Utilise automated funnels and workflows to help you save time and increase revenues
One of the most common frustrations we hear from business owners is that they get so bogged down in the day-to-day operations, they miss out on opportunities to build their business or implement new ideas and strategies.
Modern business process automation is built on a growing set of popular technologies and systems which can help to improve your productivity in business. These automations can help to remove the everyday nuisances of running a business, and give you time to focus on what’s most important.
What is automation, and why is it important?
Automation is the process of using programs, systems or technology to replace the need for a human operator (2). It can save you both time and money, and it’s likely something you’ve already been using without even realising it. Everytime you schedule a blog or post on social media, send an email to your subscribers, receive a notification on your Facebook page, or see an update about a meeting time or location change, you’re seeing the benefits of automation.
Automation can manage repetitive, mundane tasks, so you and your staff can focus on more complex tasks that utilise your experience and expertise. Imagine what could be achieved in your business if you had more time to connect with your customers and innovate new products or services that could better help them!
Automation doesn’t have to feel overwhelming, and there are some small things you can implement right away to see an improvement in productivity and time management. While other systems and automations require a greater time commitment to fulfil, they are something which can be worked towards.
Use automated sales funnels to drive more customers to your business, and increase your revenue
So, what is a sales funnel? In layman’s terms, it is the journey a prospective customer will take from gaining awareness of who you are, all the way to taking action and buying from you. It’s important to educate and engage with your leads in order to build trust and move them down your sales funnel. This is where automation comes in (4). Not everyone will buy from you at first glance, so by using a sales funnel, you can target content, information, and offers to your potential customers to suit where they are in your funnel.
The purpose of your sales funnel is to nurture your potential customers and bring them closer to making a purchase from you. They move through the funnel in four key stages, and your goal is to market your products or services strategically so as to convince them to buy from you.
The key stages of a sales funnel are outlined below.
Awareness: This is the moment when your prospect first becomes aware of your business. It could be through a social media post, a Google ad, or a referral from a friend to your website. The goal of this stage is to show the prospect why they should buy from you, and encourage them to view your website again.
Interest: The prospect is now doing research, comparison shopping, and thinking about their options. The goal of this stage is to establish your businesses expertise and offer help.
Decision: The prospect is ready to buy at this stage, and they are likely exploring two or three different options. The goal of this stage is to get the sale over the line by offering a discount code, free shipping, or a bonus.
Action: This is the moment your prospect has become a customer by purchasing from you. The goal of this stage is customer retention, and focusing on giving them an experience which will make them want to buy from you again.
Here’s some simple ways you can use automation to move a prospect from the awareness stage all the way through to the action stage.
- Pre-schedule blog posts, social media, videos and tutorials, and email newsletters
- Create a coupon or offer for clients which they can claim if they refer a friend
- Create a freebie (such as a guide or checklist) to build your email database
- Add a free bonus on your website when a sale is made, which is sent directly to your customers inbox
- Host a webinar, which automates email reminders and webinar replays
- Re-target ads on Facebook and Instagram to people who have already viewed your website
Automation of sales funnels and systems can help you to make 100 sales in the time it would typically take to make one manual sale. While these funnels and systems may take some time to establish, they are generally set and forget, freeing up your time and energy to use on growing other areas of your business. It’s important to note, however, that consumers don’t want to be bombarded by intrusive website popups or chatbots. Make sure you’re not coming off as distracting or too pushy in your approach, and focus on improving the customer experience.
Use automated workflows to boost staff productivity, and enhance efficiency
Businesses and teams are looking to workflow management systems to boost productivity and streamline processes (3). New apps and softwares are consistently under development to improve flexibility and the way in which we work.
Workflows can be introduced into teams to improve productivity, collaborative efforts, and staff accountability. They can also help to reduce errors and improve functions on repetitive tasks, or those which require manually inputting data. Not every task will require start to finish automation, however simple tools that help to make processes quicker, such as invoicing or ad buying, can free up time for your staff to spend on more important tasks.
Here’s some areas of your business where workflows can be applied:
- Team collaboration: Systems such as Trello can help team members see what everyone is working on, what still needs to be done, and project timelines and priorities. Slack is an instant messaging program for teams to reduce the back and forth of emails and communications. Synced calendars and collaborative programs such as G Suite also help team members stay accountable to one another, and ensure meetings and appointments aren’t being double booked.
- Accounting: Platforms such as MYOB and Xero use automation to generate invoices, deliver them to the customer, check for payment, and remind the customer if they have not yet paid.
- Marketing: Systems and platforms such as Loomly allow content to be scheduled across a number of channels, generate reports and insights, enable you to automatically set up ads and increase or decrease the spending, and have an approvals process to reduce work being sent back and forth among team members.
- Sales: Workflows can be used to automate follow-ups or client reminders, send discount codes or rewards, and alert staff on the status of different client accounts.
The primary goal of establishing business workflows is to save time. These systems will give you more bang for your buck and reduce the headaches that come with most repetitive, manual tasks, freeing up time for your staff to work on productive and creative tasks. Work smarter, not harder.
- R. L. Adams, July 28, 2017, “What is a sales funnel? The guide to building an automated selling machine”, Entrepreneur, https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/296526
- May 29, 2018, “10 strategic ways to automate your internal business workflows”, Forbes, https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2018/05/29/10-strategic-ways-to-automate-your-internal-business-workflows/#14b18aa46972
- Vartika Kashyap, July 24, 2019, “10 workflow management software professionals you can’t live without”, Proofhub, https://www.proofhub.com/articles/workflow-management-software
- Martin Zhel, November 7, 2019, “The beginner’s guide to a sales funnel”, Mailmunch, https://www.mailmunch.com/blog/sales-funnel/
- Pavel Naidenov, February 27, 2018, “Workflow automation can benefit your business: A beginner’s guide”, Technology Advice, https://technologyadvice.com/blog/information-technology/workflow-automation-can-benefit-business-beginners-guide/