There just isn’t enough time in the day for a busy professional in the ecommerce world. I’m not sure if there ever was, but there certainly isn’t now that it feels like we have ten million things to get through every day. We race about, trying feverishly to keep plates spinning and put out the inevitable fires (what a strange mixed metaphor that is).

Thankfully, those of us in the tech sector know that automation tools can make our lives easier though handling the necessary but arduous tasks that soak up so much time— but which ones should you use? There are so many of them on the market that it can be extremely tough to figure out how to choose.

Well, I’m going to cut through some of the noise and pick out 5 brilliant automation tools you really need to be trying out, and I’ll tell you why they warrant the attention in the process.

Hootsuite

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Any ambitious modern marketing plan requires the distribution and/or recommendation of strong content across a variety of social media platforms. Given adequate quality and consistency, it’s a low-cost and reliable way of showing your industry peers and potential customers alike that your input is worth considering— but it’s a big investment to pursue.

Through Hootsuite, you can build social media content for all the major platforms, schedule it to be posted over a custom schedule that you define, and closely track both how well it performs (which links are yielding the most clicks, which posts are attracting the most views, etc.) and what people are saying about your company (very important to know).

While Hootsuite isn’t necessarily the best in any one area, it’s my pick because of its overall prowess and expansion options, making it one of the most brilliant automation tools for your company. Very few companies need the depth of functionality that would demand an alternative with a more narrow focus, and the value of covering all your social media and reputation management needs through one platform is extremely appealing.

Stencil

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Even if you have a solid social media content plan that relies heavily on the curation of existing content or customer photos, you will still need to produce some content of your own in order to showcase your products and/or services and prove that you’re not solely interested in commenting on what others are doing— and even the simplest posts can take a while to get right given platform-specific standards and requirements.

Similar to something like Canva, one of the most brilliant automation tools, Stencil is a user-friendly graphic design tool that lets you drag and drop resources in order to generate content specifically formatted to meet the aforementioned platform-specific requirements (think image aspect ratios, dimensions, and file sizes, for instance).

You won’t want to use it for creating really sophisticated designs, but that isn’t what it’s for. There’s no sense in putting a ton of time and effort into one social media post among the hundreds or thousands it takes to make a campaign, and the rapid-fire pace of social media makes it extremely useful to be able to throw together a decently attractive post on a timely topic in under a minute. Like they say, it’s built for speed.

Google Data Studio

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Having clear and accurate reports is typically tedious, but it remains an important part of monitoring KPIs, keeping everyone in your company on the same page, and updating shareholders and/or investors.

After all, trying to adopt a smarter approach to running a business without having a comprehensive understanding of how it’s performing is like throwing dark darts at a dark dartboard in an unlit underground bunker— you won’t be able to get any better because you won’t know when you’re hitting the mark and when you’re missing entirely.

If you’re running an ecommerce business, you almost certainly already have some implementation of Google Analytics in place, so if you’re not currently using Data Studio to generate reports from your analytics data, you should give it a try.

There are two main reasons why. Firstly, as a Google tool, it works perfectly with any Google solution you wish to bring in (Analytics, AdWords, Search Console, even Cloud Storage: all easy to connect). Secondly, it’s free. It used to be part of the paid Google Analytics 360 Suite, but was made fully available at no cost in early 2017, which is why it is one of the brilliant automation tools for your company.

Moosend

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For the average business with a significant (or exclusive) online presence, nothing is more cost-effective than email marketing, and in my experience there’s no more robust system for automating and personalizing it than Moosend, one of the most brilliant automation tools on the market.

You can segment your recipients however you like, store and sort by custom fields, and set up complex triggers to cover even the most niche of opportunities. The templating system is great, as is the advanced but intuitive ‘recipe’ system for carrying out suitable industry-specific actions, but a couple of things really set Moosend apart.

Firstly, its snappy support structure outclasses comparable options. Secondly, the full availability of its feature set (including the complex triggering) during the free trial period means that you get to test it in full before committing to a paid plan.

Zendesk

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Speaking of support structures, customer service is a massive time-sink for a lot of ecommerce businesses. The less equipped they are to handle it, the longer each ticket takes to resolve, the worse the results are, and the farther into the ground their reputation sinks.

Through the provision of integration-friendly software solutions including a slick help desk interface, a live chat system, and a shared inbox, Zendesk takes a lot of the work out of keeping up with a demanding customer base.

What sets Zendesk apart from other customer support packages is that it makes it easy to see how your company’s support performance compares to those of other businesses in your industry, has the best analytics system, and offers the best range of apps around to extend functionality and provide even greater levels of integration.

Conclusion: don’t hesitate to use these brilliant automation tools

Automation can’t do everything for us, but we’ve barely begun to scratch the surface of how it can make our lives easier, particularly when it comes to business. If you want to work smarter, not harder, but find yourself overwhelmed by all the options, then get up and running with these 5 tools, and go from there.