When I first heard about no-code automation tools, such as Zapier in 2012, my “developer brain” had two reactions:
This could be awesome, but it (Zapier) is kind of expensive!
Why should I use these tools when I could build it myself?
Well, let’s just say that my mind has changed dramatically since then with the rapid growth of a variety of no-code or low-code automation tools. At any point in time, I have at least 5-10 automations running for me, helping me streamline both my personal and professional life.
My attitude began changing once I discovered that no-code tools aren’t inherently expensive or complicated to implement. In fact, there are even open-source, free no-code tools available for anyone to download and host them (more on that later).
Best of all, with the surge of accessible automation technologies, anyone can take advantage of code-free approaches of automating tasks and streamlining workflows.
Moreover, for the developers or techies that don’t mind some light programming, most of these tools can be extended even further, so you can automate practically anything.
So, I decided to put together this post and take you on an exploration of some of the most popular no-code automation tools and how they can be utilized to boost your productivity and give you more time to do the things you enjoy!
But, before we get started, I’ll explain what no-code and low-code means and then point you in the direction of some key tools you may want to explore.
The Rapid Adoption of No-Code & Low-Code Development
According to Business Wire, the future of low-code or no-code tools has an expected growth rate of 44.4% by 2022 to $27.23 billion (up from $4.32 billion in 2017).
While there are many reasons why there’s been an uptick in no-code and low-code tools, it’s mainly due to the fact that anyone can build their own applications, integrations, and automations no matter what their technical background is.
While some of these tools can help you out around the house, most of them will help you automate your business.
Complex business processes, such as order processing, sales transactions, and customer support interactions, can be readily automated using a no-code workflow automation platform. Data gathering, research, and analysis are just some of the many other applications for these tools.
In addition to automating routine business processes like email marketing, social media posting, and lead generation, they can be used to create customized workflows.
So, without further ado, here are some interesting facts to back up no-code’s growth:
A 31.1% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) is predicted for the worldwide low-code platform industry by 2030, up from an estimated $10.3 billion in 2019 sales (2020-2030).
Since COVID-19, the percentage of CEOs citing “no-code & low-code development platforms” as their most critical automation investment has increased by more than double (from 10% to 26%).
The average forecasted market size is expected to grow from $16.1 billion in 2021 to $84.8 billion by 2027, at a CAGR of 31.9%.
What Does No-Code and Low-Code Have to Do With Automation?
As no-code and low-code tools have grown in popularity, automation is now more accessible than ever for two reasons:
You don’t need coding experience. It is now possible for you to create and customize automation solutions regardless of your coding ability.
You can build whatever you want faster. By providing point and click user interfaces and pre-built integrations, you can build workflows and integrate various apps much faster than building something from scratch.
Simply put, it’s possible to automate almost any task or routine using no-code and low-code tools.
Why Is No-Code & Low-Code Automation So Exciting?
No-code and low-code automation tools are exciting for a variety of reasons. By automating routine tasks, it can help you save both time and money. For developers, it can help them create new apps quickly and easily. For everyone else, it can help them automate their workflows and complete tasks faster.
Automation with no-code and low-code is also wonderful because it is empowering. It’s making it possible for anyone, regardless of their technical experience, to create new applications and integrations and automate whatever they can dream up.
For example, while I have several automation tools for AJ Tatum Digital, I also have basic productivity automations running withIFTTT (If This Then That). For example, one automation with IFTTT helps me remember to read stuff whenever I bookmark a webpage by connectingRaindrop.io toTickTick, so whenever I tag a bookmark with “To Read”, it automatically creates a task to be completed within two days.
What Are Some No-Code Automation Tools?
IFTTT is just one of an array of tools that may help you automate just about any aspect of your daily routines, business processes, and more. Although I’ll be focusing on tools for businesses in this post, IFTTT is a fantastic and simple tool that can apply to both your life and business… and it’s well worth exploring.
General No-Code Workflow Automation Tools
Before diving into some niche tools and before you sign up for “all the things”, it’s important to understand that no-code tools have a variety of ways to determine how many “actions”, “steps”, “workflows”, etc. you can do for a certain amount of money per month; unless you’re feeling adventurous and go the open source route.
Regarding that, I’m going to say something that’s very opinionated: I don’t like Zapier. Even though they are the most popular automation tool on the market and have the biggest ecosystem, they are also the most expensive.
While I agree that their tool is extremely easy to use, it comes with a premium. The entry level plan is relatively inexpensive, but when compared to similar tools, you can get more bang for your buck elsewhere.
So, here are some automation apps I recommend checking out.
I’m a long-time fan of the Azure ecosystem and prefer it over Google Cloud and AWS mainly because I find their platform easier to use overall.
With Azure Logic Apps it’s a breeze connecting and automating anything within Azure. In addition, they have numerous external or third-party integrations so you could create a Logic App without subscribing to any other Azure service.
If you go this route, I recommend trying it out with the “consumption plan” billing model first.
I use this tool frequently for both personal and professional automations as they provide a lot of integrations for home automation, online services, social media networks, and more.
While they offer a free tier, subscribing to one of their Pro Plans is worth it as you can do multiple actions in a workflow and have over one account for a service (i.e., your personal Google account and your Google Workspace account). This ability is great, for example, if you want to block off time on our Workspace calendar when you add an event to your personal calendar.
Formerly Integromat; Make.com is definitely more robust than other tools on this list; however, with that comes a slightly steeper learning curve. If you can dedicate some time to learning their system a bit, I highly recommend it. They integrate with over 1,200 apps/services and offer plenty of prebuilt templates to help you get started.
One easy way to automate social media content curation is by connecting Make.com with a RSS Reader app, such as Feedly or Inoreader (I prefer Inoreader) with a social media platform, i.e. Facebook, or a social media marketing service, i.e. Buffer or Hopscotch.
So, for example, with Inoreader whenever I tag an item as “Social Share” it triggers an automation to add a new post to my Content Curation queue on Hopscotch.
They provide both a hosted version and an open source, self-hosted version; and I currently self-host n8n to perform a variety of tasks.
With n8n and WP Webhooks, I was able to create my own content aggregator for AJ Tatum Digital called “Jarvis News“.
Basically, I have it check RSS feeds for new content every 30 minutes for various categories and if there’s new content, it posts a portion of the original article with a link to the source.
Technical SEO Note: If you do this, it is absolutely critical that the link to the original source has the “rel” attribute set to “canonical” as it informs Google and other search engines that your website isn’t the original source of the content.
While I was trying out Zoho One and all its services, Zoho Flow stood out to me because it was easy to use and I could create automations outside of Zoho’s platform.
As a standalone product, Zoho Flow is also relatively inexpensive, with two options: Standard for $12/month and Professional for $30/month.
No-Code WordPress Automation Plugins
The following plugins are functionally the same as the above platforms, but they are WordPress plugins that work really well with WordPress and other WordPress plugins. I’ve at least tried the following services with their free plugins:
I currently use Uncanny Automator and love it. Like AutomatorWP, their primary focus is integrating WordPress plugins as well as external services such as Facebook, Instagram, n8n, Pabbly Connect, and much more.
The feature I use the most, though more technical, is its ability to call a Webhook when a certain action takes place.
For example, whenever a new post is published, it sends data to n8n. You could have it automatically post to Facebook, Instagram, etc. as well.
I would recommend trying out Uncanny Automator’s free version first and if you like it, you can upgrade to their paid version which starts out at $149 per year.
This plugin can work wonders as it keeps your WordPress users in sync with your CRM.
So, for example, if a user performs a certain action, such as filling out a form, it can tag them, and then you can put restrictions on certain pages for users with that tag.
If you have a large user base and a CRM, this plugin is definitely worth considering.
I currently use their free version and find that it is sufficient for my needs, but if you want to have their eCommerce integration and other addons, you’ll need to upgrade to their paid plugin, which starts out at $247 per year.
AppSheet is a no-code development platform for application software that lets users build mobile, tablet, and web apps using data stored in cloud-based spreadsheet and database services like Google Drive, Dropbox, Office 365, and more.
Bubble is a visual programming language, no-code development platform, and an application platform as a service that allows non-technical individuals to create online apps without having to enter code.
AWeber is one of the leading email marketing and automation platforms for businesses and individuals. With AWeber you can create, send, and track emails, as well as follow up with leads through text messages. Additionally, they have tools to help you discover new leads, create automated campaigns, and reach new customers.
Campaign Monitor is an email marketing and email newsletter service that helps businesses create, send, and track emails and campaigns.
Campaign Monitor offers tools to create, edit, and campaign templates, send campaigns using email marketing tools or directly through its platform, track email open rates and engagement, A/B test Email subject lines and content, and more.
Constant Contact is a marketing automation platform that helps small businesses create and send marketing emails, SMS campaigns, and online ads.
With Constant Contact, you can create automated campaigns that send triggered messages to your subscribers based on their behavior or interests. You can also use the platform to create and send email campaigns and SMS messages directly from your account.
ConvertKit is a robust email marketing service designed specifically for content creators. It lets you develop landing pages and attractive, responsive email templates in a matter of minutes. Emails may be sequenced, rules can be set up, and lists can be segmented based on user actions, all with the help of the tool’s robust automation features.
GetResponse is a platform that helps businesses build, send, and track their email marketing campaigns. But sending emails is just a part of what GetResponse offers. In addition, they can provide marketing automation, push notifications to your visitors, live chat, and even webinars!
Every now and then I’ll think about GetResponse as they have so many features, but it has been my experience that only a handful of them are well executed. That said, their email marketing service is one of the features that does stand out as they provide a great editor, a large library of pre-built templates to help you get started, and more.
Mailchimp is perhaps the most well-known email marketing service when it comes to sending newsletters, but don’t let that overshadow their automation capabilities, which includes everything from welcome emails, abandoned cart reminders, birthday emails, and drip campaigns.
While Mailchimp has a lot of great things going for it, the primary reason I’ve avoided Mailchimp is because of their pricing after you surpass their free tier.
To me, the biggest drawback is that if a contact exists in two separate lists, that contact actually counts as two contacts. So, if you have a list for a CRM (“Contacts”) and a list for newsletter subscribers (“Subscribers”), if a Contact is also a Subscriber you’ll get charged twice. That’s just not right to me.
MailerLite is definitely one of the simplest email marketing automation services available; however, don’t let that fool you. Their email editor is by far one of the best editors I’ve come across, especially if you want to create a RSS-based automation campaign. It’s very flexible in that it allows you to select various dynamic layouts.
If you’re looking for just an email marketing service to send great looking campaigns, auto responders, etc., then they’re definitely worth a look. However, if you’re looking for a tool that can also help you manage contacts and leads, then this isn’t the service for you.
MailPoet stands out of this crowd as their service is actually a WordPress plugin, which opens the door to a ton of integrations with other WordPress plugins. Additionally, the plugin provides a familiar interface for creating newsletters.
Mautic is an extensible, open-source email marketing solution that includes a CRM, the ability to send messages through various changes via integrations, and also connect to your social media accounts.
SendFox is also a light-weight email marketing service that focuses on doing one thing and doing it well: sending newsletters and automations. Their service is extremely affordable, but is lacking a lot of “premium” functionality. If you’re just starting out and want to send simple newsletters, this could be the service for you!
Sendinblue offers an attractive free-tier and their paid tiers are competitive to ActiveCampaign and GetResponse. Their feature set though is closest to ActiveCampaign, but they also offer a transactional email service as well to complement your marketing emails. Like ActiveCampaign, they also offer a live chat feature for your website.
While I like a lot of what Sendinblue offers, I prefer ActiveCampaign, especially when it comes down to marketing automation and customization. Additionally, while ActiveCampaign’s email designer leaves a lot to be desired, it is more intuitive than Sendinblue’s email editor.
You’ll often find that your email marketing service may have a CRM component to it. Depending on the service and your needs, you may need a separate CRM that can integrate with your mail marketing service.
I’ve used HubSpot’s free and $50/month services but found it too limited with the free tier or overkill for my needs at $50/month, considering that I was evaluating HubSpot after already investing in ActiveCampaign.
If you have a large business and can afford to invest fully in their ecosystem, then it’s definitely worth it as it can provide a lot of value to your business and it will save you significant time with their CRM, email marketing capabilities, and social media marketing services.
After my experience with services that try to be an “all-in-one” solution, I haven’t given Gist a chance yet.
I’ve yet to find an all-in-one solution that isn’t crazy expensive and can do each thing very well; my experience has been that these services can do it all, but they don’t do any particular thing very well.
Gist may be different. They offer a CRM, email marketing service, marketing automation, event tracking, live chat, knowledge base, and a support bot.
They do have a free forever plan if you have under 200 contacts, then it’s $48/month or $128/month depending on what features you want.
While I haven’t used NoCRM.io before, I find their service interesting and affordable if you’re looking for a lightweight no-code tool that can help you manage prospects and convert them into customers.
Zoho, like HubSpot, has a vast ecosystem of complementary services like email marketing, social media marketing, web analytics, web chat, and so much more.
I was so intrigued by having everything I’d need in an “all-in-one” solution, called Zoho One, that I signed up for it, but eventually requested a refund within 30 days.
While certain aspects of each service did their job pretty well, I found that not one service was as “complete” when compared to a dedicated service (i.e.: ActiveCampaign is simply better at email marketing than Zoho’s email marketing service).
However, they do offer a lot of inexpensive services, such asZoho Social, which does a pretty good job as a standalone service.
I’ve been a Notion fan since the day I discovered them. If you’ve ever used Evernote and haven’t tried Notion yet, I highly recommend you do. It replaced Evernote and many other one-off tools for note taking, project management, etc.
With Notion, you can create databases for whatever you want. There are ready-made templates for those looking for anything from to-do lists to sales pipelines.
Besides Google Docs, it’s my go-to for internal documentation management, etc.
Airtable has an almost infinite number of possibilities; you can either build simple apps backed by Airtable or you can leverage their massive library of templates for product planning, bug tracking, product tracking, and so much more.
They integrate with popular services such as Slack, Google Sheets, and more. However, all these nice and fancy features come with a price tag that can grow unwieldy.
I absolutely love Baserow as they are an open-source no-code database Airtable alternative. While they may not have all the glitz and glamor of Airtable, it’s very intuitive and their team is super responsive to new ideas.
I first tried it out by using another service calledCloudron, which makes it incredibly easy to spin up a variety of self-hosted, open-source services.
Like Baserow, NocoDB is an open-source, no-code Airtable alternative. It can turn any database into a smart spreadsheet. It’s pretty slick, and they offer built-in integrations with Microsoft Teams, Slack, WhatsApp, Twilio, and more.
No-Code & Low-Code Text-to-Speech and Speech-to-Text Tools
Text-to-Speech and Speech-to-Text have risen in popularity dramatically over the past few years. There are seemingly new services that I stumble upon almost weekly.
Here are some of my recommendations:
Cloud Services for Text-to-Speech & Speech-to-Text
Sometimes, it’s easier and cheaper to go straight to the source. If you’re already in the Azure ecosystem, their Cognitive Services are worthy of your time to try out. All you need is an Azure account, and then you can play around in theirSpeech Studio portal.
This is definitely a low-code solution as you’d either have to use their CLI (Command Line Interface), write a small application, or use an API.
With the proper tool at your disposal, you can speed up your content creation by generating ideas, outlines, SEO meta descriptions, and advertising copy, as well as checking your grammar while you’re typing.
I’ve tried a bunch of tools that I’ve discovered through AppSumo and some have been a hit and others have been a huge miss.
Content Writing Automation Tools
Here are some tools you may or may not have heard about:
copy.ai is an interesting tool, with which I’ve also had mixed experiences with. I only tried it during a trial period and was mainly curious about how it could help with generating ideas for new blog posts and short-form content.
For example, while thinking about this post, I was curious about what kind of outlines it would generate for the title of this post, and the results were pretty interesting.
For example, some headings were obvious, such as “What Does No-Code Mean?”, and then unique headings such as “Imagine having the power of code… without the headaches.” copy.ai and Jasper.ai are about the same price, and while I prefer the content output of copy.ai, I just can’t justify spending $50/month on it.
Formerly known as Jarvis.ai, Jasper.ai is perhaps the most popular service of the bunch. I’ve tried their service several times and their output is consistently mixed. It will either generate great content or complete gibberish (letters and words mashed together, sentence fragments, etc.).
They are one of the priciest options, so I expect content that matches their price tag… and it never does. Perhaps I’m trying to generate something that’s for a niche demographic, but I don’t experience the same issues with other services.
Peppertype.ai is very similar to Rytr, but the content it creates is vastly different. While I still have it in my arsenal for idea generation and short-form-content writing, it doesn’t always provide something that sounds human-like.
I discovered Rytr through AppSumo and bought their lifetime deal and was astounded by the variety of templates, use cases, and, most importantly, the quality of the content it generated based on just a few words or a question.
Rytr shines brightly for short-form-content, such as SEO meta descriptions, and for generating outlines. One thing is for sure, Rytr has definitely helped me when I’ve had writer’s block.
Writesonic is the latest tool that I’ve stumbled upon, so I haven’t been able to truly test out its huge selection of tools to help you generate practically any type of content. However, their “Topic To Paragraph” tool generated the longest, most comprehensive, and human-like content when compared to any other tool on this list.
What makes this absolutely insane is that Writesonic offers a generous free trial and plans start out at just $10/month. It is by far the most affordable content writing tool available (excluding tools purchased with a lifetime deal).
Writesonic can generate content ranging from long-form articles, social media posts, ad captions, email subject lines, company & personal bios, an analogy maker, and much more.
WriterZen is a mix of several tools in one service. Their service makes researching a new topic and generating an outline for a new blog post much easier than doing it manually.
Basically, you put in your post’s keywords and it will do a search and show you similar articles and those articles’ outlines. It will then recommend keywords you should include in your post.
Finally, at the content writing stage, you can start writing your post and you’re able to use “AI Shortcuts” to automatically create transitions, rewrite sentences or paragraphs, generate outlines, and more.
Overall, while I use some of these services for ideas or to help with writer’s block, none of them can write an article that sounds as if someone else wrote it.
Grammarly does more than simply help you with grammar mistakes; It can assist you in writing sentences that are easier to read, keep your writing style and tone in check, and make your writing sound significantly better. However, I’ve found that Grammarly works best with shorter forms of content.
TLDRthis.com ranks among the top few online tools for summarizing and paraphrasing content. It makes it simple to condense lengthy content into bite sized chunks.
The best part is that there is no need to sign up or register to use this service. Upgrade to one of their paid tiers if you find the free version insufficient; they offer very reasonable prices.
To use TLDRthis.com, just copy and paste the URL or text of an article, and it will be automatically shortened into a few sentences. This is fantastic for social media posts! TLDRthis.com even has an option to easily paraphrase long content.
Lastly, it also has a free extension for Google Chrome and Firefox that lets you summarize any article with one click.
I know I sometimes write a sentence and think, “I wish that sounded better.” That’s where wordtune steps in: just highlight the sentence you want to rewrite and wordtune will auto-generate a variety of suggestions, and you can choose if you’d like your sentence to sound more casual or formal.
I saved my favorite writing tool for last. Like wordtune, QuillBot is a paraphrasing tool, but where it leaves wordtune in the dust is the quality of its output.
I’ve taken plenty of sentences and paragraphs that I’ve written and thought they sounded pretty good, only to then have QuillBot generate something that turned my content into something that I can only describe as jaw-dropping.
Their month-to-month plan is $15 a month, but their annual price is $100, and it’s well worth the investment.
No-Code Tools for Social Media Automation
I’m going to keep this section brief as there are so many tools & services out there, and there’s seemingly new ones popping up every week. So, instead, I want to highlight a few tools that you may not be aware of that could save you time, money, or both!
While trying out ContentStudio.io, I was impressed with their content curation feature. Basically, you’re able to select some predefined topics, create your own “topic stream” based on a keyword or a group of keywords, and you can also import RSS feeds. Once setup, you can easily find content that has a lot of engagement, such as the number of times it’s been shared or liked. Additionally, you can easily find influencers based on topics or keywords.
However, even with this robust feature, I found that their social media poster to be flakey at times. For example, the “AI Caption Generator” couldn’t generate captions for the appropriate page if the URL was shortened via Bitly. So, I decided to stick with SocialBee.
Anyway, one thing to note is that they also have a content publishing tool that helps you write SEO-optimized articles and can then automatically publish them onto your WordPress site and Medium.
Hopscotch recently caught my eye while browsing for new social media marketing integrations on IFTTT and Make.com. Prior to Hopscotch, the only other platform available was Buffer, so I checked out their website to see what they were all about.
Let’s just say that Hopscotch may not win any web design awards, but being integrated with IFTTT and Make.com is pretty awesome and opens a lot of doors for automation.
One particularly nice feature they have is the ability to create queues per profile with a time range of when to post, the minimum amount of time between posts, and then you can “interval randomness” as a percentage.
As explained on their page, “if you set the [minimum] interval to 10 [minutes] and randomness to 20%, the interval between posts will be randomly selected between 8-10 minutes.” I thought that was a pretty neat trick so that your posts aren’t always posted at the exact same time every day.
If you’re struggling to constantly post new posts on social media, you should give Quuu.co a try to handle content curation.
They integrate with Buffer, SocialBee.io, and a few others or they can post directly to your social media accounts. Basically, after signing up, you add your social media accounts and then select what categories of content you’d like Quuu to find and share for you (you can manually approve each post or have it automatically post).
I highly suggest that you manually approve each post as you’ll most likely have to tweak the categories a bit for your needs as I’ve found that their suggested content can be off sometimes; however, 90% of the time it’s great, shareable content and all I have to do is click “Approve” in SocialBee.
Why No-Code & Low-Code Automation Is Truly Badass
There’s a reason no-code and low-code automation tools are so exciting, and it’s not just because the technology makes things easier for developers.
It’s because these tools open up a whole new world of possibilities for everyone – from the business owner who wants to get things done quickly and efficiently to the developer who wants to focus on new projects instead of routine maintenance.
And that’s not all. These tools can help you achieve your goals faster than ever before, which is great news if you’ve ever tried to build something complex with no prior experience.
The Future of No-Code and Low-Code Automation Tools
In the absence of crystal balls, I can guarantee with certainty that no-code and low-code tools will keep rising in popularity and adoption.
I expect this is going to be a constant stream of fresh development and implementation.
This new phase will allow businesses to “rapidly identify, vet, and automate as many business and IT processes as possible.”
Start Your Automation Journey
My goal in writing this post was to give you a solid foundation in no-code and low-code automation tools so you can get started building whatever you desire.
It will take time to set up your automations and iron out any kinks, but think of automating a task as collecting interest on money you’ve saved: Once your automation is complete and working around the clock, you’re effectively adding more hours to your day!
So, what do you say? Start your automation journey today!
As always, if you or your business need any help in setting up any type of automation, I’m here for you and ready to help. Just contact me and provide some details or schedule a free consultation today!
PS to the techies: If you’re looking to try out a bunch of open-source, free tools, I recommend setting up a small virtual server with Vultr and installing an application called Cloudron, which allows you to create new instances of over 20 applications in a matter of seconds. Cloudron has saved me an incredible amount of time in trying out software as I didn’t have to do any configuration and, if I didn’t like the app, it’s just as easy to uninstall the application.
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