Want to grow online? Stop doing everything manually.
Zapier is a software tool that specializes in integrations and automations. Zapier itself doesn’t really have many features; instead, the app has become the gold standard for connecting software tools to other software tools using drag-and-drop workflows. If you can dream it, Zapier can probably help you automate it.
- Automated workflows are critical in many industries. At first, people don’t think publishing is one of them.
- However, by automating out certain steps of your writing process using simple integrations, you can make your publishing routine faster and easier—without sacrificing quality.
- FYI, Zapier now integrates with ChatGPT.
Here’s what to know about Zapier and its marketing automation wizardry.
Table of Contents
What Is Zapier, and Why Care?
Founded in 2011, Zapier lets you automate repetitive tasks by connecting different software tools. You can transfer data to and from multiple platforms and build complicated workflows by creating what are called zaps.
When you create zaps, you’re creating little automation blueprints that fire based on simple if/then conditions. Zapier also has lots of built-in automations in its own interface.
A Silly But Illustrative Example
Real talk: I love getting paid, and I bet you do, too. The moment a sale goes through, I want to know about it.
So I created an automation in Zapier that will text me the moment a transaction clears. When a purchase happens in ThriveCart, my checkout software, I immediately get a text, and can customize the text with whatever language I want.
Here's what the finished product looks like:
Screenshots of texts I receive as a result of a Zapier automation. Zapier is great for business automation, but also nice for levity and staying motivated.
And then here is how the sausage is made:
This is a very simple example not related to day-to-day marketing automations (and probably a little arrogant), but hopefully it gets the point across. Zapier can take any if/then process in your workflow and automate it.
A zap completes tasks when a trigger event takes place. Example triggers might be things like:
- A new line in a database.
- Form entries from new leads.
- An updated event in Google calendar or Google Sheets.
- A web page visit.
- Zapier makes connecting apps to other apps very easy; once you’ve completed setup integrations for an app in your account, you don’t ever have to mess with it again.
Zapier’s plans give you a set number of monthly tasks and zaps. Zaps become unlimited at the more premium tiers.
For most bloggers, the free version or Starter version will be plenty. I use Zapier a lot in my business, so I eventually moved up to the Professional tier, but prior to that used the Starter plan for years.
How Zapier Supports Other Business and Productivity Apps
Some premium apps already connect directly to one another through custom integrations. But many apps and software startups don’t have those kinds of relationships built up yet.
Zapier has built its library to over 5,800 app integrations, so by now, most companies just focus on connecting to Zapier first, since Zapier automates processes with so many other tools.
Some companies, however, don’t want to open up their source code or API to allow automations. They want to own the whole process within their software to force users to remain on their platform. This is rare, but in some industries it is still happening, unfortunately.
Main Point:The integration compatibility of a software tool with other tools comes down to API access.
When choosing certain software tools, take into consideration whether they integrate with Zapier. Some tools have more robust integrations than others, and if Zapier works out for you, you’ll want to align your tech stack with it as much as possible.
Thousands of Supported Apps.
This is not an exaggeration!
Zapier has spent over a decade integrating with other business and productivity apps around the internet. It’s now normal for other apps to offer a Zapier integration in their pricing plan. (Often, the free forever plan won’t offer the integration, in an effort for you to upgrade.)
The best way to see if something integrates with Zapier is simply to do a search on their site. The zaps Zapier can do will be shown to you in the site’s search results as a list of potential automated tasks.
On lower plans, Zapier lets you do single-step simple tasks. Automating multi-step tasks is one of the premium features. You can certainly get a job done with multiple single-step tasks rather than a single zap that has multiple steps, but eventually you’ll probably want to trade up to a more professional plan.
Reframe:Multi-step zaps are really useful. When weighing the cost of Zapier, think about how much mental space you'd free up if automations took care of manual tasks for you.
A Drag-And-Drop Interface.
Anytime I don’t have to mess with code, I’m a happy guy. Zapier’s interface makes it easy to see what web applications are involved at which steps of specific zaps. Many small businesses never interact with a lick of code, and Zapier gets that.
Additionally, Zapier has strong customer support and lots of education on its website.
When you go to create a new zap, Zapier will guide you through every step, making automation easy.
Zapier offers recommended workflows when you type in any one app. This can be a great way to learn about what Zapier’s different tasks for that app actually are.
Moreover, you can import pre-built Zaps created by other providers. In Camp Wordsmith, we give clients pre-built Zapier zaps that they can click and import directly into their accounts to automate tasks and cut down on setup.
This is just one example of how to make Zapier work for your unique online efforts.
No Coding Experience Required.
My experience is that Zapier has a fairly shallow learning curve compared to other apps. On the free tier, you’ll easily be able to set up basic automations, and if you need more tasks later, you can adjust the number of tasks whenever you want.
Zapier sends test data at each step of your zap buildout. If a zap fails, you’ll know it during this testing period, and you’ll be able to make corrections or send the draft to customer support if you get stuck.
You can easily see how data received by Zapier is being used, and it’s also easy to see your zap history and how often your zaps run.
Pro Tip:Ensure you don’t accidentally create an infinite loop between two different zaps. If you do, your zaps will fire continuously to feed one another, using up all your tasks for the month, and then you’ll need to go to customer support to get it sorted out. This has happened to me, uh, more than once
If you’re comfortable working with code and data management, Zapier is also a great tool. You can process and reformat data in an unlimited number of ways, and Zapier now even integrates with OpenAI, the makers of ChatGPT.
Other advanced features include conditional logic and parsing data, which can help you take your marketing automation game to the next level.
A pro plan on Zapier can start to add up. The rule of thumb is that, if you can do an automation between apps directly without using Zapier, you should prioritize that integration first. This way, you’re not eating into your allocated tasks per month.
Here are some popular alternatives to Zapier you might want to consider.
• Airtable automations
Recommendations aside, I personally feel that learning the ropes of Zapier on the starter plan is the fastest, most direct path forward. It saves time and helps you get into the mentality of automation and thinking like a business owner.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Zapier Integrate with my Gmail Account?
Yes. When you connect an app in Zapier, you’ll be prompted to login to that app and manually approve data sharing permissions. Zapier then saves it as one of your internal applications.
What Is Zapier Used For?
Zapier helps small businesses and creators automate tasks between different software applications. Think of it as “digital glue” that can help you stick apps together.
How Many Tasks Per Month Does Zapier Give Me?
It depends on your plan. The free tier gives you 100 tasks per month and up to five zaps. For more tasks per month and more features, upgrade to a paid plan.
Zapier works wonders when you know how to use it properly. Embrace automation today so you can spend less time tinkering with manual tasks and more time getting your message out into the world. ◆
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