The 8 Best Business Automation Software Tools in 2021

In addition to getting rid of repetitive tasks through automation, customer and employee needs are evolving, leading to an increase in the adoption of business automation software.

Some companies are looking to use one automation platform to improve the efficiency of their business processes. Others are looking for business automation software that will help them improve the customer experience while others want to improve employee experience.

To achieve each of these goals, here’s how different departments in companies have adopted business automation software in the past 12 months:

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The rate of adoption differs between different departments, depending on the priorities that each company has.

So, whatever objectives you want to achieve using business automation software, you’re in the right place because In this post, we’re going to talk about eight of the best business automation software and tools. They will help streamline your operations, improve your business processes, and deliver business results.

But first…

What is business automation software?

Business automation software is a set of tools that help you automate recurring business activities, streamline your workflows, and improve the efficiency of your business processes.

Business automation software can either be an all-in-one platform that helps you automate different business operations from one place or a standalone automation solution that is dedicated to automating a specific business operation.

And if you’re like most marketers, you have automated a business process or two at work.

It could be email automation to support your marketing activities, chatbot software for customer onboarding, or using your favorite market research tools for market research to support product development.

Even though automation helps you get rid of repetitive tasks, 40% of automations today still lack structure because businesses aren’t allocating enough money to spend on business automation software.

This means that most automations are misaligned with what employees and customers need and expect, making it difficult to deliver the business results you’re looking for.

And if you want to scale your business operations, improve employee productivity, or deliver better buying experiences, you’ll need to go beyond basic automation and think of automating workflows. And if you want to level up, consider using an automation tool that relies on artificial intelligence.

The 8 Best Business Automation Software Tools in 2021

That said, here are the eight best business automation tools you need:

  1. Workato
  2. Zapier
  3. SendInBlue
  4. ActiveCampaign
  5. HubSpot
  6. Airtable
  7. HootSuite
  8. Google Data Studio

1. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Workato

In their report, Future of B2B Buying Journey, Brent and Nick make the following observation;

“The typical buying group for a complex B2B solution involves six to 10 decision makers, each armed with four or five pieces of information they’ve gathered independently and must deconflict with the group. At the same time, the set of options and solutions buying groups can consider is expanding as new technologies, products, suppliers and services emerge.’’

Nurturing prospects in such an environment feels like jumping through hoops.

Their buying journey isn’t linear but you still want to be present during critical touch points without forcing them down a specific path since you will be pushing them away.

So, how do you make sure that your prospects and leads have relevant information when they need it as they prepare to meet other decision makers on time?

Enter Workato, a tool that uses AI for business automation.

In this case, the lead routing feature comes in handy to help you automate assigning leads and prospects to the right sales reps for nurturing.

Once a prospect or lead enters their information on one of the forms on your website, Workato’s LeadBot analyzes it and then uses it to automatically assign it to the right sales rep. Your sales reps receive a notification inside Slack where they can either accept or reject the lead (depending on their workload).

That way, your reps take action immediately and make sure that your leads have the right sales enablement content they need to make a case for your product. Here’s a short video of lead routing in action using the LeadBot:

And that’s not all.

Workato also provides you with a library of more than 400,000 automation recipe templates to help you explore different automation options. The recipes are two-fold:

Community recipes: Each app comes with its set of recipes that you can use to automate your business processes.

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Search for an app you’d like to use and see the different recipes Workato provides for that app.

Recipe collections: A list of pre-made recipes for common automated processes for different apps.

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So whether you’re in finance, human resources, higher education, or IT and are looking for an advanced and intelligent automation tool you will find a relevant recipe in one of Workato’’s collection of automation recipes.

Ideal for: Medium and Enterprise level users looking for an AI powered business process management software.

G2 Score: 4.7 / 5.0

2. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Zapier

In a typical workday, you’ll update a few projects you’re working on, process data, or even move information from one tool to another. Some of these tasks take a few minutes and others longer depending on what you’re working on.

However, these simple tasks add up and you find yourself spending more time each day on non-essential tasks leaving you rushing to beat critical deadlines for your projects.

And for 54% of employees, automation could save them more than 20 hours a week.

And what tool would you need to save more than 20 hours every week through business process automation? Zapier

It comes with Zaps that you can set up to trigger specific actions in your workflow so you’ll no longer struggle to get back to a state of flow after taking a break to update projects or process data.

To get started, create an account and install the Chrome add on. Once you click on the add-on, you’ll receive automation suggestions depending on the webpage you’re on. Take a look at the Zap suggestions that I receive once I open Omniscient Digital:

You also get suggestions on other Zaps you can create depending on your browsing history. If you’re a frequent Gmail user, then you will get suggestions on what Zaps you can set up.

While the Zaps and suggestions make it easier to automate simple tasks, Zapier also helps you build workflows and connect apps that don’t have a two-way integration.

To see this in action, select your role and the tools you already have in your tech stack from the list provided. Zapier then provides you with workflow automation templates depending on your selection. In this case, a HR professional would want to see the Zap templates that would work with BambooHR for a better employee onboarding process:

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Zapier also allows you to create custom logic paths and use filters to keep your data clean and avoid having to clean things up after the Zaps run. With custom logic paths, your workflow only runs if it meets the conditions you’ve set:

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Filters allow your Zaps only if the information for what you’ve set as a filter;

So if you’re looking to supercharge your workflows through filters, conditional logic, webhooks, and multi step Zaps, then go for Zapier.

Ideal for: Small, Medium, and Enterprise level users in all industries who need a tool to automate their workflows.

G2 Score: 4.5 / 5.0

3. ​​​​​​​ActiveCampaign

The tools you use to drive awareness, nurture, and convert your leads need to help you deliver a unified customer experience.

Most companies think that they’re doing a stellar job at delivering a unified experience but research from Salesforce paints a different picture.

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The more tools you have, the more disconnected your customers feel from your brands.

To avoid dropping the ball and losing your leads and customers in the process due to a disconnected customer experience, consider using ActiveCampaign for marketing automation.

To get started, use the drag and drop builder to build your workflows, whether that’s for welcome emails or cart abandonment recovery.

Set goals for the automation campaigns you’re running and use the advanced analytics from ActiveCampaign to track them and see how your campaigns are performing.

ActiveCampaign also comes with an attribution feature to help you see what channels are driving more conversions for your site. If you’re not sure which channel to focus your efforts and resources on, use the A/B testing feature to identify the channel with more conversions.

Once you’ve set all this up, it’s time to use ActiveCampaign to deliver a unified customer experience. Start by integrating it with any tool you have in your tech stack.

Lets say, for instance you’re dealing with refund requests from customers after a flash sale and you want to make sure that you approve them without unnecessary delays.

So, if you’re using a tool like Freshdesk as your CRM and ActiveCampaign for lead nurturing, an integration between the two tools will provide you with a single source of truth about the customer’s information to help you process the refund fast. Your support team won’t have to keep asking customers to explain their issues all over again inorder to verify and approve the refund request. Besides, with this information in one place, you’ll have an easier time addressing such an issue to avoid a repeat of the same in future promotions.

Ideal for: Small and Medium level businesses in tech, ecommerce, higher Learning, real estate, and nonprofits.

G2 Score: 4.6 / 5.0

4. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​HubSpot‌

Using different tools to manage your business operations comes with its own challenges. You will have to pay for each tool separately. Besides, the bigger your team, the more money you’ll have to pay for a seat in each of these tools.

Your team members also have to learn how each of these tools work. Over time, these costs add up making it difficult to run a sustainable business automation program. If working with several tools to automate your business feels like a chore, consider HubSpot.

While most know it as an all in one marketing platform, it also doubles as a business process automation software for teams looking to automate all their workflows and processes in one place.

With Hubspot, you get the Marketing, Sales and Service hubs, which all integrate and align all your marketing, customer support and sales teams.

Build your workflows and sequences from scratch or use the templates to streamline your business process and pass information about leads with teams from other departments:

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When creating your workflows from scratch, use Javascript to create a custom and programmable automation for each of your business processes for more efficiency.

Ideal for: Startups looking for an all in one enterprise level business automation software.

G2 Score: 4.4 / 5.0

5. ​​​​​​​SendInBlue

If you’re a small business owner with a large email list, you’re likely to lean towards a tool like Sendinblue that allows you to pay depending on the number of emails you send per month.

After all, this model makes sense in the long run, especially if you’re in ecommerce and have to send a different number of emails per month depending on the season.

Even with their flexible pricing model, Sendinblue doesn’t skimp on features that make business process automation easier.

Using their user friendly drag and drop builder, visualize your workflows and see exactly what will happen when nurturing leads, reengaging subscribers, or even running a seasonal promotion.

Sendinble also allows you to run A/B tests on your marketing automation workflows to help you optimize and use the most effective workflow.

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If you’re looking to create custom workflows for your welcome emails, upsells, and cross sells, pick an entry point, identify different actions that will trigger the workflow and the conditions that need to be in place before the workflow runs.

Sendinblue also allows you to build advanced automation workflows by installing a plugin to track the behavior of your web visitors on your website to allow you to send targeted communications. This saves you time as you will remain in contact with visitors whenever they need you.

G2 Score: 4.6 / 5.0

6. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Hootsuite

In addition to increasing the efficiency of your social media marketing activities through scheduling posts and helping you track analytics, Hootsuite comes in handy with its integrations to other tools that support your social media marketing efforts.

For example, Canva’s integration with Hootsuite allows you to save time as you create social media visuals using Canva without leaving Hootsuite:

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Once your visuals are ready, schedule or post them on different social media channels and monitor the performance of your content without leaving Hootsuite.

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And when it comes to managing customer complaints and feedback from different social media channels, Hootsuite’s integration with Zendesk makes it easier for you to merge all customer feedback and complaints and address them without having to move from one channel to another without leaving Hootsuite.

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You can also handover your customer requests from social media to the relevant customer support representative, and let them handle the request as soon as possible hence improving the level of customer satisfaction.

See how “Open” requests boldly stand out and you can even filter all the incoming tickets to help you know whether you missed anything, without leaving Hootsuite.

Ideal for: Small and medium level businesses looking to scale their social media activities through automation.

G2 Score: 4.1 / 5.0

7. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Google Data Studio​​​​​​​

For each tool you’re using, you’ll have a reports section and an option to export your data to an excel sheet for analysis.

Assuming you’re using more than three tools in your department, then you’re going to be analyzing three or more excel sheets every other time.

It is time consuming and difficult to identify how different trends are related. For example, if your traffic increases and there’s no change in conversions, how do you explain this if you don’t have all these metrics in a single dashboard?

Besides, among the top marketing skills that companies look for in new hires, 55.9% are looking to hire marketers who can measure and collect data.

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Why would more than half of the companies consider data collection and analysis as an essential skill?

Because tools collect data for you and provide you with insights based on their capabilities. As a marketer, your ability to tell a story with the data you analyze to help your team make decisions makes you indispensable.

And in case you missed it in our image above, SparkToro used Google Data Studio to share the results of their survey on essential marketing skills companies are looking for.

How do you use Google Data Studio to tell a story with the data you collect and analyze?

Start by creating your Google Data Studio and connect it with the tools you’re using. In the list of Google Connectors, you will find a list of tools you can use to import data and view it on a single dashboard.

Once you connect your tools, you can filter your data to find what you’re looking for, edit your reports, and even share your data with relevant stakeholders.

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That way, it’s less work for everyone. All the data is in one place and they can follow everything you’ve created for them to see in real time.

Ideal for Businesses of all sizes looking to automate how they view data.

G2 Score: 4.3 / 5.0

8. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Airtable

According to a study by SEMrush, the use of collaboration and workflow management tools increased by 8% between 2019 and 2020.

It is a small improvement, but it signals that most content teams want to improve their process management approach when it comes to content marketing by getting rid of repeatable tasks when creating content.

If you’re running a content operation, think of everytime you have to create briefs in Google Docs, send the links to writers and have a brief email exchange confirming that they received the work and they will meet the deadline.

If you’re working with one or two writers, that’s easy to manage. With multiple writers across different time zones, it’s hectic.

Also, depending on the organization you’re working with, content might need approval by the legal department or any other senior person on the content team which slows down the operation.

With Airtable, however, makes project management easier by automating your content workflow by automating some of these activities to save time and get more work done.

To see how this works, take a look at how Tommy Walker has set up his content operations inside Airtable and how each of these automations work:

It’s a solid set up, right? So if you want to have something similar for your content team, sign up for Airtable and use one of the content calendar templates provided and modify it to match with what you see in the video.

Best for: Freelancers and content teams with a small and medium level business.

G2 Score: 4.6 / 5.0

Conclusion

Before you get caught up in analysis paralysis, remember what we said at the beginning of this post: most automations are basic and lack structure.

So before you pick an automation solution you’d like to use, know whether you want to automate a whole business operation or specific elements of your business operations that are time consuming and annoying.

Knowing this will help you set the correct internal expectations as you decide to choose what tool to use and what you expect from the tools you choose to use.

Which of these business automation software would help meet your business needs?

Shadrack Wanjohi
Shadrack Wanjohi is B2B SaaS and Marketing Writer who creates content for B2B brands.

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