How to Use Automation to Boost your Agency's Processes and Efficiency
Agency life is hard. Due dates are always around the corner, clients want to see results and competitors are underbidding to taking away those hard earned clients. Amongst all that you’re also trying to bring in new business, keep your team happy, and manage finances. Chaos!
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, we don’t blame you. But we’re here to tell you there are ways you can accomplish revenue and agency growth while saving time and being efficient. The answer lies in automation.
When used properly, automation can save time spent on menial tasks, improve employee engagement, increase leads, grow sales and improve operational efficiency. With automation you get time back in your day to focus on the important things, like building out your business strategy, mentoring your team, or working on billable client work that generates revenue.
How to Use Automation
Almost every task can be automated, whether it’s scheduling meetings, following up with leads, bookkeeping, managing projects, or onboarding clients. However, just because something can be automated, doesn’t necessarily mean it should be.
To decide if a task should be automated you need to determine the impact and human component associated with that task.
Start off by separating your tasks into two buckets, high impact or low impact.
High impact tasks are ones that are a key component of your service. They directly affect clients and the quality of service you deliver. They’re usually also the tasks where a human decision is required, such as:
- Developing project strategies
- Creating customized solutions
- Doing design work
- Attending sales calls or meetings
In comparison, low impact tasks are ones that happen in the background, don’t directly affect clients and rarely require a decision making step. These tasks usually involve a recurring process that you follow every time. Good examples of low impact tasks are:
- Lead nurturing emails
- Entering transactions in your accounting books
- Sharing reports with clients
- Managing recurring project tasks
Tasks that fall in the low impact category are generally better for automation, since they’re recurring, have little impact on client relationships and rarely require someone to make a decision every time. More often than not, these tasks can be completed by a computer in a faster, cheaper and more accurate fashion.
What Tasks Should I Automate?
Now that you’ve learned how to automate, let’s talk about some easy automations your agency can implement today. Here are some common tasks you can set and forget:
Scheduling meetings sounds like a fairly simple process, but more often than not it’s the exact opposite. It’s a stream of time consuming emails with multiple follow ups that look like this:
“What time works best for you?”“I’m actually busy at that time, what about later in the day?”“I’m out of the office that afternoon. What about the following day?”“I’m in meetings all day, how does Friday morning look for you?”
And it goes on and on and on, until you finally find a time that works for both of you.
Save yourself the unnecessary hassle and take advantage of scheduling tools out there like Calendly, Doodle, or You Can Book Me. They won’t just save you time, they’ll also eliminate drop off in your sales process, improve client retention, and reduce the number of no shows at meetings. Best of all, these apps integrate with your email provider so you get notified when meetings get booked, your calendar automatically gets updated, and your client gets reminders until the day of the meeting so they remember to show up.
One of our favourite things to automate are project boards. Once you’ve mapped out recurring projects (learn how here) and the tasks involved, automating your project management process is super easy.
All you need to do is create project templates in project management platforms like Wrike, Asana (our favourite!), or Trello. By implementing tools like these you’ll no longer have to shuffle between spreadsheets, emails, and other tools that keep your projects going. Instead you’ll be able to automate routine tasks, prioritize tasks, set due dates and check statuses, all in one place. Your team can collaborate, share feedback, manage deadlines, easily identify roadblocks, and so much more.
Do you frequently send the same (or similar) emails to prospects or clients?
Great! You can automate those, too.
Your agency probably has a lead nurturing process where you send a couple of emails to prospects to get them interested in your service and close the deal. It can be time consuming and involve a lot of effort, since you need to track where leads are in your sales funnel, remember what content and marketing materials you’ve shared with them already, and think about what will be most effective next.
Make this easier with marketing automation platforms like Hubspot, Active Campaign, or even MailChimp. Track your leads’ activity, send the right emails at the right times, and personalize content to their needs using dynamic and conditional logic. With an automated lead nurture campaign you can guide prospects along a seamless customer journey, deliver engaging content, and tailor messaging to address their pain points - all while simultaneously performing other tasks that bring in revenue and grow your agency.
Examples of two other processes you can easily automate with drip campaigns are client onboarding and client feedback/reviews. You’ll be able to ease your workload by creating onboarding templates and sending clients the same sequence of emails (personalized to them and their needs). For reviews or feedback, send clients an email with a review form or NPS scoring and follow up with reminders or thank you emails.
Social Media Posts + ChatBots
Whether it’s for your agency or your clients, managing social media takes a lot of time. Your team probably spends hours crafting and posting updates, finding graphics, and engaging with followers.
It’s time to simplify social media. While you can’t cut time in creating content for you or your clients’ social profiles, you can at least take back time by automating the posting process and implementing chatbots. Tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, or even Hubspot are great for scheduling posts and managing accounts across multiple platforms - all from a single dashboard. Meanwhile, chatbots can be set up to provide visitors with answers to common questions.
You can even take it a step further and automate your social media reports. These platforms are great for getting detailed insights, tracking results, building custom dashboards/reports to share with clients and getting recommendations on improvements.
If your agency uses communication tools like Slack, then you can automate a lot of your client communication process. Some examples include:
- Client onboarding
- Getting client approvals on work
- Sharing performance reports
If you’re wondering how that’s possible, the answer is Zapier—a powerful tool that integrates your apps and develops custom workflows.
Let’s use client onboarding as an example. A new client has decided to move forward with your agency, so you went ahead and created a project board for this client in Asana. Using Slack or Zapier, you could create the following workflow:
- Create a channel in Slack using the client’s name
- Create a folder in Google Drive where you’ll collect client information and assets
- Send an email invite for the client to join the Slack channel
- Send a welcome message to the client in Slack, ask for any relevant information and share helpful onboarding resources
- Send a notification to the client in the Slack channel whenever important milestones have been completed in Asana
- Send reports saved in the Google Drive folder to the client’s Slack channel
- It can also prompt the user to complete a form to introduce themselves to their team in the channel.
Voila! You’ve just automated a large chunk of recurring client communication. You’ve saved time, improved efficiency and possibly even made the client relationship better than before.
Why You Should Automate
We’ve now discussed how you can determine which tasks to automate and given examples of some automations we recommend our clients to implement. It’s time to wave goodbye to your busy workload!
If you have any recurring tasks which take away from valuable time, consider automating them. It might be difficult to give up control if you’re used to doing everything manually, but automating common workflows and tasks will benefit you and your agency immensely. You’ll have more time to focus on important tasks, work will get done on time, more leads will convert into customers, and client relationships will improve.
If you’d like to learn more about how your agency can use automation to deliver excellent work and improve operational efficiency, book your discovery call now!