The Basics: How to Automate Your Small Business Process with Zapier
You might think that automation requires a large team of super techy people playing coding music in a dark room, potentially in a far away country, but have you ever thought that you could be a DIY automater?
If you’ve never heard of Zapier, then get ready to have your mind blown. Zapier is a cloud tool that connects tools and automates processes, and it’s one of my favorite software programs.
The possibilities are limitless with Zapier. I mean it. From simple to advanced processes, Zapier has you covered. There’s so many Zapier tools and integrations that I can’t possibly do the platform justice, but just to get your mind rolling, let’s do an example of how Zapier can help you do some DIY automation for your business.
Problem: Slow & Manual Leads Intake & Follow-up
Everyone receives leads and does follow-up with potential clients, but it doesn’t have to be a manual process that eats up your team’s time!
For example, let’s say your team currently does the following process to get leads and do follow-up from your online contact us form.
Manual Contact Intake and Scheduling Process
- Receives contact-us form responses to your emails.
- Copy/pastes the data into a Google Sheet to log a new lead.
- Creates a new folder for the lead’s data in your Google Drive.
- Sends a Slack message to everyone in your Slack “Leads” channel.
- Sends an email to ask the person to schedule an introduction call.
This manual process takes about 20–30 minutes for staff to process each new lead entry, making it labor intensive and prone for errors and slow follow-up.
Luckily, Zapier can automate this entire process, and it is easy to set up!
Plan: Automate Process with Zapier
Zapier uses Triggers (when something happens) and Actions (do this) to make Zaps (automation programs). Let’s list out the Trigger and Actions for our planned process.
Zapier Trigger & Action Steps
- [Trigger] Client submits Typeform Contact-Us form entry on website.
- [Action] Send lead’s data to a new row in Google Sheet leads tracking spreadsheet.
- [Action] Create a folder with the lead’s name inside the leads tracking folder in Google Drive.
- [Action] Send a Slack message on leads channel to alert everyone.
- [Action] Send client an email with a link to the Calendly automation scheduling app.
To set this up, follow the steps below to do this DIY automation with Zapier.
Step 1: Sign up for Zapier Starter or Professional Account.
I recommend Standard if you want to keep costs low (currently $20/month), but Professional ($49/month) comes with some super cool bells and whistles.
Step 2: Connect your Apps.
Step 3: Make a Zap.
Make your Zap and name it accordingly. “Contact Intake and Scheduling Process” sounds like a good name for this process.
Step 4: Set your Trigger.
The “When this happens …” is your Trigger. In this case, we want for this process to run on every new Typeform form entry that we collect on our client intake form.
Follow the steps to connect the right form, grab some test data with the “Find Data” step, evaluate the data, and get ready to set up some Actions.
Step 5: Choose your Actions.
Set up your actions following the process you want. In this case, we will first log a new entry to our Google Sheet for tracking leads and then create that lead a new folder in our Google Drive Leads folder.
After setting up these steps, you can set up two more Actions for the Slack notification and email outreach to the lead.
Step 6: Pat Yourself on the Back.
Congrats! You’ve got a draft Zap! You’re saving your company time and money, all while decreasing errors from manual data entry!
Step 7: Test & Study the Zap
Always make sure to test your Zap and get comfortable with it before showing it to your team. You need to know the process 100% so you can thoroughly explain the steps to your team.
Step 8: Teach Your Team
Pretty self explanatory, but your team needs to know the new automated process 100% before you switch over to this automated process. You cannot have competing processes and team members!
Let your team poke around the Zap, and get their minds rumbling. Who knows… They might think of another automation to set up…
Step 9: Turn on the Zap
It’s time to go live and automate this process! Save your Zap and go to the main dashboard. If your Zap says “ON”, then you’re rolling!
Step 10: Monitor & Continuously Improve the Zap
Always check up on how your Zap is running by going to the “Task History” section. Your Zap might sometimes run into bugs now and then, especially if you change your contact us form or if you change to a different tool.
Be sure to do a weekly/monthly check on the Zapier dashboard to see your Zaps’ status and task history. There might even be ways to optimize the Zap or add in more steps, so don’t stop improving your Zap!