A web-based business can be a beautiful thing. If you do it right, it can grow into a long-term, stable source of income. Not only that, the satisfaction that comes from building a successful web business is something that’s hard to replicate.
Yet, a web-based business can also be a huge time and money sink. If you’re not smart about it, you’ll spend all day every day simply administering a website rather than running a business. Successful web entrepreneurs know that you need more than just a good idea to make things work. You need the right tools. You need to work hard, but you also need to work smart.
Automation is one of the keys to doing that. Automating some of your web-based business tasks frees you up to focus on big-picture issues, set the direction of your site, and build your business without having to worry about all of those mundane daily tasks.
Here are some ways you can let technology handle those tasks, and automate your web-based business:
1. Gather important customer data with Wufoo.
A successful business knows its customers. It not only knows who its customers are (i.e. demographics) but it also knows how they buy. Yet, collecting customer data can be tedious, at best.
Enter Wufoo. Wufoo is an easy-to-use HTML form builder that lets you create just about any kind of information-gathering scenario you want. That means contact forms, surveys, registrations, and more.
Wufoo automates the code-writing process. It eliminates the need to hire a programmer to make forms for you. It means you don’t have to spend countless hours using a complex form-building application.
2. Put customer service on autopilot with Zendesk.
Your online business needs to have stellar customer service if it’s going to succeed. Yet, you can pour countless hours into customer service if you’re not careful. In many cases, you’re doing the exact same things over and over again.
Zendesk is a customer service ticket tracking tool that lets you automate the customer service process. Let’s take a look at a sample scenario where Zendesk really shines:
Let’s say you provide a cloud-based solution that helps contractors keep track of their time. Some of your customers have a problem running the application using Internet Explorer on certain computers. There’s a software update they can make that will fix the problem.
Rather than spending time corresponding with each individual and attaching the update file to an email, Zendesk can automate the process. You simply select the customer’s information and the appropriate template, and Zendesk sends out the update file as well as instructions.
There are other ticket tracking systems out there, too, so if Zendesk isn’t to your liking find one that is.
3. Automate sales with Infusionsoft.
You have all sorts of business intelligence data that could be used to boost your sales, but you’re not sure where to start. Making your marketing tools work alongside all of your other moving parts can be challenging.
Infusionsoft lets you combine your email marketing plans, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and e-commerce solutions into a single automated system.
The idea behind this automated marketing system is simple. Using the data in yoru CRM system, personalized and timely email messages are sent to customers and prospective customers.
This, in turn, builds credibility and authority with your target market, making you the most likely place to turn when they’re ready to make a purchase.
4. Streamline collaboration with Basecamp.
When you’re working with clients, staff, and vendors, there are all sorts of task duplications. Consider how many hands a sales proposal might go through on its way to a prospective client. With each change along the way, a new version is created.
Centralized storage can solve that problem to some degree, but it doesn’t track the processes that go along with it. Basecamp takes every aspect of a given project and lets you manage it from start to finish.
The beauty of Basecamp is that you can then take those project details – such as project specs, policies, procedures, resources, and more – and assign them via templating to new projects.
Basecamp automates the project management process, letting you focus on running the rest of your business.
Automation tools for your web-based business are only as good as your willingness to use them, of course. None of these tools do you any good if you simply set them up and ignore them. You need to make sure the necessary data is making it into these systems, and that you have processes in place that let you reap the benefits of their processes.
Do you use any of these tools for your web based business ?
Image Credit: Crafty Miss