How to Streamline Your Business with Zapier, the Easy Automation Tool
Gone are the days when we have to write letters by hand, send orders by fax or make payments by going to the bank. Technology has completely revolutionised the way that we run our businesses. Yet there are so many different pieces of technology it can be a real battle getting them to all work together.
Wouldn’t it be great if there was something that allowed different applications to talk to each other, and automated all the manual repetitive tasks that consume your day? Think of all the extra time you’d have to spend on the important tasks related to actually running and growing your business!
This is where the magic of zapier comes into play. If you’ve not heard of zapier before, I’m about to make your day.
Zap Away With Zapier
Zapier is an online tool that allows you to automate interactions between apps, using zaps. A zap is a template for a task that you want to repeat over and over again, based on a trigger and an action.
It’s easiest to think of a zap as a workflow that is triggered when a certain action takes place, ‘if this happens, then do that’.
The best part of zapier is that there is no coding required, so it is perfect for non-technical people who want to streamline some of their internal business processes. There’s an easy to use web interface where you can configure both the trigger and action to automate just about anything between two apps.
Zapier works with hundreds of different applications. Some of the more common ones include:
- Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, Gmail, Calendar
- Facebook , Facebook pages and Facebook ads
Automating Your Business
Every business involves a barrage of repetitive tasks. These often take a lot of time, are prone to human error, and rely on someone remembering to do them. These are the perfect candidates for zapier. You can streamline your simple processes, create automatic reminders and implement regular follow-ups.
Given the vast number of applications that zapier can work with, it might seem daunting to think about how you would automate some of your business processes, so here’s a couple you could start with.
Connecting Gmail and Asana
If you’re using Asana as a project or task management tool, you can create tasks directly from your inbox with zapier. You can create tasks based on the subject of an email, the label assigned, whether it’s starred or from a particular person/organisation.
You can also configure zapier to act in the reverse order, to send an email when a new task is created, when a task is moved to a particular list on an asana board, or based on a particular activity on a task.
Connecting Trello and Google Sheets
Project management software like Trello is great at organising tasks and projects but often you want to keep a record of completed tasks for reporting purposes. Zapier can solve this problem by adding information to google sheets once a task reaches a particular list in Trello. This is great for reporting or analysis – particularly useful for ‘what did we do this week/month’ type reports.
Each zap can be customised to populate bespoke custom columns of a spreadsheet based on fields used on the cards or tasks. The zaps can also be configured in the reverse allowing google sheet data to become Trello cards.
Internally we use a zapier task to populate an invoicing spreadsheet once a card has moved to an Approved column on our Editorial Board. This informs our finance team which articles are complete so that we can pay our writers when the end of the month comes around.
Connecting Twitter and Slack (or Asana, or Trello)
When running a business one of the most important aspects of maintaining a social media presence is ensuring to respond to user questions. A response received in a timely manner could be the determining factor when someone is looking to buy your product. But who has time to watch Twitter all day for user mentions?
Zapier can help in this situation by posting a message on Slack, or creating a task in either Asana or Trello, each time that anyone mentions you on Twitter. A similar integration is available for Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, so you could set this up on all your social channels.
This type of automation would result in all customer engagements/enquiries come into a central location where the responsibility of replying could then be delegated out to a member of the team. This is a massive time saving especially when the responsibility of replying to customer queries sits with a different person/team to those that are managing the social media platforms.
If you’re a slightly bigger organisation that uses ZenDesk similar integrations exist that will automatically create a ticket. ZenDesk however is one of the premium apps that require you to be on a paid tier of zapier.
Automating For Free
One of the biggest advantages of zapier is that it’s free plan is pretty comprehensive. You can definitely get by on the free plan as you learn the power of zapier and you’ll start seeing real results pretty fast.
The free plan allows you to create as many 2-step zaps as you like, but you can only have five active at any one time. You’re also limited to 100 zap executions a month. To begin with you’ll find this more than sufficient to automate the most painful of tasks in your business and test what is or isn’t possible with the technology.
If you start to find zapier useful and you’re using it to automate lots of tasks in your business you’ll probably want to move to the Basic plan so you can have more zaps active at the one time. For $20/month you can make 3+ step zaps, have 20 active at any time, and connect some of the premium apps like PayPal, Shopify, QuickBooks or ZenDesk. This is when things start to get interesting, for example you can automate Xero invoice creation from a paypal sale, or add a Facebook ad lead into MailChimp.
Zap to It
Work on your business, not in your business. I’m sure you’ve heard this expression before, it’s sound advice. The question always remains, how do you find time to do that. Using zapier is one way, and you’ll forever be grateful when you start automating some of those repetitive tasks that consume so much of your time.
Give zapier a go if you want to:
- Replace frequent tasks with automated processes
- Automate the manual time consuming tasks in your business
- Reduce the pressure of remembering everything yourself
- Always be innovating and making your systems more efficient