The Good and Bad of Automation For Online Businesses

Automation is discussed a lot, but it’s not always been well defined. Essentially, the process of automation requires removing human components of business procedures and operations and replacing them with more inexpensive computer-based systems.

Marketing automation is important because, when used well, it can increase the value of the business. On the other hand, automated calculators, though plentiful and easily accessible, do not generate accurate values for an online business and should be avoided.

The Good: Marketing Automation
There are certain technological inventions and innovations that appear throughout history and change everything. The printing press, the assembly line and alternative energy are just a few. But the internet has been perhaps the most transformative technology the internet has ever seen. Take for example the world of marketing in which traditional marketing strategies were expensive, time consuming and non-interactive. And while some of these strategies remain important and useful, marketing for online businesses typically does not rely on direct mail or broadcast media. The more inexpensive, less consuming and more interactive route is through cybermarketing. Traditional marketing may not be dead, but it certainly has a formidable foe who has the full power of the internet on his side.

Online advertising does not only it give you access to Facebook’s 1.44 billion users and the ability to directly converse with customers and potential customers who may live on the other side of the world. It also allows for easier automation that can cut costs almost immediately. For example, Outbound is a piece of software that automates emails by tracking visitor activity on your website and emailing them pre-programmed emails based on what they do or don’t do. Say they start onboarding but don’t complete the process; Outbound can send them an email automatically with further instructions or incentives for joining.

Hootsuite does the same but with social media by automating specific content to be shared on Facebook, tweeted on Twitter or placed elsewhere on social media. All of these social media channels are brought together in one platform, enabling you to quite literally automate your business’s social life. Using Hootsuite and Outbound together can reduce costs and add value to your online business.

The Bad: Automation Calculators
Perhaps your website has a good amount of traffic, a high visitor-customer conversion ratio and documented profits over several months or years. You don’t need to increase the value but find the value so that you can sell your online business and receive that long-awaited return on investment. One tempting way to discover what your online value is worth is to use an automated calculator, but this is never a good idea. Automated calculators will likely give you a value, but these calculators never generate the same value and they constantly undervalue your asset. More than anything else, they seem to be random number generators rather than actual tools with any utility. While automated marketing can help increase the value of your business, using an automated calculator will not tell you the actual value created.

There are many other avenues for valuing your online business beyond automated calculators. Some of these require you taking time to analyze your data and the market to determine a price. Or you can turn toward a website broker who will value, market and sell your online business for a small commission.

Jock Purtle is the founder of M&A Consulting Firm and Brokerage Digital Exits. Questions about the value of your website? Contact Jock at Jock@digitalexits.com or at http://www.digitalexits.com/

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