Introducing Automation To Your Online Business

My bias is always towards technology.  It’s what I do pretty much every day, I noodle around with lots of high-end technology and tell people how it can make their businesses perform better.  I help people build strategies to take them from where they are today to the nice, shiny new SkyNet style future that things like Cloud and Data Centre Automation can deliver when implemented correctly.

But for people who only know me through an online business lens, you may see me as someone that isn’t out there telling people to double down on marketing automation, the latest advanced plugins and whatever funnel building craptastic thing is being pimped out there by the gurus this week.

The reason for that is simple… Most people simply aren’t in a position in their business to take advantage of the leverage that advanced marketing technology can deliver them.

The truth is, they don’t have the offers, they don’t have the content and they don’t have the strategy in place to maximize the value of the leverage that they’re wanting to create.

Any effort spent on injecting leverage into your business with automation when nothing else is there is wasted effort.

This isn’t just me pontificating either, this is how I’ve behaved in my own online businesses and in particular, Casual Marketer.  I don’t have any kind of crazy sequences set up and there are no “flywheel” style funnel systems in place.

Historically, I’ve had the physical newsletter (which is now closed) and my coaching program.  When I shut down the newsletter, I replaced it with Authority Matrix and it’s now closed to new students for the next couple months – although you can click the link and join the waitlist.

The strategy that I was employing in the business just didn’t warrant a lot of automation – it would have been a lot of “stuff” for not a lot of “value”.

With the strategy pivot that I made in December/January, I have needed to start injecting a bit more automation into the process so that I can get consistency.

By way of a short recap – I’m focusing this year on some core KPIs for the business and tracking them closely (you can see the January Update here ).  The leading indicators that I’m looking for are an increase in overall traffic and new email list subscribers predominantly.

Two things I’ve done to drive those metrics are focusing on getting these daily emails posted up on the blog within a few days of sending them to you and also building out the Casual Marketer Academy Facebook Group.

The Facebook Group is going well – it’s doubled in size this week and the traffic that it’s spinning off to my site is growing – month-on-month traffic from Social Media (mostly FB) has grown 640%, albeit off a small base.  As the time of this writing, the Facebook Group has just under 570 members and by the end of April, I would like that to be about 2500 – that’s an informal target that I’ve set for myself in the last couple days.

To scale this out, I need to implement some automation and move past it being a manual process that I remember to do every day.  For the last couple weeks as I’ve been experimenting with this, that’s what I’ve been doing – I’ve manually been creating posts in the Facebook Group linking to posts on the blog, etc…

Over the last couple days I’ve been investigating some tools and for now I’ve settled on the Buffer “Awesome” plan.  It lets me set regularly scheduled posts and then sends them automatically for me.  I had originally thought about using SmarterQueue and bought SocialBee from AppSumo, but Buffer is just nice and simple and does what I want without a bunch of other bells and whistles I don’t need.

I spent an hour setting up the next ten days worth of posts to the group and so the only thing I now need to do is participate in the ensuing conversations as they occur and some basic administration.

I’ve also set up some simple automation to help keep the blog post process moving along.  I’m using Postie to import the emails into the blog in draft, then an email gets sent out to a few members of my team telling them to commence making a picture and another one to go in and clean up the post.  By the end, the only thing I need to do is give it a quick review, write a meta-description and hit publish – this has worked well and has us not only keeping up to date but starting to publish the nearly 400 emails that I have backlogged and unpublished.

There will be a few more things I start to automate in the coming months – particularly as I start adding in some Facebook advertising.

The process will always be the same and this is an important lesson:

  1. Identify things that you’re having to do repeatedly that are candidates for automation because doing them physically is low value but the outcome is high value
  2. Establish the process manually yourself by doing it for a week or two by hand to understand what works and what doesn’t
  3. Find the right tool to automate the process.  Sometimes there are “better” tools on the market, but a simpler tool does everything you need
  4. Build out the automation in a small scale and test it
  5. Once proven, spend the time to set it up properly and get it work so that you get the advantage of automation without becoming a slave to managing it

That last point is really important!  I see a lot of people inject automation into their online business and it’s so fragile and complicated that they have gone from doing stuff manually that was easy, but repetitive to spending copious amounts of time trying to keep their complex Frankenstein automations running.

The point is, there’s a place for automation in your business, but just be careful that you apply it in the right way.  Look to simplify the process first and then see what you can automate.

And remember, if you’re looking for leverage and thinking about automation as a way of getting it, ask yourself, “Does this really help me achieve my most important outcomes?”

I did that for two years and came away with, “No, it doesn’t.”  I’m betting you might have a similar experience if you really thought about it.

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