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3 min read

How Vocal uses Zapier to do three times the work

By Ellie Huizenga · January 3, 2022

The typical writer archetype is one struggling to make ends meet in a small, dark apartment—and for a good reason. It's not easy to make money as a creative, and it's not often that you find a company designed to help creatives get discovered and rewarded for good content. But that's the exact niche Vocal fulfills. 

A publishing platform that connects creators with storytelling tools and engaged communities, Vocal is an online home base for all types of creatives—writers, musicians, filmmakers, and artists. Since 2016, they've scaled to over 1.2 million creators and roughly 11 million monthly readers. 

But with that growth came scaling challenges. Robby Tal, Head of Business Intelligence who oversees Vocal's data environment, paid media, and email marketing efforts, realized they needed to automate some of their processes to continue to grow.

With developer resources focused on other projects, Robby went searching for platforms that would allow him to automate workflows between different applications in a scalable, reliable way—and that's when he found Zapier. 

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Challenge #1: Triaging stories submitted by content creators

In the past, when content creators submitted their work, Vocal would manually update the story status in PostgreSQL and send it over to the moderation team for review in SendGrid before approving it for publication. It was a tedious process, requiring lots of manual updating. 

As Vocal grew, their story submission queue grew, too. It was a good problem to have. They had amazing content by talented creators ready to be shared on their site, but they were struggling to respond to all the submissions in a timely manner.

The solution: Automating the tedious tasks

To reduce the time between story submission and publication, Vocal uses Zapier to automate the repetitive and tedious tasks. 

Now every time a story is submitted to Vocal, a record is automatically created in their PostgreSQL stories table. Instead of manually updating the status of new story submissions, Vocal uses a Zap to automatically set the status to "needs review".

This same Zap also notifies the next person in the round-robin queue on the Vocal moderation team via SendGrid—so someone can immediately take action.

Zapier has allowed our Business Intelligence team of 3 to execute as if we had 3x the staff.

Here are some ways you can send notifications from PostgreSQL:

Send SendGrid emails for new PostgreSQL custom query row matches

Send SendGrid emails for new PostgreSQL custom query row matches
  • PostgreSQL logo
  • SendGrid logo
PostgreSQL + SendGrid

Get Slack messages for new custom query matches on PostgreSQL

Get Slack messages for new custom query matches on PostgreSQL
  • PostgreSQL logo
  • Slack logo
PostgreSQL + Slack

Post Slack messages for new rows added to PostgreSQL

Post Slack messages for new rows added to PostgreSQL
  • PostgreSQL logo
  • Slack logo
PostgreSQL + Slack

Send emails on Gmail for new custom query matches on PostgreSQL

Send emails on Gmail for new custom query matches on PostgreSQL
  • PostgreSQL logo
  • Gmail logo
PostgreSQL + Gmail

Challenge #2: Sending targeted nurture campaigns to creators

The submission process wasn't the only challenge the Vocal Business Intelligence team wanted to solve. They also needed to easily enrich their creator data so they could send the right nurture content at the right time. 

Vocal wanted to use data they had in PostgreSQL and Stripe to send out targeted email campaigns to their creators. They didn't have the time to aggregate the data and assign email campaigns manually, but they knew it would provide a better experience for their creators. 

The solution: Automating the whole process

Instead of jumbling together a bunch of different workflows, Vocal took the time to set up an intentional, streamlined process for updating their lead data for targeted marketing campaigns. 

They created a Zap that uses custom SQL to query PostgreSQL and Stripe. Based on the data, they send out over 20+ variations of behavioral and action-based emails via SendGrid and Iterable. With this workflow, they've been able to scale their business—automating more than 1 million tasks with Zapier each month. 

Are you new to lead management? Explore our infographic: the beginner's guide to lead management or read through our post about how automation can help you nurture and manage leads

The result: The Vocal Business Intelligence team did three times the work

By streamlining their work processes with automation, Vocal can get more done—in less time.

Without Zapier, I'm estimating that we would need at least 10 additional staff members (on top of our 35 in-house employees) to get everything done.

When faced with obstacles, Robby says he asks his team to look to Zapier to see if it can help be part (if not all) of the solution. 

Read more about some of Vocal's favorite Zapier tips and tricks in their post about optimizing their Zaps

Related reading:

  • How automation helped Halo Cars scale

  • Automate and chill: Put the computers to work so you don't have to

  • Automate these 5 painful tasks with Zapier workflow automation

What's your story? Tell us how you use Zapier to do more. You can also read even more customer stories and find new ways to improve your workflow and productivity.

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A Zap with the trigger 'When I get a new lead from Facebook,' and the action 'Notify my team in Slack'