Business automation is more than just a 2024 trend — it’s something you and your team can’t afford to miss out on. Maybe you’ve already taken advantage of a small business automation software like Keap to automate your sales pipeline and business processes, but your automation journey shouldn’t end there. The market is full of other incredible tools you can benefit from and pair with your automation software to save you even more time and help your team work smarter, not harder, in the new year.
If you’re on the hunt for some applications to add to your toolkit, Josh Metcalfe-Parsons has the answers. Josh is Keap’s Customer Lifecycle Architect, and each day, he works to develop the customer experience of every Keap user. This role has made Josh an expert in how small businesses operate and which tools can make small business owners’ lives easier.
Josh recently shared a list of the top four automation tools every small business needs at the Let’s Grow Summit. In this article, we’ll be reviewing each of his recommendations and how they can make a difference in your business. You’ll discover tools that can help you:
Save time and improve your workflow
Accomplish more, individually and as a team
Ready to conquer the new year with confidence and arm yourself with tools that will help you reach your goals? Keep reading for Josh’s must-have resources.
Audio to text in a click
Transcribing audio is a best practice every business that produces content should be partaking in because:
Your audience can consume your media from anywhere, even when they don’t have headphones or aren’t able to listen. This is becoming increasingly important because more and more people are consuming content on the go. In fact, a report from Statista revealed that, in 2023, 70% of video content in the U.S. was consumed on a smartphone.
Increased accessibility for consumers. For people in your target audience who are deaf or hard of hearing, audio transcriptions are essential. By automatically including them with every piece of content, you ensure your brand is inclusive and adheres to accessibility standards.
You can produce more content in less time. Transcriptions can help you take a piece of audio and quickly turn it into other pieces of content. For example, you can use audio transcriptions from a video interview to create a blog post, or you can take quotes from it to use on social media. This is a great way to start ramping up your content without starting from scratch.
Transcribing your audio is a must, but that doesn’t mean you want to spend hours doing it manually. You might’ve run into this problem in the past and looked into shortcuts. The problem is there are so many audio transcription tools on the market, and not all of them are created equally. You’ll want something that’s affordable and provides efficient, accurate transcriptions for any audio file you have.
Fortunately, you don’t have to go scouring the internet for the best option because Josh has done the work for you. His favorite transcription service? MacWhisper.
MacWhisper is fast, locally stored, and incredibly easy to operate. All you have to do is choose your audio file, and MacWhisper, using advanced AI technology, will provide a transcription in a fraction of the time it would take to do it yourself. And because it’s locally hosted on your computer, your transcriptions are secure, stored and readily available for you to add to videos and edit any time you’d like.
This software is only compatible with Mac computers, so if you’re a PC user, Josh recommends Descript.
Project management as customizable as Keap
Keeping track of your projects and ensuring they’re all running according to plan is a full-time job. It’s crucial to have software where you and your team can track your progress, document project updates, organize tasks and communicate about roadblocks. Airtable does just that (and so much more).
Similar to transcription services, not all project management platforms are made the same. Some are overly complex and impossible to navigate, while others offer simplistic layouts, but lack the capabilities growing small businesses need. Josh recommends Airtable because it balances extensive project management features with an easy-to-navigate design.
A few key features of the platform are:
Easy views and user-friendly templates
When you add information to Airtable and create records for each project, you’re able to easily customize and switch the way you view that information thanks to their pre-built templates. This means you can have a comprehensive, detailed view of your projects, while also being able to limit the information you see and get a big-picture outlook.
The ability to easily change the way you view project information is what makes Airtable so impressive and useful for small business owners and their teams. You won’t be limited by the software or have to worry about outgrowing it because Airtable will grow with you as you learn how to use it and optimize more of its powerful features.
Automation (of course)
At Keap, we love automation, especially marketing automation for small business — it’s kind of our thing. So, when project management software can automate repetitive tasks, it’s a big green flag.
Airtable has a robust built-in automation system. A few automations you can easily set up include:
Creating records when someone fills out a form
Entering task due dates into users' calendars
Updating records based on activity from emails, chats and other apps
Publishing completed content to your website, blog or social media
These are just a few of the automations you can set up in Airtable, but your options are endless. Automating more of your project management tasks will not only save you time, but it will also provide peace of mind that all your projects are moving along — even when you’re not online to do it yourself.
Interfaces and dashboards
Airtable acts as a task list, document repository and much more, and the way it can display all these things for users is just as impressive as its versatility.
Their interface functions allow users to build dashboards that can be customized for each project stakeholder. That means each individual on your team can design their interface so it only shows the details that matter to them. Filters, tables, forms, kanbans, calendars and timelines are some of the options you can choose from when setting up your project dashboards.
Every ctrl+c ever
Where would we be without copy and paste? It’s a simple but incredibly helpful and time-saving hack. But what if it could get even better? Josh’s next must-have tool, Paste, can help you and your team in even more ways than the ctrl+c shortcut.
Paste makes it possible for you to store and organize everything you’ve ever copied. The concept is straightforward: Every time you copy something, the app will automatically record it for safekeeping. This software may seem simple, but it’s mighty, and it helps businesses in ways they didn’t even know they needed.
Some of the most helpful aspects of this tool include:
With the Paste app, you never have to worry about overwriting the last thing you copied because everything you copy to your clipboard will automatically be documented
Your copied items will be accessible across all of your devices
You can easily search your stored items to find the exact one you need
You’re able to categorize your copied items for increased organization and record keeping
All your copied information is locally stored on your devices so it will remain private and protected
Paste comes equipped with many more features, including the ability to edit and preview your copied items. It can also link with other apps, Siri and your iOS keyboard.
Note: If you’re a Windows user, you don’t need a tool for this! Use Logo+V to access your clipboard history in Windows 10 or 11.
The tool to bring it all together
If you’re looking for one tool to complement nearly every other application your business uses, Zapier is for you. Zapier was built to integrate different apps and help users automate workflows between those apps. The highlights of the software include:
Bridge your tech
When your apps can talk to each other, you can automate even more processes in your business. For example, one way Keap uses Zapier is to connect Calendy appointment scheduling to Slack and Airtable. When a new customer makes an appointment with a Keap coach using Calendy, the coach is alerted via Slack, and an Airtable record is created for that specific appointment. This saves time because notifications and records no longer have to be manually set up.
The example you just read is only one of the many integrations Zapier offers. The list of apps you can connect using Zapier is extensive, and you can even integrate multiple apps at once, which means the custom automations you can create between apps are nearly endless.
Zapier works as a bridge to automate the actions in platforms across your whole business, but it also holds some powerful features of its own called “Zapier steps.” These “Zapier steps” can do a whole range of things, including filtering specific data, delaying an action, or more complex tasks like reformatting your data and parsing text out of an email.
Pro-tip: Did you know Keap integrates with Zapier? You can easily connect your small business CRM and automation software to over 2,000 other apps to save time and take your business automation to the next level. Check out Keap Academy’s free Zapier 101 course to learn more about how it works.
Automate even more in 2024
Starting a new year and pondering all it has in store for your business can be both exciting and daunting, but these tools can help you and your team tackle whatever’s in store. And if you want to compound the effects even more, consider pairing these tools with small business automation and CRM software.