If you are an agency owner, life starts at 7:00 am when you sit down with that first cup of coffee, hoping to get work done and attend meetings on strategic planning, ideas on that next huge project, conduct detailed reviews of your staffing needs, and more. This is the type of long-term thinking that really helps businesses thrill in a competitive market. However, the moment you get to the office, you are hit with urgent calls from clients, staff issues, last minute meetings, checks, stacks of documents and other paper work that all needs your attention. Suddenly, its 7:00 p.m., and all you have done the whole day is fire fighting. You never get started on the big ideas and even if you do, you don’t get all the time you need. The good news, you can make tomorrow different. By following these 5 ways to systematize and automate your business, you can easily cut hours from your day and focus on the work that matters.
1. Create a marketing system by…
Anticipating your future needs. In an agency, EVERYTHING sounds like a priority and often times you’re throwing out marketing efforts as they come your way rather than sitting down to create a monthly or quarterly plan. You just don’t have time to execute everything right now and that’s okay. You don’t have to. But at least take a few hours a month to map out a plan.
This can be a break through in marketing automation. For instance, with an estimate of the customer and prospects you expect in your CRM database in 6 months, you will be able to outsource newsletters in sufficient numbers, so that whenever you need send them, you will only have to click the button and send. Knowing where you will be in six or one year is critical in marketing automation. You can use software such as Salesforce or Infusionsoft to help you forecast your leads.
- Getting content rich: Automation only works if you have valuable information to give your clients. You get paid if you have high-quality content on your blog explaining your brand, pre-sales questions, and to inform your visitors on other aspects of your products and services. The good news? You can automate content creation by outsourcing from sites such as, iWriter, Demand Media Studio, Scripted, and more. The only work you have to do is figure out some topics for your audience, or one of your outsourced writers can do that for you. You don’t have time to write each week and you don’t have to. So when should you get a writer? Hire on a Friday, and then review and publish on a Tuesday (because as we know those are the days people read blogs the most.)
- Automating social media posts: If you have been spending a lot of time on social media trying to build and maintain relationships, consider using bufferapp. It allows you to quickly upload blog posts, articles, tweet/update your Twitter account, Facebook pages, Linkedln, and other social media profiles at any time of day. When should you buffer? Once each week coordinate with the blog schedule and then buffer that evergreen content each day. You won’t need to worry about posting on social ever again although we do recommend you get notifications so you can keep engagement and a conversation rolling. Also buffering events as soon as they come can be super helpful. Do a tweet the day before an event, the day of, and a follow-up the day after!
- Automate sales campaign emailing: You can save time by using MailChimp to design and send emails on all your online marketing campaigns. Best thing is now MailChimp let’s you automate it. Send a followup email to a lead a week later. Upsell your service 3 months after a client purchases. You don’t need to remember when to do it, but you do need to set up 2-3 days to plan out all your email automation campaigns. You might even want to hire a consultant like She’s Got Systems to set it up for you.
2. Managing your daily tasks (business and personal)
Increased productivity is usually the primary reason that fuels most digital agencies towards automating tasks. It can also reduce human error thus leading to overall quality improvement, reducing the cost of human labor and save time. Luckily, there are numerous online tools, apps and services you can use to unload your brain, and create more time to invest in aspects of your business that touches directly on profitability.
Want to know a secret? All these “list/to-do apps” pretty much do the same thing! It is important, however, that you make a personal and business ongoing list. Then you can write down the ones for each day from your app and start crossing off. What are our two favorites?
- Wunderlist. This app makes it easy to manage all your team’s projects from one central communication point. It’s also free, so that’s a plus.
- Clear. This one I personally recommend. If you’re looking for something super simple and classic this is for you. It also integrates with your iCloud. So you can have it on mobile & desktop and everything is synced up!
Additional task automation apps you should take a look at are:
3. Yes, you can even automate your customer acquisition.
If you had to pick one thing that really matters in your digital firm, it would be clients. Enough said. And everything you do, revolves around making them happy. Luckily, you no longer have to spend hours managing clients acquisitions. For example, if you take your time to sit down and map out all the communication channeled between you and your clients, you can then easily figure out communication points that recur and automate them. For instance, upon registering with your agency and team, you always need to send a welcome email to the client. You can automate this mail using MailChimp. Or if you have larger lists, integrate API’s and set up Zapiers (one of my favorite tools) for form opt-ins.
You should also have a well designed and informative FAQ section that you can send on the fly – it automatically gives new customers the answer they need, and hence, they will not have to call you. You can also post a BeSnappy on your site so you can eliminate the time spent answering the same questions. Other apps you should use to help you automate customer acquisition include:
- SproutSocial – Given that more than 53% of clients who ask about your brand on Twitter expect an answer within an hour or less, and that 38% of these potential clients will react negatively towards your brand if they don’t get feedback within that time, it’s good to invest in a social media management tools such as Sprout Social. We use this one less for the analytics and more for the message like inbox features to keep in touch easier.
- Kissmetrics – Helps you understand what customers are doing once on your website. If you know what people are doing on your website you can better cater to them, right?
- Unbounce – A non-developer/non-designer’s dream. Make amazing landing pages for your whitepapers or marketing campaigns, and automate form entries. Although if you’re a digital agency you might already have people who can do this for you. But let them concentrate on their projects at hand.
4. Build that strong contact list organically!
A strong contact list is the basis of all successful marketing campaigns. It allows you to know exactly who to target and cater for, and therefore, save time and make more money..am I right? Otherwise, if you are selling a SEO app, what is the benefit of marketing to a nutritionist? Don’t buy scammy lists. Organically get one person at a time.
- Who you want to influence?
- Where do they hang out? Target ads based on those mediums to a landing page with email opt-in. Boom more people want to read your content!
- How are you going to follow-up? Call or email?
- When are you going to follow-up? Are they a part of your email newsletter? Should they be?
Ultimately the best ways to do this are to join online communities within your audience or meet up in person. Ask them to meet for coffee next week.
5. Automate those finances.
Financial information is used for a wide range of crucial purposes such as evaluating performance, decision-making, and budgeting. The good thing, it’s possible to save time and reduce cost by automating the whole process from sending a catalogue to preparation of the financial statements. To achieve this…
- Use invoice generator services – good examples are Invoice generator and invoice machine.
- You can also use accounting software such as Quickbooks, FreshBooks, InDinero and Mint to automate your accounting cycle.
- To automate financial proposal preparation, uses services such as Bidsketch.
- • And for financial and sales forecasting, use services such as Zoho CRM, PlanGuru and Intuit QuickBooks.
As a golden rule, try to gain the most from agency automation, dedicate 20% of you budget on tools and 80% on the people who analyze them. Do not simply rely on the tools without clearly understanding why you need them nor buying them and having the right people using them correctly.
Are you ready to automate your agency?
How do you currently automate your agency and what tools do you use? We’d love to hear them so we can add onto this blog and help more people like you to systematize their daily routines. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org!
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