In the digital age, automation is far from a novel concept. Indeed, what once sounded like science fiction is slowly finding its way into our everyday lives. Consider automated bill payments, automatic traffic notifications, virtual assistants, and so much more. The same process applies to businesses, as research finds that business automation is well underway. However, as similar as these are conceptual, business automation differs substantially from everyday conveniences. In business, automation entails cost-efficiency; increased productivity decreased costs, minimized human error, and so forth. Moreover, a wealth of automation software offers a wide range of potential uses, from marketing to customer support. With this in mind, let us explore exactly how your business can benefit from automation software.
What is automation in business?
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First and foremost, let us briefly define our terms. Colloquially, one may frequently conflate automation in business with “business automation” or business process automation (BPA). That’s a point worth addressing; as we’ll discuss below, BPA is a subset of automation, not its entirety.
Automation in business, at its core, is a simple enough concept; the automation of tasks that don’t require creative oversight. Through it, businesses intend to shorten sales cycles, reduce their workload, improve time management, and streamline their workflow. This finds a vast array of applications, typically through automation software that focuses on a specific type of automation.
Types of automation in business
To contextualize this point properly, let us briefly outline some main types of automation that businesses may consider.
- Business process automation (BPA); the automation of recurring tasks, such as data entry
- Marketing and sales; the automation of customer data collection, lead analysis, and other practices
- Inventory management; the automation of product information processing for eCommerce stores
- Chatbots and customer support; the automation of customer support through a 24/7 live chat/chatbot service
Needless to say, each such type of automation requires its own dedicated automation software to implement. Nonetheless, some overlap does exist, in such examples as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. Moreover, many software solutions offer excellent integration options to allow different automation types to co-exist and inform one another. But in all cases, automation yields the same core benefits – as long as a strong company culture facilitates it.
The benefits of automation software
Having highlighted the above, let us delve into the exact benefits of automation software. For the sake of text economy, we’ll highlight 5 main ones.
#1 Cost reduction and improved time management
Perhaps most crucially, all business automation software offers to reduce operational costs. This is a recurring concern for small-to-midsize businesses (SMBs) in particular, where strained budgets may otherwise necessitate layoffs and outsourcing.
In this regard, automation reduces a business’s workforce demands by minimizing needless workloads. For example, email marketing automation software may allow a business to achieve more with fewer employees. Similarly, chatbots and inventory management solutions may free up employees to better invest their time into other productive tasks.
#2 Better workforce allocation
The subject of workforce allocation is a crucial aspect of project management and business workflow. Manual, repetitive tasks will frequently occupy employees who could otherwise divert their hours to more productive fronts and duties.
Automating such tasks, automation allows businesses to improve their workforce allocation. By reducing manual labor and minimizing the need for creative intervention, it frees valuable employees’ time to be invested in more demanding matters.
#3 Enhanced workforce productivity
By the same token, automation software enhances workforce productivity. While it does so in many subtle ways, the primary ones are arguably two.
Enhanced employee satisfaction
A streamlined workflow has been found to increase employee satisfaction. Through automation, they frequently feel more productive as they handle creative tasks instead of repetitive, manual labor. Indeed, Smartsheet found that 89% of employees believe automation improves their efficiency at work.
Improved data accuracy
Similarly, as automation software minimizes human error, it produces more accurate data for all departments to act on. In turn, this boosts their effectiveness, increasing morale and productivity as results reward their efforts.
#4 Better, personalized marketing outreach
On the subject of data accuracy, automation software enables deeper, more accurate insights into potential audiences. In turn, it allows for deeply personalized marketing outreach with notable effectiveness. In this regard, consider the following examples of CRM software’s functionalities.
Lead analysis and lead segmentation
Initially, CRM databases allow for automatic customer data collection as they record businesses’ interactions with customers. From the initial point of contact to the customer journey and recurring inquiries, these insights offer immense value to marketers. Most notably, they inform lead profitability analysis and lead scoring, facilitating lead segmentation for optimal outreach.
Then, marketers may utilize email marketing automation for optimal outreach. This may include timing automation; many solutions offer custom event triggers, which one may configure to send emails at a specific point in the customer journey. Naturally, lead analysis lends itself perfectly to this kind of automation. Moreover, this allows outreach to occur outside of standard working hours.
Finally, CRM enhances internal collaboration as it breaks down data silos by offering a consolidated database. Marketing and sales teams may collaborate more efficiently, ensuring that no valuable prospects are overlooked or approached too soon. In tandem with personalized messaging, this ensures that conversion rates remain as high as possible.
#5 Improved website conversion rates and bounce rate reduction
Finally, such automation software solutions also allow for improved website conversion rates and reduced bounce rates. By providing deep insights into the customer journey, many such solutions enable businesses to provide a consistent customer experience (CX). Indeed, it’s a streamlined CX that will make visitors want to stay on a website and with a business.
What’s more, there are automation solution functionalities to address all 4 stages of the customer journey:
- Discovery phase; landing page optimization through audience analytics, enhanced keyword research, etc
- Research phase; automated ad buying and audience targeting, product recommendations, etc
- Conversion phase; automated email marketing outreach, marketing copy personalization, ad retargeting, etc
- Post-sale phase; automated customer service through chatbots and help desks, enhanced service quality through interaction records
Finally, a streamlined workflow and better internal communication can both further enable teams to make improvements across the sales funnel. But conversions begin with landing pages, and automated analytics are an invaluable asset toward improving them.
To summarize, automation software comes in multiple forms and with very different purposes. From CRM and BPA to inventory management solutions and chatbots, options abound. But all automation, fundamentally, offers to reduce costs, increase workforce productivity, and ultimately drive sales through an impeccable, personalized CX. Whether it’s a minor convenience or full process automation a solution offers, it remains an improvement in cost-efficiency. In the digital age, when massive potential audiences are available, such technology can only be an asset toward business growth.