Are you automating your business processes? I am not talking about robots or drones… I am talking about systems that allow you to set-up a process and then let it work without your constant supervision. Automating your business starts small with scalable strategies that maximize your productivity and keep you laser-focused on your marketing goals.  When you automate simple tasks, you are giving yourself the gift of time – time you can use to grow your business!

“Don’t make the process harder than it is.”
– Jack Welsh

Read below for the 6 types of tasks you should automate for your business right now. I have included notes on our favorite automation tools for each category. At Bravado, we are constantly working to improve and simplify our systems – and intentional automation plays an important role in that quest.

This could be you! Smiling at your iPad, admiring your processes over a cup of coffee!

Social Media Management

Once you have your social media strategy in place, publishing should be on auto-pilot. Set aside a block of time every week to create a consistent social media routine. I find that doing the same tasks at the same time every week helps me stay focused.  

Social media management requires research, original content creation, collation, post authoring, and scheduling. While you can’t automate every step of this process, you can implement an overarching structure that keeps you on task and automate your scheduling. I use Hootsuite Pro to schedule posts for clients across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

social media automation
A peek at the Hootsuite dashboard

In my experience, real time posts sent from their native platform outperform scheduled posts. But who has time for that?! Scheduling 75% of your content with a relevant and timely strategy can help you free up more time for spontaneous posting.

Your research, collation, and original content creation will depend heavily on your strategy. I recommend using a spreadsheet to organize your posts by date, time, category, post content, link, and image. Better yet, use a shared Google Drive spreadsheet so that you can collaborate with your colleagues.

Once your content is set for the month, you can plug it into one of our favorite social media management automation tools and sit back. Our favorite tools are Hootsuite, OnlyPult, IFTTT, and Buffer. You will still need to check-in daily in order to manage comments, message, and audience engagement.

Daily check-ins are especially vital for those incorporating customer service into their social media strategy. And always have a “breaking news” plan in place. Assign a point person to evaluate all scheduled posts when news breaks to help avoid an insensitive post and impending PR nightmare.

Email Nurtures

Using email automation to nurture leads is a beautiful thing– and inherent to any inbound marketing strategy. If you aren’t already doing this, work with your marketing and sales teams to craft a targeted email strategy that supports your goals. Email nurtures are a fantastic way to engage and delight leads in a meaningful way.

You can fully automate your emails by using an email client (bonus points if it is also a CRM!) like MailChimp, Ontraport, AWeber, or Hubspot. These programs allow you to segment lists and create sign-up forms to embed on your website, social media pages, or blog posts.

Mailchimp graphics always put a smile on our face
Mailchimp graphics for the win.

When new leads are added to a list, your email automation is triggered! You can customize triggers to meet your needs- and even split your nurtures based on activity (people who clicked are funneled into one nurture, while unengaged email recipients are funneled into another).

What does this mean for you and your business? You don’t have to manually send emails to nurture your leads through your sales funnel. You can focus on completing pressing projects while you website and email nurture help shepherd leads through your inbound sales and marketing funnel.

Calendars, Notes & Reminders

When you run your own company, your “to-do” list is never-ending.  Automated reminders, virtual notebooks, and cloud-based calendars are here to save the day.  At first, creating blocks of time for every task, meeting, or project will seem superfluous and even unnatural. But stick with it and within 2 weeks, we guarantee you will be hooked.

Once you have formed a habit of keeping a calendar, you can automate reminders for a day out, 15 minutes before, or a different time buffer that works for you. Your calendar will guide your day and keep you on task and under deadline.

google calendar tool
I’m calendar OCD, and proud of it.

In addition to a color-coordinated Google calendar (see above), I also use digital notebook application Evernote and used to use list-maker Wunderlist to organize my work life. Since first posting, Wunderlist is no longer in use. Check out alternatives to Wunderlist here.  Evernote’s shared notebooks make clipping social media content and industry news a breeze. The Bravado team uses Evernote to share the latest digital marketing trends with each other!

I have found that different applications work better in different situations- and as our company has grown, my favorites have evolved. The most important thing is to do what’s right for you and to choose automations that directly and positively impact your own productivity.

“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.”
– William Penn

File Sharing

At this point, my favorite automation tools might sound like a Google ad. Since our company runs our email on Google, I gravitate towards using the entire suite of Google tools.  It helps that Google has developed mobile apps for each program I use, making it a great choice for “on the go” updates. In any case, it should not come as a surprise that I love to use GoogleDrive for file sharing. But, there are others out there like DropBox and ShareFile.

The idea is that these tools help you save and share files in the cloud. This means you can access your important images, files, and presentations from anywhere (as long as you have wifi). Many work chat and project management platforms facilitate file-sharing directly through the chat box- great for sharing files within the stream of your current conversation rather than a separate email.

Project & Task Management

To collaborate across departments (marketing, sales, IT, accounting), an intuitive project management platform can increase your impact exponentially. These platforms go a step beyond to automate accountability within your team. You can assign tasks to different team members, complete with deadlines and dependent tasks (reminders go off when dependent tasks have been completed, eliminating the need for “just checking-in” emails).

project automation
The Upper Limits Teamwork Dashboard, IRL.

Bravado Creative currently uses Teamwork for project and task management. We have each of our collaborative projects set-up and within each project, we define milestones and assign tasks. We also link in important files, take notes in notebooks, and chat within the program. Other cloud productivity platforms include Basecamp, Vorex, and Asana.

Social Contests & Drawings

Running a successful social media contest requires careful design and thoughtful execution. To juggle each facet, using a contest automation tool is essential. There are a myriad of both free and paid contest solutions. WooBox is a free solution that we use most often for our clients.

Your WooBox account easily ties in to a Facebook contest tab on your business page, for complete integration. Woobox offers polls, games, photo contests, giveaways, coupons, landing pages, and even hashtag contests.

Happy Automating!
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