What is workflow automation? Best free and paid software

workflow automation header

Tedious paperwork. Uninspiring data entry. Endless emails. 

Repeating the same tasks over and over again quickly gets boring. And when huge quantities of data and documents are involved, it quickly gets overwhelming too. 

Put boring and overwhelming together and what do you get? An uninspired workforce that’s bound to make silly mistakes. 

That’s where workflow automation comes in.

Workflow automation software takes these monotonous manual processes off your hands, freeing up time for you and your team to focus on the more exciting parts of the job. 

In this guide we’ll take a closer look at workflow automation, including how it can save you time and the best free and enterprise-level workflow management software. 

But first things first…

What is workflow automation?

Workflow automation refers to the use of software to complete certain tasks and activities, without the need for manual data entry. That might be automated emails to targeted customers, data extraction, or document approval, to name just three examples.

Workflow automation software makes work faster, easier, and more consistent, with less chance of human error. It also gives you and your team more time to focus on more important, impactful, and interesting work.

To learn more about how to create efficient automated workflows, check out the video:

How workflow automation software saves you time

Workflow automation software performs certain tasks much quicker than a human could. Create a workflow automation process once, and this will then run on its own in the background, without you having to do anything manually.

And because you and your team don’t need to spend as much time on repetitive tasks, you have more time to focus on the bigger picture. Which means greater productivity. Better efficiency. And a more motivated workforce!

One of the most important benefits of workflow automation is that there’s also less room for human error, which means less time spent correcting mistakes. 

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Five great examples of marketing workflow automation

There are infinite ways that you can design your workflow automation process as part of your marketing team’s workflow. Far more than we could fit in one blog post! But here are five great examples that show how you can use these tools to your advantage.

1. Turn a chat message into a task in your project management tool

Use workflow automation software to set up a rule so that when you click the save button on a Slack message, it creates a task in Asana with the message as the description. One less bit of admin, and you’ll never forget a task again.

2. Send a message to your Slack channel when you get a new lead

Create a rule that triggers a message to be sent to your Slack channel so that you know when you’ve got a new lead. You’ll get notified instantly, which means no more constant checking, and no more missed opportunities. 

3. Automatically message new leads

When you don’t have the time to message each new lead individually but you still want to provide a personalized service, automate your workflow so that personalized messages are sent automatically to prospects using the information they’ve submitted. 

4. Create a ticket from new survey responses

Running a survey as part of your marketing efforts? Set it up so that each time you get a new response, a ticket is created. This makes it easy for you to gauge opinions, follow up, and interact better with your customers.

5. Set a new chat status to reflect new Google Calendar events

Save yourself the simple yet boring (and easily forgotten) task of changing your chat status by automating status changes when you have an event scheduled on your Google Calendar. That way, teammates can see if you’re busy and know when to expect a delayed reply. 

Top workflow automation tools with free plans

Want to give workflow automation a go without committing to a paid-for plan? Here are the three best workflow automation software with free plans:

1. Zapier

Zapier is a workflow automation software designed to seamlessly connect all of your apps. By linking all your apps together, data transfer becomes automated as it passes between two or more apps via “Zaps”. It’s easy to use, with no coding required, meaning you can innovate quickly and build processes faster. 

Its free plan gives you five free zaps per month, or you can upgrade from $19.99/user per month.

zapier

2. Make

Make is an automated workflow software that lets you visually build and automate workflows to solve complex problems and simplify your processes. Knowing how to code isn’t necessary – it does the hard work for you. All you have to do is drag and drop your chosen apps! 

This robotic process automation tool offers a free plan allowing unlimited users and up to 1,000 actions per month. Upgrade from $9/month.

Make tool

3. IFTTT

IFTTT – short for If This Then That – is another great free tool for integrating apps. It’s based on rules – or “Applets” – that trigger automated actions to help you achieve your goals and be more efficient. There are currently more than 700 apps to integrate and automate, with more being added every week.

This management workflow automation software offers a free plan which is a great place to start, and if you find you need more Applets, you can upgrade for as little as $2.50/month.

Top enterprise-grade workflow automation software

Looking for a more robust workflow automation solution for your business? Here are the three best enterprise workflow automation tools:

1. Hubspot

HubSpot’s marketing automation workflow software allows you to build and automate complex campaigns across email, ads, web, chat, and more. Automate tasks with simple email and form automation, and integrate apps to extend your marketing campaigns across channels.

hubspot

2. Kissflow

Kissflow is an end-to-end workflow platform for all your business needs. Designed for people with zero coding experience, its easy-to-use software empowers your teams to design and build their own workflows. Choose from hundreds of templates in Kissflow’s marketplace or build custom workflows according to each department’s need.

Kissflow

3. Mailchimp

Mailchimp helps you create marketing automation workflows that are personal and adaptable to your customers’ behavior and interests. From welcoming new subscribers and celebrating customer birthdays to sending confirmation emails and collecting customer feedback, Mailchimp’s marketing automation keeps you connected with customers at every stage of the user journey. Plus it integrates with all your frequently used platforms to connect data and deliver the most relevant marketing possible.

mailchimp

Best collaboration tools with built-in marketing workflow automation

If you’re looking for a collaboration tool that’ll help automate your marketing team’s internal workflow, then here are three of the best solutions: 

1. Filestage 

Filestage is a collaboration platform that helps you speed up your creative review and approval process by automating time-consuming tasks. Automated file sharing, reminders, and status updates mean there’s less time spent on manual tasks, chasing people for feedback, and less risk of missing deadlines. So you can focus on other productive activities, without fear of getting behind. 

Filestage dashboard overview

2. Asana 

Asana makes it simple to plan workflows and projects, see how your project is progressing, and keep your team on schedule at every step. To help with your marketing workflow, you can set rules to automatically move tasks to a specific column in your kanban when they’re marked as complete. Which means less confusion, and less time spent keeping track of the status of each task. You can also set rules to automatically assign and route tasks created in Slack, Gmail, and Outlook.

Asana

3. Monday.com

Monday.com is another workflow tool created to streamline the project management process for marketing teams. Automations including email notifications, due date alerts, and progress updates for a more rounded business process and to help you to work more efficiently and focus on the more creative side of your marketing activity.

Monday

Final thoughts

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about workflow automation. With the right tools, those tedious tasks that you and your team dread working on will soon become a distant memory, and your new workload will be all the more inspiring.

To see for yourself how Filestage can help with workflow automation for your review and approval process, you can get a free trial here →