What is task automation?
In a single word: lifesaving. Task automation streamlines processes. The automation software we have available today can whittle down a task that usually takes an hour long to complete to a few minutes. That’s powerful stuff!
Task automation is so…well, automatic (hah!) that we don’t really think about that much anymore. Chances are, you’ve automated at least one part of your life. Ever gotten an alert before a calendar event? Or have an “on vacation” response for your email? That’s automation. We’re living in an age where we literally have robots out there somewhere making salads, and the public’s reaction is divided between “oh, cool, The Future!” and “humans are becoming redundant #giveupnow”…
Okay. But really, how much should we be automating? If the technology is there, it would be silly of us not to use it purely on principle, right? There’s definitely a way to find a balance between innovation and good ol’ elbow grease, and no one can convince us otherwise.
Tasks You SHOULD Automate
Remember: work smarter, not harder.
When a marketing task is:
- Involves moving large amounts of data between applications
Then YES, you should automate that task.
What are some examples of those types of tasks?
This is one of the most frequently automated tasks in marketing today, and for good reason. It’s high-volume, can be scheduled, repetitive, time consuming, and (sometimes) simple. When you have a list of contacts going into the thousands, there’s absolutely no way you’re going to sit there and type out individual emails to everyone on that list. What you’re going to do instead is segment your audience population into targeted groups, and tailor your email to appeal to those separate demographics because that’s how all successful email marketing begins. Check out Mailchimp for all your email automation needs.
2. Social Media
Love it or hate it, social media is a must-have in your digital marketing toolkit. How is anyone going to know about your brand if you’re not religiously posting about all the awesome stuff you do? #visibility
Luckily, there are plenty of software platforms out there that can connect to your social media accounts and schedule posts for you months in advance. That way, all you have to do is take a day to plan out your posts for the month, then sit back and let Later.com or something similar take care of everything for you.
3. Analytics and Reporting
Data collection is a hefty task when it comes to larger ad campaigns, websites, and the like. You’d be gathering all sorts of metrics, from click rates to bounce rates to audience demographics and more. It’s really fortunate that we have tools like SEMRush or Google Analytics that can automate that data collection and save us some serious screen-induced eye strain.
Tasks You SHOULD NOT Automate
It stands to reason that the tasks that rely on uniquely human abilities, such as creativity, relationship-building, and subjective judgment, should be the tasks that actual humans focus on. That means strategy, design, content creation, social media engagement, and networking should all be done by the fabulous team of experts you already have. There’s a certain level of flexibility required in strategy meetings that computers just don’t have yet, a certain spark needed for innovative thinking that computers lack; and for all that we talk about AI, we’ve yet to produce a computer program that truly knows how to socialize like a real person. We’re a complicated, nuanced species, okay?
What is the best task automation tool?
Is there an automation tool out there that Does It All? Well, this one comes pretty close.
Aside from having a super cool name, Zapier is a software tool that can help you automate workflows by connecting the various apps and platforms you use. Basically, it’ll take over your life. You create “Zaps,” which trigger actions between different applications. Let’s say you put out a new blog post on your website. The published blog can trigger a customized Instagram post announcing the new article to all of your followers.
“Zaps” aren’t just a one-two punch, either. You can string together a whole bunch of triggers and actions and make yourself a Rube Goldberg machine of a “Zap.”
So, back to the original question: how much should you rely on task automation?
As much or as little as you want to. It’s a deceptively simple answer. Take a look at your list of daily, monthly, even annual tasks, and ask yourself how many of them could be automated. Ask yourself if they need your personal attention or if they’re housekeeping items. Time is money, and we’re a productivity-addicted society, so choose what’s most beneficial for your business!
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