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6 automation tools entrepreneurs should use for vacation prep



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Take a breather

Why add automation tools for vacation readiness to your to-do list? Well, when you’re an entrepreneur, planning for (and taking) a vacation can feel next to impossible. There’s simply so much planning you have to do that it ends up feeling impossible and perhaps not even worth the trouble in the end.

But taking regular vacations is important. Doing so can help you:

  • Decompress and destress
  • Come back to work more pumped
  • Feel ready to take on the world
  • Give you time to develop perspective when making big decisions

Most important of all, taking vacations can help preserve your mental health and prevent burnout.

Even so, getting to the actual vacation part is a challenge. So how can you reduce the planning headache? For business owners, automation tools can give you the break you need to take a real vacation.

6 automation tools for vacation prep list

Feel free to jump straight to each tool or read on to learn why automation can seriously save you valuable time.

  1. Email marketing tools.
  2. Email autoresponders.
  3. Social media schedulers.
  4. Task automation tools.
  5. Chatbots.
  6. Project management tools.

Let’s dive in.

What are automation tools?

Automation tools for business owners can be best defined as systems, platforms or services that, once configured, can run and perform their functions without your direct input. These tools automate tasks of all types – from simple to complex – to save you time and effort in the long run. It’s especially handy for many business owners looking to implement automation tools for vacation purposes.

How can automation tools help you run your business?

For starters, they can help you save time on a wide variety of tasks. Though there is some initial time investment on setup, once up and running, automation can save you a significant amount of time and even money — especially in areas that are wasted on repetitive tasks.

You can apply automation to nearly every aspect of running a business.

This could include tasks like processing payroll to email marketing to social media. And getting these tools up and running (before going on vacation) can save you a lot of headaches while away.

Here are two examples of how they can make your life easier:

  1. Simple automation tools like email autoresponders make it so the day-to-day functions of your business aren’t as affected by your absence.
  2. Configuring automation tools like task management software saves you time on the hustle and bustle right before bidding your team adieu and for the length of your vacation.

Convinced of their benefits? Adding automation tools for vacation prep is simple to do using the following suggestions.

Automation tools for vacation relaxation

Taking a vacation shouldn’t mean having to check in on how your company is doing the entire time you’re away. Nor should it mean leaving your team high and dry with no direction to speak of.

What follows are six automation tools for vacation readiness. Read through the different types to help you plan and pull off a real break from the responsibilities of business ownership.

1. Email marketing automation

If you haven’t already done so, a great way to prepare for going on a vacation is to set up an email marketing platform before you go. Essentially, you can use an email marketing platform to create a simple campaign — such as a series of images with calls-to-action — that will keep your business top-of-mind for customers while you’re getting some R&R.

A top choice is GoDaddy’s Digital Marketing Suite, which includes an array of email marketing tools you can put to work immediately.

GoDaddy email marketing page.

With it, you can create and send out email campaigns directly from your GoDaddy dashboard. Here’s how to set up automated campaigns using GoDaddy Email Marketing. You can also build out a lead generation strategy by designing and inserting signup forms directly onto your website.

Related: Email automation 101 — 5 steps to automate email marketing

2. Email autoresponders

One of the simplest automation tools for vacation is the email autoresponder.  This helps clue people in that you’re currently away and notifies them when you’ll return. Take this opportunity to be clear about when you’ll be back and how quickly thereafter they can expect a response.

The robust Microsoft Outlook email platform makes it a snap to send automatic replies, but most popular email solutions offer automated response options.

Here’s how to send automatic out-of-office replies from Outlook.

3. Social media schedulers

If you have a social media presence for your company, you likely have a management tool on deck already. But just in case you don’t, a social media auto-scheduler is a great hands-off automation tool for vacation prep.

You can pre-write social posts well ahead of time and schedule for publishing during the timeframe you’re gone. Or, you can have your team handle this task in your absence.

Likewise, social management tools often include monitoring features. This ensures your team has a way to monitor important messages posted to (or about) your company on social media so that they can respond to them promptly. Utilize this to help mitigate any potential PR or customer service issues.

Some top social media schedulers to consider include:

  • Buffer: It’s simple, making it easy to learn how to use.
  • HootSuite: You can automatically schedule your content and review posts in a calendar view.
  • HubSpot: This is a more in-depth social marketing platform that enables you to monitor and automate your social media accounts.

Editor’s note: GoDaddy’s Digital Marketing Suite also makes it easy to schedule social media posts in advance. Here’s how.

4. Task automation tools

If your company uses a lot of SaaS solutions as a part of its business processes, then task automation tools are a must. These can serve you well at any time, not just while you’re on vacation.

When researching task automation tools for vacation, a few top choices include Zapier and IFTTT.

These automation tools work by connecting your accounts for different services together.

With Zapier, for instance, you can create a “recipe” — essentially a set of instructions to carry out automatically. For example, you could configure it to automatically add a customer’s order information to an existing Excel spreadsheet when a new order is placed on your website.

Zapier homepage.

Zapier homepage.

5. Chatbots

Installing a chatbot on your website can take a lot of the guesswork out of customer service while you’re away. This automation tool for vacation prep can help take some of the pressure off your staff.

There are myriad free and paid chatbot options available for every budget and business need. Add 30 minutes of research to your vacation prep list to find the right solution for you. Here are a few chatbot options to start:

  • Tidio: Features easy installation and offers a free plan.
  • Watson Assistant: Features a drag-and-drop interface to build dialog and is customizable for your brand.
  • Zendesk Chat: Offers out-of-the-box and customizable messaging, plus a free trial.

You can configure a chatbot to answer frequently asked questions and to make customers feel heard immediately, which makes for a more positive customer service experience. Chatbots also can help your team receive only those messages that need direct and immediate attention. This will free them up to handle other more important business tasks while you’re away.

6. Project management tools

Some aspects of automation are more about making sure everyone on your team is connected. It’s a good resource to keep your team working with the same information and overall workflow. A great way to accommodate this synergy is via the use of project management tools.

There are several options available that will fill this role well — including Asana, Basecamp and Trello — depending on your preferences. Once set up, these tools make it so everyone on your team has a place to find information about their work along with due dates and other important details.

Asana home page

Asana home page

Plus, these tools include mobile apps to give you a bird’s-eye-view of your company’s workflow even while you’re away if you must.

A few more quick things to do right before you leave

Having automation tools for vacation readiness set up, so that it’s configured and primed for action, is a fantastic way to depart with confidence. But you might still wish to complete a few tasks manually before you switch on your auto-replies. Mostly, be sure to set up clear action plans for emergencies.

Establish a chain of command

First thing’s first, leave the power of decision-making with somebody else for the duration of your trip. From there, establishing a chain of command is a good idea so everyone knows who to report to within your company. This is true, even if your number one is unavailable for some reason.

It’s also a good idea to make everyone’s job descriptions clear. You don’t want any confusion to arise as to who is responsible for what while you’re gone.

Create disaster plans just in case

Though unlikely to occur, it’s still a good idea to plan for the worst. Putting together a disaster plan makes good business sense. It provides your team with something to reach for — should something out of the ordinary occurs. A few examples might include:

  • What to do should a sudden supply chain issue arise?
  • How to handle multiple team members falling ill at once.
  • What to do when a client is suddenly very dissatisfied.
  • How to handle a system crash or software outage.

While not all of these scenarios will apply to your business, spend some time evaluating your company’s functions and client base to develop a few worst-case scenarios. Then, you can write out solutions to these problems for your team to follow.

It might seem like a lot of work, but it could prove beneficial and worthwhile. These measures should prevent your team from needing to contact you while you’re on your vacation and trying to relax.

Determine the conditions under which you can be contacted

Lastly, there are situations where you might need to be contacted while on vacation. Clarify those circumstances with your staff and/or clients to help avoid unnecessary interruptions.

This is why making disaster plans is so important, too. It helps your team problem solve and rely on solutions that don’t depend on your direct and immediate input. The conditions that will require your input are going to vary from business to business, of course. A few examples include:

  • A top client has a major issue.
  • There’s been a major security breach of your data systems.
  • There’s a social media scandal brewing about your company.
  • A new, major prospect has contacted the company.

Your “must contact” situations will vary, but relaying the severity of the situation required to contact you (and implementing solid “Do Not Disturb” messages in your company communication tools) can ensure you’re able to relax while away.

Related: Creating a business budget plan for emergencies

Next steps

Prepping your automation tools for a vacation can save you a lot of headaches while away. Hopefully, the tool categories mentioned here will help you stave off the majority of potential interruptions.

Taking prep steps such as adding a solid email marketing solution to your toolbox can swiftly automate a majority of your company’s day-to-day functions. The same goes with social media management and task management tools. Leaning on these helpful resources will allow you to kick your feet up and relax – for real – while enjoying time off.

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Revolutionizing Marketing: The Power of AI in the Digital Age



Embracing AI-Powered Marketing: Transforming Brands in the Digital Marketplace

In the crowded digital marketplace, standing out is challenging. Enter AI-powered marketing, a revolutionary upgrade transforming brands into digital powerhouses.

Hyper-Personalized Campaigns: Beyond Basic Personalization

Gone are the days of generic marketing. Today’s gold standard is AI-driven hyper-personalization. This approach uses customer data analysis to create deeply resonant, individualized marketing campaigns. With AI’s ability to segment audiences based on intricate criteria, including purchasing history and browsing behavior, your messages can hit the mark every time.

Enhanced Customer Journey Mapping

AI’s capabilities extend to mapping the entire customer journey. By predicting needs and preferences at each stage, AI aids in crafting narratives that guide customers from discovery to purchase, integrating your brand into their personal stories.

SEO Wizardry: Mastering Search Engine Dynamics

With ever-changing algorithms, SEO is a complex puzzle. AI serves as a sophisticated navigator, deciphering these changes through machine learning. It aids in keyword optimization, understanding search intent, and aligning content with search trends.

Predictive SEO

AI tools offer predictive SEO, anticipating search engine and user behavior changes. This proactive stance ensures your brand’s prominent visibility in search results, capturing the right audience at the right time.

Social Media Mastery: Crafting a Digital Narrative

AI transforms social media strategies from uncertain to precise. By analyzing vast social data, AI provides insights into resonating content.

Content Optimization

AI analyzes performance data to recommend effective content types. This data-driven approach refines your social media content strategy.

Engagement Analysis

AI examines user interaction nuances, understanding engagement patterns. It helps tailor interactions for maximum impact, including adjusting posting schedules and messaging for increased relevance.

Conclusion: Navigating the AI-Driven Marketing Landscape

AI-powered marketing is essential for thriving in the digital age, offering precision and personalization beyond traditional methods. For small businesses, it’s a chance to leverage AI for impactful, data-driven strategies.

As we embrace the AI revolution, the future of marketing is not just bright but intelligently radiant. With AI as your digital ally, your brand is equipped for a successful journey, making every marketing effort and customer interaction count.

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AI: Your Small Business Ally in a Digital Age



In the ever-evolving landscape of modern commerce, small business owners find themselves at a crossroads of opportunity and obsolescence. Enter Artificial Intelligence (AI) – once the exclusive domain of tech behemoths, it now stands as the great equalizer, offering small businesses a competitive edge previously unthinkable. The emergence of AI as a wingman for small businesses is not just a fleeting trend but a fundamental shift in how entrepreneurs can leverage technology to revolutionize their operations.

The 24/7 Customer Service Hero: Chatbots

In the digital storefront, customer service is the heartbeat of business survival and success. Chatbots emerge as the indefatigable heroes of this domain. Envision a customer service agent that never clocks out an entity that requires no sleep or sustenance yet delivers consistently and instantaneously. These AI-driven chat interfaces embody the essence of your brand’s voice, capable of handling a barrage of customer queries with a speed that outpaces the swiftest of typists. They are the embodiment of efficiency – ensuring that customer satisfaction is not just met but exceeded around the clock.

Unearthing Market Treasures: Data Dive

AI’s prowess in pattern recognition has catapulted data analytics into a realm once considered the stuff of science fiction. Small business owners armed with AI tools can sift through vast swathes of data to extract actionable insights. These algorithms act as modern-day oracles, predicting market trends, discerning customer behaviors, and offering sales forecasts with remarkable accuracy. Equipped with: this knowledge, small businesses, can navigate the market with the foresight and precision of an experienced captain steering through foggy seas.

Personalization at Scale: Customize Like a Boss

The age-old business mantra of the customer is king is given new potency with AI’s personalization capabilities. Tailoring the customer experience is no longer a luxury but a necessity. AI enables small businesses to offer bespoke experiences to consumers, making them feel like the sole focus of their attention. It’s personalization executed with such finesse that customers are left marveling at the thoughtfulness and individual attention, fostering loyalty and establishing deep-rooted brand connections.

Offloading the Mundane: Task Slayers

Repetitive tasks are the bane of creativity and innovation. AI steps in as the ultimate task slayer, automating routine chores that once consumed disproportionate amounts of time. From scheduling appointments to managing inventory, AI liberates entrepreneurs from the drudgery of administrative duties, freeing them to refocus on the creative and strategic endeavors that propel business growth.

Mastering Social Media: Social Savants

Social media – the pulsing vein of modern marketing – demands astuteness and agility. AI emerges as the savant of social media, capable of demystifying platform algorithms to optimize content delivery. It knows the optimal times to post, the types of content that resonate with audiences, and the strategies that convert passive scrollers into engaged customers. By automating your social media presence, AI transforms your brand into an online sensation, cultivating a digital community of brand ambassadors.

The Verdict: Embracing AI

For a small business owner, AI is not about an overnight overhaul but strategic integration. The goal is to start small, allowing AI to shoulder incremental aspects of your business, learning and scaling as you witness tangible benefits. The transition to AI-enablement does not necessitate a background in technology; it requires a willingness to embrace change and a vision for the future.

In summary, as the digital revolution marches forward, AI stands ready to partner with small businesses, providing them with tools once deemed the province of giants. This partnership promises to elevate the small business landscape, ushering in an era of democratized technology where every entrepreneur can harness the power of AI to write their own David vs. Goliath success story. AI, the once-distant dream, is now the most loyal wingman a small business can enlist in its quest for growth and innovation.

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Apple’s October Scary Fast Event: Everything revealed about the new MacBook Pro, iMac and M3 chips



It’s time for another Apple event, with a spooky twist. The company announced a surprise “Scary Fast” event last week, prompting the rumor mill to speculate that Apple would be revealing new chips to power a new lineup of Macs.

As our resident Apple expert Brian Heater wrote, a new 24-inch iMac and a MacBook Pro refresh would be the most likely new announcements to expect from the October event, and as it turns out, he was spot-on. Apple’s new M3 chip lineup was the focal point of the event, powering each of the devices Apple showcased in their half-hour prerecorded event that had some fog, some bats and ominous choir music…but no big surprises for those following the rumor mill.

Since the event kicked off off at the uncharacteristically late time of 8pm ET / 5pm PT, so you might have missed out out on the reveals while putting the finishing touches on your Halloween decorating, or watching Monday Night Football. No judgement, we’re here to recap everything the October Apple event showcased in one spot.

New M3 chips

Credit: Apple

The “scary fast” part of the Apple event, as expected, are the new M3 chips. Apple has announce a M3, M3 Pro and M3 Max, which will be included in Apple’s new 24-inch iMac, MacBook Pros.

This time around, Apple has placed an emphasis on graphical horsepower, with hardware-accelerated ray tracing, mesh shading and Dynamic Caching, which Apple claims “dramatically increases the average utilization of the GPU” by allotting exact amount of local memory to given tasks. These new chips were frequently benchmarked against their M1 predecessor, with Apple claiming the M3 renders at 2.5x the speed of the M1 and its CPU is 30% faster than the M1.

Check out the full rundown of the three M3 chips right here.

New MacBook Pro models

Apple MacBook Pro 2023 Update in Space Black Color

Credit: Apple

Yes, the new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros come with upgraded internals, but the first thing you might notice is the new color: Space Black. Beneath that color, you’ll find that new line of M3 chips. The 14-inch MacBook Pro can contain any of the trio, while the 16-inch model will only come with the M3 Pro or M3 Max chips.

As we’ve noted, the M3 chips packed into both models are putting an emphasis on getting the most out of the new GPU, though Apple also boasts that both form factors’ battery can last 22 hours on a single charge.

Both are available for preorder tonight, with the 14-inch MacBook Pro starting at $1,599 and going to $1,999 with the M3 Pro. The baseline 16-inch MacBook Pro goes for $2,499 and the pricing for the M3 Max chip upgrade for both models has yet to be disclosed.

And that space black color is exciting news for any Mac fan still pining for the 2006 MacBook, whose dark tone hadn’t been replicated in the MacBook iterations that followed, even those Midnight MacBook Airs.

Check out the full rundown on the new MacBook Pros here.

New M3 iMac

2023 M3 iMac Spec Rundown

Credit: Apple

Apple’s iMac line is getting a colorful refresh, with an added M3 chip to add horsepower to the palette change. Apple is sticking with the 24-inch form factor, and upgrading the screen with a 4.5K retina display, 1080p FaceTime camera and a six-speaker system supporting Dolby Atmos and Spatial Audio. The new iMac will be available for preorder with green, yellow, orange, pink, purple, blue and silver options starting tonight.

The $1,299 baseline comes with a 8-core GPU and 8-core CPU, with a $1,499 version upgrading you to a 256 SSD.

For more info about what else is new in the M3 iMac, head here.

An sneaky iPhone showcase

You may not have noticed it, but at the very end of the event, Apple dropped a quick note on the stream: “This event was shot on iPhone and edited on Mac.” It’s a bit of a victory lap, but as our other Apple expert Darrell Etherington notes, it’s a pretty impressive flex for Apple to shoot its half-hour hardware showcase entirely on a phone.

Recap the full Scary Fast event

If you want to just dive right in and experience the October event all over again or for the first time, you can catch the entire archive via the YouTube embed below right on Apple’s website.

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