The Ugly Truth About Business Automation For Internet Marketers
If you are a successful Internet marketer, or at least have plans to be, then sooner or later you will need to deal with a large volume of customers.
While achieving the mark of high volume seller is every Internet marketer's dream, the ugly truth is that the details involved with taking care of all of those customers can be time consuming. The fastest, and easiest way to deal with this potential time crunch is to automate your business.
The use of autoresponders can save you time in many different areas of customer communication. For example, autoresponders can be used to answer emails that request technical support. These responders contain a message confirming the customer's request and include information regarding the time-frame in which you will fix the problem.
Autoresponders can also be used to reply to customer's requests for price lists, to answer commonly asked questions, and even to deliver a free "report" or mini-ebook on the topic of a product or service you provide.
As far as frequently asked questions go, you can also monitor those questions and opt to create an FAQ web page or add to the one you already have established. This option can be used instead of the autoresponder option.
There are many different types of autoresponder services on the market. Deciding which service will work best for your business will depend on what you want that service to accomplish. Here is a short list of autoresponders that we use and/or recommend:
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Another area that you need to automate under your time management plan, if you haven't already done so, is your shipping operation. There are numerous automatic shipping options available today that can help you with every detail from the moment a customer orders your product to the moment it arrives at their door.
By using an automated shipping system you can decrease the amount of time you spend each week or day typing and entering address, printing labels and calculating shipping costs.
Automated shipping services, such as those offered by delivery companies such as UPS and FedEx, offer a wide variety of shipping tools that include such time-savers as automatic printing of shipping labels, printing of packing slips, and one-click options for tracking packages. This last option is especially useful as it cuts down on the amount of time you spend answering such queries over the phone or via email.
If your business is still too small to benefit from a fully automated shipping system- especially true if you are still stocking your product in your basement and preparing shipments at your dining room table- then you should at least look into automating how you purchase shipping supplies.
Small businesses can buy stamps automatically and save a trip to the local post office. They can also order most shipping supplies -boxes, packing materials, labels- online and set up an automated delivery schedule to restock supplies.
Once you have set up any and all automated systems that you care to use, it is time to look into another time-saving tool: delegation or outsourcing.
Delegation is one of the easiest, yet most overlooked, time management options. Many Internet marketers, especially those wary of spending unnecessary funds or giving up total control over their business, fail to consider the benefits if this useful option. Or, some individuals choose to ignore this option until their business has grown so large that they can no longer thrive without help.
Either way, these entrepreneurs are doing themselves and their businesses a disservice. Any business, whether it is an established operation or a small start-up operation, can benefit from the help of some form of assistance.
In order to avoid the cost and fear that comes with hiring an employee, start small and delegate a few smaller jobs to computer software. For example, you can use a software program like GoldMine to automate and organize your contact tasks. This software can be programmed to deal with contact information, appointment setting, email scheduling, and lead follow-ups.
Other types of software can be utilized to automate computer check-ups, virus scans, scheduling reminders, and even stock reordering. Depending on your needs, delegating any type of menial tasks to software programs can certainly save you time and money.
But what do you do if you need to delegate a more hands-on task - especially one that you just do not feel that software could handle? You hire an assistant, of course. But you do not have to hire an expensive, forty-hour-a-week assistant to benefit from this type of delegation. Other options definitely exist if you know where to look.
Let's say that you just need someone to read your ads or other reports for typos or grammatical mistakes. For around two dollars a page you can hire a freelance proofreader to check your document over the Internet. Simply email the document to your freelancer, and within a day or two, the corrected document will be waiting for you in your in box.
This type of online assistant can also help you with other tasks such as scheduling, writing follow-up emails, and setting appointments. And because these freelance assistants work from home and have the flexibility to carry multiple clients, their rates are usually much cheaper than those of a full-time assistant.