The Two Little Secrets of BIG Growth and Profits for Your Business
Have you ever switched off your computer at the end of a day's work, but found that the "to do" list you started with that morning is still as long as your arm?
Okay, you've answered tons of e-mails containing questions from customers, you've fulfilled some orders, and you've updated your newsletter subscriber list by deleting recent unsubscribes and bounce backs, and adding some new subscribers.
But what have you really achieved in that time? Have you generated more sales? Have you developed improvements to your products or services? Have you come up with some ideas for your next really profitable campaign?
The fact is, many small business owners get so caught up with running their business, that they have no time to grow it. Answering e-mails, fulfilling orders, and updating your subscriber list are all essential tasks -- but they will NOT increase your profits.
The only way to grow a business is to market it. And the secret to being able to grow your business and still run it at the same time is automation.
Automating key tasks -- so they happen without you lifting a finger -- doesn't just free you from doing some of the daily chores involved in running a business… it actually grows your business, too.
In fact, I'd go so far as to say that automation is ESSENTIAL to your web site's growth.
Here's a few examples of what I mean...
An automated ordering system allows you to sell your products or services day and night... meaning more sales, and more profits.
Automated follow-up emails let you upsell related backend products to your customers... which can boost your revenue.
Instantly confirming orders and fulfilling your customers' orders for electronic products like software and eBooks lead to happier customers who are more likely to buy from you again.
Answering questions instantly creates satisfied customers who appreciate your fast, professional service.
And the earlier you automate your business, the better -- so you can concentrate on building your business. Once you're automated, you can handle thousands more customers without being bogged down by thousands more administrative tasks.
THE best way to automate all your daily chores is to use "autoresponders." Autoresponders are pre-written e-mails that are automatically sent on your behalf -- for example, in response to an e-mail sent to a particular e-mail address that you set up, or when an order goes through.
They take care of the tasks that would take you hours to do yourself and leave you free to concentrate on building your business. All you have to do is write the e-mail messages in advance and set them up to be sent out when you want.
Unfortunately, some autoresponder services charge for every one you send, which can get really expensive. The good news is that there is a cheaper, more efficient alternative, which I'll talk about later in this newsletter. First, though, I'd like to run through the two areas of your business that are essential to automate... and tell you how autoresponders can help you do it.
Secret #1: Automate your ordering and fulfillment process
Your sales and ordering process is crucial to the success of your business, and it's critical that you automate it from the beginning. When you start your business, you might find that you WANT to handle the orders yourself. After all, it's satisfying to see those first few sales come in and to deal with your first customers personally... it means all your hard work is paying off!
However, after that initial honeymoon period is over and you're handling hundreds and thousands of orders -- you won't find the hands-on approach so much fun. Just think how long it takes you to handle ONE order manually, and multiply that by 100 or 1,000!
Put simply, your business won't grow... unless you automate your whole ordering process. So this is where autoresponders come in -- they can manage all your most time-consuming tasks, including:
Confirming orders. Many people are nervous about buying online, and they like to be reassured that their order has gone through without any problems. You can set up an autoresponder to send an e-mail confirming that you have their order, and reassuring them that everything is on track.
Receiving an instant confirmation leaves your customer with the impression that you're running a highly professional business, and it stops them calling or e-mailing you to check up on their order.
Notifying customers that their order has shipped. People also like to know that their purchase is on its way. So you can set up an autoresponder to tell them -- saving you trouble and preventing more phone calls and e-mails from customers asking if their item has been shipped.
Fulfilling orders. If you sell downloadable software, access to a password-protected area of your site, or an information product like an eBook, you can also use autoresponders to fulfil your orders and automatically e-mail your customer a link to where they can download their purchase or e-mail them a password to let them into a members-only area of your site.
This "instant gratification" factor is very important for good customer service.
Sending follow-up e-mails. One of the most effective after-sales techniques is a simple "thank-you." Of course, it would take you far too long to send an e-mail to every customer a few days after their order thanking them for buying from you and inviting them to come back again some time. So you can set up autoresponders to do this for you!
In the same autoresponder, you can tell your customers about other related products that they might want. For example, if you sold a customer a camera, you might ask if they'd be interested in an extra lens.
This type of product -- sold on the back of a previous sale -- is known as a "backend" product, and automating this process can potentially generate thousands of dollars in extra revenue for you, with no extra work on your part.
In fact, this technique can easily boost your sales by 30% -- overnight!
Now, you could do these things yourself. You could write order confirmations... send thank-you messages... fulfill orders... and so on. However, online customers are a very demanding bunch! They want to be able to browse for, order, and receive the items they buy online as quickly and easily as possible.
It's in your interest to make it easy for your customers to order and receive your products, as well as making the whole process hands-free so you can concentrate on growing your business.
Secret #2: Automate your customer service
As I've just mentioned, online customers EXPECT quick service. The fact is, if you leave it a day or two to respond to a question about your products or services, you could lose that customer to your competition. So good customer service is a vital component of a successful online business.
And once again, autoresponders are crucial. They allow you to...
Answer your customers' questions automatically. You can set up an automated FAQ using autoresponders. Just create an e-mail address like faq@MyWebsite.com and invite visitors to e-mail you with any questions.
They then receive an automatic response containing answers to all the most common questions you're likely to receive from your visitors about your products or services, ordering process, and so on.
This way, you save yourself the hours you'd spend answering the same questions again and again. And your visitors will be impressed by your instant response to them -- increasing the chances of them buying from your site.
Send more information on your products instantly. Another way to provide an extra service to visitors to your site is to send them free information. You could write a useful article -- for example, "10 Hot Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday" could go with a web site selling travel accessories -- and promote it on your web site.
Just invite customers to send an e-mail to freearticle@MyWebsite.com for their copy -- an autoresponder e-mail then sends them the free information.
The result is that you've established contact with a potential customer, sent them information about your product, and impressed them with your professionalism -- all done instantly and automatically.
The secret to great online customer service lies in providing a stress-free buying experience and giving potential customers all the information they need to make a quick buying decision.
So I have to emphasize again the importance of automation. If you can make your customers' buying experience as quick and easy as possible, and make your fulfillment and follow-up efficient and instantaneous, you can significantly boost your sales.
But how do you go about automating your business without having a lot of down-time or spending a lot of your hard-earned profits?
How you can automate YOUR business
Many Internet entrepreneurs get into the habit of doing everything themselves when it comes to running their business. It's partly because that's in our nature! We're very hands-on and like to be in control of everything!
But then more and more orders start coming in, you get more and more questions from customers, and before you know it, you’re spending nearly ALL of your time performing these "administrative" tasks.
And when you actually break down what you're spending your time on, you can find you're really just standing still instead of growing your business. Meanwhile, your competitors who HAVE automated their business are snagging YOUR customers, who've become frustrated by your slow response to an e-mailed question, the time it takes to get an order confirmation, or slow fulfillment of their order.
Automation is the perfect solution to providing great customer service and freeing up your time to develop your business. And autoresponders, in particular, are amazing tools for handling all the mundane e-mail chores that can take up so much of your time. They allow you to...
Build your credibility by impressing your customers with the speed of your response to their requests for information.
Increase your chances of making more sales by answering customers' questions immediately.
Make sure more customers buy from you again by providing great customer service through the instant confirmation of orders.
Provide your customers with instant gratification through the quick fulfillment of digital products.
Increase your sales by automatically upselling backend products to your customers.
So how do you automate your home business? Well, there are a number of companies out there that will set up and send out autoresponders for you. However, some of them charge you for EVERY autoresponder. And as there are tons of ways to use autoresponders, that cost really adds up.
A better solution is to use custom-built software like Mailloop. This is the software I use at The Internet Marketing Center, which I developed because of my own frustration with the limited and expensive solutions out there on the market. It's built with Internet business owners like you in mind -- both newbies and more experienced netrepreneurs -- and it allows you to set up UNLIMITED autoresponders.
That means that you can set up autoresponders to handle all aspects of your ordering and fulfillment process, answer questions from visitors to your site, and upsell backend products to your customers -- automatically.
The automated e-mails that you write will still sound personal and can contain any information you want -- but you only have to write them once! Then Mailloop takes over, allowing you to get on with the important job of building your business.
Check out the full range of benefits Mailloop can offer your business, such as unlimited autoresponders for handling all your ordering, fulfillment, and customer service e-mail tasks; an easy-to-use interface for creating and sending autoresponders; and complete control over the appearance, content, and management of your e-mails.
Remember, the HUGE benefit of automation is that it allows you to spend more time coming up with new ways to grow your business and increase your profits.
It's not impossible to make money and grow your business without automation, but it's very difficult if you spend hours every day answering e-mails, fulfilling orders, and taking care of all the other daily chores yourself. You'll basically become a secretary in your own business -- which I'm guessing is not what you set out to do!
So the question is not can you afford to automate your business… it's can you afford NOT to?
Disclaimer: The information presented and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the views of Work-at-Home-Business.com and/or its partners.