doesn’t mean you need to draft every single email from scratch – and you shouldn’t! When I started as a wedding photographer, I told myself I was giving every client a unique experience and therefore they needed unique emails but in reality, with juggling my corporate job and trying to get to emails in the late hours of the night after my shifts, I could barely form a sentence. Templates and a workflow literally changed my life and it allowed me to sit down once and draft up heartfelt and intentional responses that I could copy/paste with confidence.
Social media tools
We plan out our social plan in advance for things like the Goal Digger Instagram page and posts for my Facebook groups and business page, posts for Linked In, new pins for Pinterest and then set automated reminders to post or use the tools inside of Facebook and Pinterest to schedule posts natively, right on that platform!
While this is a timesaver, I’d argue here to use automated posting sparingly and not exclusively. A big reason I don’t always love the automatic posting is that I think it’s important to be online if you can to engage when you post, BUT automation can be awesome here if you don’t have the bandwidth to always hang out after posting and if you circle back once your post is live to engage with anyone commenting on the post!
If you’re excited about the idea of automating more of your social process, you can also use tools like Tailwind, Plann, Planoly or MeetEdgar that can help you prep and plan out your content and then schedule and automate either actual posts or set reminders for you to post, and this can be a huge time saver and can help you stay on track and consistent with your social media plan.
If you run a company that has any sort of customer service or support offered, there are ways you can automate support. Whether you put a chat bot or a human support chat on your pages that will connect people with commonly asked questions or direct them how to get in touch best for their issue, you can save a lot of back and forth time by providing a resource for those with questions. While it definitely would be great to assign a real human being to be available 24/7, that likely isn’t feasible! Instead, having these tools installed on your website can help connect people to answers and/or put them in touch with you when you are available, making the connection clear and easier while also informing them when they will hear a response.
According to FindStack, using chatbots can help save up to 30% of customer support costs because you can set them up to provide curated responses to commonly asked questions without having to spend your own time or your team’s time on that communication.
If you’re not ready to get your own bot, another way to offer proactive support is by using tools like an FAQ page or even your email autoresponder that help curate and answer common questions, sometimes before the person can even ask them.
Trust me here, if you have a website or a blog and you aren’t using pop ups, you’re missing out on a major way you can drive traffic strategically and collect site visitors email address so you can stay in touch. The best part about pop ups? They are an entirely automated thing that you can pretty much set and forget! Pop-ups can be a huge way to connect your people to their next step on autopilot!
We use the tool OptinMonster for our pop-ups and essentially connect pop-ups to every blog post that gets published connecting the reader to a different post or page that correlates to the topic of the post. For example, if someone clicked to the blog to read a post about my favorite postpartum skincare products and routine, we would apply a pop-up that leads to my landing page with info and a discount code for my favorite non-toxic skincare line, Primally Pure! They don’t have to search for my faves and voila, we’ve connected them with an exclusive coupon code!
Here’s the thing, if you’re looking for automated ways to move the needle more for your business, pop-ups should be a priority! They’ve been a huge conversion tool for us and an awesome automated piece that we can check in on once a month or even beef up our strategy around for launches, and it’s one of those pieces that’s consistently serving and connecting the audience with another tool or resource without us having to manually do it. The best part here is that you can start super simply and get fancy later!
When you share about the incentive or value you’re offering whether it’s a free guide, a coupon code, a training, template, or some other exclusive info, you can create the freebie once and have it automatically delivered along with a welcome email! This is an awesome way to give people an experience right off the bat and can be working for ya while you sleep!
You can have pop-ups that point to your freebie, or put your freebie offer in the footers of your blog posts. You can point to your opt in on podcasts, on your website in a sidebar or footer, or in social media posts!
Basically, you can provide multiple places for people to find your freebie and want to hand over their email address in exchange for the thing you’re offering and once they enter their email, it’s all automated! Remember how I said my email list is the #1 way I drive profits in my business, yeah, it’s important so if you want to grow your life, you want to offer something with true value, something people will be pumped to hand over their email address for.
One of the most valuable things I’ve ever created in my business have been my templated email responses! I literally created my first email templates a decade ago as a wedding photographer when I realized I was saying the same thing over and over again and didn’t have the capacity to write a new email every single time someone reached out. Templated emails save you SO MUCH time and allow you to communicate more effectively and in an effortless way when done right.
We’ve already talked about automating your client onboarding process, but what about questions you get all the time outside of that, or even emails that you find yourself sending out to others regularly, like testimonial requests, questionnaires, or follow up emails.
Look at your outbox and see what themes repeat themselves in your correspondence, and create templated email responses that you can quickly update, personalize, and send off next time. The best part about this is if you incorporate this into your communication now, when the time comes to hire a virtual assistant, they are already set up with templates that will allow them to do their job way easier! So trust me, your clients will thank you and your future self will thank you! This is a mega-time-saver for anyone and everyone.
Meetings and scheduling
You can use any sort of calendar that works best for you, but I’m a GoogleCal girl. One of the things I love most about Google Calendar is it automatically inputs any dates or scheduling matters into your calendar if you get an email about it, like if you book a flight and the confirmation email shows up in your Gmail inbox, it immediately adds the details to your calendar. Same goes with Zoom invites or other appointments that send you email confirmations, even restaurant reservations! The fact that it automatically adds these items to your calendar has saved me on many occasions! Having everything in once place helps me get a good look at what’s going on for the day or week and allows me to plan accordingly.
Quick tip: If you’re not on Google Calendar, you can actually sync any other digital calendar you might use with it, like outlook or apple calendar, so that you can keep all your commitments in one place.
Another thing that I love that syncs with Google Calendar is a program called Calendly! It’s actually how I book all of my podcast interviews and it saves us a ton of time and back and forth communication that is sometimes required to find a time to connect. If you host multiple meetings a week with varying times, using a meeting platform that allows someone to self select the time to connect can be a game changer and the best part? You set your availability for them to choose from. You can even set it up so that your meeting cohort receives all the details they’ll need for the meeting after a time and date is selected, like topics or questions that will be covered in the call or a Zoom link to access the meeting.
Regardless, look at ways that you can streamline your calendar, your meetings, and availability! It can be a huge opportunity for automation and a way to free up more blank space on that calendar for you!
The Big Picture
Chances are you might be thinking that setting all of these up would probably take a ton of time… in fact, that little belief held me back from working smarter, not harder for years. The truth is, automation does take prep and intentionality, it will take time to set it up but when you do it today you can reap the rewards tomorrow and for years to come! So if you’re feeling overwhelmed, start with picking 2 or 3 things that fit your brand and business right where you’re at, the ones that feel like the easiest lifts for YOU, personally, and starting there.
Sit down and create thoughtfully with the goal of setting something up and letting it run! I’d put money down that you’ll be shocked at how much time you save and on top of time just the mental bandwidth of being able to release tasks and know they are taken care of – that is worth so much for you in the long run as an entrepreneur.
Start with one. Then move onto one more, and another, and another, and soon you’ll see that many of these automations actually work together to create a more hands-free, lower-stress business that serves your clients and audience well AND gives you back some valued time and money. A little legwork up front is always worth it for a more balanced, efficient business later on, especially if it frees up your time and allows you to get out of the weeds of the repetitive and menial tasks that don’t really move you closer to your dreams.