getting started with zapier

Getting started with Zapier

Zapier has to be my all-time favourite automation tools. When used correctly it's amazing just how much time it can save you throughout the day.

I'm a solo operator and I have over 30 Zaps running in the background doing things for me and automating my work. I can't even begin to estimate how many hours a week it saves me, but I'd say it has to be somewhere around 10 hours.

If you've never used Zapier before or if you've dipped your toes into automation and just want to learn a bit more, this is the post for you. Zapier is a bit of a tricky tool to get started with as it can be hard to know what to even do with it. Detailed below are instructions on how to get started with Zapier. I'm going to show you how to set up a basic Zap with triggers and actions. I'll talk about filters, the Formatter and when to use paths. If you can master these few things, you'll be able to automate heaps of stuff in no time…

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What is Zapier?

Zapier is an automation tool that works on a trigger – action system. It works by connecting to different internet tools and cloud services. You start by setting up a Trigger. A trigger is like an event that Zapier is waiting to happen. For example, creating a new contact in Google Contacts. When the trigger event occurs, Zapier executes a pre-set list of Actions that you've instructed it to follow. For example, adding the contact to an email service like Mailchimp.

This Trigger – Action sequence is called a ‘Zap'.

How to create a basic Zap

In the video below, I show you how to create a basic Zap using this Trigger – Action system.

The example in the video is quite basic. It's just a simple trigger and one action. But you can take your Zaps to the next level by stringing together multiple actions.

For example, here are some Zaps that I've set up to automate parts of my business:

  • When someone booked an introductory call with me via Calendly (trigger) the contact is added to my Pipedrive CRM (action) and an activity is created (action).
  • When a deal in Pipedrive is marked as ‘Won' (trigger), the deal details are added to a new task in Asana (action) and Zapier creates a series of subtasks (actions).
  • When I receive receipts from a specific email address (trigger) the email is converted into a PDF (action) and saved to Dropbox (action).

How to use Filters in Zapier

Sometimes you only want your Zaps to run in certain situations. For example, in the example mentioned above, I use Calendly to book calls with new leads and existing clients. But I only want the new leads to be added to Pipedrive. This is where filters can be used to make the Zap stop running if certain conditions aren't met. So in my example, the Zap only runs if the Calendly event type contains the word ‘introductory'. So if it's just a normal 1-hour call, the Zap doesn't run.

Here's my video explaining how to set up basic filters:

The Zapier Formatter explained

When a Zap is trigger, the triggering app sends information to Zapier which you can use in your action steps. However, sometimes the information we receive isn't in the right format. This is where we can use the Formatter to manipulate data to get it into a format that we can use later on in an action step.

For example, in my Calendly booking Zap, sometimes people input their name with small letters e.g. ‘paul minors'. So I use the Formatter to reformat all names to title case, turning the name to ‘Paul Minors'.

The Formatter can manipulate text, convert dates, perform math operations, lookup values and more. When you learn how to use the Formatter, it really will help to take your use of Zapier to the next level.

HOW and WHEN to use Zapier Paths

When you're ready to get a bit fancier with Zapier, you can use Paths to create Zaps with conditional logic. Paths let you create different sequences of actions within your zaps that are executed only if certain conditions are met. Paths are similar to filters, except where a filter is used to stop your Zap from running, a Path tells the Zap to execute a set of actions if certain conditions are met. Your Zap can even execute multiple paths at once.

Here's an example of how I recently used Paths with a client of mine.

Please note, you'll need to be on a Zapier Professional plan or higher to use Paths.

Zapier pricing explained

The price you pay for Zapier is based on two things: 1) the number of Zaps (trigger – action sequences) you've created, 2) the number of tasks (an action or filter step) these Zaps performs each month.

The free plan lets you create up to 10 Zaps that can perform up to 2,000 tasks. This should be more than enough to validate the power and potential of Zapier. When you find you need more than 10 Zaps or if you go over your task allowance (like me), you'll need to upgrade to a paid plan.

We've really just scratched the surface here and what you do with Zapier is up to you. I've used Zapier to do all sorts of wacky and wonderful things.

If you have any questions about getting started with Zapier, please leave me a comment below so that everyone can see the answer. And if you'd like help learning how to set up and master Zapier, click here to learn more about my consulting options.