small business owner marketing automation process strategy

The Power of Automation for Small Businesses

As a growing business owner, you’re probably looking for ways to spend less time on boring tasks and more time on what you enjoy and will grow the business. For most, these things include:

  • Replying to client questions and scheduling meetings
  • Assigning work to your team
  • Sending invoices
  • Backing up data and updating computers

These time-consuming tasks steal your attention away from where it should be – running a smooth and customer-centric operation and discovering new ways to grow your business.

Sure, all of these activities are important. But so is your time. And our guess is that many of your day-to-day tasks are taking up way too much of your time.

With a little creativity and ingenuity, most routine tasks can be either full automated or made much easier with easy-to-use software tools. Doing so will save you a ton of time and frustration, so you can get back to what is most important in any service business: serving your customers.

If this is you, then automation tools are about to be your new best friend!

Read on to learn how.

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Where Business Automation Will Help You the Most

Take a look around your office. Think about how you spent your time over the past week or so. Start writing down the tasks you spend most of your time doing and how long you’re spending doing those. Most likely, you’ll discover a number of repetitive activities that take up too much of your time, and don’t add much value to your business.

When you start moving these low-value manual tasks into software, you’re essentially multiplying your time and the time of your staff – in some cases by many times. This means your team will have more quality time to spend with clients, partners and on more high value activities.

Think about that. Wouldn’t you want to invest in your business in a way that not only make good financial sense but also makes your work more enjoyable and enhances the client experience – all at the same time?

Here are some of the areas in your business where automation can help you do this.

Client Service

Did you know 83% of customers think a customer service experience is the most important thing when deciding what to purchase? Whether you have an online business, a brick-and-mortar store, or sell B2B, providing great customer service is non-negotiable.

Here’s how automation can elevate your customer service.

  • Use a chatbot to provide more timely service online
  • Implement a virtual assistant to help answer questions or schedule meetings
  • Create sales funnels on your website to provide leads with more timely answers to questions
  • Rely on CRM for tracking information about client interactions for better future service

Read more:

It’s Time for a More Customer-Centric Approach in B2B Services


Client Communication

How quickly are you able to respond to client requests?

According to Forrester Research, 77% of customers say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do. Your clients want to feel acknowledged and want to feel that their time and business is valued.

When it comes to responding to client needs, time is money, and most businesses find it hard to keep up with clients expectations. Fast answers to a question keep clients satisfied. Repeatedly delayed response (or none at all because they slipped through the cracks) may cost you precious business.

Here are some ideas for automated client communications that can take your customer engagement to the next level.


  • Personalized emails that include the recipient’s name, location, or other special acknowledgment that creates the feeling of a 1-to-1 communication
  • Timely communications sent within minutes of a customer’s action, such as completing a contact form or downloading a piece of content
  • Abandoned cart notifications for e-commerce activity
  • Constructing A/B tests that convert to the winning version as soon as it is decided
  • Using email scheduling tools to send emails at the best times for your customers


SMS (Text)

  • Promoting special deals or discounts to drive action
  • Sending meeting or event reminders, like for a scheduled webinar
  • Requesting survey feedback
  • Delivery notifications or delivery delay notifications


Business Development

A CRM or lead management platform can be a game changer regarding your sales team’s effectiveness. In addition to providing sales leaders with detailed reporting and pipeline information for budgeting and planning purposes, automation can connect the sales team and other business areas, such as marketing and operations.

Here are ways automation can support sales activity.

  • Triggered coupons or sales
  • Transfer of marketing qualified leads to sales for follow up
  • Ensure compliance with business contract rules during negotiations
  • Track sales revenue and forecast expected deal closings
  • Pre-populate fields in customized proposals to reduce typos
  • Identify prospects for cross-sell and up-sell opportunities
  • Track the effectiveness of sales strategies
  • Get our list of the top CRM tools for small business.


Back Office Operations

As a small business owner, you’re wearing multiple hats. You probably have a hand in personally handling or overseeing several areas of your back office in addition to client facing duties.

The problem here is that as you grow, you can only spread your time so far. And it’s important to focus on what matters most to managing and growing a healthy business. So, it becomes essential that you find ways to focus on what matters most; to remove some of those hats. You have to “fire yourself” from things other people can do — or even better – that software can do for you.

Whether invoicing, collecting payment, or scheduling appointments, providing streamlined operations can impact your business’s bottom line. It can also eliminate errors and provide a more audit-friendly trail for compliance, which every business needs.

Here are some more ways automation can support and streamline SMB operations.

  • Tracking office supply inventory and placing orders
  • Ensuring contracts are properly executed, fulfilled on time, and meeting quality standards
  • Collecting expenses and reimbursing employees
  • Invoicing clients and sending past-due notifications
  • Accurate fulfillment of customer orders


Human Resources

Keeping your employees satisfied is just as important as meeting customer expectations. Without employees, your business would be unable to function; quality help can be difficult to find.

Here are some ways automation could provide more timely and accurate human resources support.

  • Speeding employee recruitment processes such as placing job openings, reviewing applications, and scheduling interviews
  • Onboarding new employees
  • Tracking employee time and time off requests
  • Managing payroll and paycheck notifications
  • Scheduling and tracking employee training requirements
  • Completing analysis of employee benefit usage and costs
  • Gathering employee feedback through surveys and interviews


Automating Manual Business Processes Offers Several Benefits

When you consider the benefits automation could bring to your business, you probably jump to the two commonly realized benefits – time savings and cost savings. Yes, these are very valuable benefits. If you’re an SMB preparing to add to staff, automating a few processes could save you from additional payroll expenses.

As you consider your business operations today, perhaps you could also find value in these additional benefits.

Increased productivity

Time savings is one thing, but how about spending your time differently? If every employee in your company could provide two more hours per day toward impactful work like providing more thoughtful customer service, completing additional sales calls, or planning your next marketing campaign – how beneficial would that be to your business?

In addition, employees with more creative and thoughtful jobs are more likely to be retained. According to a recent study, 52% of employees considered other jobs when they were engaged in repetitive tasks versus thinking more creatively.

Improved visibility of data

Data makes us better at our jobs. Understanding the impact of doing “X” to “Y” helps us make more informed decisions about actions and strategies. Being the leader of an organization, you may have had to, in the past, request certain manual reports be compiled to understand the function and success of the business. But, with automation and data sharing, reporting can be much more accessible to more employees across the organization. You can make faster decisions to move your business forward with improved data visibility.

Enhanced communications

Marketing and sales automation has a multiplying effect on your business. If you were only sending one email a month before, now you can send one email a week. If you could only make twenty sales calls a day, now you can make thirty-five. Exponential growth is possible with automation.

With system marketing automation, you can enhance:

  • Email strategies
  • Digital advertising placements
  • Social media activity
  • Direct mail triggers
  • Chatbot interactions via your website


With sales automation, you can enhance:

  • Lead management/CRM
  • Appointment scheduling
  • Follow up communications
  • Contract processes
  • Virtual assistant capabilities
  • Cross-selling and up-selling
  • Proposal management


Investing in automation for marketing and sales processes will have an impact on the growth of your organization. On average, companies using marketing automation see an increase of 14.5% in sales productivity, and 77% of companies experience a lift in conversions.



Read more:

Guide to CRM + Marketing Automation for B2B Small Business



Reduction of Human Error

Many manual processes require attention to detail that can be hard to maintain for long periods. Human error is going to occur from time to time. But, by automating repetitive and time-consuming detailed work, you can reduce the impacts of human error on your business.

Your Business Automation Journey Starts Here

When you decide to move forward with automating components of your business, we want you to understand that this will be a long-term investment. There will be up-front costs to implementing automated functionality, but these expenses will deliver a return on investment (ROI) over time. Continue reading for the steps we recommend when going on a journey to automate your business.

Step 1: Identify your business goals

Before starting any major business initiative, we recommend you have a goal in mind. This goal will help inform the strategy and path you’ll take to deliver the expected outcomes. Where do you want to take your business in the next one to five years?

If your business aims to increase sales, then marketing and sales automation would be a good first project.

If your business goal is to reduce operating expenses, then working through operational automation might be the right place to start.

Regardless of your business goals, document them and socialize them among managers or partners to ensure everyone is aligned with the plan to automate. (This could save you headaches later.)

Step 2: Select Tasks for Automation

The next step may involve some hard thought, but consider the business’s daily manual processes and tasks. Make a list and consider which ones are enjoyable and which are not. Also, which are the most time-consuming or involve the most people? Call attention to the tasks that no one has been cross-trained on and those that are mission-critical. If tasks don’t require problem-solving, strategic insights, or creative thought, they may be good candidates for automation.

Here are the types of tasks that could be automated:

  • Recurring tasks like backing up files
  • Simple tasks like assigning work tickets to employees
  • Monthly tasks like sending invoices to clients
  • Data tasks like syncing databases
  • Communication tasks like sending reminder emails


Step 3: Create Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

Before you can automate a process, it will need to be defined step-by-step for standardization. Most automation systems will not be smart enough to reason or make decisions for you. Automated processes are most successful when they are standardized and repeatable. We suggest creating a standard operating procedures document to reference throughout the automation journey. (This will come in handy for future staff training as well!)


Step 4: Choose the Right Automation Tools

We recommend holding off on researching tools until you have first determined your automation goals and which projects you will push forward. This is because there isn’t a single tool that can automate everything, so you will need to research multiple tools across your business functions.

The aim is to start small by researching, implementing, and training each tool separately. You’ll need to involve different areas of your business depending on the process that is being automated. Will it impact marketing, sales, customer service, or accounting? Ensuring everyone is on board will help with employee retention, process ownership, and usage rates.


Step 5: Monitor Results and Refine

It might be necessary to adjust your automated routines over time as you learn about the additional functionality of your automation technology. Utilize whatever analytics are provided to measure results and impact. Survey the users in your company to see how they are adjusting to the new automated processes, how much time they think has been saved, and how much more time they have available now for other projects.

Digital Transformation Raises the Stakes

After reading this guide, we hope you’re filled with ideas for enhancing your business with automation. Whether marketing, sales, or operations, all areas of your business can benefit from modernizing processes.

Digital transformation has the potential to draw a line between technology-savvy businesses and those with room to learn. Customers now expect customization; 76% of customers want their data used to deliver services specialized to their needs. And in addition to personalization, they expect speed, accuracy, and opportunities to connect with your business through social media or chat on your website.

This digital divide has truly raised the stakes for businesses. We want to be a resource for SMBs as they approach the next phase of technology, including automation. We want to help you:

  • Understand your business on a deeper level
  • Define your KPIs and objectives
  • Identify intelligent inbound opportunities
  • Focus on strong results

We can help you integrate automation into your sales and marketing processes to elevate your opportunity, service, and brand in ways traditional approaches fall short.

Our use of modern marketing practices, such as design thinking, data insights, experimentation, growth hacking, and smart technology, can help you grow your business in new and exciting ways.

Want to know more about how CRM + marketing automation can help your business?

We would love to help! We usually start by asking a few questions to understand your customers and your business. After an exploration of your goals and what data you have available to fulfill them, we will design a tailored CRM strategy and implementation plan to maximize the potential of your customer relationships for growth and competitive advantage.

Let’s get started!

Schedule a business automation consultation today.


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