As a kid, I loved playing with LEGOs. I could spend hours with a big pile of blocks and turn them into everything from houses and castles to cars and dragons.
I bet you are wondering what this has to do with Zapier?
It turns out a lot.
Zapier is like LEGOs for grown-ups.
Just like you start with a pile of toy blocks, and you can turn it into whatever your imagination dreams up, you can do the same with Zapier. You can use it to connect thousands of SaaS apps.
If you are a founder growing an agency, this is great news. Zapier allows you to scale your agency through automating key portions (or entire) workflows and processes.
However with nearly endless possibilities, Zapier can feel like the blank green LEGO baseplate. You need to have an idea of what you want to automate along with how to build it in Zapier.
In this post, we’re taking a deep dive into some different ways you can use Zapier to streamline your processes, including:
- How does Zapier work?
- Build your agency’s core processes before you automate anything
- What are some additional Zapier use cases?
How does Zapier work in 2021?
Many of you reading this post are already aware of Zapier and how you can use it to connect thousands of apps. You likely already have a Zapier account, but you might not be getting as much use out of it as you could be.
Before we dive into the newer and more advanced features, I wanted to share a quick refresher on how Zapier works for any newbies who might be reading this.
Zapier allows you to automate tasks by connecting 2 or more apps.
Let’s take an example of how Zapier can work. Say you want to send a Slack notification to your project manager anytime one of your freelance podcast producers finishes editing an episode and completes the task in ProcessKit.
Pro Tip: ProcessKit has an official Zapier integration. Try it out here.
This automation – a.k.a. recipe – is called a zap.
And, the trigger for the zap would be completing a task in ProcessKit.
The action is sending a Slack notification.
The trigger and action are the building blocks for the zaps you can create.
However, the real power of Zapier comes from the nearly infinite recipes you can create and all of the complex ways you can filter this data, including but not limited to:
- Path – Build out different steps in the zap based on conditional logic
- Filter – Add a filter so that the next step in a zap only works if a specific condition is met
- Format – Parse incoming data for a step
- Delay – Pause a step for a specified period of time
So, adding to our earlier example, let’s say you are running a podcast production agency. You have 12 podcast producers and 2 project managers. Each project manager is leading a pod of 6 producers. So, you can set up a path in Zapier where if anyone in the first pod finishes editing an episode, only that project manager will receive a notification in Slack. Then, you can set up path B in the same zap for the 2nd pod.
Build your core processes before you use any of these Zapier agency hacks
Once you see the nearly infinite ways you can use Zapier, it can be tempting to start automating all of the things. However, this is one of the biggest mistakes that we see agencies make.
The zaps you create should enhance the workflows and processes you’ve already built, not the other way around.
Once you’ve built out your processes, you can then automate portions of – if not the entire process – using Zapier.
For example, if you are using ProcessKit to manage all of your processes, ProcessKit becomes your central source of truth. You can integrate Zapier into some of your processes to further streamline and automate your workflows.
Pro Tip: Check out our free process automation course to see three additional examples for how you can integrate ProcessKit and Zapier, including:
- Zapier recipe – Create a new project in ProcessKit when someone submits a form on your website.
- Zapier recipe – How to update a task once a kickoff call has been scheduled
- Zapier recipe – Notify a Slack channel when a task has been completed in ProcessKit
What are some additional Zapier use cases?
These are the seven key parts of your operation that should have standard repeatable processes.
- Sales Calls & Proposals
- New client onboarding
- Employee and freelancer hiring and onboarding
- Weekly/monthly reporting processes
- Podcast Production
- Content Writing
In this section, we’ll show you how you can take these processes to the next level of automation using Zapier.
1. Sales calls & proposals
From scheduling sales calls and creating Zoom links to updating your CRM and sending proposals, there are many ways you can leverage Zapier to streamline these processes.
Here are a few ready-made templates you can use.
- Create Zoom meetings for new sales calls booked through Calendly
- Send Slack messages for new sales calls booked in Calendly
- Create or update a specific Hubspot contact when they book a sales call in Calendly
- Send a private Slack message to a team member or channel when a proposal is sent through BetterProposals
For example, if you want to automate creating Zoom meetings, but you use Acuity Scheduling and not Calendly, you can use this same link, but you’ll need to swap out the trigger and use Acuity Scheduling, not Calendly.
2. New client onboarding
Creating a streamlined client onboarding process is the key to unlocking predictable growth for your marketing agency.
The first step is setting up your processes in a tool such as ProcessKit and getting your team on board, and actively using it every single time. Adding zaps on top of your existing processes can make the process that much smoother.
Here are a few ideas for what this could like:
- Get Slack notifications when a specific task in your client onboarding process in ProcessKit is complete
- Get Slack notifications when a new client sends an email that matches specific Gmail search queries
- Send a follow-up email automagically when a new client fills out your onboarding form in Typeform, Gravity Forms, or a ProcessKit Intake Form.
- Create a new project in ProcessKit when someone books a call in Calendly
3. Employee hiring and onboarding
Just like you have processes for finding and onboarding new clients, you should have processes for hiring and onboarding employees and freelancers.
For example, here is how to build out a dynamic hiring process for your agency.
Adding some of these ready-made Zapier templates can complement your existing hiring and onboarding processes.
- Share new candidates from a Breezy HR stage over Slack
- Add new Breezy HR candidates to a ProcessKit board
- Send a new email when a candidate moves to the next stage, such as to book an interview
How much time do you and your team spend putting together reports internally and for clients? If you are like many agencies, it probably amounts to at least 5 hours a month.
All of the time you are spending generating reports is time you aren’t spending actually executing and getting results for clients or working “on” the agency.
The kicker – automating reporting is one of the easiest things to automate.
In fact, here are some ready-made templates you can try out.
- Send Slack notifications whenever a report in Google Sheets is updated
- Add new Facebook Lead Ads leads to rows on Google Sheets
- Get Slack notifications for new Goals on Google Analytics
5. Invoicing and bookkeeping
Getting paid and managing cash flow are essential components to running a successful agency. After all, if you aren’t making money, you can’t pay yourself or your team. You won’t be in business for long.
While these functions are essential, there are ways to automate key processes, so they are happening on autopilot without you having to think about them.
- Generate receipts in QuickBooks Online (or Xero, Freshbooks, etc) for new Stripe charges
- Get Slack notifications for new Xero invoices
- Create an invoice from a new Pipedrive deal (or Close.io, Salesforce, or HubSpot CRM deal, etc.)
6. Podcast Production
Did you know there are over 1.5 million podcasts? And, 51% of U.S. adults have listened to at least one podcast episode.
Podcast adoption has been steadily trending upward for the last decade.
Whether you are producing your own agency podcast or helping clients with their podcasts, the key is having a streamlined podcast production process.
Pro Tip: Looking for a way to make your podcast run smoother? Download our free podcast production process template.
In addition, here are some ready-made templates that can enhance your production process.
- Send new audio episodes in Gmail to Dropbox
- Send a Calendly link to a podcast guest in Gmail
- Upload new video podcasts from Dropbox to Youtube automatically
7. Content Writing
Publishing blog posts on a consistent publication schedule at a high level of quality requires a process. You can’t “wing it.”
This process includes ideation, keyword research, writing, editing, formatting and uploading to your CMS, and promoting your content.
Pro Tip: Check out our free blog writing process template.
In addition, here are some ready-made Zapier templates you can use.
- Share new blog posts and podcast episodes (in WordPress) to Twitter automatically
- Share published WordPress posts in a Slack channel
- Send a Slack notification when a writer marks a task complete in ProcessKit
In sum, when you create zaps on top of your existing processes, it can run your agency like a well-oiled machine. This leads to predictable growth.