Part 3: Automating Your Sales Process
The sales funnel is a process that leads unqualified prospects to become buyers, weeding out those who find your offers irrelevant along the way. The purpose is to make the sales process smooth and standardized. Nearly every aspect of an online sales funnel can be automated so that all you need to do is set it up and drive traffic to it.
The Squeeze Page and Opt-in
A squeeze page is a single page on the web where the visitor can do only one of two things – they can sign up for the offer there or they can click away. Squeeze pages are often used as the entry point for online sales funnels.
The way squeeze pages initially qualify prospects is by offering an opt-in form. Visitors find the site or page and are urged to sign up for a freebie or other incentive. The entire opt-in process can be easily automated so that prospects can enter your sales funnel at any time, 24/7.
Through your squeeze page’s site design, there are ways you can increase its efficiency. One much debated method is the pop-up message. This is a message that appears when a visitor lands on your page urging them to sign up. Love them or hate them, they do work.
Another method is the exit splash. This is a pop-up that appears when they click away from the site, saying something like, ‘Are you sure you want to leave this page?’ and then reiterating the benefits of your offer.
Once a prospect signs up, they’re redirected to a download page where they can get the freebie or incentive you’re offering. This could be any type of item, such as an information product or a coupon, but the entire process of downloading it
can be automated. You don’t need to manually deliver the product to them.
Once the prospect is signed up for your list, you can start marketing to them through their email. This is done through an automated software program called an autoresponder. Through your autoresponder you can schedule messages that give your subscribers content and various back-end offers that help you qualify them. Email marketing starts with an automated welcome message, telling them
what they can expect from your messages. Just like the one you received when you signed up for this program.
The Sales Process
It’s absolutely essential for every online business to automate its sales process. No one has the time to process each purchase manually, and if you try it will be impossible for your business to scale when sales pick up. And we don’t want that.
Automated shopping carts allow customers to shop and buy your products without any involvement from you. If you’ve ever used Amazon before, you’re familiar with this system from a customer’s point of view. You select the items you want and then ‘proceed to checkout’ – a page where you can click a ‘buy now’ button and make the purchase.
Shopping carts are added to websites through software programs or online services. Many webhosting companies offer shopping carts as part of their packages. After signing up for a shopping cart and adding all relevant financial information, you’ll be asked to add your products to it. Once it’s finished, the
program or service will give you the code to add the cart to your website.
Don’t Automate Customer Service
One area of your business that should never be automated is customer service. You can lead prospects through your sales funnel and allow them to buy from you completely on autopilot. But when there’s a question, problem or concern, you need to be there to deal with it.
Always let customers know the best way to reach you. Is it by phone, social media, email, or some other method? I always prefer email or a message in FaceBook. I don’t like the interruption of work flow that happens when the phone rings. So all of my calls are routed through a voip service and messages are transcribed and sent to me by email (automatically, of course).
Repeat this information in your signature line of your email, on your contact page & in receipts sent to your customers after they’ve made a purchase. And if you’ve promised to get back to them in 24 hours, make it so.
Part 4: Automating Your Daily Email Tasks
Everyone who works online deals with a deluge of email messages each day. You may have heard about my project to get below 400 emails per day.
Online business owners also use email to keep in contact with their customers, sending them content and offers. Whether dealing with emails coming in or your marketing messages going out, it helps a great deal to automate your email processes.
Streamlining Your Workflow with Email Automation
There are several ways automation can help you deal with your daily incoming emails. If you have a task list integrated with your email system such as Google Tasks and a Gmail account, you can turn incoming emails into tasks. Any email that requires some form of action from you can be turned into a task through the Gmail system. Another method is to create a label called ‘New Tasks’ or ‘Task List’ and move these messages to that label.
Microsoft Outlook has a tool that allows you to automate daily email tasks easily. In Microsoft Outlook 2010, this is called Quick Steps. It just takes a few clicks to turn an email you need to take action on into a task. You can also create customized email macros (a macro is a task that needs to be done on a regular basis).
These are specific tools for specific email systems, but you can do something similar no matter what type of email you have. Create a folder for tasks to be done
and simply move those emails to the folder.
Or take this one step further with Office 365 or Google Aps for Business and have all your files available at home, office or while traveling.
If you’re marketing to an email list, automation is essential. In fact, it can’t be done without automation. There’s a certain type of software program that’s used for
email marketing called an autoresponder.
Note: If you’re a new mailchimp user (post 2011) autoresponders are not included with the “2000 free forever” plan. But you can purchase credits for $9 and have full access to all features & build this part of your business right, from the start.
Autoresponders automate all of your email marketing tasks including:
- Signing up new subscribers
- Sending a welcome message to new subscribers telling them what they can expect from your email list
- Managing and organizing your list of subscribers
- Sending broadcast messages to your list for you
- Allowing you to schedule follow-up messages so they don’t need to be sent manually
- Providing you with detailed analytics so that you can monitor your progress
When you use an autoresponder, you only need to write your messages and load them up into the program. The program takes care of the rest for you.
Automating your daily emails and email marketing frees you up to take care of other things, but when you need to communicate with your customers or site visitors, you should always send them personal messages.
You can, however, use “canned messages” as a template, but it’s always important to be real with your audience.
These aren’t “autoresponders”, but the basic elements of an email that you may otherwise find yourself repeating over and over again.
If you have Gmail, have you turned this on in Gmail?
Part 5: How to automate your social media marketing
You can automate some of your status updates. Status updates are simple messages that go out to all of your fans.
But while many updates can be scheduled, don’t set it and forget it. When there’s something timely, like a new product you’re releasing or a news story you want share, bump your automated updates and save them for later.
Even if you’re automating your updates, don’t forget to check in regularly to read comments. You need to respond to comments and do so in a timely manner. Businesses that ignore comments lose fans.
Sharing Content across Platforms
There are social media automation programs that allow you to share content across platforms. One example is Twitter feed, a program that lets you add your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn news feeds to your RSS feed. Whenever you add a new blog post to your site, it posts it on all of your social media profiles. Just make sure you’re not posting the same message twice in a row on the same site!
Automated alerts are an important part of all social media. On each social media site you can sign up for notifications whenever someone mentions you, connects to you, tag’s you, and so on. All social media sites allow you to sign up for these alerts through their system, but there are also specific tools like Hyper Alerts that allow you to sign up for search terms and offer other features as well.
If This, Then That
This is my new favorite tool designed especially for automating social media (and a lot more) that’s similar to alerts and notifications but gives you a great deal of control. It’s called IFTTT – ‘If This Then That.’ This program connects your social media channels with profiles you create called recipes. Recipes are based on the simple concept expressed in the program’s name. You choose a ‘this‘ – which is a trigger – and a ‘that‘ – the action that the trigger causes. When the trigger is pulled, the action results. For example, your trigger is any mention of your name on Facebook. The action is an email notification sent to you.
One of the most important things to do on social media is join groups and network. Finding groups can be a hassle, but there are automated programs that seek out groups for you such as Triberr. Triberr connects you to like-minded users and puts all of your content from all groups in one feed.
I also find joining Facebook groups can be an amazing network building too. In fact, as I’m writing this, 85% of my website traffic comes from Facebook (groups, pages etc)
Dashboard programs are web platforms that let you manage multiple social media accounts with one interface. You can simultaneously check your Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ accounts and handle all of their functions at one time. There are many dashboard programs available but one example that’s popular is Hoot suite.
Whenever you automate social media functions that are publicly viewable, put yourself in the shoes of your fans and check your profile to make sure it doesn’t look automated. Remember that the real personal component is the most important
aspect of social media.
- Creating Websites
- Automating SEO
- Automating Your Daily Email Tasks
- How to automate your social media marketing
- Analytics & Testing
- Website Maintenance
- Business’s Finances
- Day to Day Tasks
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