How to Automate a Web Consulting Project from Start to Finish

Wade Foster
Wade Foster / August 15, 2013

Every so often we stumble across someone who has created a proverbial Rube Goldberg machine with a set of Zaps that automates a tremendous amount of work.

For those of you have ever done consistent web consulting work, you know how much stuff has to happen when you land a new client. Our friends over a HitReach were kind enough to share their process for automating their web consulting projects. This single process saves roughly 30 minutes of work for each new customer. They get about two new customers a week and bill out at 100 pounds/hr which adds up to roughly 5000 pounds of time saved each year. That's nearly $8,000/year in savings.

Check out the video on their blog and then we'll walk you through how you can replicate this yourself.

The Setup

HitReach uses a handful of tools to manage this process including Gravity Forms, PayPal, MailChimp, Google Contacts, Trello, Gmail, FreeAgent, Google Drive and Buffer. We'll walk through their exact process using these tools. That said, you might use different products, so you might need a slightly different Zap depending on the project management tools, accounting tools or email marketing tools you use.

Editors Note: I've modified the steps slightly from what's in the video to make things just a bit smoother for a general audience. Any discrepancies from the video and these directions are caused by that.

Step 1: Gravity Forms to PayPal

A web project for HitReach starts with a lead form powered by Gravity Forms on their site. Here's an example at the bottom of this page. Then using the Gravity Forms - PayPal add-on it allows the customer to pay right away for their website review.

This initial action is what sets off a chain of events to inform everyone on the HitReach team about the next client and to get the clients information into all the systems that it needs to be in.

Step 2: PayPal to MailChimp

Once the transaction happens in PayPal, HitReach adds that customer to their internal customers email list which is in MailChimp. This lets them send email to their clients on a periodic basis about reviews, new services or products or anything else they might want to get in touch with them about.

Step 3: MailChimp to Google Contacts

With the customer in MailChimp, HitReach now sends that information three other places, the first of which is Google Contacts. This adds the customers contact information to their collective Google Contacts contact list so that they have all the information about the contact on hand when they need to communicate with them.

Step 4: MailChimp to Trello

The second place the information goes is to Trello. Trello is what HitReach uses for project management. So this Zap adds a card to the "Live Jobs" board which allows your team to know which projects they should be making progress on.

Step 5: MailChimp to My Gmail

The next Zap sends an email to yourself once the customer is in MailChimp with some general info about the client. This ensures that you actual know about the new client.

Step 6: MailChimp to Customers Gmail

The next Zap uses the MailChimp info to send a quick confirmation email to the customer to thank them for the order and let them know about any next steps that should happen.

Step 7: MailChimp to FreeAgent

HitReach then uses FreeAgent to manage all the invoicing and accounting with their customers. This Zap sets up a new client in FreeAgent via the customers information in MailChimp.

Step 8: MailChimp to Buffer

Lastly, as a quick reward, we'll schedule a Tweet via Buffer to share the good news about a new client and encourage others to check out our work.

Wrapping Up

This is a perfect example of how you can use automation for the redundant parts of a web project. With all these Zaps in place, HitReach can spend their time on more important parts of the web project, like actually getting the deliverables to their clients.

Has anyone else created a Rube Goldberg machine with their Zaps? If so, we'd love to hear about it in the comments or feature it on the blog.

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