Running a WordPress website involves more work than most people expect. You have to edit and schedule content, manage plugin and theme updates, remember to back up your site, and more. All those tasks add up to a lot of time you could have spent creating new content.
The good news is that WordPress is nothing if not customizable. In this case, that means you can automate a lot of those rote tasks, so you can focus on the bigger picture. Moreover, by automating important processes, you’ll ensure that your site runs smoothly even when you’re not around.
In this article, we’ll introduce you to the concept of website automation. We’ll talk about the best ways to automate your WordPress website, and introduce you to some plugins that can help. Let’s automate your website!
What Is Website Automation?
Automation is a huge deal in most industries these day. The thinking goes like this: if there’s a process you can automate so you don’t have to handle it manually, it’s usually best to do so. That way, you save time and resources, and you can increase your efficiency.
Of course, not all tasks can be automated. When it comes to websites, for example, you can’t put content creation on auto-pilot. What you can do, however, is ensure that relatively simple tasks get done without requiring your input.
Website automation can get very complex. However, since you’re using WordPress you have an advantage, as there are a lot of tools you can use to implement automation on the platform. We’ll introduce you to some of those solutions later on. First, let’s talk about the most important types of WordPress automation you may want to implement.
4 Best Ways to Automate Your WordPress Website
There are dozens of ways you can automate tasks and processes on your WordPress website. However, let’s look at the methods that will save you the most time and handle the most important jobs.
1. Plugin, Theme, & Platform Updates
Most people use a number of plugins to enhance their WordPress websites. Add that to your active theme, and you have a lot of moving parts that will need to be updated periodically. That’s not even mentioning WordPress core updates, which you need to stay on top of if you want to avoid security vulnerabilities and not miss out on new features.
Updating those elements isn’t overly complicated. However, you do need to check for updates often. In most cases, automating those updates makes the most sense. Depending on how many plugins you use, implementing automatic updates can save you a lot of time.
Keep in mind that in some cases, updates may affect your site negatively due to unforeseen compatibility issues. If you have a recent backup in place, you should be fine, which brings us to the next section.
2. Site Backups
Backups are the best way to protect your website from data loss, human error, security breaches, and a lot more. At any point, you should have multiple backups of your website stored in a few locations.That way, if your site somehow ‘breaks’ or experiences an error, you can restore it to its previous state without losing much (or any) data.
The problem is that not everyone has the time to back up their site daily. If you’re a WP Engine user, you get automatic daily backups with all our plans. However, if your web host doesn’t provide you with that feature, you’ll need to look for a third-party tool that can automate the process.
3. Post Scheduling
If you’re running a blog or news site, then you’ll need to publish new content often. A lot of popular websites post new articles daily. That means someone has to make sure all posts are scheduled to go out at the right time.
Even if you’re managing a smaller blog, this post scheduling can take up a lot of time. By automating the task, you won’t have to schedule each post individually. Instead, you can just define the days and times when you want new content to go live, sit back, and watch as your posts are published for you.
4. Email Flows
Email is one of the most powerful marketing tools for any type of website. You can use your site to collect new emails, which you can then target using carefully-constructed campaigns.
Collecting emails is relatively simple. All you need is an email marketing platform that you can integrate with WordPress. This way, users can fill a form and get signed up for your newsletter automatically.
Moreover, most modern email marketing tools enable you to create ‘autoresponder’ series. These are emails that are sent automatically when specific conditions are met. That way, you can craft your campaigns well in advance, and not have to send out individual messages manually.
Top Automation Plugins for WordPress
Usually, the best way to add new features to WordPress is by using plugins. There are plenty of WordPress automation plugins to choose from, but let’s introduce you to our top picks.
Plugin #1: Akismet
One of the things no one tells you about running a WordPress website is that if you enable comment sections, you’re going to get spam. In many cases, this can be a large enough amount that it threatens to overwhelm legitimate comments.
Weeding out spam contents is easy, but it also takes up time that would be better spent elsewhere. What Akismet does is automatically filter spam comments. It also enables you to check the results manually, in case it caught a real comment by mistake.
Plugin #2: AutomateWoo
Managing an eCommerce store involves a lot of work, particularly when it comes to marketing. For example, you may want to target customers who haven’t bought anything in a while, or people who left their shopping carts full (but didn’t make a purchase).
AutomateWoo does both of those things for you, and more. It can send follow-up emails depending on what your customers buy, asking for reviews or recommending other products. You can even configure the plugin to generate coupons and submit them on the fly, which can boost sales when they’re low.
This is a premium plugin, which costs $99 per year for one website. However, if you’re running a WooCommerce store, then it should essentially pay for itself.
Plugin #3: UpdraftPlus
We’ve already discussed the importance of regular backups. UpdraftPlus enables you to create full backups of your website whenever you like. The plugin even integrates with third-party cloud storage services, so you can protect your data even further.
More importantly, UpdraftPlus enables you to create an automated backup schedule. That way, the plugin will take care of creating restore points for you, so you can focus on other things.
Digital Experience Platforms and Automation
WordPress enables you to automate a lot of key processes by using plugins. However, you’ll also need a rock-solid web host if you want to ensure that all those plugins work as intended. Plus, you’ll need consistent access to backups in case something goes wrong.