Optimizing a budget for automation contains quite a few variables and question marks.
How much will a qualified contractor cost? What are the ongoing costs for an integration? Should we develop an API integration ourselves, or rely on an existing third-party service?
All of these questions lead to one bigger question for small business owners: “How can I optimize my budget for automation?”
We asked marketing professionals and business owners about how they optimize their own budgets for automation. From hiring expert contractors to selecting the right software, we received some great insights and have summarized them below.
Here are a few ways on how to optimize an automation budget.
Focus Automation On Where You Need It Most
Small businesses can optimize their budget for automation by focusing on the automation they need, rather than trying to automate as many things as possible. While automation is great, it also takes resources to become configured properly, leading to costly downtime if you try to automate too many things at once. Focus on adding automation where you need it most so you can reap the benefits faster than if you tried to automate everything all at once. Once you have some automation in place, your operating costs will likely decrease, so you can look at automating other parts of your business.
— Jennifer Fulmer, TechnologyAdvice
Receive Multiple Quotes From Experts
For about five years, I offered to set up email automation campaigns for Mailchimp customers. I’d quote them on how much it would cost for the campaign, with a separate quote for integrating their existing CRM system to Mailchimp. While the campaign cost was straightforward, the system integration expenses always varied by CRM. The more complex the CRM, the higher the cost due to the amount of time to complete an integration. As a general rule, look to receive a quote from at least three qualified contractors. Some contractors may have completed a similar project in the past that can reduce the rate. Others may be willing to perform the work at a discounted rate due to a lack of current projects. Seek out multiple quotes, and that should help optimize a variable cost in an automation budget.
— Brett Farmiloe, Markitors
Identify High-Value Activities
A business can optimize its automation budget by identifying the most high-value activities to automate and then choosing the appropriate platform to start with. For instance, an organization can achieve stunning automation levels on AWS, but it would not make sense to start there when you just need IFTTT or Zapier to connect two services. Start small to validate the value proposition, and as resources start to free up, redistribute effort into more complex automation workflows.
— Lukas Ruebbelke, Briebug
Workflow reliability is amongst the principal factors that make small business owners seek market automation. The overall result of your business will be as successful as the tools and techniques you have put into service with the most qualified team to back up. With restricted resources for small businesses, a well-run marketing automation tool can smooth-run several workflows,bcut costs in diverse tracts, and accomplish more. In recognizing and evaluating the business’ unwanted events, you will have the ability to recognize certain areas that need urgent optimization. If you have a budget and resources for a shoe-string and skull-thin team, focus on the elements that influence the profit margins more favorably.
— Sylvia Kang, Mira
Choose Carefully + Be Specific
Small businesses are always in need of optimizing their budgets the best they can. When it comes to technology and adopting automation, be specific on what automation will make your business and operations more efficient. There are tons of software and hardware out there, so be careful about what you choose to optimize your budget. Automation is a great addition and can save a company much time, cost, and make them more efficient but the startup expense needs to match the budgetary need.
— Mark Smith, UAT
Approach Each Project Incrementally
Small businesses should try to identify specific instances where automation can be beneficial to them and approach each project incrementally. By releasing on a feature-by-feature basis vs. big bang, organizations can see a return on their investment sooner and make a stronger case to the business for continued focus on automation. Analyze the areas for automation in your business and focus on what will have the most impact for the least cost. Look at what other competitors are doing in your space and see what has worked for them and what hasn’t. Read up on industry-specific market research to determine if there are any case studies you can draw from for your project selection. A data-driven approach is more likely to succeed, especially when you are just testing the waters of automation for the first time.
— Colton De Vos, Resolute TS
Hire an Expert
Even with relatively cost-effective automation tools, you might be surprised at the costs of inefficiency. For example, if you set up processes that have more API calls, or use more bandwidth, then you may pay substantial usage charges. Instead, hire an expert to help setup or review your automation. A one-time cost of a few hundred dollars can easily save you thousands in the long run.
— Michael Alexis, Teambuilding