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Slack Everything: How to Turn Your Team's Communication App Into Central Command

Marissa Daily
Marissa Daily / May 7, 2015

Your inbox used to get all the attention. Now it's Slack, your team's instant messaging app.

Instead of saying "email it to me," you ask co-workers to "slack it to me." You customize your Slack theme, liven up the day with Slack's (unpredictable) Giphy integration, and use "/appear" for all your video-chatting needs.

But there's more you can do to make Slack—or whatever team instant messaging app you use—a vital tool to your team's workflow. The key is integrating Slack with the other apps you use for work.

Out of the gate, Slack supplies quick integrations with more than 100 services, including Asana, Dropbox and MailChimp.

For everything else, there's Zapier, an app integration tool that can connect Slack with more than 400 complementary apps, such as Gmail, Basecamp and Evernote. This post focuses on the services that Slack doesn't yet support, complete with walkthroughs of how to use Slack and Zapier to set up more than 40 integrations.


Slack Integrations for:


"Our team uses Slack as a reliable team-chat tool, and we pair it with Zapier to create a highly customizable real-time communications dashboard."- Jay West, Principal Creative of New Media at Canada's National Arts Centre


How to Set Up a Slack Integration with Zapier

This post offers more than 40 ways to use Zapier for integrating Slack with the services you use. To help you get these integrations up-and-running, each use case is accompanied by quick set up links. Click "Use this Zap," and you'll be guided through a series of steps, starting with authenticating your apps. (In order for Zapier to send data to and from apps, it needs to first receive permission from the apps involved).

Let's use this Google Calendar to Slack Zap as an example. After authenticating, you'll be prompted to select an event that you want to watch for in your Trigger app, such as a new Google Calendar appointment. You might need to be specific about what you're looking for, too—in this case, you'd need to choose which Google Calendar Zapier should watch for new events.

Zapier Slack Google Calendar integration

Once you've selected the calendar from Google Calendar, specify what you'd like your Slack message to say, using parts of the new event—such as "summary" and "event begins" time.

Zapier Slack Google Calendar integration example

Zapier lets you customize more than just the Slack channel and message contents, too. Click "Show advanced options" to see more possibilities, like setting custom usernames and icons, and choosing whether or not you want links to expand—called "unfurl" by Slack—when a message is posted.

Zapier show advanced options example

Create More Advanced Integrations with Bots

Slack Bots

Or, you can create interactive integrations using Slack's slash commands or bots, as they're commonly called. They take a bit more work to set up—enough that we wrote an entire guide to building Slack bots—but they are powerful enough to create documents, start projects, lookup contact info, or start an entire workflow.

Some of the examples below show how you can use Slack bots to get more done—and if you'd like to make your own bots, be sure to check out our tutorial as well.


Ready to connect your favorite apps to Slack? Let's jump in.

Email Management

1. Set Up an Email Address for Slack

Slack email integration

Make a new email address with Zapier and forward email to it when you want the content of an email posted in Slack. Or rather than worrying about forwarding email, use this email address in your app's notification settings, for example, to bypass your inbox all together.

To set this up, use Zapier's "email" app, which will let you customize the contents of the Slack message.

2. Get Email Notifications

Connect your Gmail, Office 365 or Microsoft Exchange email account to Slack to get a #channel or @slackbot notification for new email. Depending on the service you use, your notification can include the email's subject line, snippet, sender name and email address. If you're using Gmail, you'll have the option to include the email's URL, too, providing a one-click way to open up the conversation.

3. Completely Skip the Inbox

If you really despise email, like Zapier infrastructure engineer Brandon Galbraith, you could pull the full body of each new email into Slack. "Pushing all of my email into Slack using a Gmail-to-Slack Zap has been extremely helpful," he says. "It reduces the number of communications channels I monitor, it streamlines sharing relevant data with teammates, and I'm able to more quickly triage actionable items."

4. Share Important Emails

Sports e-commerce platform FanPrint has another approach to using Slack for email management: immediately sharing important emails with the team to avoid searching through a shared inbox. "When an approval email for a specific apparel design comes in from a college, we have that email sent to a Slack channel called 'Licensor Alert,'" says TK Stohlman, FanPrint's CEO. "Having the email go to the 'Licensor Alert' channel ensures we see it quickly and can respond or get the product launched. We also have key members of our product team on the 'Licensor Alert' channel so they can stay focused in Slack without getting lost in emails."

5. See Only Needed Info

If you're getting sale alerts, reminders from other apps, or receive any type of data via email in a repeated format, the Zapier Email Parser can learn to extract what you need from it. With the Zapier Email Parser, you can set up a custom email address that you forward certain emails to and then pull out only relevant information.

Email Parser example

Once you have the email parser configured, use Zapier to send parsed information into any Slack channel or to the @slackbot. How the data is formatted for Slack can be customized when you're setting up the Zap.

Email Parser Slack

In addition to the Zapier Email Parser, try mailparser.io for more complex parsing, such as disassembling a mailing address.

Calendar Notifications

6. Recurring Reminders

Daily Standup reminder in Slack

Whether it's taking out the trash at home, turning in a timesheet at work, or paying a membership fee at the gym, recurring tasks can be easy to forget. Conquer your pesky tasks by setting up a daily, weekly or monthly Slack notification as a reminder.

7. New Calendar Event

If you share a calendar, you know it can be easy to miss a new event or meeting added by a co-worker or acquaintance. Rely on Zapier to send you a Slack notification—either in a #channel or @slackbot—each time an event is created in a shared Google Calendar or Office 365 calendar.

8. Meeting Reminder

New event notifications are helpful, but reminders for scheduled events will make sure you show up on time. Zapier can help here, too: We use this automation in our team, posting a message Thursday mornings at 9 PT that our weekly all-hands hangout starts in one hour.

Google Calendar Slack meeting reminder

This makes it much easier for Matthew Guay in Thailand, Lindsay Brand in Barcelona, and Wade Foster in San Jose to remember exactly when the meeting starts. If the reminder said something like, "Heads up! Meeting at 5 p.m." it would be up to the individual teammates to figure out the timezone conversion, and then plan accordingly.

Google Calendar Slack meeting reminder 10 minutes

To set this up, use the Google Calendar Zapier automation, be sure to fill out the optional "Search Term" field (pictured above), entering the search string that finds the event or events (maybe every "meeting") for which you need a Slack notification.

9. Out of Office Awareness

To keep our distributed team of 25 on the same page when it comes to who's out of the office and when, we share a Google Calendar titled "Out of Office." At the start of each day, Zapier is set up to automatically post the names of any team members who will be out of the office. This keeps everyone on the same page, minimizing any anxiety that came when you were wondering why you hadn't yet gotten a reply from a teammate you forgot was out of the office.

To use this integration, implement a shared "Out of Office" calendar and have team members create events for the day (or days) they'll be absent. Then, use Google Calendar's "Event Start" Trigger on Zapier to a have your "Out of Office" calendar post to Slack.

10. National Holidays

Google Calendar holiday calendar

Google Calendar offers handy holiday calendars—such as one for the United States, United Kingdom or Spain—that you're able to add to your own calendar. After you do, try connecting your new "holiday" calendar to Slack via Zapier, triggering a new message each time an event is approaching or arrives.

To find holiday and other public calendars offered by Google, open Google Calendar and click the dropdown menu by "Other calendars" in the left sidebar. Select "Browse Interesting Calendars," and once you've arrived at the list of options, click "Subscribe."


Company Culture

11. Birthday Reminder

Slack birthday reminder

To make sure you never miss a teammate's birthday, connect a "birthday" calendar to Slack to get notified when someone is celebrating another year of life. To do so, create a Zapier automation that connects a Google Calendar containing team birthdays to Slack. Then, each time a birthday rolls around, have it post a Slack message prompting a GIF party.

For the GIF party, be sure you've turned on Slack's Giphy integration. If you haven't already done so, click on the drop-down menu above the channels in your Slack window and select "Configure Integrations" at the very top. Then find "Giphy" and click "add."

12. Swarm Check In

For remote teams, it can be hard to know where your teammates are at any given time, and knowing what they're up to helps to pull the team together.

"As we are a distributed team, we also like to keep track of where everyone is in the world," says Tom Willmot, CEO and co-founder of technical WordPress agency Human Made. "We use Zapier to automatically post a message to a Slack room when anyone our team checks in on Swarm."

13. Tweets

Cloud hosting company Digital Ocean keeps track of what their team is talking about by sending Tweets from teammembers to a designated Slack channel.

"Our Twitter-Slack Zap pulls in all the Tweets from the DOHQ Twitter List, that consists of all DO employees on Twitter," says Daniel Zaltsman, the company's social media director. "We see the tool as a very easy to manage, highly accessible, culture and happiness builder."

14. Job Postings

Your employees' network is often the best place to find candidates for new positions. With this in mind, use Zapier to automatically share all new job postings in Slack. This is how the team at renewable energy specialists Viridium Associates uses Zapier. When a new job opening is posted on the website, members of the team get a message and are encouraged to post the job on LinkedIn.


Marketing Assistance

15. Blog Posts

Slack blog comment notification

If your company runs a blog featuring content you want team members to read and share, there’s a Zapier integration for that, too. Hook your WordPress or Tumblr blog into Zapier, or use your RSS feed, and start posting Slack notifications in a #general or @slackbot channel whenever you publish a new post. You can share just the link, include the post's title and author, or go the full distance and share the whole post.

16. Blog Comments

Slack blog comment notification

The Zapier blog relies on Disqus for comments, but instead of depending on email notifications or checking the system's dashboard, the marketing team keeps on top of comments in their #marketing channel on Slack.

"When someone comments on a post, I get a link in Slack to that comment, and can immediately reply," Zapier community caretaker Alison Groves says. "We want to make sure each member of our community hears back from us in a timely manner, and since I am working in Slack all day anyway, having comments sent there is a natural part of the workflow."

If you don't use Disqus, it's likely that your blog commenting system offers an RSS feed for new comments.

17. Email List Subscribers

Keeping tabs on who subscribes—or unsubscribes—from one of your email marketing lists doesn't need to happen in your inbox or email marketing tool. You could instead get that stream of intel inside Slack.

That's how Sock subscription company Foot Cardigan learns of new additions to their MailChimp account. "It's nice to have all our important notifications come through one channel instead of having a bunch of browser windows open," says Bryan DeLuca, CEO and co-founder of Foot Cardigan.

Zapier supports more than 25 email marketing apps, including another dozen drip email marketing tools.

18. Content Ideas

Toronto-based cinema company Cineplex publishes an active blog covering entertainment news for movie goers. Instead of crawling the web each day for content ideas, the company uses Zapier to pull relevant content right into Slack.

"By directly delivering the headlines to our small team of writers in real-time, we're able to see what's making the news and what's trending online, allowing us to stay current," says Rachel West, an entertainment producer at Cineplex. "The Zaps save the team from having to visit entertainment news sites a few times each day, allowing us more time to create and curate content specifically for our fans."

19. Promotion

When social media sharing duties are spread across individuals and departments, it can be easy to step on each other's toes. That's why the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Canada relies on Zapier and Slack to keep marketing team members on the same page. The organization collects all their social media posts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook in one #social Slack channel.

"This makes it very convenient to browse one combined timeline of all our social media activity generated by separate internal teams," says Jay West, the National Arts Centre's Principal Creative of New Media.


Brand Monitoring

20. Mentions Across the Web

Google Alerts used to reign supreme as the catch-all tool for brand mentions across the web. But Mention, an ambitious French startup, is slowly dethroning the giant. With Mention, you can set up specific alerts for your brand, and then use Zapier to pipe the results to Slack. That's one of the ways the team behind the Product Hunt online community uses Zapier—each new mention goes into their #interwebz channel.

Beyond Mention, use Zapier's Reddit integration to get alerts for when you company is mentioned on the social news site. Or take advantage of the Zapier webhook integration to get notifications for when your company's name appears on Hacker News or other discussion forums with webhook integrations

21. Twitter Mentions

Or maybe you want to hone in on what's being said about your brand on Twitter. StatusPage gets notifications whenever "StatusPage" is mentioned on Twitter—they use the search query @statuspageio OR statuspage OR statuspage.io.

For example, a StatusPage user recently tweeted about a feature that wasn't working for him. Zapier pushed that mention to their Slack channel, and they were able to respond immediately. "Seeing this come through on Slack, we quickly got in touch and resolved the issue," says Danny Olinsky, StatusPage's co-founder.

22. Twitter Followers

Another Twitter and Slack use case: connect the two apps via Zapier to get notified of each new follower. You can take this one step further, too, using a Zapier custom filter to trigger notifications only when your new follower, for example, has 5,000 followers.

23. Instagram Tag

Non-profit Stupid Cancer uses Zapier and Slack to gather all photos tagged with #stupidcancer in a channel they titled #feed-instagram.

"It's a great way to source content for our Facebook wall, and see what conversations are happening related to our brand," says Kenny Kane, Stupid Cancer co-founder and COO.

24. App Reviews

Though not a brand mention in the strict sense of the form, reviews of your app will give others a perception of its performance and stability—and they could also help uncover bugs that might be causing issues. To stay on top of new reviews, news app startup Circa uses the combination of an RSS feed provided by App Figures, Zapier and Slack.

"Bringing in all of our App Store and Google Play reviews in real time helps our team understand what our readers think of our app," says Matt Galligan, Circa's CEO and co-founder. "It's far more efficient to read our app reviews this way than having to remember to go to each store often and parsing through the reviews."


Project Management

25. Project Progress

Software provider Jobstream Group uses Basecamp to collaborate on projects with clients, but they send internal Basecamp discussion to Slack.

"There's a lot of discussion and work that happens at our end that the customer just doesn't need to worry about," explains John Keane, Jobstream Group's Project Manager. The Jobstream team creates a Slack channel for each Basecamp project, then sets up a Zap to send notifications for all new activity into that channel. "We can use that channel for all the noise of our tangential chat, and keep the attention of the Basecamp project focused clearly on project tasks and collaboration with the customer," Keane says.

If you don't use Basecamp, Zapier integrates with over a dozen other project management apps, such as Podio, Teamwork, Producteev and Trello. You can integrate with them instead, if you want, for Slack automation that fits your team's workflow.

26. Task Assignments

Your project management app is where you keep track of all new tasks, but unless your team is constantly in the app, they might miss something. To keep your group in the loop about what's on the to-do list, use Zapier and Slack to create a notification for each new tasks added. If your project management app of choice is Trello, you can also pipe your notification stream into Slack—and you can setup similar alerts for other project management apps.

27. Task Creation

Then there's the ability to add new tasks to your project management software directly from Slack via Zapier. This is how custom dog toy company PrideBites uses Zapier—when a Slack message contains #Julietrello, a task assigned to Julie is added to a specific Trello board. Zapier's filters allow for complete customization, so you can decide exactly what Slack messages are piped into Trello (Zapier will ignore all messages that don't meet the conditions).

If you don't use Trello, you could do this with the task management or to-do app of your choice, such as Todoist, Toodledo, or Azendoo.

Another Zapier integration to use for this workflow would be Zapier's "New Starred Message" Trigger from Slack, which lets you create a task just by starring a message in Slack.

28. File Management

Dropbox, Drive and Box don't offer the most convenient ways to find out about new files placed in a folder, which can be an annoyance if you're waiting on a doc from a teammate. With Slack and Zapier, you can get notifications for new files either in a #channel or privately via @slackbot.

29. Client Follow Up

Public relations firm Publiseek uses Slack and Zapier to solicit and archive client feedback. When a Publiseek customer gets media coverage, the Publiseek team asks them to leave a review in a shared Podio workspace. Then, when the client leaves a review, it goes into a designated Slack channel.

"This allows our team to follow up with the client to get a testimonial when a 5 star review is left or get in touch with the client to ensure that we do everything possible to keep them fully satisfied," says David Haddad, Publiseek's founder.

You could setup similar integrations with your favorite form, survey, or database builder app, so you'll get feedback from your users directly in Slack.


Customer and Sales Notifications

30. Orders

Meal alternative company Soylent uses Zapier's Shopify and ChargeBee integrations to log their e-commerce activity to a designated Slack channel.

"It's very easy to lose sight of how many people are relying on us to deliver a quality product on a daily basis and how many new customers are putting their trust in us when trying something new," says John Coogan, co-founder and CTO of Soylent.

The Slack channel gives the Soylent team a feel for the velocity of their sales and revenue growth on a daily basis and helps keep the scale of the business in mind—sales become more "real" when you can see them happening.

31. Purchases

In a company's early days—or even later stages—new sales can be existing and they can offer an opportunity to kick off a personal relationship with a customer. By setting up an integration between Slack and your payments service—such as Stripe, Paypal, or Recurly—you can start getting notifications for each new sale. Besides the sale amount, you'll also be able to pull in other information provided by the service, such as your customer's name, email address and shipping address.

32. Payment Failure

Conversely, if a payment doesn't go through, you want to know about it. Rely on a Zapier integration for that, too. With your payment failure notifications coming into Slack, you'll be able to quickly kick off a process that'll hopefully resolve any issue with the customer's form of payment.

33. Ticket Sales

When Utah coding school DevMountain held their workshop event ReactWeek, they relied on Zapier to get notifications in Slack for each new registered attendee.

"It was really exciting to have our Slack Zap bot announce every ticket sold. It built anticipation and excitement for everyone as they worked so hard to pull off a world-class event," says Cahlan Sharp, DevMountain's founder and CEO.

Since their ticketing software wasn't integrated with Zapier, the DevMountain team relied on a webhook—similar to sending an SMS—to pull in new details about each new ticket purchaser. To set up the integration, they implemented a webhook to Slack integration through Zapier.


"Slack Zaps keep us in the loop on what's going on in all areas of the business while removing the mental burden of having to context-switch and interrupt our important tasks and focus to keep tabs on different tools."- Janet Choi, Marketer at Customer.io


Issue Management

34. Alerts

Turkish sports TV channel Tuttur uses Slack and Zapier to ensure no critical issues from New Relic fall through the cracks.

"There is too much noise in email boxes," Tuttur's CTO Eray Oge says, so the Tuttur team connected New Relic to Slack. "Now, Zapier gets the message from New Relic and sends it to our system management group. Then, our group members can easily monitor and discuss the issue over Slack," Oge says.

35. Issues

Software bugs make for unhappy customers. When a member of your team posts a new issue or bug to GitHub, BitBucket, Jira, BugHerd or Redmine, use one of these Zaps to instantly alert yourself or a Slack channel of what was posted. You can include information like the description of the issue and who reported it, too, to help your team fix problems ASAP.

36. Commits or Events

When a whole team of developers is hacking away at a codebase, poor communication leads to overwritten work. Version control apps like GitHub and BitBucket help engineering teams avoid catastrophe, but to make sure you're on the same page, try sending alerts about new code commits and changes to the whole team via Slack.

37. Create Issue

Pulling issue alerts into Slack helps engineering teams stay up-to-date on broken features. But the team at Robots and Pencils uses Zapier to send data the other way, too: they can open new GitHub issues by writing a custom-formatted Slack message.

Ben Myers, the company's managing director, pulled this off with a Zapier automation employing named variables. "Type "issue" (name of issue), "repo" (RepositoryName), "body" (Body of issue) into any public Slack channel and it will create an issue in Github for that particular repository," Myers says.

38. Email Bounces

It's easy to make the the mistake of entering an email address with a typo. 5thSeptember, a Mumbai, India-based company that helps teachers find jobs and schools find new teachers, found a solution to that.

They track every undeliverable message in Mandrill, a transactional email service, and rely on Zapier to notify a specific Slack channel when an email bounces. The Slack channel is monitored by the support team, who can call the user to make sure the right email address is obtained.

"This has really brought down our inactive/bad accounts ratio, where the primary reason for the account being inactive/bad was a bad email submitted initially," says Rohit Tikmany, 5thSeptember's founder.


More

39. Form Response

Rather than refreshing the "responses" page for your forms or surveys every five minutes, gather information in the one place you already live in: Slack. Use this Zapier Integration to keep track of user feedback other responses by connecting your favorite form app to Slack. This allows you to easily share positive feedback with your team and quickly address any negative feedback that might go unnoticed otherwise.

40. Help Desk

If you're not in your help desk software all day, consider piping the contents of new tickets into Slack. Depending on the app you use, you'll be able to send in details about the customer and their problem, along with a link to the ticket. If the ticket has been assigned to someone, that can bit of info can be utilized, too.

41. New Google Sheet Row

If your team uses Google Sheets to log activity like new customers, event sign-ups, or sales, monitor those important spreadsheets by setting up a Google Sheets to Slack Zap that notifies you whenever a row is added to the Sheet.

42. Changed Google Sheet Row

For those who regularly update their Google Sheets with new info, you might want to keep track of changes to vital spreadsheets. Set up a Zap to get notified in Slack whenever changes are made—by you or a teammate—to a row in your Google Sheets spreadsheet.

43. RescueTime

Instead of checking RescueTime throughout the day or relying on the service's daily email recap, use Zapier and Slack to get regular updates. To do so, set up a Slack integration that alerts you when you hit your productivity goals for the day, when you’re spending more time on unproductive activities than you’d like, or when you reach a certain amount of time you're monitoring like "more than 1 hour in email." You can also push your daily summaries to Slack so that at the end of the day, or in the morning, you can easily see how productive you were.

44. Webhook

Webhooks can help you get creative and send virtually any kind of data straight into Slack. This could be information from a personal site, the backend of your company’s site, or favorite applications that offer webhook support but that aren’t integrated with Zapier or Slack just yet.

When you set up a webhook, it will send a string of information like first_name=Bryan&last_name=Jones&age=27 that Zapier can parse and post to any Slack channel.

45. RSS

Another way to pull app data into Slack is with an RSS feed. An RSS feed is a simple stream of information—like recent updates or blog posts—that can be drawn from most websites. This is especially useful with blogs since they’re constantly posting new articles in a reliable format.

You can then parse RSS feeds using Zapier, and send the information you want into Slack. For example, you could get Slack notifications whenever there are new posts from a blog you follow, or whenever there’s a new post on TechCrunch that mentions your company.


Even More

How Slack Uses Slack

As you might expect by now, this isn't the end of the list. Zapier offers even more ways to integrate Slack with the tools you use. To see everything that's possible, check out the full list of Slack integrations on Zapier—there you'll find a list of more than 400 apps that you can connect to Slack.

Beyond the integrations we covered above, there are tons of tricks and power-user tips out there to help you master Slack. Here are some of our favorite resources:

Still craving Slack content? Then check out Harry McCracken's excellent (and excellently titled) article in Fast Company, "How Slack Uses Slack".

Which begs the question, how do you use Slack? Please leave a comment below—we'd love to hear your story!

Credits: Slack plaid courtesy Slack on Medium

Photo of Lawrence Watkins

“Zapier helps me build processes and automation into my business like a programmer without having to learn to code.”

Lawrence Watkins, co-founder of Great Black Speakers

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