Automate It with Zapier

By Kelly Goss
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  1. Chapter 1: Introduction to Business Process Automation with Zapier

About this book

Zapier is an emerging no-code workflow automation technology that enables organizations to connect their cloud-based and web applications and automate data transfer between them. Zapier's built-in features and flexibility allow users to integrate thousands of business applications and create simple to complex automation to reduce time spent on repetitive tasks, thereby increasing productivity. This book is a must-have for business owners, their employees, and independent freelancers and contractors looking to use Zapier for business process automation.

The book takes a hands-on approach to implementation and associated problem-solving methodologies that will have you up-and-running and productive in no time while leveling up your automation skills. You'll discover how to plan your automation building for optimal results, what are the native features available in Zapier, and the applications that connect with it, as well as how to optimally configure your workflows to automate your processes in as few steps as possible. Finally, you'll find out how to create advanced workflow automation from scratch and learn how to troubleshoot issues.

By the end of this Zapier book, you'll be able to build your own advanced workflow automation using Zapier, addressing the key pain points encountered in businesses with manual and repetitive tasks.

Publication date:
August 2021
Publisher
Packt
Pages
618
ISBN
9781800208971

 

Chapter 1: Introduction to Business Process Automation with Zapier

Before you get started with building your first automated workflow, you should understand the basic principles of business process automation (BPA) and how it can make light work of manual and repetitive processes. We'll cover how applications connect with others to transfer data and how Zapier has impacted the no-code revolution to automate tasks without the need for developers. This background information will put you in a better position to grasp the terms and concepts used by Zapier and will help you to understand the features and functionality of Zapier, as well as how the platform works.

If you have only just started using Zapier, you may not know which pricing plan is most suitable for your business and when the right time to upgrade is. We cover the features available for each pricing plan in this chapter and explain the pros and cons of choosing one over another. Then, we describe how to set up a Zapier account, and we provide an overview of how the platform is structured to enable you to find your way around effectively. We conclude this chapter by working through how to customize your settings and preferences.

We will cover the following key topics in this chapter:

  • How process automation helps businesses to increase productivity
  • The "no-code revolution" and workflow automation with Zapier
  • Understanding the key terms used by Zapier
  • Choosing the right Zapier plan 
  • Creating a Zapier account
  • Familiarizing yourself with navigation on the Zapier platform
  • Changing your settings and preferences

Once you have worked through each of these topics, you will be ready to get stuck in with building your first workflow automation.

 

Technical requirements

To get started, we recommend that you sign up for a Zapier account, which will give you access to a 14-day free trial. We will discuss how to set up an account in the Creating a Zapier account section. The Zapier Free plan will be adequate to work through the content in this chapter.

 

How process automation helps businesses to increase productivity

Whether you are a solopreneur or your business has a team, every successful business strives to make the most of its resources and improve productivity so that there is more time for increasing revenue. Many companies have systems that may not communicate with each other, and as a result will have processes that are manual, time-consuming, and error-prone.

We live in a time where technology is continually evolving to help us make our work easier, and it is now more straightforward and cost-effective than ever to implement and run this technology ourselves. By introducing appropriate business technology tools, connecting those tools, and automating manual and repetitive tasks, businesses can significantly increase productivity.

Introducing business process automation

BPA is all about using technology to improve the way we work by automatically performing repetitive tasks that would typically require human intervention. It ultimately focuses on the human element in the process rather than the actual applications that are in use. Of course, the tools you use are fundamental and need to be the right ones for their jobs; however, the real goal is to help the people using those systems to be more productive and focus on the tasks that truly matter for the success and growth of an organization.

Here are a few examples of when BPA can help you get rid of manual tasks and increase productivity:

  • Posting the same information on multiple social media channels
  • Inputting new webform leads into your customer database
  • Manually importing sales invoices and payment information from your e-commerce store into your accounting software
  • Collating reporting information from numerous sources
  • Processing feedback and testimonials from customers
  • Adding meeting events to your calendar
  • Sending documents for signing
  • Following up with leads

It does take time to learn and adequately implement the principles of BPA; however, the resulting value far outweighs the time investment. These are just some of the benefits of using BPA:

  • Reduced manual data entry and errors
  • Reduced operational costs
  • More time for growing sales
  • Better customer service
  • Increased employee engagement and job satisfaction

The most significant benefit of using BPA is the overall time savings. Automation platform users report time savings of a few hours a week by automating certain tasks such as social media posting, to more than 160 hours a month being saved by automating entire sales cycles or operation functions. The value of time savings is relative to the individual case. For example, a time saving of 2 or 3 hours a week may be of significant value to a solopreneur, whereas a 160-hours-per-month saving equates to having a full-time employee working for free. These savings in hours would translate to savings of thousands of dollars in resource time.

Zapier has several case studies and customer success stories published on their website, https://zapier.com/customers. Here are a few examples of successful use cases of automation that help businesses to become more efficient and grow:

  • A real estate agent reduces lead management by 40%.
  • A digital agency saves 30 hours a week with messenger funnel automation.
  • A coffee shop powers online ordering with automation.
  • A home entertainment company automates its entire sales cycle.
  • A freelancer automates client onboarding and grows their business.

BPA essentially allows companies of all sizes and in any industry to innovate by using cloud-based technology to work better and more efficiently and stay ahead of the competition. The possible improvements you can make to your business with BPA are endless.

Although automation functions to make processes work better, it is essential to bear in mind that applying automation to an already inefficient operation will increase the inefficiency. As a whole, BPA requires you to take specific steps to look at your processes holistically, understand and simplify them, identify what systems can be connected, and only then decide on which tasks can benefit from automation. In Chapter 2, Preparing to Automate Your Processes, we will work through the steps required to map out our business processes and streamline them by identifying what can be simplified, digitized, and automated.

Important note

In this book, we will use the term workflow automation interchangeably with BPA.

Before we can focus on the practical aspects of improving and automating our operations, we need to understand how web applications communicate with each other and what options are available for businesses to connect their tools.

How your business applications communicate with each other

Allowing your business applications to communicate with one another and then automating tasks where possible is key to increasing productivity. Before we can explore how automation with Zapier comes into this picture, we need to understand how business applications can be connected using API integrations.

An API (short for application programming interface) is a means by which multiple software programs can communicate with each other. It essentially acts to allow data from different systems to pass between them. When two software programs are connected in this way by an API, they are said to be "integrated."

When an integration exists, this allows specific requests to be sent by one application, producing a response by another. The information requests are usually in the form of creating new (create), retrieving existing (retrieve), editing/updating existing (update), or deleting existing (delete) resources. Upon receipt of a request, the application will try to fulfill the request and send back a response in the form of a three-digit status code (success or error). If, for example, you type a website URL into your browser and the page is displayed, this would be a success response. If the page does not exist, an error message would be displayed, The requested URL was not found on this server, depicting a 404 error response. How API integration is created and customized defines what range of information can be requested.

As the goal of API integration is to share data efficiently between two connected apps, there must be a way to identify changes in these resources. For example, if you want a new row to be created in your spreadsheet app when a new subscriber is added to your email marketing app, you need to know that the new contact has been created in the first place. The two most popular methods for identifying changes are currently polling and webhooks.

With the polling method, requests for new events (for example, creating, retrieving, and deleting resources) are repeatedly sent at pre-defined intervals, waiting for a response. If there is no response, this signifies that there are no new events. So, in the example, the polling method would periodically search for new occurrences of contact records being created, say every 15 minutes.

With webhooks, however, instead of sending requests, you provide the app with a URL that your originating app monitors for new events, thus receiving information in real time. So, in the example, when a new contact record is created, the information would be provided instantly. Webhooks are an instant and much more efficient way of communicating event information. We will discuss webhooks in more detail in Chapter 11, Advanced Built-In Apps by Zapier – Part 2.

The options available for businesses to connect their tools

Building API integrations requires software programming and development skills and can be a lengthy and costly process. Most applications that you are currently using for your business processes are likely to have a section on their website containing a list of the other applications with which they integrate. These applications listed in these app marketplaces, or app ecosystems, have integrations created using APIs to enable the two apps to communicate with each other. Software providers invest time, money, and technical skills in building and maintaining these native integrations. Generally, these providers will create an integration that satisfies the highest-priority needs of most users to automate the most frequently used types of activities. They may also prioritize integration development resources on other more commonly used applications rather than smaller, less popular apps.

In some cases, a user of certain software might need to connect another tool that is not listed in the app ecosystem or may need to accomplish a specific task that is not available with the existing native integration. Under these circumstances, a business could employ a programmer to write code to create a custom integration with the API provided by the software provider. For most companies, the process of developing a custom integration is not a financially viable option. Therefore, there is often a reliance on what integrations are available in these app ecosystems and how flexible they are.

You now have a better understanding of what the basic principles of BPA are and how process automation helps to increase productivity. Next, we explore how this relates to Zapier.

 

The "no-code revolution" and workflow automation with Zapier

Thankfully, as technology has developed, it is now possible to create digital processes without the need to write any code. Therefore, anyone can learn how to build a website, create email templates, and connect their systems using, in many cases, visual drag-and-drop editors. These editors give you the ability to add and remove blocks in templates rather than writing code in a computer programming language. Instead of needing to use a developer to write this code, the average person with basic IT skills can create these processes themselves. These advances are described as a "no-code revolution," as software providers have pushed forward to develop solutions that will help the non-IT workforce to execute tasks that could previously only be done by software engineers.

Zapier is one of these technology solutions and allows you to automate and manage your business processes without writing code. Zapier essentially acts as a connector or translator between thousands of cloud-based applications that may not have direct native integrations with each other or for which the event requests are more limited, allowing them to communicate with each other. The platform enables users to build business-specific workflow automations with a visual editor using pre-built integrations to seamlessly perform manual and repetitive tasks without human intervention.

Zapier is the brainchild of forward-thinking founders Wade Foster, Bryan Helmig, and Mike Knoop. Wade, Bryan, and Mike recognized the productivity struggles that plague small and medium-sized businesses where many repetitive tasks are handled manually and with an ever-increasing chance of errors occurring. They developed a powerful solution to help businesses with their efficiency struggles, allowing them to connect their web applications together and automate their mundane and repetitive tasks using custom-built workflows. Most importantly, the solution allows the average business owner and their team to use the software without the need for writing code or having specialist help involved. The first release of the Zapier platform was in 2012, and since then, they have grown their integration marketplace to over 3,000 app connections. Zapier is based in California, USA, and as a company that actively supports an ethos of remote working, they have grown their global team to over 300 people located in the US and over 20 other countries around the world.

As well as allowing the less technical user to build custom workflows, the Zapier platform also has an open API, thereby allowing app developers to build integrations with Zapier to connect their apps to the platform. This, in turn, allows their customers to then create custom integrations with thousands of other apps, using Zapier as the connector. In essence, the Zapier user then becomes the developer without needing to use code. Using no-code technology, we no longer need advanced technical skills to harness the power of integration automation.

To help you understand a bit more about BPA and the "no-code" revolution, you can get access to a free masterclass here: https://bit.ly/3e5BUkn.

You now have a better understanding of how Zapier and BPA work hand in hand to help businesses increase productivity. In the next section, we cover the key terms that are used by Zapier and throughout this book.

 

Understanding the key terms used by Zapier

Zapier uses specific terminology throughout the platform. We will use these terms frequently throughout this book. It is useful to know and understand the most commonly used terms before we discuss the features available in each Zapier pricing plan.

What is an app?

An app (application) is a technology tool or cloud-based web service. Zapier integrates with thousands of apps to allow you to transfer data between them and automate your manual and repetitive tasks. Most apps are available for use regardless of which Zapier pricing plan you use, except for premium apps, such as Salesforce, Facebook lead ads, and Xero, which are only available on paid plans. Zapier has an app ecosystem of over 3,000 app integrations listed in a directory. We cover Zapier's app ecosystem directory in more detail in Chapter 2, Preparing to Automate Your Processes.

What is a Zap?

A Zap is a step-by-step automated workflow that allows a user to create a flow of data between two or more apps. When an event occurs in one app, this produces an activity such as an action or event in another app. Zaps allow you to connect your different apps and automate repetitive tasks between them. We cover how to create a Zap in Chapter 3, Building Your First Automated Workflow (Zap).

What is a trigger?

A trigger is an originating event that starts an automated workflow. The trigger is always the first step in the workflow, and only one trigger step will ever exist in a Zap.

What is an action?

An action is the resulting activity that happens once a trigger starts an automated workflow. Zaps can have one or multiple actions. Actions can also include searches.

What is a task?

Once a Zap is built, tested, and turned on, a trigger in one app will cause an action to happen in another app. A task is an activity that the Zap successfully completes. Your Zapier pricing plan defines your monthly task limit. Successfully completed actions, searches, and passed filters count toward your monthly task limit.

Tip

Use BPA principles to strategize your workflows in advance of actually building your Zaps. Doing this will allow you to reduce the number of steps in your workflows and minimize task usage. Every task counts toward how much you spend on your Zapier pricing plan. Having simple processes from the start will enable you to use Zapier most cost-effectively. You can set up a workflow with the Zapier Manager built-in app to alert you on task usage related to your monthly allowance. We will discuss this is in more detail in Chapter 12, Managing Your Zapier Account with Built-In Apps.

What is the Zap editor?

The Zap editor is a visual editor that allows you to create and alter your Zaps using simple drop-down lists and a systematic process. The Zap editor enables you to add your trigger app and action app(s) and run conditions in your workflows. We will discuss the Zap editor in more detail in Chapter 3, Building Your First Automated Workflow (Zap).

What is the update time/syncing interval?

The majority of app triggers use the polling method to retrieve new data on events. The update time (or syncing interval) refers to how quickly your automated workflow triggers and depends on how often the polling runs to check the triggering app for new information. Zapier checks for new activities to trigger an automated workflow every 1 to 15 minutes, and your Zapier pricing plan defines this time interval. Triggers using the polling method are denoted by the word scheduled.

Important note

Some app triggers use the webhooks (instant) method and allow an automated workflow to run as soon as new event information is available. These triggers are denoted by the word instant.

What is a filter?

A filter is a condition that you can add to a Zap to prevent the workflow from moving on to the next action step. Filters are only available on paid Zapier pricing plans. We cover using filters in detail in Chapter 7, Getting Started with Built-In Apps.

What is a formatter?

A formatter is a function that allows you to alter numbers, text, dates, and times, as well as performing tasks such as looking up data from a list. Formatters are only available on paid Zapier pricing plans. We comprehensively cover the various formatter apps built by Zapier in Chapter 13, Formatting Date and Time, Chapter 14, Formatting Numbers, Chapter 15, Text Formatting Functions in Zapier – Part 1, Chapter 16, Text Formatting Functions in Zapier – Part 2, and Chapter 17, Zapier's Utilities Functions.

What are paths?

Paths allow you to create complex Zaps that use "if this, then that" conditional logic to perform different actions based on multiple conditions. For instance, if X happens in the trigger app, then do Y in one or more action steps. Paths are only available on the Professional, Team, and Company plans. We comprehensively cover paths in Chapter 7, Getting Started with Built-In Apps.

What is a multi-step Zap?

A multi-step Zap is a workflow that involves one trigger and multiple actions, as opposed to a single-step Zap, which contains one trigger and only one action. With multi-step Zaps, you can also add filters, formatter steps, searches, and complex paths to your workflows, which allow you to create flexible automated workflows. Multi-step Zaps are only available on paid Zapier pricing plans. We cover how to build multi-step Zaps in detail in Chapter 6, Creating Multi-Step Zaps and Using Built-In Apps.

What is Zap history?

The Zap history shows a detailed log of activity for each of your Zaps. You can view data that has passed through each step of your workflow and use this to troubleshoot errors. We cover Zap history in more detail in Chapter 5, Troubleshooting and Handling Zap Errors.

What is Autoreplay?

Sometimes tasks will fail due to app downtime or temporary errors. If this happens, you can enable the Autoreplay feature, which allows Zapier to retry running these tasks immediately, and repeat this a few times if the error still exists. The Autoreplay feature is available on Professional, Team, and Company plans, and it can be found in your Task History. This feature is handy if you use a large number of tasks. We cover the Autoreplay functionality in more detail in Chapter 5, Troubleshooting and Handling Zap Errors.

You now have a better understanding of the key terminology used on the Zapier platform. Next, we discuss the different Zapier pricing plans, what is included in each, and how to choose the right plan for your needs.

 

Choosing the right Zapier plan

Zapier offers five pricing options to suit your business requirements, as follows:

  • Free plan
  • Starter plan
  • Professional plan
  • Team plan
  • Company plan

The following figure gives a summary of the features available for each Zapier pricing plan:

Figure 1.1 – Summary of features available for each Zapier pricing plan

Figure 1.1 – Summary of features available for each Zapier pricing plan

Important note

All prices and plan structures are correct at the time of publishing this book. You may also find that depending on your region, the pricing and plan structure may vary slightly.

Each pricing plan varies in features; however, primarily, the plans are categorized according to the number of tasks you have available monthly, the number of Zaps you can set up, and how short the syncing interval is. On most plans (except for the Free plan), you can retain features and add additional tasks for an extra fee. The availability of Zap history data and access to online customer service and technical support is included in all plans.

The Free plan is free forever, and all paid Zapier plans are available to be paid monthly or annually.

Zapier offers a 14-day trial plan, which gives you access to the majority of features on the Professional plan with 1,000 tasks, except for Autoreplay.

You can view a detailed list of the features and pricing for each plan and change your plan as needed by clicking on the links in the following navigation options:

  • Billing and Usage (Settings)
  • Wallet (expandable left sidebar)
  • Pricing (top menu on information pages)
  • Pricing (footer menu)

    Important note

    Your monthly task allocation does not carry over to the next month. Toward the end of each billing period, if you have unused tasks left over and you are using fewer tasks than you need to, you may be able to downgrade to a lower subscription and still retain your pricing plan features.

Next, let's take a look at different Zapier plans that will be suitable for your business.

Which is the right Zapier plan to use for your business?

Zapier is ideal for any size business that wants to automate their processes. It can be used by solopreneurs or companies with small or large teams. It can also be used by freelancers and consultants to manage their clients' processes.

The needs of your business will determine which price plan is best to use. How many processes you would like to automate and how complex these processes are will impact your decision.

Free plan

For businesses with one user that only have a few simple tasks to automate, this plan is the most appropriate. You will be able to build up to five single-step workflows using the majority of apps that Zapier integrates with (excluding premium apps). Zapier will search for new data in your trigger apps every 15 minutes and run your Zaps, allowing up to 100 tasks per month to be processed. The Free plan is the best plan to get started with while you get to grips with how Zapier works on a basic level.

Starter plan

If you still only have one user and a relatively small number of processes to automate, but you need to automate multiple activities in one or more apps (including up to three premium apps), try the Starter plan. You can take advantage of additional features, such as using conditions in filters, formatting text, numbers, and dates, as well as creating custom integrations with webhooks. You can build up to 20 Zaps and will have access to 750 tasks per month (1,500 for a higher subscription payment). The update time remains at 15 minutes.

Professional plan

The Professional plan is for single users that want to level up and use Zapier optimally. This plan is best for you if you have a large number of complex, multi-step processes that require conditional logic and you use more than three premium apps in your business. All Starter plan features are included, as well as paths and task Autoreplay. You can take advantage of unlimited premium apps, unlimited Zaps, a quicker update time of 2 minutes, and access to between 2,000 and 2,000,000 tasks per month (depending on subscription payment).

Team plan

Businesses with two or more team members that are responsible for automating and managing processes should take advantage of the features available on the Team plan. All elements of the Professional plan are included, with the added benefits of a faster update time of 1 minute and a much higher task allocation compared to the Professional plan (50,000 to 2,000,000 based on subscription payment). The Professional plan allows teams to collaborate and automate their processes securely and in an organized way. Team members can securely access multiple apps without the need to share passwords and API keys between them, share workspaces, and select who has access to specific folders. An additional bonus of this plan is access to a dedicated premier support team with faster, prioritized responses.

Company plan

The Company plan is for organizations that require enterprise-grade security considerations and want to separate their users into teams. You still have access to all the features of the Professional plan, between 100,000 and 2,000,000 tasks per month (depending on subscription payment), plus access to multiple workspaces. Security features include user management, app access control, secure Single Sign-On (SSO), and top-level account management.

An additional bonus of this plan is the ability to customize Zap history data retention for shorter periods than the standard 30 days to fit with your company's regulatory requirements.

You now have a better understanding of what features and functionality are included in each Zapier plan and which plan would suit your business most. Next, we cover how to set up your Zapier account.

 

Creating a Zapier account

For you to get started with Zapier, the first thing you will need to do is create a Zapier account.

Important note

The Zapier team are very proactive with trying to create the best experience for the user and often test different User Interface (UI) changes on user groups. UI updates, new features, and changes to navigation are released regularly, so don't be surprised if as you work through this book, the screenshots we have used differ slightly from the current, live state.

Work through the following steps to create your new Zapier account:

  1. Open your web browser and navigate to the Zapier website home page: https://zapier.com/.
  2. Create a Zapier account by entering your business email address and your first and last name, and then click on Get Started Free, as shown in the following screenshot. Alternatively, you can sign up using your Google or Facebook credentials:
    Figure 1.2 – The sign-up area on the Zapier home page

    Figure 1.2 – The sign-up area on the Zapier home page

  3. Add a password and click on Sign Up, as shown in the following screenshot:
    Figure 1.3 – Filling in details on Zapier's home page sign-up area

    Figure 1.3 – Filling in details on Zapier's home page sign-up area

  4. Complete the first step in the onboarding process by identifying your role and clicking Continue, as shown in the following screenshot:
    Figure 1.4 – The first step of the Zapier sign-up onboarding process

    Figure 1.4 – The first step of the Zapier sign-up onboarding process

  5. Complete the second step in the onboarding process by selecting the apps that you use in your business, then choose whether you want to receive marketing emails from Zapier and click Finish Setup, as shown in the following screenshot:
Figure 1.5 – The second step of the Zapier sign-up onboarding process

Figure 1.5 – The second step of the Zapier sign-up onboarding process

Important note

By completing this two-step onboarding process accurately, Zapier will be able to customize your user experience and provide you with tailored workflow suggestions. These recommendations will give you ideas of what types of tasks you can automate using your business apps as examples. You can choose to fill this information in as appropriate or skip these steps.

Now that you have set up your Zapier account, you're one step closer to building your first workflow automation. In the next section, we cover navigation on the Zapier platform.

 

Familiarizing yourself with navigation on the Zapier platform

Zapier has made its UI helpful for navigating easily around the platform. When you sign in to Zapier, the first thing you will see is the main dashboard. The central dashboard area provides you with useful information to help you get started with tutorials, creating your own workflows, and using some pre-built workflow examples.

The dashboard layout is as shown in the following screenshot:

Figure 1.6 – The Zapier main dashboard layout

Figure 1.6 – The Zapier main dashboard layout

From the majority of pages within the platform, you have multiple navigation options:

  • Icons in the left sidebar
  • Icons on the top right
  • Footer menu

    Important note

    These navigation options are available on most Zapier pages except within the Settings and Zap editor modules.

Icons in the left sidebar

The left sidebar is the most commonly used navigational bar in Zapier. It is found on every page within the platform (except on information pages and within the Settings and Zap editor modules). The sidebar can be expanded and reduced using the hamburger menu next to the Zapier logo. The following screenshot shows the navigation options in this bar:

Figure 1.7 – Navigation options in the left sidebar

Figure 1.7 – Navigation options in the left sidebar

These navigation options are as follows:

  • MAKE A ZAP: This button takes you straight into the Zap editor, where you can start building a Zap. We cover the Zap editor in more detail in Chapter 3, Building Your First Automated Workflow (Zap).
  • Dashboard: This icon link will take you back to the main dashboard at any time.
  • Zaps: This icon link will take you into your Zap management area. This area gives you a list of all of your Zaps, where you can organize them into different folders and change team sharing preferences. We cover the Zap management area in more detail in Chapter 4, Managing Your Zaps.
  • My Apps: The My Apps icon link will take you into your list of connected apps. From there, you can connect and authenticate all your relevant business apps. We cover the My Apps module and how to connect your apps in more detail in Chapter 3, Building Your First Automated Workflow (Zap), and Chapter 4, Managing Your Zaps.
  • Zap History: This icon link will take you into your Zap history, where you can review data that has run in your triggered Zaps. We cover Zap history in more detail in Chapter 5, Troubleshooting and Handling Zap Errors.
  • Explore: This icon link will take you into the Explore area, where you will find a wide range of information on different ways to use Zapier to automate your business processes.
  • Get Help: The Get Help icon link will take you into the help center, with comprehensive how-to articles, FAQs, and support options. We cover this in more detail in Chapter 5, Troubleshooting and Handling Zap Errors.
  • Wallet: This gives you a handy snapshot view of your current plan, task usage relative to your monthly limit, and the number of Zaps relative to your plan limit. From here, you can also manage or upgrade your plan using the links provided.

Icons on the top right

In the top-right corner, you will find the following icons:

  • Magnifying glass: This icon gives you the ability to search for apps to find out whether Zapier integrates with them. The app ecosystem directory contains a comprehensive list of app integrations and details about them.
  • People icon: This icon displays a drop-down menu with your account settings and an option to log out of Zapier.

Footer menu

In the footer menu, you will find additional navigation options that are available on all pages. The two most useful ones are as follows:

  • Pricing: This link will take you to the Plans page, which will show you the different Zapier plans, features, and associated prices. You can choose to trial, upgrade, or downgrade your plan, while reviewing the features and pricing of different plans.
  • Help: This link will take you into the Help area, which we described earlier.

You now have a better understanding of and have become familiarized with navigation in the Zapier platform. Next, we discuss how to change our settings and preferences.

 

Changing your settings and preferences

Ensuring that your settings are correct and understanding how specific settings impact other areas of your account is essential for successful account management.

You can access your settings by clicking on the circle icon with your initials in the top right of your dashboard and selecting the cogwheel icon/settings option. The settings menu will be shown in a left sidebar, as shown in the following screenshot:

Figure 1.8 – The left sidebar menu in the settings area

Figure 1.8 – The left sidebar menu in the settings area

Important note

Team and Company plans have an extra Organization menu item, and the Company plan has an Advanced Security option. We cover these settings in Chapter 5, Troubleshooting and Handling Zap Errors.

My Profile

This area contains basic data about you and allows you to do the following:

  • Authenticate your email address.
  • Add/change a profile image using Gravatar (an online service that links a picture of you with your email address).
  • Change your email address, first and last name, password, and company.
  • Change your role.
  • Adjust your timezone.

The following screenshot shows the layout of the My Profile area:

Figure 1.9 – Layout of the My Profile area

Figure 1.9 – Layout of the My Profile area

Important settings to customize in My Profile

There are a few things that you should do once you have set up your Zapier account:

  • Validate your email address.
  • Add your role.
  • Add your timezone.

Let's go through how to do each of these in Zapier.

Validating your email address

Work through the following steps to adjust these settings:

  1. Click on the highlighted text (marked as important) to confirm your email address.
  2. Follow the instructions in the email you are sent from Zapier.

This is the first step to protecting your account and allowing Zapier to ensure that it has the right email address to send notifications.

Adding your role

If you did not add your role in the two-step onboarding process when you set up your Zapier account, you can do it here. To do this, scroll to Role and choose the closest match to your role from the drop-down list. Completing this step will enable Zapier to make workflow suggestions based on what other users with the same role might be using.

Adding your timezone

To adjust these settings, scroll to Timezone and choose your timezone from the drop-down list.

Completing this step will enable Zapier to use your timezone when displaying and handling time in your account. The default is UTC (Coordinated Universal Time).

An example of this would be in your Zap history. Times would be displayed in your timezone rather than in UTC. It is much easier to keep track of times when investigating errors if they are in your timezone.

Email Notifications

This area will enable you to alter your preferences for how and when you want to receive email communications. The following screenshot shows the layout of the Email Notifications area:

Figure 1.10 – Layout of the Email Notifications area

Figure 1.10 – Layout of the Email Notifications area

You can change your preferences for the following:

  • Activity Summary: Zapier regularly sends you summaries of all the tasks that have been performed over a period of time (within the set frequency). You can choose to receive activity summaries daily or weekly, or if you prefer, never.
  • Send Alerts on Failed Trigger: You can choose to receive alerts if any of your triggers have issues. It is useful to have this information so that you can sort out a problem soon after it happens. You can choose to receive failed trigger alerts repeatedly, always (this is the recommended setting), or if you prefer, never. Another option available is Only Zapier Manager Trigger, which we will discuss in more detail in Chapter 5, Troubleshooting and Handling Zap Errors.
  • Send Alerts on Failed Action: As with failed trigger alerts, you can choose to receive alerts if any of your actions have issues.
  • Email Newsletters: You can choose what kind of content you want Zapier to send you. You can also unsubscribe from receiving any newsletter content.

Advanced

In the Advanced area, you can change your preferences for the following:

  • Two-Factor Authentication: Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) gives you more security by requiring you to enter your standard login details (email address and password) as well as an authentication code generated and sent to a nominated email address or mobile phone number. It is recommended that you set up 2FA on your account.
  • Authorized Applications: This shows a list of apps that you have granted access to your Zapier account. You can remove apps from this area as needed. This area differs from your connected apps in My Apps.
  • SSL Checks: SSL certificates allow scrambled information to be sent between Zapier and its partners. These settings are turned "on" by default and should only be altered if you have experience with changing them and know the consequences or if you have been advised to do so by the Zapier support team.
  • Sign-in With: This allows you to change your sign-in settings to use your Google account instead of the standard email and password.
  • Delete My Account: If you want to close your Zapier account and delete all your account data, you can use this area to proceed. If you wish to delete some data periodically, you can do so through the Data Management area.

Data Management

Zapier gives account owners the ability to control their data. In this area, you can export and delete your data periodically and read more about data regulation and GDPR compliance.

Team and Company plans have additional Data Management settings that allow you to import and export Zaps in bulk (in a JSON file) so that you can make backups or share them with others.

Account

If you have access to your personal account as well as one or more Team or Company accounts, a drop-down option will be displayed allowing you to navigate between your different accounts to view the settings for each account.

Billing and Usage

This area is essential for anything related to billing, task, and Zap usage. You will have access to more detailed information about your usage than in the snapshot wallet in the expandable left navigation bar. You can see how many tasks have been used and how many Zaps have been built in relation to your limit and what date your usage resets on. You will also be able to adjust your price plan, payment method, and billing information and view your invoices.

Members

Unless you are on a Team or Company plan, this area will be locked, denoted with a padlock icon.

The Members area gives you an overview of tasks related to Zaps built and owned by this member. You can adjust team member settings as follows:

  • Add or remove members.
  • Change member roles (Admin or Member).

You now have a better understanding of how to change your settings and preferences.

 

Summary

In this chapter, we started with an overview of the principles of BPA and how we can use it to increase productivity. We discussed how applications integrate using APIs and transfer data between them. We then introduced Zapier, a no-code tool that integrates with thousands of business apps to help you automate tasks without the need for developers. We presented the key terms used on the Zapier platform and covered how to choose the right pricing plan for your business needs. Then, we discussed how to set up a Zapier account and familiarize yourself with navigation around the platform. Lastly, we covered how to customize the settings.

You now know how to choose the right Zapier pricing plan for your business, set up your Zapier account, navigate the Zapier platform with ease, and customize your settings.

In the next chapter, we will cover how to use the principles of BPA to improve our processes before we jump into automating them. We'll then discuss how to strategize and plan a workflow in preparation for building a Zap and how to explore Zapier's ecosystem of app integrations and use its features.

About the Author

  • Kelly Goss

    Kelly Goss is a process automation specialist and company director for Solvaa, a cloud-based automation consultancy. She has worked across multiple industry verticals for providing Zapier consultancy, digital process improvement, process mapping and process automation solutions. Kelly is a Zapier Certified Expert and a speaker at multiple events related to automation.

    Browse publications by this author
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