How can automation save you time and trouble? And maybe turn some of your online contacts into all important sales?
Let’s start from the easiest and most affordable automation there is.
The fast pace of living these days makes many of us anxious. You have probably run into customers who want their every question answered immediately. For most small business owners this is not possible.
Answering machines sound a bit 1990’s, but are still very useful and simple tools to automate your responses. Not just phones, but emails and social media messages have automated answers. So that you yourself don’t have to be online 24/7.
Most people know how to set up the ‘out of office’ autoreply on their email. Have you considered using it regularly? If you have certain busy times in your travel business you need to do something other than read and reply emails, let your autoreply take care of your customers then.
2. Facebook & Instagram
Do you have a Facebook page for your business? Good. Go to your Facebook Business Suite, choose ‘messages inbox’ and click on the ‘automated responses’ button. Here you can edit your automated responses for both Instagram and Facebook. You’ll get really short answer times this way, but the most important part is, with a well thought out autoreply your customer gets the feeling of being well cared for. See below for tips to make your autoreplies work as a marketing tool.
3. Social media calendars
If you use a calendar tool to manage all your social media accounts, some calendars, like Sprout Social and Falcon.IO, let you manage all your messaging channels from one place. Check what kind of auto reply options they provide.
Tip: how to customise your auto replies
Take a moment to remember your own experiences as a customer. What kind of answering machines or auto replies have you dealt with?
- What was your worst experience with waiting for an answer? Why?
- What was the best? What made it stand out?
Auto Replies are often boring: “Hi Hanna, how may we be of service” or “We are busy right now but we’ll get back to you as soon as possible”. Neither answer makes me happy to wait. Why not make waiting fun or meaningful for the busy customer? Something that makes them look forward to using your services.
You could customise your auto replies to tell something about your service or about your unique story. A husky safari owner’s autoreply might say: “I’m out in the forest with my dogs. I’ll answer you when I’m back within mobile range”. A simple message can transport your customer to your exotic locale or tell something unique about your service. This kind of attention to detail would make me want to wait for your answer.
Can you add something else to your autoreply that is either useful or entertaining to your customers? If you have made a fetching video of your services or can offer some interesting facts, can you add them to the automated message? Maybe promote an event? At least in an email there’s plenty of room to add visuals and extra text. But please remember not to be pushy. Your customers should feel they were well catered for and offered something extra after contacting you. Not force fed a sales talk.
OK. Now for something a bit more technically advanced. If someone other than you is taking care of your website, then please ask them about these features.
Do you have a website with a booking system or an invite to subscribe to your news and offers? Good. Then you are probably acquainted with automated emails. The time saving feature in these is that you need to do the email set up only once. Then the message is automatically sent out to the receiver when a certain trigger is set off. It could be a specific date, event or your customer’s action. Typical automated emails are welcome letters when a customer has signed up for something, and booking confirmations.
4. Welcome letters
You have probably yourself received quite a few of these. Take a minute or two to browse your inbox. Do any one of them stand out from the crowd? What makes a good welcome letter in your opinion? Is it the design, the text, special offers or something else?
If you have a login feature on your website or a subscribe button for news and offers, you already have a list of email addresses to people who are interested in your product. Why not treat them to a good looking welcome email. If you add a Call To Action button to it (for example: ‘book now’, ‘learn more’, ‘shop now’ etc.), you will get more people reading about your products.
5. Enhanced booking confirmations
Another way of using automated emails is in connection with your bookings. You know when your customer is arriving so why not set up an automated welcome email or SMS a few days before their arrival. Could you offer them some extra services or a discount for a partner business at the same time? This will make your customer feel welcomed and more likely to check out your extra offers.
Same thing with the aftercare. You can set up an automated email that is sent to your customers a few days after their visit. If you thank them with a good looking and well thought out email and ask them to give you feedback (again with an easy Call To Action button), you are bound to get more answers than with a standard survey link.
How to do it?
There are several email management tools that link up with WordPress web sites. The likes of Sendinblue, HubSpot and Mailchimp offer you some basic free tools and more advanced features with a monthly subscription. With any of them you can set up beautiful messages and simple surveys and send them automatically to your subscribers.
With automated emails, only your imagination is the limit. Seasons greetings, reminders, promoting your new products or blogs… For further ideas and examples of good automated emails, read Campaign Monitor’s guide to email automation.
Automated posting for your web content
If your website is your main platform for relevant new content like blogs, offers and news, then you can automate your site to post the new content automatically to your social media channels. It will link the social media posts back to your website to catch more readers and potential customers to where your products, shop and booking systems are.
6. Adding automation plugins for WordPress sites
If your website is run by WordPress, then you have a choice of several downloadable plugins that link your site to your social media accounts for automated posting. Most of these have a concise free version and a paid version with more automation possibilities.
The Blog2Social plugin is especially made for sharing your web content to social media. With it you can also revive and repost your old blogs and relevant web content. But other plugins made foremost for other use, like Yoast SEO or SchedulePress, also include simple tools for sharing automation.
How to do it?
Let’s say you have written a blog post and are setting it up to your website. Use one of these plugins to simultaneously set up your social media posts. The plugin will automatically fetch the link and the main photo of your blog. You can then customise the image, if you want, the text (or just use the lead paragraph of your blog) and the posting time. And away your content goes to your chosen social media accounts.
If most of your active content is on your social media channels, then you might be interested to read our article about how calendar tools make your social media management easier.