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Marketing and advertising agencies are busy, buzzing offices – and the people that build those companies are hardworking, energetic and a little crazy. I would know, as I’ve been working in advertising for almost a decade. I’ve learned many lessons about efficiency from this industry; perhaps the most critical is the importance of using every tool available.

In 2017, that means, above all else, investing in automation software to save your employees from billing time on tedious, repetitive tasks instead of creating the next campaign that will thrill your clients. Additionally, with over 44% of clients reporting in this year’s SoDA report that they’re investing in leveraging data to make smarter and faster decisions, generating great reports that paint a detailed picture of progress will be an important part of client retention going forward.

But what kinds of automation software are really helpful and offer a significant ROI, and which are just gimmicks? While your selections will depend on your particular agency’s needs, here are a my favorite tools that will benefit any advertising or marketing agency:

Time Management: BRIC

Creating an accurate estimate of the time needed to complete a project gives most marketing and advertising leaders a bit of anxiety, but time management and tracking software BRIC can help with that.

While this software is officially a project and time management solution, I consider it a powerful automation tool, as it automates the creation of reports that compare planned time versus actuals – a task that would normally take a significant amount of tracking and labor to fulfill. Reports also include patterns in past timesheets, and actionable suggestions for future proposals.

Email Automation: Seventh Sense

While email automation is a crowded space, the solution Seventh Sense stands out because it integrates so well with the incredibly popular Hubspot and Marketo systems. That means, simply put, that instead of having to work with your email system as an entirely different platform, you can present client campaigns as a unified front. Happier clients, happier staff – happier agency.

This solution offers more than just beautiful integration, however. Seventh Sense also boasts cross campaign analytics, audience engagement reports that will let you dig deep into what works and what doesn’t, individual contact insights, and more. Oh, and they also include dedicated training for every price point, to make sure you’re getting the most out of their service.

General Automation: IFTTT

If there are tasks that are particular to your company, or even particular to a specific team, that you’d love to automated, IFTTT is the product for you. The platform allows you to create applets – or very small applications usually meant for utility. Tools like IFTTT enable your company to customize your digital transformation on a per department – or even per employee – basis, as it suites you.

Worried about how technical you need to be to use a product that allows you to do things like automatically convert your LinkedIn posts into Tweets? Don’t be! There are already hundreds of marketing and advertising applet “recipes” that you can easily get started with.

These are just a few suggestions to get you started on the path to a more automated, data driven agency. If you want to reduce your turnover rate, increase the creativity within your company, and boost overall morale, the best thing you can do is remove tedious, mindless tasks from your employees’ to-do lists. Additionally, I’ve built a career around making it easier for clients to do more than one thing at once, and can tell you first hand that if you can give your clients more time through automation and reporting, they will be incredibly enthusiastic, satisfied, and – most importantly – loyal, for years to come.