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Marketing Automation Secrets: 50 Ways Experts Use Zapier

Ashley Hockney
Ashley Hockney / December 15, 2016

As marketers, we are creative yet analytical. We write, reach out to, and connect with our audiences–crafting stories that can be shared and spread. We know our tribe best: what they love, what they hate, and their pain points. But in solving theirs, we also find our own: We could do so much more if only we had more time and resources.

That's where marketing automation comes in. When you automate the busywork on your to do list, you can get back to the things that matter most and spend time innovating. More hours in the day to put towards a new campaign. More hours focusing on user growth. And, frankly, more time spent with the people and other things you love, instead of manually sharing content or importing another CSV.

We interviewed dozens of top marketers and asked them how and why they were using marketing automation with Zapier. Their answers were clear: save time, take on projects that once needed a programmer, and stay on the cutting edge to best the competition. Read on to hear how they do it and use their automations for yourself.

Why Use Marketing Automation and Zapier

As marketers, we want to go above and beyond, adding that human touch, but we all could use more time in the day. This, at least, is how we feel here on Zapier's marketing team. From our past work experiences to our jobs at present, we care about marketing both well and efficiently, which is why we want to share concrete marketing automation use cases that have made our and other marketers' lives easier.

As an automation tool, Zapier connects your apps and automates your workflow, moving info between over 750 web apps automatically. This lets anyone build integrations with just a few clicks to automate chores around Twitter, Hubspot, MailChimp, Wufoo, and more.

Here are some of the biggest benefits of automating some of your marketing tasks.

Create More Hours in Your Day By Automating Admin Work

"We’re a small, lean team that loves to leverage technology to do our work more effectively. For things that don’t require a human touch, we strive for automation. That’s why we love Zapier."

Marie Forleo, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and host of MarieTV

The simple truth is that automation wins back hours in the day. For every administrative task that you automate, you and your team can spend your hours on work that requires a human touch.

“No person goes into marketing to track spreadsheets or submit receipts to a billing system,” says Henry Wagner of Megaport. “This is kind of thing sucks the joy out of your life. When I first started using Zapier it was to alleviate the time spent on tedious day-to-day tasks.”

Marie Forleo, a media mogul known for her thought leadership, online TV show, and life coaching, uses Zapier for the same reason. “We’re a small, lean team that loves to leverage technology to do our work more effectively. For things that don’t require a human touch, we strive for automation. That’s why we love Zapier. “

Henry and Marie aren’t alone. Every marketer we talked to used words like “save a ton of time,” and “win back hours.” Internally, we feel the same and estimate that our most popular workflows could save your team an average of 2 hours per week.

Build It Yourself Without Needing a Programmer

"It's just so much more turnkey if you can have something [like Zapier] that basically builds the integration for you. That's the difference between being able to do a project and not being able to engage in that project."

Sujan Patel, a marketer known for his growth and content focus and founding companies like WebProfits and Mailshake

As marketers, we have a symbiotic relationship with our engineering team. We need each other and respect their time spent building a better product, but at times we too need to build. In fact, 54% of marketers cited IT and web development bottlenecks as their top marketing headache in 2015, according to Econsultancy and SmartFocus.

Sujan Patel, a marketer known for his growth and content focus and founding companies like WebProfits & Mailshake, told us:

When I was back in-house heading up marketing for SaaS companies, I had devs on my marketing team and the growth team. No matter how many resources I throw at stuff, I'm always experiencing problems of scale or how do I get two technologies to work together and never is the answer "I want my dev to spend 10 hours on this," …at dev rate, that's going to cost me thousands of dollars to do basic things on something I don't even know that works.

It’s true, a good developer can easily charge hundreds per hour, which means if you can create or automate a workaround in minutes, your time is phenomenally well spent.

“[Dev time] can sometimes, as you know, wind up becoming the cost of the project–or double –if you don't have integrations that are built or if you don't have a way of doing it with something like [Zapier]. As a result, it's just so much more turnkey if you can have something that basically builds the integration for you. That's the difference between being able to do a project and not being able to engage in that project.”

Nikolay Piriankov at Rare Pink says, “I think the first thing is that Zapier allows us to do something that wasn't possible before. I think that's a very big statement. Some companies allow you to do something better and then some companies allow you to something that wasn't possible. I think it's amazing to be a company that makes things that weren't possible instead of just grant a little bit of iteration or slight improvement.”

It’s the Future of Marketing

“I think most people feel that that is the future, then embrace it because it's happening anyway. You can be behind, or you can be ahead. Which one are you going to pick?"

Jeremy Goldman, author of Going Social and founder of Firebrand Group

Top marketers are already learning skills like SQL and basic code, the field of “growth hacking” is becoming more popular, and even entry level marketers are feeling the push to become increasingly technical.

“Starting in 2013, after the CMO realizes that he/she does not have the skill sets in place for data analytics proficiency, 50% of new marketing hires will have technical backgrounds,” said IDC’s Top 10 CMO Predictions for 2013.

Zapier is an easily solution opening the window for connectivity and increased efficiency by allowing you to connect apps and create workflows without having to write a single line of code.

“Why am I using Zapier now? Probably because it enables me to stay on the cutting edge of marketing innovation. That’s the only reason I have a job. I do things other marketers can’t (or don’t) do. And those things rely on Zapier. No Zapier, no job,” said Guillaume Cabane, VP of Growth at Segment.

It’s no surprise then that Jeremy Goldman, author of Going Social and founder of Firebrand Group, a company known for “future proofing,” brought up the future of marketing.

“There's still a lot that you can do by getting just a slight amount technical. I'm not telling people that they have to do geniuses, but I think you do have to say that something like Zapier is the new normal, and you have to be sophisticated enough in order to at least be a beginner to intermediate with a tool like yours,” Jeremy said. “I think most people feel that that is the future, then embrace it because it's happening anyway. You can be behind, or you can be ahead. Which one are you going to pick?”

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Read on for Marie, Sujan and Jeremy’s workflows plus dozens of more examples for automation inspiration based on what area of marketing you’re focused on.


Use Zapier to Automate the Admin Work Around…

Social Media & Content Curation
Email List Management
Lead/Customer Nurturing
Automate Sales
Staying industry informed


Social Media & Content Curation

The biggest challenge for social marketers is ROI measurement, so it’s hard to justify pouring hours into a single tweet given it might only get quick glances on a scrolling feed. Still, as more consumers turn to social media for information and to connect with brands, social media is a necessity.

That’s where automation comes in. You can still execute on your social media strategy, just with less work.

Automate Your Social Feed

Get a higher ROI on your work by connecting your RSS feeds to Buffer, Twitter, Instagram, and more to generate social media content without having to do anything else, as over 3,000 Zapier users are currently doing.

“You don't have the opportunity, let's say, to tweet as often as you'd like to, or you don't congratulate when they switch jobs on LinkedIn or whatever it is. When there's a viable pain point, and people can just get things done in the way that they want to, Zapier is one of those hacks,” said Goldman.

Get Jeremy’s Zap connecting RSS to Buffer or share your blog posts via RSS to LinkedIn, Twitter, or a Facebook page directly. Create once, share automatically.

Get to Know Your Audience

It’s one thing to read every customer Tweet about your brand, it’s another to systematically organize and analyze who they are. Are they Texans talking about tacos, moms exploring entrepreneurship, or tech geeks who just bought the newest VR technology?

“I love creating content, but it can really be a pain. Crafting great content is just 20% of the job. The other 80% lies in distribution,” said Apostle Mengoulis at GrowthRocks.

Apostle adds anyone who mentioned GrowthRocks in the past to a spreadsheet, saving not only the Tweet's URL, body, date and time, but also the author's name, handle, follower count, location, and more. With this valuable data, you can reach out to influencers, geolocate your customer base, and search for mentions of particular industries in your audience’s bios.

This also serves a dual purpose of helping create strategies for your longer content pieces like blog posts, videos, and help documentation, as well as your overarching brand voice and tone.

Get Apostle’s Zap and auto-generate a database of your audience’s social profiles.

Curate Shareable Content

Content curation is an aspect of content marketing that’s growing. When you share good content that hasn't been created internally–through a feed of Tweets, a roundup newsletter, or simply links to other posts–it adds trustworthiness to a company’s reputation and builds thought leadership.

“We use Zapier to keep track of the content we want to share with our audience and automate our social sharing,” said Jilly Badanes of Milk.co, a women’s newsletter bringing a new female perspective to your inbox each week. “I created a Zap that connects Pocket to a shared Google spreadsheet. Every time I save an article with the tag Milk in Pocket, it is added to this Google spreadsheet. I created another Zap that automatically adds articles from that spreadsheet to my Buffer queue.”

This process lets Jilly store a database of shared articles that can be reused while also allowing the entire team to efficiently contribute to her organization's content strategy.

Get Jilly’s Zap and connect Pocket to Google Sheets and Buffer, as well as additional workflows focused on content sharing.

Get Notified of Brand Mentions

Building a community around your content is a huge part of most marketing strategies. This can be as simple as favoriting a Tweet about your brand or hosting an influencer-led AMA in Reddit.

“I’ve found Reddit a bit challenging to monitor in the past, so I’ve just turned on one of these Zaps for Buffer. These recipes allow you to automatically search Reddit for mentions of specific topics and then gather those mentions wherever you’d like to read them,” says Courtney Seiter at Buffer.

In addition to Reddit, you can also get notified when your brand is mentioned on Twitter and Instagram. You can even take this workflow one step further by getting a Zapier Digest summary at the end of the day with all of your brand mentions. Stop the pings, and batch your work while staying involved in your community.

Internal Content Management

Get news about your content delivered to the place where your team actually hangs out, Slack. The alternative is for your content marketers to constantly be clicking from Slack to their inbox, social media accounts, and blog posts. Not ideal for someone who’s crafting the next viral blog post.

For example, you can get Disqus notifications delivered in Slack so your team knows when and where to respond. You can also automatically send a channel-wide notification when a new blog post goes live. This makes it easy for engineering, biz dev, and non-content marketers in general to check out new posts to share and upvote.

You can also automate a spreadsheet of published content as a basis for reporting. Automatically pull in Twitter followers, retweets, and shares and lay the foundation for easier, more effective reporting.

Get these internally-focused content Zaps to centralize your communications.

Automate Email List Management (and never import and export again!)

As a marketer, you most likely have a toolkit of technology to capture, store, and act on customer data. You probably also often test new lead magnets and email capture tools, which means trying out new apps. While that gives you a leg up on your job, it makes email list upkeep hard.

Don’t waste time importing and exporting data. This process can be entirely automated no matter where your traffic is coming from. In fact, you can take it one step further by automating part of your nurturing processes.

Transfer New Contacts Between Data Management Systems

If you’ve ever transferred data from one list management system to another, raise your hand. If you’ve ever changed CMSes as a marketing team, raise your hand. Ours are up. So is Jeremy’s.

“One of my top [Zaps] move[s] anybody from our MailChimp database into our HubSpot database,” Jeremy said.

While it’s a rather simple workflow, it means not having to update old email capture tools and websites that feed into an old list management system into a new one.

“We didn't even have to touch our website. It's things like that that I forget about, and I'm like wow, this actually saved me a ton of time,” Jeremy said.

Automation shines with problems like these. In the past, marketers have had to keep up with leads pouring in from multiple lead magnets (often hosted on all different technologies). You’d get a list from a giveaway in ViralSweep, leads from a quiz in Qzzr exported in a CSV, and your original customers still coming in through that backlink to a Mailchimp list.

For marketers, this can mean periodically exporting data and importing it into their brand’s main email list where new leads can enter a nurturing flow. It's either this admin work or begging a developer to write a script. With Zapier, this process can be automated and is done in real-time.

“I think my first [Zapier] use case was getting form data out of Wufoo and into my marketing tools, but if we take a step back, it’s more global than that. It’s just about moving customer data from one point to another, which was almost impossible to do automatically before Zapier. All marketers were stuck to doing daily or weekly exports of CSVs,“ said Guillaume.

“I’m not sure pain points is the right problem. I just couldn’t do what I do now. It was the dark ages!”

Get Jeremy’s and Guillaume's Zaps and peruse other email list management systems you can connect with Zapier from our list of 750+ integrations.

Add Facebook Lead Ad Leads to Your Email List Automatically

Facebook Lead Ads was the fastest growing new app on Zapier in 2016. Take new leads from your ads and send them to over 750 other apps and tools.

Fastest-Growing new apps and APIs of 2016

“We wanted to figure out a way to sync up our email system with Facebook advertising," Marie told us. "And there wasn’t a straightforward way to do it within each of the systems we were using. We connected our CRM, Ontraport, with Facebook Lead Ads [with Zapier].”

Get Marie’s Zap or create your own integrations with Facebook Lead Ads.

Lead Nurturing

If you ask for someone’s number and they give it to you, you call. It’s the same with online marketing. If you go through the work and trust building it takes for someone to give you their email address, you don’t just let it sit. That's the key to better response rates, according to a Hubspot article:

Establishing contact quickly is key to actually connecting with your leads. An InsideSales.com study found that 35-50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first to an inquiry, and a HubSpot study found that response rates decline as the age of a lead increases.

Luckily, much of this process can be automated.

Create Brand Loyalists With Automated Twitter Engagement

We get it, engaging on social media is time-consuming and endless, but it’s also a way to turn a customer into a brand loyalist. Responding to a customer on Twitter can feel as special to them as when someone sends a nice personal Tweet to you about your post.

Even though 90% of companies use social media to respond to customer service inquiries, "58% of consumers who have tweeted about a bad experience never received a response," says Marketing Profs.

For doing a better job with connecting to her followers, Kristi Hines, freelancer and content marketer known for her influence on Inbound.org, turned to automation.

Kristi Hines Zaps

Get Kristi’s Zap to automatically thank your followers when they share one of your articles on Twitter.

Create Entire Extract, Transform, Load (ETL) Workflows

Taking someone from awareness to sale means more than just capturing an email address. You’ve got to follow up, nurture, and convert. With the launch of multi-step Zaps, you can now create entire workflows in Zapier that move leads from first contact through signup and nurturing.

“With multi-step Zaps I’ve moved from data pipeline to a full ETL, where a real transformation happens. Zapier is my go-to ETL” Guillaume said. “Zapier powers more than half of our marketing campaigns and over 80% of my growth hacks. With our latest campaigns, Zapier itself is a lead gen machine, providing a substantial revenue for Segment. All our marketing campaigns that are either offline (events) or online via a third-party (webinars, Unbounce landing pages) go through Zapier.”

Create your own custom workflows based on the custom apps your team uses. For a full range of apps you can connect, check out the 750+ apps we integrate with.

Nurture Event Registrants

Between webinars, meetups, conferences and more, event-based marketing is becoming an increasingly large part of marketing, with over 60% of marketers using webinars as part of their content strategy. It allows for human interaction and a deeper, more real connection in a world of automation.

Don’t lose this momentum to poor follow through.

“When someone registers for your next event, you won’t have to use Eventbrite’s or GoToWebinar’s canned emails anymore. Instead, start a drip campaign from your preferred email marketing software. Whether you use MailChimp, HubSpot, Infusionsoft, or AWeber, Zapier has your back. That way, you can deliver tailored emails by using the more sophisticated features of your marketing platform and all the custom fields within your database,” said Francois Mathieu of UberFlip.

With a Zap like sending FullContact data to MailChimp, you can take tangible business cards, extract their data, and easily sort it all.

Get Francois’ Zap and more to automate timely event follow-up.

Systematically Quantify Customer Needs and Take Action

“The features I love most about Zapier are the Zaps that would never exist without Zapier. A good example would be automated reporting and data collection that can feed various content marketing campaigns, which we would never even bother to collect manually. Having the ability to automate that without an in-house developer is very valuable,” Kane Jamison, founder of Content Harmony said.

Kane worked with a client that gets numerous unqualified leads yet only ends up working with the top 10-20% of them. So Kane built a lead generation form that automatically qualifies these leads and puts them into their correct flow. The client still only works with 10-20% of traffic, but can monetize off of most traffic by referring the other 80-90% of submissions to another better-suited organization that has a partner plan with the client.

Similar to this, Tara Reed of Apps Without Code uses Zapier to link Typeform with Google Sheets to segment her list of customers and custom create personalized art recommendations for them when working on the Kollecto app.

“I needed a way to compile survey results in a database, so we could email personalized art recommendations to our users. So I used Zapier to connect our Typeform surveys with Google Sheets and built a database that way,” Tara said.

Get Tara’s Zap workflow to better address your customers' needs.

Seamlessly Hand Off Leads to Sales

Whether your marketing team is leading your sales effort or handing off new leads, automated integration from one focus to another saves time and makes the most of new leads and opportunities.

According to Content Marketing Institute, companies that aligned their sales and other practices in place generated 208% more revenue from marketing efforts.

Now, think of the ROI on that stat if the process was automated.

Follow Up With New Leads

What’s a new lead if it goes cold? Wasted effort and resources. Instead, leverage the opportunity by following up quickly with new potential customers.

Doing lots of cold emails and outreach, Sujan knows the importance of not letting a conversation go cold. When someone fall off of his communication chain, he’ll send them an email drip over the next 12 months–almost as a follow-up sequence with valuable content–but it requires knowing when someone falls off & taking action. Working in the thousands, he’s created a drip sequence to continue the conversation automatically.

You can use Zapier to follow up on leads coming into your list, on social or even in your customer support CMS.

“Whenever a new Twitter lead gen card is filled out, it’s possible to tweet out a response to the lead. This is a good way to start a conversation with someone who just engaged with your content, right on their preferred communication channel,” said Francois Mathieu. “The magic of Twitter lead generation cards is that they include both the email address and the Twitter handle of the lead. In Zapier, you can simply create a Zap that tweets out a quick thank you note, starting with the Twitter handle that was just added to your subscribers list.”

Check out these Zaps from Sujan that automate your autoresponders.

Automatically Create Sales Meetings

In small companies, your marketing team is your sales team. When your employees are wearing so many hats, it’s important to automate as many small tasks as possible.

Even in a large company, big wins and important leads can come through marketing: a stellar interview with a great client, a high-priority customer comment on a blog post, a simple Tweet from that one person you’ve been trying to get in touch with for months.

Make it easy to take action.

“I had a Business Development Manager (BDM) come to me with the problem 6 months ago. He wanted to let our inbound Sales Team book meetings with prospects in his calendar. Now in the old way of doing this, they would book a meeting in his Google Calendar and that would be it. But Zapier lets us kick this into high gear,” Henry told us.

With [Zapier], Henry and his team at Megaport can book a meeting in a BDM’s calendar via booking software Calendy. Then that triggers a booking confirmation email to the prospect via email marketing software Marketo. Then that updates the prospect’s record in their customer database, Salesforce, and finally pings the BDM on Slack to let the team know that their client just booked a meeting.

"Not only does this save the company time," Henry says, "It has the added advantage of taking human error out of the equation. Which means that the marketing reporting on the customer journey becomes more reliable. Everybody wins.”

Get Henry’s melange of Zaps and automatically set up sales meetings while keeping everyone on the team in the loop.

Sync Customer Support with Your Sales CRM:

Perhaps an overlooked place to find new leads: your customer support team. Those teammates are on the front lines working with new customers who are confused and need nurturing.

Looking to learn more about potential customers, Ben Lack, Director of Business Development & Marketing at Reciprocity , set up a multi-step Zap that finds their existing customers in Salesforce and automatically attaches the HelpScout conversation to their profile as a note. That way, they're always on top of a lead's wants, needs, and pain points.

"We realized that multi-step Zaps could check our Salesforce data, then decide who to attach the conversation to," Ben told us. "Now that we have it set up, we're a lot more efficient in our support operations."

More transparency for the sales team, and less copy-paste for support–a definite win-win.

Staying Industry-Informed

The most successful marketers are those who commit to being constant learners, continuously experimenting and staying informed of their industry.

But, as Jane Stecyk over at Hubspot says, “Our inboxes are overflowing. Our Twitter feeds never stop scrolling. Our bookmarks folder is stuffed to capacity. And yet, more than ever, our clients and coworkers depend on us to bring order to the chaos.” We hear you, Jane.

This is where automation can help filter through the noise to bring the most relevant news to you without the distraction of everything else.

Build a Custom RSS feed

Create your own RSS feed that combines new content from other feeds, social, and even links sent via email.

“Would you like to republish content to your blog but the format of the source is not optimal? With Zapier, you can actually build an RSS feed from scratch. Select all the fields that you need, whether they come from a social media stream or from another RSS feed, and customize the output as you wish. You can add standard elements, like a header picture, text, or even a closing call to action,” says Francois.

We’ve seen people take it a step further, parsing hyperlinks from their favorite bloggers' newsletters and saving these to Pocket.

Create your own RSS feed and get all of the good stuff and none of the fluff.

Learn and Grow as a Team

Knowledge, like power, is better when shared. Deliver your custom RSS feed to a team Slack channel to keep your team on the cutting edge.

“Pick one or two top industry blogs and have those RSS feeds pushed into Slack so that your team can continually be updated on the best posts,” says Eric Siu at Growth Everywhere. Don’t put in too many, though, as it can get unwieldy pretty quickly.”

Over a thousand Zapier users are currently using this workflow.

Set up Eric’s RSS to Slack Zap yourself.

Tame the Feed and Learn at Your Leisure

It takes an average of 25 minutes to refocus after every distraction, so a constant ping of new content isn’t the most effective strategy for an effective team.

Rather, put an end to the noise with a scheduled Digest of new content that can be delivered in a team Slack channel, direct message, or via email.

This Digest can be delivered on your schedule, whether that's the end of the day or the end of the week. Add in a workflow that saves this content to Pocket or Evernote, and your team has everything they need at their fingertips–no more, no less.

Explore the Digests you can create and tame your content feed.


Marketers + Zapier, Better Together

As a marketer using Zapier, you’re not just saving time normally spent on admin work, you’re giving yourself the freedom to create innovative new automations so you can focus on the things that matter. Take on projects that would have previously been impossible by using Zapier to build workflows that once required a programmer, and stay on the cutting edge of marketing innovation. Without needing you to write a single line of code, Zapier can help you get to the top of your game.

Marketing Made Easy
Get Zapier (for free) and automate your busy work
Check it out

Do you use Zapier as a marketer? Share how you work in the comments with us below.

Title photo by BarbaraALane via Pixabay.
Photo of Marie Forleo by Bonnie Tsang

“Zapier is the extra team member at our agency linking our systems together and managing the push and pull of data.”

Alex Minchin, Managing Partner at Zest

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