What do Automation Technology Technology Tools offer?
If you run a small business–or a business of any size for that matter–then you will know just how many responsibilities fall on the shoulders of the business owner. Not only do business owners take responsibility for the day-to-day operations of their employees or partners, but they also act as the face of the business for their community of customers and followers.
To do all these jobs at the highest level of performance is insanely demanding, which is why most (about 9 out of 10) startups fail in the first three years. Thankfully, technology is beginning to step up to the plate in offering solutions for the many responsibilities of business ownership.
Automated Customer Engagement and Customer Service
For example, the field of automation technology is the market of applications and software tools which can automate entire tasks that had previously been the responsibility of the business owner or employees. To give an example, many automation technology tools offer techniques for customer engagement and customer service. That is, these automation tools are able to employ artificial intelligence to answer questions or direct prospective customers to certain webpages, and some are even able to reach out to customers every so often to give a message from the owner or offer deals if they haven’t been to the business in a while.
But that is only scratching the surface of what automation technology is really capable of, so let’s go through some of the best automation technology tools available that can really take your business to the next level.
Zapier is revolutionizing automation technology through making possible automation functionalities which simply were not possible just a few years ago. It is what is known as a meta-tool. That is to say, Zapier functions by offering customers different low code process-routes of “zaps” and “triggers” that provide the framework for connecting any number of existing applications. The value of a meta tool is in its ability to make use of existing tools and create new uses for them as well, and Zapier is able to connect just about any app with any other app. So with this in mind, there is simply nothing better on the market right now than Zapier.
As a business owner you might be interested in connecting your google calendar to certain behaviors on your banking or budgeting apps, or you might want to connect your Facebook automation apps with your booking software, so that you can offer deals to people on their birthdays automatically. The beauty of this kind of tool is that there are virtually endless possibilities and you really are only limited by your imagination.
- Import IO
Import IO is one of the fastest growing software companies in the country, and offers an integrated web tool. The tool offers low code data extraction that allows for data transforms on returned data, which makes it an excellent web scraping tool that excels at targeting and gathering data from both individual web pages and large groups of sites alike.
This tool is an excellent option for any business that builds momentum from business analytics or other research efforts. With a web scraper like this one, you will be able to comb the internet for all the information you need on certain market queries. Such as, what kinds of deals are your competitors offering in other parts of the country? Or what are the most popular products on offer?
- Robotic Process Automation
Ever encounter a ridiculously monotonous task that just requires you to click through countless spreadsheets? With robotic process automation you can train the application to log into certain apps and then conduct some specific action or sequence of actions–like clicking data from a spreadsheet to a CRM application.
If your business is one that relies heavily on the exchange or transformation of data, these kinds of tools are indispensable because they can save you so much time. Particularly if you are incorporating more automation technology in the backend of your business, you will likely find plenty of uses for this kind of tool.
If your business relies on email outreach and email marketing, or content-heavy email exchanges, or even if you simply manage a large contacts list then Hey is a great tool to consider. Its primary functionality is as an email filter, but its search and organization features are probably the most valuable.
Hey allows you to quickly manage large groups of contacts and save data for each. While it may have been difficult to manage fifty emails a day, it suddenly becomes reasonable to deal with hundreds. This is primarily due to the feature that allows you to create ‘batch reactions’ to certain tags which you assign to individual contacts of types of contacts.
Leadfeeder offers a specific but valuable functionality–it allows you to see what companies are visiting your website. While this service certainly benefits B2B operations more than say a community-facing small business, it can deliver up leads nonetheless.
The only downside of this application is that it is so focused on delivering on its promise of telling you which companies have ties to your web traffic, that it is unable to deliver much if any information on ‘who’ the individual is. Thus this application has a very niche market, but it is extremely valuable for any operation that generates leads off of company profiling.
Hunter’s premise is simple, it allows you to see the email addresses associated with a website or business. The uses for a tool like this are endless, but there is particular value for any business that is interested in lead generation opportunities.
Hunter is also a very cost-effective option compared to services which offer virtually the same service but at a premium. While other tools might tie on more bells and whistles, Hunter provides an excellent foundation for anyone looking to automate an aspect of their lead generating efforts.
Postman offers invaluable technology for any individual or business interested in working with or developing new APIs. What is great about Postman is that it presents its tools within a graphical user interface (GUI) for developing an API so that you can do so without any coding knowhow. This also allows for the process to be shared between multiple users so that you can work on its features through a collaborative process.
Postman empowers many small business operations that might not be able to afford hiring the technical experts that traditionally build APIs from the ground up. So if you are interested in developing API functionalities for your operation, definitely consider giving Postman a look.
If you run any form of digital advertisements then you are probably intimately familiar with running split-tests to optimize your call-to-action content and click funnels. Leadformy automates this process and promises to increase your lead generation, in some cases by a factor of 3 or more.
This application is built to smooth out the process of designing click funnels, so that you build your call to action directly within Leadformly, which then tracks all engagement, projects ideal user profiles, and corrects your call to action accordingly. This can not only make you more money by generating more quality leads, but it can also save you a tremendous amount of time you would have otherwise spent conducting split tests to derive comparable but likely lesser information.
Brandmark offers a super unique service. By developing a proprietary AI that generates creative media elements, Brandmark offers a totally unique graphic design service for your branding needs. This tool can generate different creative elements based on your input, such as having to do with the mood, feel, or color scheme.
So whether your business is built around such branding elements, or if you just need a quick and original design to get the ball rolling, Brandmark is an excellent option. In terms of linking within the context of a broader automation network, you could use this tool to automatically generate more graphically appealing content for your click funnels, or lead-generation content.
Intercom introduces a conversational aspect to each step of the customer experience, using both automated and direct-message options. This allows businesses to direct customers to ideal content, while keeping the customer satisfied and cared for–all without the headaches of an outsourced customer service agency.
Intercom is an excellent tool for both small businesses and larger operations alike, given its incredible ability to scale–pretty much without limit–according to customer’s needs and/or the options available to them. Intercom and tools like it offer a basically mandatory service, now that most online retail spaces employ some kind of comparable feature.
Have you ever had the thought that if you could just keep your customers’ attention business would explode? Well, that’s the premise of Growbots. Through automated email outreach and algorithms for persuasive copy, Growbots aims to sustain your customers’ interest in what you have to offer.
You will have as much control as you like over what is said, how it said, and when–or you can let the app pretty much run itself. It adjusts its behavior according to engagement metrics, so in the right context this tool can pay for itself many times over through increasingly effective customer engagement and retention.
Diffbot is the secret web data extraction tool of many marketing success stories–with a precrawled database about 50 times larger than that of Google’s, it is able to provide target data that other companies simply are not. Similar to Import IO, Diffbot functions primarily as web scraper, but distinguishes itself through a commitment to offering functionalities commiserate with the titanic scale of the internet, allowing web scraping operations of enormous proportions.
As a web scraper, Diffbot empowers businesses to enhance lead data and create market research tools. So if you have questions that need answering, no matter how deep they might be, Diffbot is an excellent option.
Digital marketing is an inevitable component of running a business successfully in 2020. SEmrush aims to make the process more streamlined and approachable for both amateur and veteran digital marketer alike. With SEmrush you can automate various parts of the digital marketer’s workload–from scheduling social media campaigns, to compiling site performance metric, as well as suggesting PPC optimizations.
Even if you have not incorporated digital marketing efforts into your business, SEmrush might be the perfect tool to get you started. And even still, if you are uninterested in taking on more responsibility, you could pay for an experienced digital marketer to set this tool up for you so that all you have to do is maintain it.
Buffer is a tool that doubles down on delivering social media marketing optimization tools, so that you can continually optimize your followers, track their engagement, and pinpoint areas of potential improvement. For example, Buffer will be able to analyze the most ideal spread of content for your followers and when is the best time to engage them. Most businesses have social media accounts that contribute to the bottomline of their business operation, but some businesses are realizing that you can run businesses almost entirely through social media.
The beauty of a tool like Buffer is that no matter where you fall on that spectrum, it can offer some level of optimization that can benefit you–most of which will be enough to pay for the cost of the tool. In other words, Buffer is one of those awesome tools that will likely pay for itself in no time.
Hubspot offers a wealth of all-in-one CRM services that are designed to not only help you generate leads, but how to turn leads into customers that you keep. Hubspot accomplishes this by offering a toolset of lead generation, automated email outreach, and automated targeting optimization.
With a tool like Hubspot, you can accomplish an astonishing number of tasks in marketing, customer service, and/or business management. As a business owner this is the ideal type of tool to help you take some responsibilities off your shoulders–while still growing and optimizing your business.
Twilio is the ultimate tool for incorporating various forms of customer communication into one application. With Twilio your customers can reach you through SMS text messages, automated phone calls, or through online chats supported by top tier AI. As the owner of the business you will be able to tailor this information to meet your standard of intent and the personality of your brand.
A notorious challenge for new business owners is managing the expectations of both prospective and established customers alike, while also managing all the various day-to-day responsibilities of business. Twilio is an ideal tool to lessen the burden of this responsibility, while also increasing your ability to stay in contact with your community.
Sometimes all-in-one applications are overwhelming to those new to a certain kind of tool. Chatfuel aims to avoid this problem by specializing in a no-code chatbot with extensions for Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger. Chatfuel requires no coding experience and as such, is an excellent option for business owners who need to get a chatbot up and running quick and affordably.
While other tools might offer more in the way of features, services, and tangential offerings, Chatfuel’s focus on their no-code chatbot means that customers can expect customer service and sales reps who specialize in getting Chatfuel up and running for businesses quickly and affordably.
While Chatfuel focuses on ease of access without any reliance on coding, Botsify offers both elements–that is, ease of use and the option to dive into the backend code to customize functionalities. Botsify’s opening claim on its website is to drive 500% growth in ROI while automating 80% of customer support within 2 months.
Botsify delivers on this claim through its AI working to gleen important information from individuals who visit your site, priming them to be handed off to a human customer support rep once all the major leg work is taken care of by the bot. This allows customer support reps to focus more on customer’s actual problems and less on lower level information exchange, which Botsify claims amounts to about 80% of the customer support’s workload. It stands to reason that if customer support can focus more time on the remaining 20% that quality of support for these remaining tasks will improve as well.
- Ubot Studio
Ubot Studio offers one of the best tools for creating both low-code web browser bots and coder friendly functionalities. That is, you can fire up Ubot’s app and put your bots in action as either a beginner or expert coder. These bots are designed to automate virtually any task that occurs within a web browser, and as such, they are compatible with 99% of the websites on the web.
With a tool like Ubot, you are really only limited by your imagination. You can automate web scraping protocols, create various real time data pipelines and automate the analysis and refinement process, or you can simply automate basic tasks of typing or clicking that you find cumbersome. With such an impressive range of functionality coupled with both beginner-friendly low code options and more in-depth programming options, Ubot is an excellent tool for any business that relies on the interwebs.
- Pandora Bots
Pandora Bots looks to add a level of fidelity in its chatbot AI that is meant to preserve a human element of flexibility and give the conversations a more natural feel to them. In other words, Pandora Bots adds ‘small talk’ to the AI chatbot industry, which is an excellent addition for any business whose brand relies on a grounded humanistic approach.
Through a library of more than 10,000 snippets of small talk, your chat bot will be capable of engaging customers on a level previously unattainable by AI communications. Moreover Pandora Bots offers various connectors for APIs and DBs according to the primary intent of your business communications.
Have you ever wondered how some marketing companies always manage to hit every trending topic, incorporating it into their marketing efforts? Buzzsumo is one of the tools that makes this kind of clairvoyance possible. This tool provides an aggregate review of trending topics through all major social media platforms, and then provides a number of data analysis options to filter which topics are most relevant to your business.
Similarly, Buzzsumo provides the tools for exploring which demographics are interacting with which trending topics. This further empowers any marketing efforts to not only stay on top of trends, but how to stay on top of the right trends in the context of customer interests and brand following.
Quora’s mission is simple–to bring knowledge from those who have it to those who need it. Quora allows experts to answer questions on a range of topics. So broad, in fact, that if you can think of it, then it has probably been discussed on Quora. As a tool for business owners Quora can be used to enhance an audience by answering questions on the network, or to pay for sponsored answers on specific questions.
In the modern day, information exchange is as important as any other performance vector. As such, Quora gives businesses an excellent pipeline for either conducting research, enhancing an audience, or priming certain topics–all of which contribute to lead generation.
Integromat’s tagline is that they are ‘the glue of the internet,” a claim which is backed up by its unparalleled functionalities across all activities that take place on the internet. Integromat works essentially like an open-sourced Zapier, but requires a little technical know-how accordingly.
Integromat offers direct support for the most popular apps and services on the web, and thanks to HTTP/SOAP and JSON modules, can connect virtually any of the web services conducted on the interwebs today. In short, Integromat gives you the tools to automate as much of your life as you wish. For business owners Integromat is an excellent tool for someone with more coding knowhow, who can make use of the ridiculously flexible functionalities on offer.
Automate functions as an easily accessible app-connector much like Zapier, but without the potentially overwhelming number of possibilities. Automate creates automated task chains in order to streamline marketing, sales, and business process automation without the need for technical know-how required in similar apps of deeper complexity.
Automate is an excellent option for businesses looking to dip their toes into automation, who are not quite ready to take on the level of behemoth functionality offered in comparative Zapier-likes. The simplicity of this tool is a major pro for anyone looking to get started in automation who doesn’t have coding experience.
- Microsoft Flow
Microsoft Flow is another Zapier alternative that looks to tackle the complexity of some of the more complex options without sacrificing intuitive user interfaces and simplicity of design. In other words, with Microsoft Flow you can set up complex automation chains that would have otherwise required at least some level of coding expertise.
Microsoft Flow may be the best option for businesses who want to carry out complex and multifaceted layers of automation, but who do have coding expertise or experience working with these types of tasks. In this way, Microsoft Flow has created a perfect niche of beginner accessibility for automation tasks of intermediate-to-advanced level complexity.
Workato looks to deliver on the same niche as Microsoft Flow, that is, Workato also offers a tremendously vast array of workflow automation functionalities delivered through a low-code platform. Workato also looks to combat the technical expertise required to successfully use its tools by offeringing a surprisingly robust list of community recipes–many of which are packaged in easy to use instructions.
Through the combination of intuitive and an active and helpful community, Workato is an excellent alternative to any of the Zapier-likes mentioned in this ranking. Workato’s tagline is “automate the work out of everything,” which is something you can truly accomplish with its offerings.
IFTTT offers a Zapier alternative that connects over 600 popular applications and services. Do you want your porch light to turn on when an Uber pulls up? Do you want your alexa to record and announce Google calendar events? IFTTT offers a swath of services that are not just beneficial to the businessperson, they are helpful to anyone looking to automate various aspects of modern life.
For this reason, IFTTT is an excellent option for businesses who want an all-in-one app connector that they can benefit from in both their business efforts and their daily routines at home or in the car. Like Workato, IFTTT maintains a very active and helpful community that consistently posts guides and FAQs on how to set up various automation sequence chains.
LeadsBridge offers a compact and user-friendly CRM integration tool that will aid your business in analysing ROA of advertisement campaigns and other digital marketing efforts. As a business owner, it is crucial that every penny spent is going towards building towards performance goals and growth benchmarks. Leadsbridge is designed to ensure that money spent on digital marketing is accomplishing what it needs to.
So whether you are a digital marketer yourself or you want a tool to guarantee you are getting your money’s worth, LeadsBridge is a great option. Given that it provides enough functionality to give even an amatuer digital marketer a relatively wide safety net, this app might be the perfect option for a business owner to take over digital marketing efforts for the first time.
- Cloud HQ
Cloud HQ is another Zapier alternative that differentiates itself through a unique and potentially game-changing feature, that is, the ability to pull-in past events in the automation chain. Zapier and most of its kind are only able to add triggers for new or current events in the sequence, which can be hindersome if you are wishing to incorporate information retroactively.
Cloud HQ also offers over 60 prepackaged productivity apps to aid business owners in various tasks in email, marketing, and business operations. There is a special emphasis placed on email productivity apps–from labelers, to trackers, and automation bots. The combination of these features make Cloud HQ an excellent tool for automation.
If you are looking for an app connector like Cloud HQ but are intimidated by its cost or find some of its services extraneous, then ActionDesk might be the perfect alternative. ActionDesk also allows for the inclusion of triggers using historical data, allowing for sequence chains to incorporate data retroactively–a task which Zapier and similar apps are not able to directly accomplish.
While ActionDesk might not offer a wealth of tangential offerings, it is a powerful app connector at a very attractive price. For this reason it might be the perfect option for someone who wants to tinker around with automation before committing to some of the more complex and demanding tools on the market.