These days, there are so many tasks you can automate, so why not choose the right tools that enable you to work on important things that move the needle?
There are a lot of great tools that help you automate a variety of functionality, so the most important thing is to educate yourself as to what can help and how.
Below are five different areas that can easily be automated, if you take the time to do your homework. Don't worry, this is your cheatsheet, complete with the tools to explore and how they help.
Social Media Marketing
There are always going to be those ‘ah-ha’ moments where you need to Tweet something cool, post a fabulous shot to Instagram, or post an amazing article to Facebook. But there is probably a ton of "evergreen" content, always topical, helpful stuff that you can re-Tweet because it probably got lost in the Twittersphere shuffle and it’s still valuable information for someone.
Image via Sprout Social
Each month, upload that spreadsheet of content with the titles, hashtags of that fantastic "how-to" content you wrote a month ago that's still validated today. Then schedule it out using tools like Hootsuite and Sprout Social.
You can also use an IFTTT (If this then that) "recipe" to publish to other social networks when you publish to one!
Related Article: Give the People What They Want With Marketing Automation Software
If you publish a weekly newsletter or email with special offers make sure that you welcome your new subscribers with an automated email. You can easily do this using Mailchimp, VerticalResponse, AWeber, Constant Contact and Campaign Monitor.
Image via MailChimp
If you're more advanced and you have a pipeline of emails where you nudge people along the sales cycle by offering them white papers or guides do that in an automated fashion too. Marketo, Eloqua, Pardot and MixPanel can all help out with this at varying degrees of pricing based on size and complexity.
Confirmation emails from an ecommerce experience are an automation must - people just expect them. They're available to be customized in payments applications like Shopify, BigCommerce, Volusion, Magento.
These days there are some really great and affordable tools out there to enable your employees to manage their own payroll and benefits.
Does this mean they can go in and pay themselves a million bucks? No way, but they can make changes to their own withholding, dependents, beneficiaries and the like.
How great is that?
In small companies it obviates the need to hire someone or to have people coming to you to give you the change of address. Plus you get a timely reminder when it’s time for payroll.
Image via ZenPayroll
Related Article: 11 Entrepreneurs Share Their Best Billing Automation Tips
You want to always have a place that is the single source of "true" data and that should be your CRM software. You might have customer data in your ecommerce engine, in your email marketing application, but everything user-cenrtic should update in a central place, your CRM application.
And it has to be as automated as you can make it. Case in point: at my startup Dasheroo in the early days I was manually entering every user that came to our site and signed up into Salesforce.com. It worked until we got really busy and people started to sign up in droves!
I really did enjoy doing that, as it gave me so much insight into the profile of our users—the type of business, where they are located around the world and so on. I personally researched and entered our first 2,500 users. But now, it’s an automated script right from our database into Salesforce.com.
Image via Insightly
If you want to get a quick snapshot of what your competition is doing and you don't want to go to their website or their press center you can automate this task.
Set up a dashboard with a feed of all of your competitors and what they're publishing to their blog or their press section using RSS on a Dasheroo business dashboard. Set up a recipe using IFTTT when they make a change to their site or use it to filter out any emails your competition is sending.
Bottom line? Before you research any tool look into how much automation can happen to save you time in your day. You need to run your business and automate the tasks that can run by themselves.