15 Powerful Tools To Automate Your Online Business

Powerful Tools To Automate Your Online Business

We all know that automation is the future. It started in the industrial age when the first factories replaced humans with automated machines. And to this day the innovations never stop. More and more physical and digital tasks are being automated. 

But in this article, we are not talking about robots in factories or drones/robot armies from Amazon. Instead, we talk about tasks that are done by humans on digital devices like computers and smartphones.

How can we use apps and tools, be they paid or free, and automate these tasks? I will mainly be talking about automation for digital marketing. But many of these tools can also be used for other goals. Like security or home automation.

Let's start with what the benefits for your business are when using digital automatons.



Benefits of Automation


Increased productivity

It might seem obvious, but the most important benefit you gain is an increase in productivity. If your team starts using tools that eliminate steps that take valuable time, your team can focus more on important tasks, and produce greater results.

Reduced costs

One reason to use automation is to reduce costs. Although it can cost you to purchase and maintain automation tools. Still, it can reduce costs by eliminating extra steps and otherwise needed machines or software.

Automation is quicker

For humans, processing data and completing certain tasks take time. Automating these tasks will make certain processes much quicker, and it saves a lot of time. And your time spent on educating new employees decreases as well.

It minimizes errors

People make mistakes, but when things become automated, the exact same thing becomes a repeated process, without any errors. A machine does not forget something or make mistakes. Only when the input is wrong, or when a bug shows up you have to step in and solve the problem. But these things can be minimized and the expected result will always be the same.

Although you have some initial setup costs and setup time. The advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. And in my opinion, it doesn't matter if you are a small or large business, automation is useful for all. 

Let's now introduce you to some of the best tools for you to use right away.



Digital Automation apps


IFTTT

IFTTT


IFTTT, which was free for most of its existence, is a simple app that can combine 2 separate apps, and let them interact with each other. IFTTT, which stands for, If This Then That, is now Freemium and the paid version also offers Queries and Filters, which you couldn't do before.

The free version lets you create 5 applets, for example, I could combine Mailchimp and google sheets. Every time somebody signs up to my email list, the entry data will be added to a google sheet. Then I could set up another applet that emails me, or alerts me every time I get a new entry. You can combine many apps, like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox, Google Drive, and much more.

If you are new to automation, I would suggest you start with IFTTT. The pro version is only 5 dollars p/m and pro+ 10,-. Very cheap compared to some other services. The available apps you can use are limited though.


ZAPIER

ZAPIER


Zapier is yet another similar tool to IFTTT. Zapier is very powerful and you can integrate nearly every app (3000+ apps). Collecting data and automating tasks, like sending emails, or syncing calendars with other apps is very easy. You can set conditions and filters to make it even more powerful. Yet, many features are paid, which is understandable for such a powerful tool.

The free version gives you 200 tasks, 15 Minutes of update time, and 5 Automations. The premium starts at 19,99 p/m. And they offer a 14-day trial as well.

Power automate

Power automate from Microsoft is a strong alternative to Zapier. It also lets you combine many apps, like email and social media. You can set up many automations and combine multiple apps in one flow. Power automate is not free, but you can try it for free here.


Integromat

Integromat Scenario Screenshot

One of my favorite ways to automate is with Integromat, which is also free to start. They have a very unique interface, by which you create a bubble network of apps. It's very advanced yet easy to use. 

For example. You could create one “scenario” by which you get data from your website, like an email signup or sale, send this data to your google sheets, then sync the data with your Dropbox, then send you a notification, and on and on you go. All of this you can do in the free version.

They also offer advanced conditions and filters. For example, you could follow an RSS feed, if a new entry is added containing certain words, you can get notified or send the data to your google sheets, etc.

Some apps are premium though, like Twitter, but many apps, like Amazon, Facebook, etc are free to use.

The limitations are in the form of how much Data you can transfer and how many operations you can run. The free version gives you 1,000 Operations and 100.0 MB of data. Which is enough for starters who create simple to middle complex scenarios. 

Integromat Dashboard screenshot

Although, I advise you to just go for the 9,- USD per month “BASIC” solution, which gives you 10x more than the free version.

You can also combine IFTTT with Integromat to create even more powerful automations.


Imacros

Imacros and similar macro recording apps or browser extensions can help you with certain daily tasks, like scraping data from a website, downloading images, or anything that a human can do in the browser, like Chrome or Firefox.

The app or extensions runs on your computer, which means you can not really use the computer when the Macro is running. It can run in the background, but when you use the computer at the same time, it can slow down the macro. 

If you learn how to use it, and how the coding works. You can create very powerful macros that can do nearly anything that a human could do.


Hot folders

I include “hot folders” because they can help your businesses operate more quickly. Especially if you work with servers and with a lot of files. 

What is a Hot-Folder? They are folders but with extra functionalities. You can create hot folders in Windows and associate them with a set of functions and settings. If you place a file in the folder, the associated program will run in the background and output the file. For example, change a file from RGB to CMYK, Change a file to a PDF, etc.


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Microsoft task scheduler

This automaton tool comes with all windows operating systems and is relatively easy to use. In windows, just search for “task scheduler” and you can start automating your computer. 

For example, You can decide which programs have to start when you start up your computer. Or you schedule an automated daily or weekly task. You can schedule all programs and apps on your computer, and it's great for daily tasks.

You could schedule a task for your data scraper to scrape data from a specific website each day. You might have to download Autohotkey though, to help you do even more.


Social Media apps: 


Buffer

Buffer


Buffer is freemium and lets you add all popular social media apps. Use it in combination with IFTTT to automate your social media posting.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite, similar to Buffer, lets you schedule your social media posts, is not integratable with IFTTT, but with Zapier and Integromat.

Facebook Planner

Simply use the planner feature on your Facebook page to schedule the same posts on IG and Facebook. The limit here is that you can only post within a 75-day time frame, and the posts need to be 20 minutes apart from each other.


Productivity apps


Slack

Slack is probably one of the most used business and team management apps out there. The focus of slack is communication, they say they are better than email, by creating one place where you can do all. 

If you work as a team a lot, then slack can be a great tool. I see Slack as a more advanced way of using the cloud. And if you combine slack with IFTTT or Integromat, the possibilities become endless.

Monday.com

Monday, which is similar to Slack, also enables you to collaborate as a team. Use it as the cloud or to manage your Ad campaigns and track bugs.

The tool is one of the best when it comes to project management software. You get timeline views, calendar views, time tracking, and many integrations, like Zapier and Integromat.

More tools

Similar tools are hygger.io or ntaskmanager.com. Check them out too if you want to try and compare which suits your business the best.


TIP. After you have set up your automation processes and tools. One way to increase productivity is to invest in better equipment, like faster computers, servers, and smartphones.

Conclusion:

Depending on your automation goals, I believe that automation is for everyone. And I think that automation, together with AI, will play an even more important role in the future. For now, I say use it to automate your social media marketing, create more backlinks or collect data.



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Ron Hoekstra is the founder of The Liberty OnDemand. With his many years of experience in the field of graphic design and self taught knowledge about business, digital marketing and leveraging wealth. He can give you valuable insights and content to help you grow and become more successful!


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