Has automation gone too far?
In last week’s episode of the Agency Hour, Pete and I talked about why it would benefit you to un-automate a few things in your agency.
We also shared our email follow-up sequence to send out to prospective clients and we explained which of those emails should and shouldn't be automated.
Watch last week’s episode of the Agency Hour or read the show notes below.
Why Automation Is Beneficial in the First Place? (8:35)
Automations can standardise processes and how things get done. If you're doing the same task over and over again, and it needs to be done exactly the same way each time, then you can automate it to save time and effort.
Automations also remove the possibility of human error because a robot will generally do it the same way every time because we programmed the robot to do it that way.
It then frees up the human to do more human stuff… like being creative, solving problems and talking to customers.
What You Should Automate in Your Agency (11:30)
I have an automated sequence that finds me leads. (I'm not going to do a deep dive into the actual tools that we use, because I plan to do that on another episode.)
But what I have is an automation that finds me a list of around 25 leads, predominantly from the LinkedIn database every day. These leads get transferred into a dashboard where I can quickly scan and approve them.
Then another software automates either a connection request or a message if we're already connected. The connection request says something like:
“Hey, Pete looks like we're both in the agency space. Would love to connect”.
If we're already connected, it says:
It looks like we're both in the agency space thought you might find our agency Facebook group interesting. We recently interviewed [person] about [topic]. Are you the right person to share this with?”
The message is generic enough that it's going to appeal to anyone who is on that list of leads because the criteria is that they need to be in the web design, SEO, digital agency space.
Then a day later, I send them an email because I get double verified email addresses from the lead generator software.
I pinged you on LinkedIn the other day and thought I'd follow up here. I thought you might find our agency Facebook group interesting. Are you familiar with [guests name]? I interviewed him recently about [topic]. Are you the right person to share this with?”
These are messages that I was doing manually before I automated it. But I couldn’t keep doing that every day because it’s boring, time-consuming and can be easily automated.
Another automation that is often used in sales processes is chatbots. Whether it's Messenger or on your website, it’s a great way to pre-qualify someone before connecting with them.
Having a calendar booking system such as Calendly is important. It saves a lot of time going back and forth to arrange a good time to meet.
You can automate people booking calls or meetings by giving them the link to your calendar so they book in and then get reminders.
This is good for current clients. However, with prospective clients, you want to give them the “concierge experience”. So ask them what day and time suits them best and then book them into your calendar yourself.
This means that all the automated reminders will still go out, but the actual booking part is not automated.
We found that when we started doing it this way with new leads, that they were far more likely to book in.
The automations that you need to be careful with are the ones that are client-facing. But they're great for anything internal that can speed up workflows. Here are some examples:
- The movement of information between tools.
- An automation to create a Google Drive folder when you kick off a new project in your CRM.
- Notifications in slack, such as a channel for the team to see when a new client comes in.
- Internal communications and internal distribution of information.
What Not To Automate (30:08)
I have been unscrambling the egg and removing automation a lot recently when it comes to communicating with clients.
I'll give you an example… In Maverick's club, you get a one-on-one call with a coach every 90 days. And last year I built an automation so that members get an email reminder when it’s time for their coaching call with a link to book a time on their coach's calendar.
But I realised there were some things that needed to be discussed before the coaching calls that were unique to each person – they might have questions and there might be things that they need to prepare before the call. So I decided to turn that automation off and have the client success team reach out before each coaching call.
The automation provided a less than awesome experience for our customers and we just needed to have a human conversation.
We manage our members in Asana, so I create an automated task in Asana which reminds the team when to get in touch.
Pandemic Tech Fatigue (32:47)
I know this flies in the face of what we taught back in the Blueprint, which is to automate the crap out of everything. So why am I now saying that we need to dial back automations?
I think there are two reasons:
1. Automation has gone too far:
Most businesses automate a lot of their communication with clients, and people are just tired of it. You can tell when it's an automated message and people want to feel a little bit more special than an automated message.
2. We are missing human interaction:
The pandemic meant that everyone had to come online… Businesses had to come online and human conversations had to take place on Zoom.
We’re overwhelmed with tech and automated messages now more than ever. And I think what people want more than anything is to just talk to someone.
We are seeing it in our own business and within the agencies that we coach – the sooner you can get somebody on the phone, the better chances you have to win them as a client because they do want to talk to people and they’re tired of getting emails.
The Anti Follow-Up Email Sequence (42:09)
This is the anti follow-up sequence that we taught way back in the Blueprint. And this is a slightly updated version that we teach in our coaching program – Sales Accelerator.
I’m going to show you some of the emails that we put in this sequence and explain which ones shouldn't be automated and what to do instead.
After you do a sales call with a potential web design client, if they don't pull the trigger straight away, then you need to nurture that prospect without being annoying.
And so what you want to do is use this anti-follow up email sequence which goes a little something like this…
1. The day after the strategy call, send an email about your process:
I thought you might like to see the process we use to launch websites.
[Include a link to an infographic here of each step in your website launch process.]
It's a great resource that we use here to make sure everything is considered and nothing is missed. I hope you find it helpful.
There’s no problem with automating this email – it's a day after the strategy call and it looks personal.
2. The next day, send an email such as:
I found this the other day and just had to share it with you.
It sums up everything that makes the perfect landing page on a website and presents it in a beautiful way.
I hope you find it useful.
And again, we're just being helpful here and trying to stay front of mind without being desperate. We're not asking for anything. So this is fine to automate unless they'd responded to the email from the day before.
As soon as they respond to any of the emails, take them out of the sequence and have an organic conversation with them.
3. If you still haven’t heard back from them a couple of days later, then send an email to help educate them about SEO (only if you've spoken to them about SEO):
Search Engine Optimization is one of the most misunderstood areas of digital marketing.
Everything you need to know is right here: http://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo
Feel free to give this to your colleagues too – it’s awesome.
I recommend not automating this email because most of the time, you will have had some sort of communication with the prospect. And if so, this email will seem untimely and out of place. Instead, automate a reminder to yourself in your CRM that this email should be sent manually.
4. If you still have no response, then send an email such as this:
I’ve been doing some more in-depth research on your project and I can’t wait to share my findings with you.
I’ve also been chatting with some of my colleagues who are very excited about this project. We have a great team of designers, developers, search engine specialists and social media experts.
Here’s the thing: our schedule is filling fast and I wanted to make sure we get the opportunity to work together.
Are you ready to create something amazing together?
Again, this email isn’t automated and you might want to make it a bit more authentic and personal. So set your reminder to send this manually, and then have this saved as a canned response in Gmail or your notebook and tweak it.
5. If you still haven’t heard anything, send out some positioning emails with suggested readings on topics such as keyword research, social media etc.
6. The final email is the “magic email”:
I haven’t heard from you regarding the project so I have to assume your priorities
[ Your Name ]
And again, this is something that you wouldn't automate in case there has been some communication. So set yourself a task reminder to send this.
So basically the “too long didn't read” version is this…
Automate, whatever the robots can do internally to speed up your process and your workflow and keep the sharing of information within the organisation consistent. And don't try and automate too much that's client facing.
I'm just a big fan of getting on the phone and talking to people these days, as much as humanly possible.
If you’re tired of automations and want to speak to a real human here at Agency Mavericks, then click here to request a free call back and see how we can help you grow your agency.
(Oh and you’ll find out what we automate and what we don’t along the way! 😉 )