Since I first started learning about marketing, sales, and the entire world of online commerce, I was fascinated by the idea of being able to use the computer to help me save time on as many tasks as possible. At my first real job, I was in charge of the marketing department (just me) of a small family owned business. Like most small businesses, I had a lot of challenges that needed solving, all within a super tight budget and no resources other than my own time.
The inefficiency of data flow in the 2000s
Back in 2004, most of our business systems were not web-based, and the only system we had online was our email marketing system. Soon after starting that job, I realized how time-consuming it was having to transfer information from one system to the other in order to have our customers data synced on all of our systems. It involved exporting information into a CSV document (and figuring out what a CSV even was!), understanding how to use it, and then importing the data back into another system. It was a perfect example of how inefficiently information was flowing internally. Yet, I was young, enthusiastic, and ready to take on any challenge. More importantly, I was determined to find a way to save myself time doing these boring, time-consuming, and repetitive tasks.
After several years, I was able to partially automate our marketing processes. We subscribed to sync services that helped us save time syncing data from one system to the other (such as saving a new sales lead into our CRM, and then into our email system), but many processes were still done by hand. In short, automating things simply wasn’t easy, and the only real option was to hire a programming team to custom build software to solve our needs. That wasn’t a viable option, as hiring a programming team was too expensive for a small business.
Meet your automation superhero
Today, there’s a time-saving data transfer superhero called Zapier that I wish I had back in the old days. Zapier is, or will become, your new best friend for transferring data across multiple web-based (Software-as-a-Service) systems.
Zapier’s about us page has a great description of who they are, which directly aligns with my initial thoughts back when I started working at my first marketing job. Zapier’s team describes themselves as “We're just some humans who think computers should do more work.”, and that’s exactly what Zapier is all about, letting the computer do more work, so you can save time and do something better with your time.
What can Zapier do for your marketing (and your business, at large)?
Zapier helps you automate the most tedious parts of your day-to-day job. Their team believes that “there are jobs that a computer is best at doing and that there are jobs that a human is best at doing”. So they empower businesses everywhere to create processes and systems that let computers do what they are best at doing and let humans do what they are best at doing. In fact, to date Zapier connects with 700+ systems, so that you can easily transfer information from one system to the other.
The alternative to using Zapier, is to use an all-in-one software that would already include all of your necessary business systems such as your accounting, email marketing, contacts management (CRM), support desk, marketing, etc. Most small businesses can’t afford these types of of all-in-one solutions, called ERPs. Those systems are usually used by big companies, and include ERPs from SAP, Oracle, NetSuite, etc. Zapier is built for the rest of us, who can’t afford a big fancy setup, but can afford a handful of more affordable specialized systems. Zapier functions as the connection hub, making it feel as if you had one big fancy setup... just like the big boys.
Why is it important?
Zapier believes that with the right tools, any business can have 10 times the impact with less work. Their system lets users create “Zaps”, where they can transfer information from one system into one or more systems, saving a lot of time in their day-to-day business or personal tasks. All the time users save, can then be used on more important human-centric tasks.
Use Zapier Automation Workflows to save time
In order to better understand the power of what Zapier can do for your business, let me give you a few examples. While these are just a few examples, keep in mind that the possibilities are almost endless, as each Zap that you set up on Zapier can connect one software, with the other 699+; Additionally, each zap can be designed to have multiple steps so that your tasks are super-powered with data flowing from one place to the other (1-to-1), but then also to a 3rd, 4th or 5th system - all within a single automation flow.
Zaps (Workflows) to automate for your business on Zapier
- Turn new web form entries into contacts in your CRM
- Add new customers from your CRM into your accounting system
- Save new online store orders as contacts into your CRM
- Add new leads into your E-mail newsletter
- Automatically assign tasks to your staff when a new project is created in your project management system
- Share your new blog posts in all your social media profiles every time they’re published
- Share new mailchimp campaigns on your company Linked profile
- Share new LinkedIn updates with content from your tweets
- Upload new Dropbox files to YouTube as videos
- Post new project activity into a Slack channel
I hope that this brief introduction to Zapier can get you thinking as to the amazing power it has to help you automate many of your daily sales, marketing, administrative, and other business-related tasks. I love to create Zaps for my business, so drop me a line in the comments below if you have any questions, I’m always up for a solving and automating business workflow challenges!