The Eight Best Practices for Automating Recurring Tasks

Automation can lead to huge time savings. However, you’ve got to get it right to ensure you experience the maximum benefit.

Take a moment to think about all the recurring tasks in your business. These tasks take up large chunks of time, even though they’re extremely simple. They need to get done, but they distract you from the bigger picture. They take up time that could be spent on improving your business strategy.
You could hire people to take over these tasks for you. However, that can come with a large cost and add complexity to your organization.
Thankfully, automation provides a solution. When you automate recurring tasks, you free up time to focus on your business and marketing campaigns. Automated systems also free up time for anybody who works for you, which means they can focus on other tasks.
And best of all, automated processes can run at any time of the day. For example, you can rely on automation to send out marketing emails as you sleep!
However, you only experience these benefits if you set up your automation properly. In this article, we cover some of the best practices for automating recurring tasks.


Best Practice #1 – Set Up an Error Logging System

While automated systems can reduce human error, they’re not perfect. Bugs can arise in your system, which can lead to consistent mistakes getting made.

This is why you need to set up an error logging system for any automation you create.
At the most basic level, this involves tracking and storing all the raw data related to every automated task. This strategy carries the lowest cost when it comes to error logging. However, you also get a lot of unstructured data that you’ll need to search through to find the errors. Still, it’s a simple solution.

The goal is to examine the data to find patterns that indicate errors in the automation. Higher-level logging involves tracking targeted information and storing it in standard data warehouses. This allows you to home in on specific issues, such as slow load times or bugs.
The key here is to understand why error logging is so important in the first place.

An automation may communicate with, and transfer data between, multiple platforms. There are often several moving parts to incorporate, each of which could go wrong. If you’re not tracking errors, you’re allowing faulty systems into your business.

Best Practice #2 – Define the Goals Associated with Each Task

Automation works best when you have specific outcomes that you aim to achieve. There are several questions that you need to ask before choosing a task to automate. These include the following:

⦁ What systems are critical to your company’s success?
⦁ Of those systems, which have enough recurring tasks to justify automation?
⦁ Will automating those tasks provide a tangible benefit, such as saved time or improved ROI?

That last one may be the most important question of all. An automation needs to have a tangible outcome. If you don’t know what that is, you’re likely trying to automate something that doesn’t need it.

Best Practice #3 – Establish a Lead Scoring Mechanism

Let’s move into discussing marketing automation. This is an area that Automation Agency experts can help you with. And automating your marketing is likely one of the key tasks on your to-do list.

Let’s assume that you’ve created several automated email campaigns, with the goal of generating as many qualified leads for your business as possible. However, each prospect that you have in your CRM is at a different stage of the customer journey. Some have just entered your marketing funnel, while others are ready to accept your offer.

You need to ensure your automation sends the right messages, at the right times, to each person. This is where lead scoring comes in.
Lead scoring allows you to track a prospect’s progress through your funnel. Criteria for the score vary from business to business. Typically, points are assigned based on the following:

⦁ Demographic attributes, such as age, industry, or job title
⦁ Actions that the prospect has taken, such as opening an email or downloading a piece of content

Each of these attributes or actions has a score assigned to it. Your automated system needs to be able to tally up those scores to determine the prospect’s location in your funnel. You define what actions should be taken at each score level, and your automations follow those instructions.

Best Practice #4 – Use Triggers to Ensure Automatic Lead Progression

Using triggers allows you to set up automated processes that start when defined actions take place. For example, downloading your lead magnet is a trigger. This could start an automated process that welcomes the prospect into your fold. Somebody paying for your service is another trigger. In this case, you’d likely send the client into your onboarding automation.

These are both recurring tasks that happen whenever the trigger gets hit.

Define the key triggers within your business and build them into your automated systems. With the right set of triggers, you ensure that your leads move through your system seamlessly.

Best Practice #5 – Collect the Right Information from Customer Interactions

Let’s say you want to automate the entry of data into your CRM. You have to complete this task whenever you get a new prospect, which makes it an ideal candidate.

However, there are several things that could go wrong with your automation. For instance, failing to ensure that your CRM collects all the necessary information from your lead forms when you set up your workflow. At best, this means you’re collecting incomplete data about your prospects. At worst, it can mean your data is corrupted or not entered into your system at all.

To overcome this problem, define the information you need to collect from your prospects. Ensure that your CRM stores this information and check that your forms collect it. Most importantly, make sure that your forms collect the information in a format that your CRM understands.

Best Practice #6 – Simplicity Is the Key

Over-engineering your solution creates complexity in your business. Any automated task needs to have a simple and logical workflow.

Unfortunately, it’s often difficult to see how complex an automation has become while you’re working on it. Often, you can only see the issue when you step back and see the array of functions and branching paths.

It’s like a chef trying to use too many ingredients to create a dish. Eventually, you’re going to change the dish entirely.

Simplicity is the key with any automation. It’s crucial to set a defined outcome. Know exactly what you want to achieve and how many variables will come into play. If the system you need to develop seems too complex, think about how you can break it down into simpler chunks.

Best Practice #7 – Set Up Tasks to Automatically Clean Databases

Over time, your databases can get clogged up with irrelevant data. For example, people may enter fake data into your lead forms. If left unchecked, that data will cause you to send emails or attempt to contact people who don’t exist.

You may also be holding onto data that’s gone out of date. For example, a prospect may change their email address without your knowledge. Again, this means you’re sending emails to an address that either no longer exists or doesn’t get used anymore.

Finally, we have the issue of duplicate data. This can occur when somebody who’s already entered into your database completes another one of your forms. If they use a different name or email address, you get a duplicate record. Depending on your system, something as simple as a missing capital letter in a name can create a duplicate.

You need to set up tasks to automatically clear fake data and merge duplicate records.

Why?

Think about the metrics that you use to determine the success of your marketing campaigns. If you’re sending emails, you’re likely looking at open rates to help you determine your strategy. Fake, duplicate, and old email addresses give you false negatives that make your campaigns seem less successful than they really are.

Confront this problem at the source.

Build verification methods into your forms that trigger when somebody attempts to enter an invalid record. For example, you can set up an automated task that allows your form to check an email address against your CRM. If the address is already there, the form can communicate this to the prospect and prevent them from proceeding.

Best Practice #8 – Measure Performance Regularly

Measure everything!

We discussed error logging earlier, but this practice extends to every aspect of your automations. How long does each process take to complete? Do your triggers activate the desired actions? If you have a marketing automation, do you get the responses that you expect from it?

The key message here is that you can’t set and forget an automated process or system. While the goal is for the automation to run in the background, it isn’t infallible. You need to keep constant tabs on it to ensure that it’s performing to your expectations.

This could be as simple as a weekly check of the automation’s workflow. Or you could do a deep dive into the data generated by that process to find new trends and patterns. Whatever the case may be, you have to measure and track performance.

 

Automation Done Properly

For all of the benefits that automation brings, it’s still easy to get things wrong. Mistakes made while setting up the workflow will have an impact later on. And if you don’t have defined goals for the automation, you won’t see the outcomes that you need from it.

But if you get your automations right, you can create seamless marketing campaigns and speed up project completion.
And thankfully, you don’t have to go it alone.

At Automation Agency, we can help you to automate any recurring tasks within your business. Our experts can help you create automated email campaigns and workflows, and set up triggers. With our team by your side, you can feel secure in the knowledge that your automations do what they’re supposed to.

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About The Author

Carl Taylor

Carl Taylor is the Founder & CEO of Automation Agency. For the past 10 years Carl has been building businesses and marketing them online through the use of Sales Funnels, Email Marketing Automation, Landing Pages, and Wordpress Websites. Carl is also a #1 author and highly sought after speaker and consultant whose work has impacted thousands of businesses across various industries worldwide.