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Introducing Digest by Zapier: Craft Custom Summaries for Any App

Joe Stych
Joe Stych / November 15, 2016

Notifications were well intentioned. The goal was to bring you the information you cared about, as it happened. Convenient, right?

But somewhere along the way, notifications went from convenient to needy. All those pings, pop-ups and pokes jockey for your attention, invade your focus, and distract you from real work.

You should have the final say over when, where, and how you consume info from your web apps. With that in mind, we're launching a brand new tool called Digest. It lets you build custom summaries for the things you care about, delivered on your schedule.

Just pick the content you want us to gather from any Zapier-connected app, then set where and how often you want your digest delivered. We'll handle the rest.

new york times digest in slack

Now you don't need to check your email, refresh a webpage, or flip your phone over every few minutes. You can switch off instant alerts, and rely on us for a regular summary of activity. Digest delivers recaps at a pace you set.

What Is Digest?

In a nutshell: Digest can aggregate anything for you. It helps you stay up to date by compiling content and then automatically delivering a summary to the platform of your choice at a time of your choosing.

Just plug in one of Zapier's 750+ integrations and tell us what you want to stockpile. Digest collects that info, then assembles and ships a summary whenever you want to get it. We're giving you the power to gather data from your apps on a rolling basis, while you work on more important things.

You can make digests for new blog posts, messages, notes, sales, tasks, or whatever else. If it's in a web app, chances are we can grab it for you.

Getting set up doesn't require any complicated code, either—you just need to make a few choices.

  1. Pick something you want to aggregate, such as new blog posts, social media mentions, completed to-dos, or sales made.
  2. Customize exactly what's included in your digest. We only need to know what one entry looks like, and we'll copy that style for the rest.
  3. Set a schedule for when we should deliver your digest—on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis at your chosen time. We can also release a digest when it hits a certain number of entries.
  4. Tell us where to send your digest. Popular options include a Slack channel or a Gmail inbox.

Ready to see Digest in action? We created some resources for you, and broke them into three sections: a walkthrough, a set of use cases, and a breakdown of some advanced features. Here's a table of contents.

What's In This Guide

How to Craft a Custom Digest

To kick things off, we'll walk you through how to set up a digest, step by step.

11 Clever Ways to Use Digest

Digest lets you gather almost any kind of app data you can imagine, so you can use it to build custom, automated reports and summaries. These ideas will spark your first workflow.

  1. Aggregate RSS Feeds
  2. Keep Up with The New York Times
  3. Compile and Organize Your Evernote Notes
  4. Keep a Calendly Agenda Automatically
  5. Keep Tabs on the Files Flowing into Box
  6. Build Simple Time-Tracking Reports with Toggl
  7. Get Progress Reports for Your Wrike Projects
  8. Aggregate Your Marketing Efforts with ActiveCampaign
  9. Package Up Your Unbounce Submissions
  10. Bundle Survey Results from Typeform
  11. Get Daily, Weekly, or Monthly Sales Reports from WooCommerce

Advanced Options

At the end of this guide, we'll take a deep dive into advanced Digest features like filters, multi-source digests, and manual release conditions.

Itching to aggregate? Let's get to it.


How to Set Up Your First Digest

a digest from Typeform

It only takes a few minutes to build a digest with Zapier. And once you have a workflow up and running, it's completely hands-off. We'll collect, curate, and deliver information to you automatically.

But first, we need to know what you want us to gather. Below, we'll guide you through how to plug a source into your digest using our simple editor.

Before we start, you'll need to create a Zapier account or log into an existing one. You can use a free account, but note that Digest packs the most power on Zapier's premium plans, which let you create workflows with an unlimited sequence of action steps. If you're not on a premium account yet, this is a great reason to upgrade! (New Zapier accounts get a free 14-day trial of our paid features; if you want a trial extension, just ask).

If you want to follow along, open this "Make a New Zap" link in a new tab or browser window.

The ideas in the next section also include some templates that'll give you a blueprint to play with. But if you want to craft a digest from scratch or customize one of the templates, you'll want to use the Zap Editor we're about to cover.

1. Pick an App to Feed Your Digest

pick a trigger for your digest

First up, pick a Trigger. Digest runs on Zapier, which means you have access to more than 750 sources you can feed into a summary.

A "Trigger" is the event in an app that we'll append to your digest. For example, if you pick the "New Email" Trigger for Gmail, we'd collect any new message you receive into a digest.

For this tutorial, we're going to select Zapier's RSS integration, and tap into the RSS feed for the Zapier Blog. Every Trigger app has different options, but the interface will guide you through what's required.

The result we're aiming for: Every time a new post is published on the Zapier blog, we want to add it to our digest.

2. Set Up Your Digest

Next, add a Digest step to your workflow by selecting Digest in the Action step. Once that's selected, pick the "Append Entry and Schedule Digest" option. Here, you'll be asked to provide a name for your digest. You can call it whatever you want, but make it something you'll recognize later—this name will pop up if you want to tap into your summary from a separate workflow.

choose the append to digest action

Now, move to the "Entry" box. This is where you'll map out the content for your digest. Model the entry after what you want one item in your digest to look like. For example, with this RSS workflow, I only need to decide what one blog post would look like in my list. Digest will use that style for every other post it adds to the list.

insert a new entry for your digest

To map data from the first app in your workflow to your digest, click the + button to the right of the entry field. You'll see a list of info that we can grab from .

This part's critical to making each digest entry unique. In the example above, I mapped the title and the link from our blog posts to each entry, so every item is unique. For your digest, you might want to pipe in details about the new tasks, emails, or contacts from your Trigger app.

3. Schedule Your Digest

pick a time to release your digest

Under the "Entry" field, you'll find a "Frequency" setting. This is where you get to pick how often we should deliver your digest. You have a few choices:

  • Daily
  • Weekly
  • Monthly
  • Threshold
  • Manual

The three time-based options are pretty straightforward. You'll be asked to select a time, day of the week, or day of the month for your scheduled digest, depending on the frequency you pick.

If you go with Threshold, we'll hang onto your digest until a specific number of entries are queued up. For example, if you set the threshold for our example workflow to 20, we'd wait to deliver your digest until 20 blog posts piled up.

Manual is a more advanced option, which we'll cover at the end of the post. Basically, It lets you release a digest based on a Trigger in another app.

4. Deliver Your Digest

Now the really fun part. Digest excels at racking up and organizing data, but it's worthless if you keep the summary out of sight. The last step of your digest workflow should be a final destination—the spot where you want to receive your summary.

Think about where you normally interact with news or notifications. At Zapier, we chat in Slack, so that's where I route my digests. But you might spend more time in an email client, like Gmail, or maybe you want to keep a backup of data in Evernote or Box.

insert your digest into a Slack message

Whatever platform you choose, you'll want to insert the "Current Digest" from your second step. You can add a bit of intro text for flavor, and even include a current count of how many entries are in the digest—useful for sprawling lists that you don't want to unroll in a single summary.

Any styling that you added to the Digest entry will be picked up, too. You have the option to review the content that each entry contains when you're testing out this final step.

Make It Shine: Formatting Tips for Your Digest

You have a digest that's churning out content—now it's time to make it look pretty.

Things like headers, bulleted lists, and linking text your digest can make it a lot easier on the eyes. But just note: Formatting options vary from app to app, depending on where you choose to have your digest delivered.

If you're placing the digest in your email inbox, you can use basic HTML to add structure to your data. Apps like Slack and Evernote, on the other hand, have their own formatting styles.

Here are a few guides for the most common formatting styles. You'll also have easy access to these links while you're setting up a Digest Zap.

You could even use Markdown, and tap into the power of our Formatter app. Add a Formatter step after your Digest step, and choose the "Text" option. From there, pick "Convert Markdown to HTML" transform. Zapier will parse the Markdown formatting of your text, and magically change it into HTML.


Ideas for Using Digest

Time to pull everything together. Here are some ideas for crafting your first digest.

Aggregate RSS Feeds

Keeping up with industry news or your favorite blogs shouldn't take a lot of effort. But when you're required to hunt down the latest posts, curating that content sucks up a lot of your attention.

RSS is still the simplest way to keep up with the blogs you love. Digest can tap into any RSS feed and bundle up new posts, then deliver them wherever you'd like.

Start out by choosing the RSS app as the Trigger for your workflow, and paste in the feed you want to watch for new posts.

Next, add your Digest step. Pick "Add to Digest" and insert the relevant pieces of info for your entry. You might include the post name, a link to the page, and the author.

Then, choose where you want your digest delivered. We'll package up your posts and send them to the location of your choice.

Make it easy to stay up to date on the news you care about, without spending a bunch of time refreshing the homepage for your favorite blog.

Keep Up with The New York Times

Slack message from the New York Times

All the news that's fit to print can be a lot to take in. With Digest, you can get a pared-down version of the New York Times delivered to your digital doorstep.

The process is simple: Select your favorite section from "The Gray Lady," and pick a place where we should drop off your custom summary.

Whether you choose sports, politics, or science, we'll keep an eye out for new articles to include in your digest and curate the summary for you. Staying in the know about important events has never been easier.

Want to get really granular? Try adding a filter after your New York Times step that watches for specific keywords in a post title. You could filter on the word "Yankees" in a sports post, for example, if you want tailored news about the team. Entries will only be added to your digest if an article in the feed matches your query.

Compile and Organize Your Evernote Notes

Evernote is the backup for your brain. It helps you save articles, ideas, and notes in an easy-to-organize interface. But sometimes you need a reminder about what you saved over the past day, week, or month.

In that sense, Digest is your recall mechanism. You can set up a Zap that watches for new notes, notebooks, or tagged notes, and aggregates them into a summary that you can review later.

Plus, you can save digests from other apps to Evernote too. Digest can curate everything from Runkeeper times to starred Gmail emails, and post them in a single Evernote note for you to review later. You could also use Digest to build a table of contents for every note you posted last week.

Let Evernote back up your thoughts, while Digest organizes them.

Keep a Calendly Agenda Automatically

Stay on top of your appointments. Calendly helps you book meetings without playing email ping-pong. And when you plug it into Digest, you'll never miss another event.

This workflow watches for new meetings and tracks each one as an entry in your digest. Then, on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, it sends a summary of recently booked appointments to an app of your choice.

You can ship an email digest of your Calendly appointments to your teammates, post your summary to Slack, or get a text message at the start of each day.

You're busy. And your calendar fills up, fast. But this Digest workflow will help you stay sane and organized.

Keep Tabs on the Files Flowing into Box

Get a grip on your file management. When you combine Box with Digest, you can tailor a summary of new files in your folders to fit any workflow.

Just pick a directory that we should keep an eye on, and Digest will diligently gather up the names and links of any new item. Then, let us ship your digest to a Slack channel or send it to your team via email.

It's a simple way to get a birds-eye view of any new files your team is working on. You might use this to track new design assets, signed contracts from customers, or other content that your team is collaborating on.

And since it's all summarized into a single list, you don't need to go to the trouble of hand-selecting the files you want to take action on.

You're not limited to files, either: You can also use Box and Digest to gather a summary of recent comments and tasks. No matter your file-management preferences, there's a way to use Digest to make things more succinct.

Build Simple Time-Tracking Reports with Toggl

Toggl's time-tracking tools help you stay on task during any project. Now you can get a simple digest of exactly how much progress you're making.

Set up a workflow that triggers every time you put in a new time entry. If you add a Digest step to the mix, we'll send a scheduled breakdown of every task you tackled and how much time you spent on it.

Curious about the projects your team is taking on? Create a Zap that feeds new Toggl projects into a digest, and you'll have an overview of all work in progress.

Or, if you're a client-focused operation, you can build a digest that shows every new person you add to your client list each day, week, or month.

Using Digest and Toggl together helps you figure out exactly how much you're accomplishing, without any added effort.

Get Progress Reports for Your Wrike Projects

Can you use Digest for project management? Check. Instead of spending time tracking down each and every task your team completes, create a digest that automatically collects Wrike to-dos as they're ticked off. That way, you can measure how far along any project is without asking for progress reports every hour.

To get started, use Wrike as the Trigger step, and insert the task name into the entry field for your digest. Pick how often you want your digest delivered, then we'll ship it. You can keep the digest to yourself or post it to a public channel in your team's chat app, so everyone can celebrate their shared progress.

The real beauty of it: Your team won't need to make a note of every item they finish. They can focus on work, instead of tracking it.

Aggregate Your Marketing Efforts with ActiveCampaign

Build a holistic view of your marketing efforts. With ActiveCampaign, it's easy to manage your email marketing and take action on new opportunities. And alongside Digest, you can log every potential deal to a summary for your team.

Start your workflow with the "New Deal Task" Trigger, and set up your digest to create an entry each time a task is added to your list. We'll bundle them up for you, and send a summary to the platform of your choice.

If you're using email marketing to reach out to prospects, this digest could help your team get a bird's eye view of who they need to get in touch with next. Plus, you'll get a feeling for how well your campaigns are working, based on the number of opportunities you generate.

Digest helps you remove any manual curation from the process, so you can get back to closing deals.

That's not all you can do with ActiveCampaign and Digest. Use other ActiveCampaign Triggers to track things like forwards, opens, contact changes, clicks, and notes.

Package Up Your Unbounce Submissions

Admit it, watching submissions for one of your landing pages roll in is pretty fun. But sitting around and refreshing a dashboard all day isn't the most efficient use of time.

Instead, create a digest that compiles those submissions into a simple report. When you link Unbounce to Digest, we'll watch for new submissions and tack them onto a running summary. We can send you that summary every day, week, or month, so you can review the new leads that your team has to work with.

Just like your Unbounce landing page, there's no maintenance involved in keeping that summary rolling. You can just sit back and watch new leads pour in. Digest and Unbounce make perfect companions.

You could also set up a workflow that helps your team celebrate milestones. Instead of selecting a time-based frequency for delivering your digest, choose the "threshold" option, which will only deliver the digest once you hit a specific number of submissions. Set that threshold at 50, 100, or 5,000 (if you're feeling ambitious), and post a celebratory message to your team chat app.

Bundle Survey Results from Typeform

Typeform helps you ask anything with gorgeous forms and surveys. With Digest by its side, you've also got a tool for building beautiful, automated reports.

Since Typeform is so flexible, you can curate almost any kind of data you could imagine. Pick one of your surveys, and map the answer from each submission that you want to include in a digest.

Once your digest is set up, every time someone submits info to your form, we'll pull out the data you asked for and append it to a summary. You could use Typeform and Digest to keep track of new feature requests, product orders, or customer questions.

You could even create a suggestion-box-style digest that you fill manually via Typeform. For example: Build a thank-you bot where your team can submit virtual high-fives for their teammates. Digest will keep track of every thank-you submitted, and at the end of each day your bot will deliver a list of kudos that the team can comb through. Warm fuzzies all around.

Get Daily, Weekly, or Monthly Sales Reports from WooCommerce

When you're running an eCommerce business, it's important to get into the nitty-gritty numbers. But sometimes, you just want to watch the orders pile up.

WooCommerce makes it ridiculously easy to build, run, and customize an online shop. And if you want to take the pulse of just how fast you're racking up sales, Digest can help.

You'll be able to craft a concise summary of new purchases that you need to take action on, along with who placed them and how much they bought. It's a simple way to take the pulse of your business, without getting bogged down in the transactional details.

Set up a workflow that triggers every time someone places an order in your WooCommerce shop. Then, have your digest gather the details of each purchase, and drop them in your inbox every morning.

You'll have a simple package of requests from excited customers that you can delegate or take action on immediately.


Add Another Layer: Advanced Digest Techniques

Master the techniques below and you'll be a Digest pro. If you want to construct complex, powerful workflows that give you complete control over where, when, and how you aggregate app data, try these tricks.

Filters

add a filter

Filters let you choose if and when a Zap runs. They allow anyone to set rules for what data can trickle through a workflow, giving you final say as the gatekeeper. For example, you could set up a filter so your workflow only continues if the name of a blog post contains the word "Zapier".

How can filters make Digest more powerful? Digest gathers information for you, and filters make that curation more discerning. You can use a filter to stop noise from creeping into your summary. Plus, you can craft more custom reports that only contain a specific set of information from a source. That way, your digest isn't just a data dump.

You can even use filters to stop your digest from sending if it's empty. Add a filter step after your Digest step, and choose the "Count" from your digest in the dropdown. Then, set up the rules so the number of entries in your digest must be greater than zero in order to continue. Now you'll never receive an empty digest—we'll just hold off until we have something to report.

Looking for other ways to use filters? Try these ideas:

  • Filter out mentions of your brand on Twitter that came from your own account
  • Only add Evernote notes with a specific word in the title to your digest
  • Append survey responses from an app like Typeform that contain a specific answer to one of your questions

Build Multi-Source Digests

Digests aren't limited to a single source. If you want to mix finished to-dos with meeting notes, you can create multiple workflows that feed into the same digest.

You just need to make sure that the digests share the same name. If I create a Zap that adds new starred Gmail emails to a digest called "Action Items", I can create a second Zap that watches for new to-dos on a list, and pipes them into the same "Action Items" summary.

To cross your digest streams, simply include matching text in the "Name" field (for our example, that would be "Action Items"). We'll take both sets of info, and combine them into one summary.

Release A Digest Manually

release your digest manually

Digests don't need to be scheduled—you can release them manually, or based on an event in another app, instead.

When you're setting up a digest, rather than choosing a time-based option from the "Frequency" drop down, select "Manual". Now, instead of releasing your digest every day, week, or month, we'll hang onto it until you give the signal.

To deliver a digest that's set to manual, you'll need to build a second Zap. That Zap can have any Trigger event you want—like a button-press in Zapier's Google Chrome extension, a message containing a phrase in Slack, or when data's added to a particular row in a spreadsheet.

Then, add a Digest step to your workflow, and select the "Release Existing Digest" Action. (If you don't see it right away, click the "show less common options" link.) You'll see a list where you can pick one of the digests from another Zap.

The last step should be pretty familiar: Choose which app you want your digest delivered to, and insert the result into the message field. Now you have total control over the release conditions for your report, so you aren't locked into any sort of schedule.

Get the Current Version of a Digest

pick an existing digest

Using the "Release Existing Digest" Action will also clear out the contents of your digest. If you just want a quick summary, without wiping the slate clean, try the "Find Digest" option. This returns the most recent version of your summary, but doesn't cycle out any entries, leaving your digest intact.

Setup is similar to what you'd do for a digest with a manual release: Pick a trigger event, add a Digest step with the "Find Digest" Action, and pick a digest from the list. We'll hand over the most current version, so you can use it in a subsequent step.

The use cases are pretty similar, too. The find option is ideal for snagging a progress report without hitting reset, so you can still get a complete report on-schedule. The release Action, on the other hand, flushes out the old info post-delivery.


Mapping Out Your Perfect Digest

Digest is a completely new tool, and we're only scratching the surface of what's possible. It makes aggregation easy, and we hope it helps you curate and organize the information you care about.

The next time a notification pops up, ask yourself: Do I really need to know about this right now? For anything you could ever want to summarize, there's Digest.

“I was wasting hours each week doing data entry. Now Zapier handles it seamlessly.”

Nir Eyal, bestselling author

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