Without online automation tools, I would be extremely overwhelmed and bogged down in day-to-day online marketing tasks. I have come across many businesses out there that have no automation tools in place. When I see this, I wonder how they are able to manage their business. I want to share with you my favorite automation tools.
Social Media Automation – Hootsuite
For those who jump into the social media marketing pool, they quickly realize that they need a way to effectively manage this beast. If you’re only posting a couple of times, it’s usually no problem. You can use Facebook’s scheduling tool and schedule those couple of posts. However, for those of you who are posting several times a day across multiple platforms, you really need to use an online tool to help you manage this process. Enter Hootsuite. (Read my Review of Hootsuite and Watch this Instructional Video).
Hootsuite allows you to connect all of your social media networks so that you can schedule posts across multiple networks. So basically you can post to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn at one time. It’s really awesome!! You can schedule your posts day, weeks to months in advance. You can also connect your blog’s RSS feed to Hootsuite so that your blog posts automatically post to your networks as well.
You can also see what’s happening in your social media networks on Hootsuite stream dashboard. This is a great way to respond to your Twitter retweets and mentions. So, if you haven’t tried Hootsuite, then I think it’s time for you to check it out.
Project Management Tools
I’m always amazed when I start a new working relationship with a business and I find out that they don’t use a tool for day to day project management. I’m a small business owner with a handful of people working on my team and there is no way I could keep with the multitude of things on the “to-do list” without one.
Project management tools such as Asana.com (this is my fave and what I use), BaseCamp, and Zoho.com. provide a way to track tasks within a project and to ensure that your team is staying on top of things. I used to write my tasks down on a notepad and at times graduated to a day by day planner. Once my business and the number of day to day tasks grew, this type of task management wasn’t cutting it.
I used to have spiral notebooks and pieces of post-it notes all over my desk. Needless to say, I went on a hunt for the perfect project management tool. One of my assistants told me about Asana.com, so I gave it a try…And I love it. I would be lost without it. I’m able to put all of my client tasks as well as company and blog marketing tasks in it. I can assign a task to a certain team member and follow up as necessary. I’m also able to forward an email message directly to Asana which then created a new task. It’s pretty awesome. So I’ve given up my hand written lists and I strictly use Asana for even my personal to do list. Having a tool like this helps to get the tasks out of your mind and onto a list.
Auto responders are automatically generated email messages that are sent out through an email marketing tool such as Mail Chimp , Aweber or Constant Contact. You can setup an unlimited number of these auto generated email messages ahead of time. These can even be used to send out training lessons, weekly tips, or promotional drip campaigns.
I love anything that is “set it and forget it”. Spending time in the beginning to get your emails setup will result in more time to spend on other marketing efforts or connecting with your readers online.
If your business requires people to fill out forms, then you should consider providing them with a way to fill out the forms online. Having this data in an online form saves you from typing this information into your client database, contact management system or directory. Some online forms can integrate into these systems. Additionally, having this data in a print form allows you the option to copy and paste. I try to copy and paste as much as possible so that there is no chance for typos or missed information.
Google Drive offers a form option which can be added to a website or you can send people the link to the form. The information from this form is saved into a spreadsheet which can then be imported into your database program. For those who have a WordPress website or blog, there are several plugins that create great forms that integrate with a number of online programs. Gravity Forms is my tool of choice. It ingrates with Mail Chimp, Aweber, and Paypal just to name a few. It does a yearly licensing fee but it’s a very powerful tool and I couldn’t run my business without it.
If you find yourself bogged down with day-to-day tasks, there may be an automation solution. Do some research online. You would be surprised how many free online tools there are to help manage your daily business activities.
What automation tools do you love?