When you’re building a website for a client, there’s a lot of things you need to think about. Their objectives and goals with the website, whether they need to make direct sales or get more calls, how they intend to earn an ROI for their investment – all things that you have to keep in mind before you build.
But the cool thing about a website is that it can do more for a business than just be a sales and marketing tool.
It can also help to automate processes in a business and make that small business owner’s life just a little bit easier.
When you work hard to make your client’s life easier, well, I don’t have to tell you that that can turn them into an incredibly grateful client that becomes a referral machine.
But mostly, it’s about giving your clients the ability to get more out of their website. If you’re taking the time to rebuild a website, now is the perfect time to find ways to help simplify your client’s life and provide better customer service interactions through simple automations.
The best part? Most of the items you automate can be done relatively easily, especially if you’re building within a WordPress website.
I’m going to break down for you just what you can automate and the questions you need to ask your client to decide what they need for their own businesses.
What Can a Website Automate?
There’s a lot you can do with a website to automate normal processes for a business. Like I mentioned, especially if you’re building a WordPress website, you can do a lot to simplify communication and sales processes especially.
So what all could you automate with a website?
First, let’s talk contact forms. The general format I see most companies use is your browser fills out a form and you get some kind of automatic AJAX notification that the form has been filled out.
What’s wrong with that? Well, for one, it’s pretty easy for a user to miss that AJAX notification and they start to wonder if their form even went through. Second, getting a generic “Thanks for your email” notification doesn’t do much to help them if they need more immediate assistance.
What can you do instead? I for one, always recommend taking a user to a new, hidden page after they fill out the form. This redirect allows them to understand that their form has indeed gone through and it takes them away from the page that has the form, so they’re less likely to fill it in twice. You can do a lot with this Confirmation page as well. Anything from telling them exactly when to expect a response (have your client provide a normal response time, say 1-2 business days), to providing a phone number for quicker assistance, to taking them to your FAQ page or even your blog to keep them on the website and digging further into the business. Sometimes they’ll be able to find the answer to their questions through that targeted information, but they’ll also feel like the business cares enough to give them a few options.
I personally also prefer to take this up just a notch and send a confirmation email to the user as well. Include the same information that you do on the Confirmation page, provide links to social media accounts, and even give them a copy of their submission for their own records.
This is all super easy to do if you use a plugin like Gravity Forms, which allows you to set multiple notifications, confirmations, and even feed a contact form into your CRM system so that the follow-up communication can be assigned to a member of your client’s team.
It takes just a few minutes to set up this automation, but it goes a long way to provide a stellar customer service experience, which keeps your client’s customers happy.
If your client likes to host in-person or virtual events, you know how important it is to promote those events on their website.
Depending on how much information you need to include with those events, you can approach this a few ways. For simpler events, I’ve created my own custom post types that I code to cycle off the event as soon as that date is past. There’s nothing worse than having a past event showing up on a homepage, or worse, not showing any upcoming events because all of the dates are past. It also can cause a lot of work to have to constantly monitor the events on a website, so writing a simple line of PHP to check and compare today’s date to the date of the custom post type can make it all foolproof.
If your client likes to sell tickets with their events, has recurring events, or you just don’t have the coding skills, there’s luckily a plugin for that. The Events Calendar has a pretty powerful free version of the plugin that allows you to easily set up events that will auto-cycle off after their date has passed. You can upgrade to their Pro version to get access to recurring events and shortcodes, among other features, and add their Tickets extension to easily sell tickets for events right on your website. The Events Calendar lets you host virtual and in-person events, so it works for pretty much whatever you might need.
Does your client give away a freebie of some kind in exchange for an email address as a way to build up their email list? Gravity Forms is your best friend here, too!
You can actually create a simple form in Gravity Forms and feed it into a variety of Email Service Providers. Plus, Gravity Forms allows you to include a checkbox to confirm being added to a list and make that conditional (vital for GDPR). Remember how I mentioned that you can set up a form to take you to a specific Confirmation page after a form has been filled out?
I recommend that all my clients require a double opt-in (meaning you sign up and then they confirm they want to be on the list) as a best practice. So when I set up a lead capture, I take that prospect to a Confirmation page that basically tells them to check their email and confirm they want to receive the freebie. Then, you add the hidden page on the website that houses the freebie and put that in the Email Service Provider as the final confirmation page once the user has confirmed via email.
Let’s break that down a bit more. Basically with a lead capture using Gravity Forms, the Prospect fills out the Gravity Form. That then reroutes them to an Almost There confirmation page with instructions on how to confirm they want the freebie. In the background, Gravity Forms has fed that prospect into the Email Service Provider as a new prospect who needs to double opt-in, so MailChimp or ConvertKit, etc sends the list confirmation email. The user goes to their email, sees and clicks on the Confirm in that confirmation email, then gets brought back to a hidden page on the original website with the PDF to download or video to watch.
Going about it this way gives you a list both in the Gravity Forms database as well as controls the double opt-in and keeps the user on the client’s website more, instead of giving them a random landing page built by Mailchimp. It helps to keep that trust and provide a better UX through the entire lead capture process.
Digital Course Purchases
Obviously, products are easily sold on websites and automated through eCommerce extensions like WooCommerce. But did you know that you can actually sell a digital course via WooCommerce and auto-create login credentials for your client’s digital course, too?
Learndash, one of the best LMS platforms for WordPress, allows you to sell either directly through their plugin or hook it up to WooCommerce. With a simple integration, a prospect can purchase a WooCommerce product and get access to a course via LearnDash, with all of the credentials handled automatically.
This one doesn’t even require a lot of code or a plugin, but it does automate. Any times your client is answering the same question or type of question over and over, it should be added to an FAQ page. This helps users find the answers to those questions upfront and easily without wasting your client’s time. That’s a win-win on a low-tech automation right there!
Online Scheduling Tools
This can require a plugin or a third-party integration, but if your client does a lot of 1 to 1 meetings, make their lives easier and prevent them having to go back and forth to find a time that works. Use a scheduling tool! Personally, I like Calendly and it embeds right into my website with a handy code, but there are a lot of options here from Acuity to plugins and even direct with Google Calendar. I prefer one that syncs up to my current Google Calendar so it doesn’t let my automatic bookings override anything already on my calendar. Plus, I can set my own availability and I don’t have to worry about taking meetings on days that I don’t want.
Having a Scheduling page on their website with an integration to your client’s favorite scheduling app can make it easier for them to get those meetings booked and helps the user take control of those meetings themselves.
Asking the Right Automation Questions
These items really just scratch the surface with what you can automate for your clients, but it hopefully gives you a good idea of where you can start and get some of those creative juices flowing. It also should give you some ideas of the types of clients you work with and how you can ask questions to see what you can offer to automate.
Make sure you’re asking this in the proposal stage, because automations like this are definitely a benefit to your customers and should be calculated in the price of what you’re building. Don’t go giving away these enhancements for free!
To get your client thinking about the things that will help you know what to automate, try asking these sample questions in your initial meeting:
- What are some things you find yourself doing repeatedly on your website now?
- What are you doing repeatedly just in general?
- Where would you like to save time, task wise?
- Which questions do you get over and over again?
- Are you trying to build up your email list? Your social media accounts?
- What would make your life easier and save you time every week?
Those are just a few questions, but you’ll find that they’ll lead to a deeper discussion about what your client actually needs to make their website build more worthwhile.
The best thing is, too, that once you’ve built a few of these automated workflows out, they’ll be very quick for you to do again and again. That doesn’t mean you charge less for them though. Remember, things like this are billed not necessarily on the time they take but the value they provide back to your client.
And really, what’s more valuable to any of your clients than making their lives a little easier?