Between long to-do lists, email responses and the never-ending cycle of meetings, the workday can be consumed by the mundane missions of everyday business life. That’s why taking routine, recurring tasks off your to do list is essential for your productivity. Some of these business tasks can be automated, while others on your list may need to be delegated to employees. Read on for 20 business tasks that can be automated via applications on your computer or smartphone, saving time for you and your staff.
Marketing Tasks You Can Automate
- Your social media. Look into content management programs like HootSuite, which allow for social media posts to be written in batches, and then dispersed throughout the week or month using a scheduler.
- Blogging. If your company has a blog, most blogging sites, such as WordPress, offer an option to schedule posts in advance. Just as with your social media system, you can then write numerous blog posts one day every month and set them up to be released automatically. You can even tie in social media posts to go out when a post goes live, streamlining even further.
- Research. Google Alerts is a beacon in an age of information. Using search terms for your company, industry, and competitors, the tool monitors online mentions and compiles them for you in real time, daily, or weekly emails that you can glance through in a minute. No more scouring the web for untold hours!
- Website traffic tracking. If you use Google Analytics, it’s simple to set up a report to have emailed once a week. You’ll have the statistics of your website appear in your inbox instead of wasting precious time gawking at who’s on your site now.
- E-commerce reminders. If your website sells a product, you’ll want to make sure you’re optimizing sales by nudging customers who’ve abandoned their carts. This is easy to automate, likely using your email marketing software. If a customer has an abandoned shopping cart, set up a ping to inquire if they’re still interested.
- Event registration. If you’ve organized an event or are sending a client or staff member out to an event, be sure you put together a pre-written email with directions, instructions of what to bring, and other details. Having a standard one-pager will prevent dozens of specific discussions.
Customer Support Tasks You Can Automate
- Customer support. Organizing customer care using automatically generated help desk tickets can help your customer service team know the order they should respond to inquiries, and track the resolutions, saving time and hassle.
- Email responding. You obviously don’t want to send out a robot-generated email to everything in your inbox, but if you find yourself frequently getting the same questions over and over, it’s easy to set up a canned responses through Gmail, which you can customize with details before you send.
- Customer emails. Emails that go out on customers’ or vendors’ birthdays or business anniversaries can go a long way towards fostering solid relationships. These can be scheduled in advance off of databases.
Financial Tasks You Can Automate
- Invoice reminders. Have a client who owes payment? Freshbooks allows you to created automated email reminders for them to avoid having you compose less and less patient reminders.
- Payroll. Apps like Gusto can easily automate payroll so that your HR department isn’t bogged down twice a month.
- Receipts. If your company has piles of receipts, scan them to an app like Shoeboxed to automatically get the necessary information exported from them. Once you’ve scanned the backlog, make a habit of snapping images as you go, to avoid a slog during tax preparation.
- Paying bills. Coordinating with your bank to set up automatic payments is an easy way to ensure your office has electricity without needing to write out checks every month. Be sure you’ve accounted for recurring payments in your P&Ls; just because you’re not writing checks doesn’t mean you’re not spending money.
Administrative Tasks You Can Automate
- Backing up files. This essential precaution doesn’t need your undivided attention. Instead, set up a cloud-based backup like Dropbox, where you can establish a daily or weekly time for a background backup. No more setting aside half a day to save files to an external hard drive!
- Share calendars. This may not seem like automation, but if you share your Outlook or Google calendar with your coworkers, they can easily see when you’re free. That allows them to plan meetings without wasting hours replying to complicated email threads.
- Eliminate annoying e-mails. Gmail has an automatic promotional email folder; take the time to set it up, or install a program like Sanebox or Unroll.me, which can collect emails and send you a weekly report on what was in them, as well as unsubscribe from junk you hate.
- Job recruitment. Programs like ZipRecruiter can send out your job description to multiple job-hunting websites all at once.
- Your to-do list. Wunderlist is a great app for organizing tasks into categories and sending you automated reminders. If you already use project management software, poke around to see what other automated reminders you might like to use.
- Online forms. Programs like Roboform can help automatically fill out online forms with stored information, like the address of your business.
- Email signatures. It may seem small, but having your title and contact information in your email signature will save you a few seconds typing your phone number. With the amount of emails that get sent daily, those seconds adds up!
Want to learn more about business tasks that can be automated? Check out, “Streamline Your Small Business Finances with These Five Tools.”