Episode 40: [Deep Dive] Zapier: The Single Best Way to Un-Silo-Ify Your Tools

This deep dive episode is all about Zapier.

In episode 34, when I presented the Tech Stack Framework. I talked about un-silo-ifying your tools. Zapier is one of the mechanisms by which we can accomplish this goal.

Zapier acts as a broker or middle man between your different online tools… And it’s smart too.

Zaps can be super simple, connecting one tool to another. Examples of this are

  • When someone books a call with you via acuity scheduling, add them to your Active Campaign email list
  • When someone buys your Thinkific course send yourself a text message
  • When someone finishes a Thinkific chapter, update a user field in Mailchimp

There are two sides to each of these zaps, the trigger and the action….

In each of these cases, the trigger is initiated by a human, interacting with a system that you are using in your business. And the action automatically does something else within your systems.

It helps to streamline processes so that your tools work better together. Zapier interacts with your systems through what is called the API – the Application Program Interface. But we’re not going all technical… so let’s move on 😉

The nice thing about Zapier is that it gets to know all that crazy computer speak and presents it to users as intuitive actionable steps.

In the first draft of this episode, here’s where I was going to, probably painfully, take you through setting up a zap so that you could see all the magic of Zapier. But on second thought (after a fantastic night sleep!) I reminded myself that you don’t need the nitty gritty on the podcast.

My job on the podcast is to help you understand how a tool may or may not fit into your business and help you determine how to bring it into the fold.

Let’s look at where Zapier fits on the tech stack framework and then we’ll get back into more business-advancing tactics that Zapier is perfectly suited for.

Zapier fits in the second layer of the pyramid – the support layer. Tools on this layer support your base tools to help your business run smoother. Sure, our businesses can run without Zapier but when setup properly it will free up time and money that is currently being spent on administrative tasks and parlay that effort into higher value and revenue generating activities.

I recommend investing in Zapier. The starter level allows you to have 20 automations running at any time and these can be more robust and complicated than the examples I gave above. Instead of a single action based on the trigger, there could be several actions and filters applied.

My favorite demonstration of this is extending our first example from earlier “When someone books a call with you via acuity scheduling, add them to your Active Campaign email list.

Instead of stopping at adding them to Active Campaign, we can continue along and (2) create a task in Trello that reminds us to send a follow up email one day after the call. It could then go on to (3) setup your note taking tool so that it is ready for the call and (4) start a proposal inside Panda Doc. And a final Zapier action could be to (5) add a card in Trello for your VA to do whatever pre-work might be required.

See there are so many things that the one Acuity event can trigger – and this is really just scratching the surface.

A couple of points I want to make about that hypothetical zap…

  • I prefer to set follow up tasks in your project management tool as an actionable task rather than setting up an appointment directly on the calendar (which is totally an option too.) Because, I like to keep the calendar setup for work blocks and open appointments by adding this reminder email action to the calendar, it makes that tool a tad messier.
  • This same process could be used with other software, this was just an example
  • The key to a successful multi-part zap is proper setup of the individual systems

Zapier has a couple of built in functions that are the main reason I recommend paying for the tool instead of using the free level (which I don’t think I mentioned, restricts you to one trigger à one action zaps).

The two built in functions that I use regularly are:

  • Delay
  • Filter

Delay allows an action to be taken after a certain amount of time. I used this when I wanted to give a second Thinkific course as a gift to a client 3 days after they purchased the original course. The key of course is to put the delay after all the immediate actions.

Filter is a way to make it so that some events that trigger a particular zap make it to a given action. Let’s say that you have a trigger that is based upon a new line being added to a Google Sheet. You want to add each instance of that into Trello but only those that have a score of 100 or are going to trigger a text message to you as well. The filter would be placed after the Trello action and then the text message would only proceed after the filter was tested. Rows in your Google Sheet will all get over to Trello but only some will have a text message sent to you.

Every business could benefit from Zapier… perhaps your systems do not have a direct integration, or the integration through Zapier is more robust and works better for your needs.

Some of the benefits to Zapier, particularly when we invoke sequences beyond the if this then that are:

  1. More immediate results
  2. Minimizes mistakes caused by manual work
  3. Keeps the right people involved at each step of the process
  4. Creates a stronger connection between the disparate elements of your tech stack
  5. Keeps all integrations in one place
  6. Makes it outsourceable

On the Starter level of Zapier, your triggers are set to be checked every 15 minutes. But if you know a trigger was hit, you can run them manually.

While I think anyone can get into Zapier and start automating things. I implore you to look at your business to see if this is a good next step for you to take on yourself.

Zapier is one of the core tools I use with my clients during our Tech Stack Blueprint work. It makes the process of understanding your tools to create a strong tech foundation that much easier. We create the roadmap upon which you can confidently expand your business.

While each business is different, in general, I will setup a zap that takes your email marketing platform to the next level. It may be like above where we add people who sign up for an information session with you to your email list, or it may be connecting your webinar or seminar software back to emails. And if you’re already using a direct integration between a tool and your email marketing system, we may remove the direct integration so that we can do a multi-step process through Zapier.

There are three takeaways from this episode…

  1. Zapier is a tool to un-silo-ify your tools
  2. Think outside the box when you’re working with a Zapier professional to truly maximize the throughput of the tool
  3. The tech we use in our businesses is there to support us, if you don’t think you can do it alone, ask for help from a trusted adviser

Most of my clients don’t need to know what I have setup for them in Zapier.

And that’s the truth about building a solid tech foundation – you as the business owner are able to dream and create and inspire and make a difference – your tech is there to make sure that your dream take shape, your creations and inspiration reach their target audience and you have a place to make a difference from.

Take a few moments to think about and look at your tech. Give yourself a few minutes to uncover how it makes you feel. Then send me an email jaime@techofbusiness.com to start a new tech-confident chapter of your business! With tech-confidence comes greater freedom, the ability to make more money and impact more people with your products and services.

I cannot wait to work with you. We’ll follow the Tech Stack Framework together and give Zapier a rightful home in the support layer of your Tech Stack Blueprint. Email me at jaime@techofbusiness.com to get started.

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