Automation is a hot topic among business leaders, and for good reason. Most business executives agree that automating could save them hundreds of hours every year.
And fortunately, automation isn’t just for the factory floor anymore – it can help you streamline some of the most common tasks your team members perform.
Think about email and how much time the average worker spends in their inbox. [quotesright]What if there was a way you could easily streamline email tasks and automate them? [/quotesright]
That’s where Zapier comes in. If you’re wondering what it is, this is the guide for you. We will go over how this app works and the benefits of Zapier for your business.
What is Zapier?
In the last few years, businesses have adopted hundreds of different technological solutions. You might use:
- Slack for communication,
- Outlook for email,
- Dropbox for filesharing, or
- Trello for project management.
In addition to those, you have all your social media apps, your CRM, and so on. The list is lengthy. You and your team members may find yourselves swapping back and forth all day long.
The folks behind Zapier wondered if there was an easier way to manage the tasks you need to complete with all these different apps. The answer is that there most definitely is.
[quotes]Zapier provides a platform that allows you to connect hundreds of different apps.[/quotes] Then you can automate tasks between them, saving your team time and your business money.
How Does Zapier Work?
Application Program Interfaces, or APIs, allow developers to connect to different apps. In turn, third-party developers can then build functionality with those apps.
Zapier takes advantage of APIs offered by different apps. Using the APIs, Zapier connects these different apps, allowing them to work together through its platform.
Don’t worry, though. You don’t need to be an app developer to learn how to use Zapier in business. Most of the time, all you need to do is connect your account.
That’s simple enough. You’ll need to locate the API key on the app you want to connect to Zapier, then enter it into the platform. Zapier then connects your account. Think of the API key like the number you are calling on your phone or an email address, it connects you to the right place.
If you’ve ever used a scheduling tool like Buffer or Hootsuite for your social media accounts, that process should be familiar. It’s also very simple.
[quotesright]Zapier has the same idea as those social media tools, except it can do much more than schedule tweets. [/quotesright]
Creating Zaps to Get More Done
Once you’ve connected your various app accounts, you’ll create what are known as “zaps.” These are scripts that tell your apps what to do.
Again, don’t worry. You don’t need to know how to code anything to get your zaps to work. Zapier handles that part for you. Zapier made their interface for non-technical types, but in most cases, Zapier offers additional sophistication for a technology expert if needed.
First, you’ll select a “trigger” within an app. Then you’ll tell Zapier which other programs should get involved, and you’ll tell them what to do. Using email as an example, when the zap is set up, Zapier could run the script any time a new email lands in your inbox.
Suppose you get a new email in your Outlook account and you’ve set up a zap that tells Zapier to upload email attachments to Dropbox. When an email with an attachment arrives, that document will be added to Dropbox, a copy sent to a list of emails, and then data extracted from parts of the email and added that to a database.
Another example would be someone mentioning you on Twitter. With Zapier, you can generate a Slack alert you every time someone mentions you on Twitter. You can set up the template so you’ll see the user who mentioned you, the tweet, and a URL that links to the tweet.
This alert system lets you keep better track of your mentions. It also lets you respond faster, without needing to be on Twitter all the time.
Manage Almost Any Business Process
Zapier business automation is versatile, so it’s useful for much more than social media or messaging. The sheer number of apps Zapier connects to makes it useful for all kinds of business processes.
In fact, business uses for Zapier include billing, sales supervision, and much more. An example is its use in file merging and conversion.
With Zapier, you can connect an app like WebMerge to other apps you’re using. WebMerge allows you to automatically convert files to other formats, like PDF or .docx. [quotesright]When a .docx arrives in your Outlook inbox, you can convert it to a PDF without lifting a finger. [/quotesright]
You can also combine files. If you need to send out a receipt, you can combine the payment notification with the invoice using Zapier. If you have multi-step zaps available to you, you could even have Zapier send the receipt out via your email app.
Integrations with an app like billwerk let you find customers, subscriptions, or even add new contract data instantly.
In Outlook, you can create zaps that create calendar events when you receive new emails. Advanced formatting and filtering let you set limits on this. That way, only the emails you want will trigger the creation of calendar events.
If you’re using a project management tool like Asana, Zapier webhooks can trigger the creation of new tasks. A new email in Outlook could mean your task is added to the workflow for you.
The only real limit to what Zapier can do is your imagination. Check it out at Zapier.com