Cup of fresh coffee on work desk

By Kristine Colosimo, Workato

The holidays are stressful, especially for small business owners who are often torn between enjoying time with family or managing business operations. According to RJMetrics, from Black Friday through Christmas day, 50-100 percent more revenue is generated than during any other days throughout the year. Luckily, a lot of shopping is moving online and that means SMBs can consider automating many of their business operations.

Now is a good time to set up workflow automations—U.S. retail ecommerce is estimated to grow 16.6 percent during the 2016 holiday season (up from a 15.3 percent increase in 2014). Automating workflows means that tasks previously done manually can now be done automatically. Whether transferring orders from Shopify into Marketo, or sending email addresses from an ecommerce platform to an email marketing platform—automation can do it for you, saving time and increasing business.

Here are 5 tips to boost business during the holidays using automation:

1—Get email lists up to date in real time

If you want to send an email newsletter or market your ecommerce store, exporting emails from the point of sign up into an email marketing program like MailChimp or Constant Contact is tedious and slows you down. By integrating your customer relationship management (CRM) tool, landing pages, or ecommerce platform with your email tool, your lists will be ready to go! You’ll have time to send more email campaigns than before, and drive more sales. You can also automate the population of different email lists based on criteria you set for more precisely targeted campaigns.

2—Connect front end and back end

Holidays mean increased sales, but that means advertising and investing back into your business in order to maximize those sales. Automating the data between your CRM tool, like Salesforce or Infusionsoft, or your point of sale (POS) system with your finance app, like Xero or QuickBooks, will save time and give a real-time view of business finances. With automated reconciliation, all sales are automatically accounted for in your finance app, as well as any refunds or purchases you make. Having an automatic, full picture of business finances will create dynamic reports that inform your choices of where to invest in your own business.

3—Give customer service a 360-degree view

Everything doesn’t always run perfectly and your customer service team is an integral part of handling those situations. In order for customer service agents to do their best job, they need to easily and quickly access key information about the customer, such as purchase history, contact information, etc. Integrating customer service apps like Zendesk, Intercom, or Freshdesk, with the hub of your customer information and finance app will give the team a true, 360-degree view of the customer. That means the problem is fixed faster, resulting in a happier customer.

4—Segment email marketing based on purchase data

Purchase data is often stored in apps like Shopify while marketing efforts are tracked through apps like Marketo or HubSpot. In order to effectively segment email marketing campaigns to increase sales, you need to pull information from Shopify into Marketo, or whatever app you are using for marketing activities. This simple integration can increase repeat buyers by a large percentage.

5—Set smart alerts to get only important information

Email and chat alerts can be helpful, but they can also become overwhelming if there are too many. During the busy holiday season, smart alerts, which only signal when something critical needs immediate attention, can really save your sanity. These smart alerts can be created by identifying thresholds of activity or requesting a summary report in Slack or via e-mail. For example, more than five high priority customer service tickets in 10 minutes is a good indication that something requires immediate attention. By creating smart alerts, businesses can focus on pressing tasks knowing the system will trigger an alert only if there’s a problem.

These are just a few of the many ways small business owners can use automation to make business operations more efficient and as a result, the holiday season more enjoyable. If you would like to automate your business, Workato is offering a limited-time, 20 percent holiday discount on selected plans.

Sign up for a free account at Workato to view the holiday discount rates.

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