What is Zapier?

What is Zapier?

Shane Herring
Shane Herring

Course Developer at Atomic Education

Last Updated: September 10, 2021

To create an automated workflow between two separate online services, some people would suggest using Zapier. But…the response from many is “What is Zapier?”.

This article answers that question.

How you might be doing a task now

Imagine you’re using a CRM. You are using a CRM, aren’t you? Let’s say it’s Capsule CRM.

Now imagine that you’re using ActiveCampaign. If you don’t know what that is, it’s an email marketing platform. Think of it as Mailchimp on steroids.

Now let’s say that you have a manual process that starts when you meet someone at an event. You get their details and add them to Capsule CRM. To nurture these new leads, you also add their details to your email marketing platform. In this case, ActiveCampaign.

Since these two platforms don’t communicate directly with each other you’d have to do these tasks manually. Enter their details in Capsule CRM and then enter their details into ActiveCampaign.

What if you were distracted and forgot the 2nd task? What if you met a lot of people and want to enter everyone’s details? What if you made a mistake entering their email address into ActiveCampaign? And let’s not forget how time consuming that would be?

Capsule to ActiveCampaign - What is Zapier

This is where services such as Zapier come in to help us save time.

What is Zapier?

To put it simply, Zapier is a platform for creating automated workflows.

Within Zapier, you create what are known as Zaps. Zaps are the glue between services. Services that wouldn’t normally communicate with each other.

There are two main components to a Zap. A trigger and an action.

On the Zapier free plan, a Zap can have only one of each.

A trigger is the service and event that the Zap is listening for. For our example, a trigger would be connected to Capsule CRM and the event would be when a new contact is created.

When the event occurs, there’s other information that’s made available. Information such as first name, last name, email address.

Zapier in action

When a new contact is created, the Zap looks to see what to do next.

The action contains the other connected service and a set of instructions.

In our example, the other service is ActiveCampaign and the instructions tell the Zap to create a new contact record using the first name and email address it received from Capsule CRM.

In ActiveCampaign, you may have a sequence of emails that is sent to every new contact.
In this example, every new contact in Capsule is added to ActiveCampaign and then a sequence of emails sent.

That’s not good. What if the new contact was supplier? Would you want suppliers to be sent marketing emails?

I wouldn’t.

Let’s fix that

Capsule CRM has a feature where you can tag contacts. You may tag a contact as a lead or a supplier. Let’s say you tag a contact as a Lead.

Do your recall earlier when I mentioned Zapier’s free plan? Apart from other restrictions, if you’re on a free plan, a Zap can only have one Trigger and one Action.

On a paid plan we can add more Actions. One Action we can use to solve our problem is known as a Filter.

Filters only allow the Zap to continue only if certain conditions are met.

In our case, that condition will be that the new Capsule contact has a tag of Lead.

With this setup, when a new contact is added to Capsule CRM, the Zap is triggered. But the Zap will only create a new contact in ActiveCampaign is that Capsule CRM contact has the tag Lead. If it’s tagged as a supplier, the Zap will not move past the filter and no contact is create.

Is that all?

Not by a long shot.

What Zapier can do is limited more by your imagination that by its capabilities.

Taking into account that most business don’t have any documented workflows, it can take a lot of work to get a Zap to do what you need it to do.

Let’s expand on our Capsule CRM lead to ActiveCampaign for email marketing.

Imagine you’re using Airtable (another favourite of mine) as a project management tool and Xero as your accounting service.

Using Zapier we could create the following workflow.

You change a contact’s tag to Client.

Zapier detects the change and then does this:

Wrap up

And that’s it.

Zapier is a powerful tool. While many online services are implementing native integration with other services, there are often limitations which Zapier overcomes.

By creating workflows that reflect your current manua processes, you’ll see opportunities to save time by implementing automated workflows.

I hope it helps you under what Zapier is and an insight into what it can do for your business.

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