Health plans are dealing with major disruption – think Amazon, COVID-19, etc. They’re challenged with supporting their members, providers and employees, reaching new customers and at the same time providing new, innovative products and services faster.
They want and need to be the ones disrupting their own industries.
Automation is critical to managing, changing and adapting the way your plan operates through its processes. By simplifying change through automation, you gain the time and energy to focus on innovation. The automation goal is to get work done faster and more accurately.
The World Economic Forum reports that 39% of businesses surveyed expected that automation would add productivity-enhancing roles to their firm. In a different study by Gartner, 66% of business managers rated the automation of repetitive manual tasks as the top reason for investing in artificial intelligence (AI). It comes as no surprise, then, that firms are turning to automation for their marketing, content, and communications needs.
What is automation?
By definition, automation is a set of tools and technologies that perform manual and repetitive tasks to improve your business's marketing processes. However, it can also encompass other aspects of your business, including compliance, legal, IT, and product.
Most businesses that choose to shift to automated processes do so to increase productivity and effectiveness. Some general, day-to-day business benefits of automation include:
- Frees up employee time formerly spent on manual tasks
- Offers predictable and reliable execution of common activities
- Reduces risk of crucial elements falling through the cracks
- Reduces stress in task management
- Increases the ability to get more things done
- Plays an essential role in proactive service delivery
- Allows you to provide faster and more effective technology services to your clients
- Facilitates your marketing efforts
- Keeps your business running smoothly
- Increases an organization's ability to scale business processes
To help you find areas in your daily business processes that could greatly benefit from automation, here are a few identifying markers:
- Recurring activities — look for tasks you do every month, like running advertising outcome reports, sending monthly newsletters, queuing up the next webinar, or routing marketing and compliance content for review and approval
- Emails — manually keeping on top of email correspondence takes time, energy, and focus, so estimate the amount of time you spend following up on emails
- Tasks that require cues for you to react — think about aspects of your day that are cue-dependent, like setting an alarm for a document that needs to be reviewed
Now that you've created a mental list of some of your daily business tasks that fit the criteria outlined above, consider the following list of automation ideas for managing your daily operations and increasing productivity:
- Running reports — Consider setting up auto-generated reports for those needed on a monthly or quarterly basis, whether they be for advertising outcomes or lead generation.
- Sending newsletters — Set up newsletter generation processes to auto-notify different departments of content needs, auto-request email recipient list updates, and seek necessary content approvals.
- Managing contract expirations — Establish automated processes to ensure sales associates and accountants are all in sync and taking the right steps at the right time to more regularly renew customer contracts.
- Setting up a webinar — Use automated content routing and webinar sign-up page build-outs to make capturing leads generated from webinars easier.
- Getting approval on marketing content — Automatically seek approvals on the wide array of content produced by your marketing and customer success teams.
How automation solves business challenges
Automation is a game-changer when it comes to solving business challenges. For tasks that profit from increased scalability through automation, automation can have an especially significant impact. Here are several examples of challenges faced regularly by businesses and how those challenges can be overcome by using automation:
- Content management — Providing salespeople, customer support representatives, and marketers with the content they need for success is time-consuming, as is establishing an effective and efficient content approval process. For content tasks that are repetitive and time-consuming, content management automation provides significant value. For example, generating a templated system of emails, landing pages, reports, and event reminders for a webinar may initially require a considerable amount of input and expertise from individuals across the firm. However, automation can quickly help launch a similar webinar in the future by taking advantage of pre-built templates and plug-in content that has already been through the approval process.
- Manual compilation of reports — Keeping businesses humming along requires a lot of data processing. This means handling a vast number of reports — the kinds of reports needed for making many mission-critical decisions about the business's future operation. Employees often spend much of their time compiling spreadsheets instead of focusing on higher-importance tasks for the company. Not only does the manual compilation of reports entail losses for the company, but these manual processes are prone to human error. With the help of automation software, reports can automatically pull together different data sources to generate a variety of usable formats.
- Manual file transfers — File transfer is vital for any enterprise. However, it often leads to a dilemma for businesses since determining an effective solution for accurately processing and dealing with a wide variety of different file transfer needs across an organization can be difficult. For example, one department may need to transfer large files, another may need to follow specific security protocols when transferring files, and another may require a precise log of where each file has been in the business process. While many larger companies have already built advanced solutions to handle various file transfer needs, many businesses still email files around or manually transfer files via USB-based portable drives. This is where automation comes in. For example, Florida-based PSCU Financial Services reports that they have saved approximately 400 hours per month since they adopted file transfer automation. Business automation solutions have a distinct advantage over simple file transfer tools. With automation, employees can quickly transfer or share their data through automated means that ensure the data is handed to the right party, in the right format, at the right time.
- Protocol setting and enforcement — Depending on the industry, business type, size of customer base, and a number of other business characterizations, different businesses have different protocols and regulations that they must follow to ensure business success. For example, a financial services firm that needs to update their fact sheets quarterly must seek input and approval from various departments, including finance, legal, sales, and marketing. In contrast, a health insurance firm would be more concerned about maintaining HIPAA regulations with any online processes they undertake. Often, these protocols hamper the speed of processing data resources. To solve this, automation can streamline any process that needs to follow a specific protocol by ensuring repeated tasks are done in a systematic way, and by giving leaders and managers the functionality they need to review whether defined protocols are being followed.
Overall, automation also creates more system-wide transparency, which leads to more accountability within the business. The company can quickly review all aspects of each business process and quickly address small problems before they become more significant issues.
Marketing tasks you should automate
Having an automated marketing system that leverages dynamic content management in an automated content management system is crucial, but it's also not the endgame anymore. Beyond a system that goes with the tide, your marketing approach will lag if you don't widen your automation scope.
For example, running successful inbound marketing campaigns can be very time-consuming and overwhelming without proper tools. Here are some examples of marketing tasks that could benefit from automation:
- Content management — Updating disclaimers as well as posting and promoting your business's content can be automated by sending automatic notifications to your clients, immediately posting new content to various social media platforms, and creating an automatic schedule for re-promoting your content to your social media channels.
- Templating — Ready-made templates for content creation makes updating personalized communications much easier.
- Storefront — The storefront is where your salespeople access materials to personalize, like plan comparisons, event flyers, giveaways, and mailers. With an established storefront, all departments can access the marketing materials they need without inundating the marketing department but still staying on brand.
- Email marketing — Automating your email marketing campaigns transcends sending a mass email to your leads. Through audience segmentation and automated email sequences, you can effectively get your message to the appropriate audience at the most opportune time.
- Dynamic publishing — Pulling together content and publishing communications, such as Annual Notice of Change and Evidence of Coverage, for clients can prove to be an arduous task for any size business, with repeated proofing cycles leading to high labor costs and the decreased flexibility of quickly turning around mailers. Dynamic publishing takes an automated approach of pulling in your pre-built and already-approved content and customizing it with internal data, following your pre-set business rules, to decrease proofing cycles, and get your marketing materials into the hands of customers in a faster and more accurate manner.
- A/B testing — Also known as split testing or bucket testing, this is a way for you to compare two versions of your webpage or app to determine which one performs better. The best part is that this type of testing generates more lead conversions for your business when leveraged with dynamic publishing software. By automating A/B testing and examining the results regularly, you can uncover opportunities to improve and reveal who your ideal audience is.
To learn more about leveraging the power of centralization and automation to improve productivity, deliver consistent messaging and increase revenue, download our new eBook today.