There's a Form for That: 20+ Ways to Optimize Form Apps for Your Work

By Matthew Guay

You are reading: Chapter 5 of 9

Most businesses require a number of specialized tools: apps to let customers get in touch, share feedback, place orders, get support, schedule appointments, and more. You could go find a pre-made tool for everything your company needs, or you could construct everything you need by hand.

Building your own tools sounds daunting. But companies around the world have done just that—without writing a single line of code—using form software together with Zapier, an app integration tool.

Forms are among the most versatile tools out there. Suspicious? Here's your proof: this chapter describes how dozens of companies have used forms to build their own internal products, streamline communications, backup their data, and more.


Use Form Software to:


Streamline Your Communications

"If we can get visitors on our websites to complete an online form, we are able to start a conversation with them and close a sale."- Kartik Isvarmurti, founder, VMG BPO

"Contact Us" forms are one of the most popular forms you'll find on business websites, but almost any type of form can be used to aid your team's communication strategy. No matter what type of form you have, odds are it collects the contact details of the person who filled out the form, giving you a chance to follow up. Add integrations to that form with Zapier and you can start automating your follow up each time a new submission is received. Or change up the form's fields and you can start using it for social media, team notifications and more.

1. Send Personalized Follow-up Messages

Every form on your website should ask for at least an email address. Period. That's your chance to reach out and thank the individual for filling out your form, and perhaps share more information about your company.

The Powerlinx team does just that with their Typeform form, by sending the contact info of everyone who fills it out to Intercom, which then sends out a personalized email. "It took only a few minutes to set up," says Powerlinx user experience lead Yoni Cohen, "and the response was great."

Depending on your form, sending a follow-up email might be the difference between making and losing a sale. As Joe Capone of Webier Consulting says, "When someone fills out an information request form, it is important to get back to them instantly with a response." But you have to make sure you send the appropriate response.

zapier filters

To do that, use Zapier's filters and conditional logic to send appropriate follow-up emails to customers, and also send emails to the correct people on your team so they can follow up with a personal touch. This lets your team work fast and with consistency, and that's been a winning combo for Webier Consulting, where they use WordPress form plugin Formidable for their team's forms and then send emails via Zapier when those forms are filled out.

"Consistency in our responses allows us to scale our business to a point where we simply would not be without Formidable and Zapier," Capone says.

You can achieve the same results with your forms, by integrating them with your email and marketing apps. That way, you can reach out immediately, have your team reach out later, or add customers to your mailing list so they'll stay informed about your company.

2. Notify Your Team for Next Steps

swivul
Swivul, Aaron Wolfson's form-powered startup

Your customers aren't the only ones you should contact when your form is filled out. You'll also need to notify your team, so they can get to work on the new data that's been entered.

Aaron Wolfson, for example, wanted to make an app that'd give personalized recommendations for something fun to do on the weekend via an online form and SMS messages. So, Wolfson and his team put together Swivul with just a form integrated with Zapier during Startup Weekend Nebraska. "We put up a landing page with an embedded form in it asking for phone numbers within 30 minutes," says Wolfson.

That form also asked for people's interests, location, and phone number, and then Zapier sent the results to a Google Sheets spreadsheet for safekeeping, and posted them on Slack to notify the Swivul team. "The actual event-finding and suggesting is still manual," says Wolfson, so the Slack notifications help everyone know which tasks to take on next. And the whole project was a success, with 10% of the people who visited the page filling out the entire form and receiving an activity recommendation.

Different notifications work best for different forms and situations. Sometimes an SMS to every team member fits the bill, while a private chat message to specific team members is more appropriate in more sensitive settings. Either way, it's easy to stay on top of what's been put in your form when Zapier's sending the notifications to the apps of your choice.

3. Schedule Social Media Posts

Perhaps you don't need to be notified when your form is filled out. Instead, maybe you need a form that'll help you notify the rest of the world about the things that are going on in your company. See, sharing your company's Twitter and Facebook accounts with everyone in the company can be difficult at best. Instead, you could build an internal form for social updates, and then use Zapier to send them out—and you'll only have to sign in once.

That's how the Campaign Monitor team handles their social media marketing. They've created a Wufoo form that's connected to Buffer, which lets anyone from the marketing, support, and design teams schedule a Tweet.

"Now, instead of sending me an email, they can fill in the tweet details, then have it automatically scheduled for the distant future—ready for us to approve, modify and queue in Buffer," says Campaign Monitor community manager Ros Hodgekiss.

For small teams, a form that's connected to Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn pages might be enough. Larger teams might want to link a form to Buffer as Campaign Monitor did. Or, you could even have the messages go to a spreadsheet first, and then have them automatically sent to Buffer once they're approved. That'd help make sure you never accidentally send a Tweet you didn't intend to send from your company account.

4. Create Posts on Your Blog or Forum

Your audience isn't just waiting to hear what you have to say—they also have their own stories they'd like to share. Those can be perfect pieces of content to include in your blog, case studies, discussions and more, and a form can give you an easy way to gather them and put them directly to use.

Youjin Do, for example, is working on a documentary about digital nomads, and wants stories from other digital nomads to include in the video. A Typeform form makes that possible. The form educates people about the project, tells them what is needed, and then gives them space to share their story and upload their own video clips that can then be compiled into the full-length documentary.

nomad documentary
The form Youjin Do's using to gather submissions for a documentary

The Vadamalai Media Group team does something similar, but with even more automation. They run a vBulletin forum about agriculture, where members can post products they want to buy or sell. But that turned out to be too difficult of an action to have visitors complete. "We were losing a lot of valuable business inquiries and leads since they were not getting posted on the website," says Vadamalai Media Group founder Kartik Isvarmuti.

So, instead, they made a Wufoo form that makes it easy for visitors to fill out with information about the items they want to buy or sell. Or, visitors could call the company, and an agent would fill out the form for them. Then, they connected the form with vBulletin via Zapier.

There's no direct integration with vBulletin in Zapier, so instead they used Zapier's RSS tool to make a new RSS feed entry whenever the form was filled out. VBulletin then makes a new forum post whenever there's a new entry in the forum. Best of all, as Isvarmuti says, "All this was set up within 10 minutes without knowing anything about coding!"

There are many ways you can do something similar for your blog. You can use Zapier's WordPress integration to create draft blog posts from a form, or use a WordPress form plugin like Gravity Forms or Formidable to create a post directly. If you're using a flat-file CMS, you could have your form saved to a new text file in Dropbox. Or, you could turn your form into an RSS feed as Isvarmuti did, and use a plugin on your CMS to import it as new posts.

Manage Your Data

"Don't waste time trying to be clever with how you parse data. The folks at Zapier have already figured that out. It just works."- Toufan Rahimpour, COO, Logoworks

Your form likely stores data in an online spreadsheet-like viewer, but there's little you can do with the info there. Instead, you'll end up downloading a CSV file, opening it in Excel or Numbers, and analyzing your data from there.

Or, you could have your form data get sent to a spreadsheet or database automatically. There, you can sort and visualize your data easily, and even turn it into a central part for other integrations by using your spreadsheet or database as the trigger for your other Zaps.

Here are some ways you can put your form data to use in a spreadsheet using Zapier's integration with Google Sheets, Excel (via Magi Metrics), or Smartsheet (alternatively, you can use any of the database tools that Zapier supports).

5. Organize Data in a Spreadsheet

There are plenty of tools out there if you want to sort and visualize your data, but few are as versatile as a spreadsheet. The original "killer app" on the PC lives on, whether in Excel on your computer or in Google Docs wherever you happen to be working. And with Zapier, you can make your spreadsheet smarter.

The Campaign Monitor team has found that spreadsheets are still the simplest tools for them to use in many of their projects. Their Giving Back project, where they give away free food and prizes to web design meetups, is one such use case. They use a Wufoo form to let people request a sponsorship, along with another form to submit payment info internally, and then connect those forms to a Google Sheets spreadsheet with Zapier.

campaign monitor
Campaign Monitor's Giving Back form

"By using Wufoo and Zapier, we can get all the information we need from payees and neatly spreadsheet it up using Google Docs," says Hodgekiss. "Our accounts team are more comfortable using Google Docs than having us email through separate invoices."

Spreadsheets are simple to put together, and Zapier can link every field on your form to a new column in your spreadsheet. Then, you can use your spreadsheet's built-in tools to sort through the data, generate graphs, and crunch numbers.

6. Make Sure No Data is Ever Lost

Zapier can make it quicker to build integrations between apps and your own internal databases—and it can also make those connections work better. That's what the Executive Employers team found out during their early periods of high growth. Their site would get swamped after media coverage, knocking out their servers and causing data loss.

So, instead of relying on their own infrastructure, they used Typeform for forms, Braintree for payments, and Zapier to send them both to their internal database. "Now if we experience any issues, we find a solution and as soon as we are live we can transmit all 'failed transfers' from Zapier with a click of a button," says Executive Employers spokesperson William Parker.

That's a clever way to make your own internal database connections work better, giving you an internal copy of your data and ways to make sure you never lose anything. Plus, with just a form connected to a database, you can build your own database-powered apps without having to design a custom interface to add data.

7. Clean up Data

The data you get from a form can be messy. You might have data in the wrong field, addresses in the wrong format, missing data fields, and more. You can connect your form directly to any of the other apps Zapier supports—but if your data isn't rather consistent, you might end up with trouble.

To fix that, the Powerlinx first sends their form and survey data to a Google Sheets spreadsheet, where they can clean up the data and then send it out to Intercom, Salesforce, and other apps. You can manually clean up data in the spreadsheet and put it in another sheet to trigger the next Zap (a Zapier automation), or you could use special formatting and tweak your Zap to combine rows and make your data look nicer automatically.

Using a spreadsheet first can be a great way to accomplish things a Zap and your form couldn't do on their own. As Powerlinx's Cohen tells us, "If you don't see a direct integration, think if there's a way that manipulated data in a spreadsheet could trigger a second Zap to get the job done. Multiple Zaps are useful!"

So, if you have an app integration you can't get to work with your form and Zapier, try sending the data to a spreadsheet first. Get creative, and you just might be able to hack your own solution using one of the most flexible apps ever: your spreadsheet.

8. Schedule Travel

When you think of a spreadsheet, a table full of financial statements or a list of detailed product listings likely comes to mind. You might even think of the standard form's data output, perhaps with rows of contact info and preferences. But a spreadsheet can be a great way to schedule stuff, too.

That's why the Campaign Monitor team has yet another way they use forms and spreadsheets: to schedule travel. "Being able to coordinate travel plans, like flights, arrival times, contact details and more using Wufoo and Google Docs allows us to efficiently book accommodation and coordinate our trips to and from the airport," says Hodgekiss. There's no reason to ever make an arrivals schedule by hand again when you have a spreadsheet managing it for you automatically.

You can manage almost anything in a spreadsheet. All it takes is a bit of creativity, and a form to give you an easy way to add data, and you'll have a new "app" for that special task you need to manage.

Connect With Any App

"I use Wufoo for all of my data collection. It's one of the core apps for my business along with Zapier, Pipedrive, and Trello."- Lawrence Watkins, founder, Great Black Speakers

Forms and spreadsheets go together like sushi and soy sauce. But remember that forms play nice with other kinds of apps, too. You already have a suite of apps that your business relies on—email, CRM software, accounting tools, etc.—and forms provide a simple way to get data into them.

Some form software may directly connect with your apps, or you can use Zapier to send the data from your forms to your other apps automatically. You can even add filters to each of your Zapier integrations with your form, to make sure the correct data goes to the app of your choice. That way, you can have one Zap that—for example—adds only the contacts who want to receive your emails to your MailChimp list.

Here are some great ways you can connect your apps with your forms and accomplish more together.

9. Add Contacts to Your CRM

Since most forms collect contact information, one obvious place to store that data is in a CRM (customer relationship management) app. Whether you're using a standard CRM to manage leads, or a marketing automation CRM to automatically reach out with emails, you'll want to save the contact info from your forms to your CRM to make the most of each entry you collect.

And yet, just connecting your form to your CRM might not be so easy, as Oldcastle web developer Ben Ryerson has found.

"We have a large and highly customized installation of Salesforce, which has always posed a challenge for any type of API integration," says Ryerson. "Zapier allows me to pull every single field available in our Salesforce application and easily map the Wufoo forms and form fields to exactly the correct field in Salesforce, creating a properly sanitized lead for our sales reps."

oldcastle
One of Oldcastle's Wufoo forms, for their Belgard brand

Zapier also helps Oldcastle streamline multiple forms into the same Salesforce records. "One of our busiest consumer sites, belgard.com, uses multiple Wufoo forms for several different types of user submissions (contact, several different types of collateral ordering, newsletter sign up, etc.)," Ryerson says. "In order for our Salesforce installation to properly sort and categorize the leads as they come in, I have to pass multiple variables that the user never needs to see. Zapier allows me to easily pass custom data to those fields while still capturing all the Wufoo form submissions quickly and accurately."

Perhaps your best leads don't come from a site; perhaps they come from in-person meetings. Then, you might want a form that lets you capture leads on the go, as Thinking Beyond Borders co-founder Robin Pendoley needed.

"We used Formidable and Zapier to build a lead-capture form that we use on tablets when working a table at trade shows," says Pendoley.

When a potential customer fills out the form, they receive an email with more information about Thinking Beyond Borders, and their contact info is saved to the company's Salesforce account. It saves their team time, and as Pendoley said, "Best of all, our email follow-up is the very first one they receive of all of the vendors in the room!"

No matter what CRM or form you use, or how you gather your leads, a Zapier integration is all you need to automate your sales process and make sure no leads ever fall through the cracks.

10. Create Documents

You have form documents with blanks to add names, events, and more. Why not make a form with each of the fields, and then use it as an easy way to automatically generate documents? That'd make it much quicker to create form letter, contracts, and more, and could open up some unique ways to use document templates.

The HubSpot team, for example, built the MakeMyPersona tool as a fun way to make a marketing persona document, and as a way to generate sales leads. The site is mainly a Typeform form with questions about your work, position, and more.

campaign monitor
HubSpot's persona generator

Fill the form out, and it uses Zapier to send the data to WebMerge, where it's turned into a Word document that showcases your role at your company in a resume-like template. Once WebMerge makes the document, it's emailed back to you—and with a bit of custom programming, HubSpot adds the contact to their own databases to follow up with them.

No matter what type of form documents you have, you can add them to WebMerge, then integrate your own forms or other apps with it using Zapier to let your team automatically create documents without having to open Word. You'll never need to search for a blank template document again.

Reuse Data in Your Forms

Forms don't have to be just the front-end to your business processes. Depending on your form app, you might also be able to use them to update data in your apps, or let your apps pre-fill the form with some of the data that you already have.

Efficient Foundations director Sven Scheepers, for example, uses iFormBuilder with Google Sheets. The form software sends new records to Google Sheets, where they're organized along with other data. Then, it sends any new data in the spreadsheet back to iFormBuilder so it can populate form fields automatically.

"Prior to using Zapier, the field users or office staff would have to fill in things like a site name, site contact, email, phone, etc.," Scheepers says. "They can now enter this once as a shared Google Sheet, and then field users can simply select a site name and it will automatically populate the other fields."

The 1st Light Energy team does something similar with Salesforce and iFormBuilder. They send new form records to Salesforce, and new CRM data back to iFormBuilder to make it easy to look up data from other records. "What would have been months of development work turned into just hours of set up," says 1st Light Energy administrator Dustin Kost.

All forms don't need to be pre-filled—but your internal forms could likely be much more useful if you pre-fill them with the data you already have. If your form lets you add entries via Zapier, link your apps back to your forms to make sure your data is accessible wherever you need it.

11. Integrate with Any Form

Odds are, the form app you're using is supported by Zapier—there are over a dozen great form apps you can use with it today, with more being added all the time. But if your form doesn't work with Zapier, don't despair.

Weiber Consulting's Capone needed to integrate with iFrame-powered forms for the insurance site insuringincome.com. The problem was the forms are built by third-party vendors and the only thing the forms could do was send an email. Whenever someone would fill out the inquiry form, one of his team members would have to open the email and manually reply.

insuringincome
Insuring Income's basic form

That's not a great solution, so they switched to using Mailparser.io, an app that can recognize text in your emails and let you send it to your other apps via Zapier. Weiber Consulting now has their form emails sent to Mailparser.io, which extracts the important data and sends it to Formidable with a webhook, which then sends a custom email to the potential customer based on the data entered. With a Zapier integration, it then sends a confirmation SMS to the customer, and adds the individual to MailChimp for follow-up messages.

All of that happens in not much more time than it'd take the email to show up on an agents inbox. "This entire process is done automatically in less than 3 minutes," Capone says. "Truly amazing."

So even if your form's not yet integrated with Zapier, don't give up—find a workaround like Mailpaser.io or use the free Zapier Email Parser to pull data out of your form's emails, too.

12. Work with Everyone's Apps

It's hard enough making sure your form data is flowing to the apps your own team uses. Now, imagine trying to also integrate with every app your customers use. That's the problem that made online marketing firm Pronto start using Zapier with their forms.

"Since we work with over 1,000 clients who each use different SaaS apps to run their business, there's no way we could possibly maintain our own custom data integrations with over 100 systems," says Pronto marketer Pierre-Emmanuel Mol. Instead, they use Zapier, which makes it easy to connect the custom Gravity Forms they build for their clients with any apps they use.

As Mol says, "Thanks to Zapier, we can focus on on better managing our clients' websites rather than having to worry about how to send data from one system to another."

No matter which form you use, and which apps your clients rely on, chances are you can use Zapier to keep everything connected. And if the apps your clients use aren't already integrated with Zapier, you could add them via the Zapier Developer Platform or rely on RSS, database integrations, email notifications or use other features to get them to work with Zapier.

Build Your Own Startup

"Our dev team spent about three weeks trying to just get one form up; our design team did the same in just two days with JotForm."- Toufan Rahimpour, COO, Logoworks

Forms can be more than just a part of your business: they can be your business. You can build a prototype app, gather feedback from your demo site, run a crowdfunding campaign, and make internal tools to help your team, all with just a form. It might sound crazy, but your next great app idea might not need to be an app—it could be just a simple form.

These stories are some of the neatest ways you could use a form, from teams who built their businesses without writing a single line of code.

13. Build a Minimal Viable Product

Launching a new business—or pivoting an existing one—is a lot of work. Even if your website is a major part of your company, you'll have so many other things to do that you might not have enough time to make your site as perfect as you'd like. Plus, who knows—you might want to change something in a few weeks, so why set it in stone now?

When the Crew team realized they needed to pivot their company, they wanted a project that they could launch immediately. And so, a form was to be the basis of their new business. Crew was constructed as a tool that connects companies with designers and developers, and they quickly launched it with the help of two forms, Stripe, and MailChimp. Yup, that's it.

ooomf
You'd never guess it's just forms behind the scenes

"As far as I know, no one ever commented on the fact that we were using a Wufoo form," says Crew co-founder Luke Chesser when we asked him how the forms worked out for their team. "I thought for sure they wouldn’t use it for payments, but I was proved overwhelmingly wrong there, since we racked up $25,000 in payments through the system in the first three months."

The Crew team says it's too easy to wait until you've built the perfect product and never actually start building. So don't do that. "Don’t wait for everything to be perfectly figured out," advises Crew co-founder Mikael Cho. "If you start, you’re already 90 percent ahead of the game and you’d be surprised how far you can get."

Crew eventually built their own app, after proving their concept with the original form. They've continued to experiment with new business ideas by just using simple, off-the-shelf products. Their latest project, stock photo site Unsplash, was originally launched just with forms and a Tumblr blog before getting its own custom site when the concept proved itself.

There are so many business ideas that can be proved in the same way. You can start with just a form, build what you can, see how it works—and then go from there.

14. Prototype Apps

Last year, the Typeform team held a hackathon that was unlike any other. Most hackathons require all-night coding to make the next great app, but this one required just a form—since a form, on its own or linked to other apps, can be an app of a sort. The Typeform Hackathon produced all types of simple apps, from a zombie game to a tool that teaches you Facebook's terms of service to a simple intro lesson to Japanese.

typeform japanese lesson
Learn Japanese from a form

Sure, they might not be as full-featured as an app you'd actually want to download to your phone, but they're a great start—a prototype of something that could be even more powerful. That's why Typeform and JotForm forms are the Proto Banao team's go-to tool for prototyping new apps.

"We use Typeform to hack something together quickly so we can get the client and us on the same page faster," describes Proto Banao product designer Sourabh Chakraborty. "Many of our client business apps are about taking data, pictures, payment transactions, etc., and it's very easy to create a Typeform, set logic to the questions/input fields, and create a workflow similar to a project's needs."

The same would work for your next great app idea. Once you're ready to move beyond pencil sketches, instead of reaching for a standard mockup tool try using a form to outline the basics of the app instead. You can then use Zapier to send push notifications and emails from the form, tie the form to Dropbox or Evernote to simulate a notes app, or use any of the hundreds of apps Zapier supports to add any extra functionality you need.

Odds are, you'll have a much better chance at selling your idea if it's already halfway built with a form. As Chakraborty says, "a near-live prototype of an idea thrills almost any client."

15. Raise Funds

One of the biggest challenges in starting a business is funding. If you can't secure an investment to start your business, then crowdfunding might be your best—and only—option. You can use tools like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, or you could build your own crowdfunding tool with a form.

Youjin Do did just that, using Typeform for the form, PayPal and Stripe for payments, Zapier to send emails and save backer data to a spreadsheet, and some custom coding to show how the funding is going on the project site.

crowdfunding
Crowdfunding without a platform

"I can customize anything what I want, I can make my funding schedule more flexible, and I can save fees as well," says Do. You can use the following Zaps and the steps on her site to create your own crowdfunding solution with just a form.

Whether you're raising funds, or have finished products you're ready to sell, a form that accepts payments is a great way to close the sale. Just add the standard form fields you need—including addresses if you need to ship the products—then add your form app's payment block. Make sure you've set up your payment provider (like Stripe or PayPal), and you'll be ready to sell your stuff.

You can also use Zapier to record the payment data in a spreadsheet or accounting app, notify yourself about the new sell, send the new customer a welcome message, and more.

Send an Invoice or Receipt

Welcome Customers With an Email

16. Create Reservations

If you've ever scheduled an appointment online, I'm willing to bet you filled out a form. The Visit Sierra Leone team, for example, has an airport transfer and travel guide service, so they made a form for people to submit their arrival info.

sierra leone
Visit Sierra Leone's travel detail form

Whenever someone fills out the form, Zapier jumps into action, sending a confirmation email to the customer. Then, Zapier adds the new booking to Google Calendar, and sends an SMS message to their airport staff on the day of the booking with the arrival details.

"We have limited internet at the airport," says Visit Sierra Leone founder Bimbola Carrol, "so this SMS notification means they get an instant notification of a pending arrival. This has reduced the chances of a client being 'missed' at the airport to virtually nil."

They're not the only ones. My Shuttle in Park City, Utah has a similar form with 123ContactForm that lets customers book airport transportation. Customers can change their reservations, if needed, and Zapier lets the My Shuttle team see all reservations on a Google Calendar automatically. And, Zapier's filters come in handy, making sure reservations go to the right calendar.

my shuttle
My Shuttle Park Utah's schedule form

"I used to manually enter reservations into my calendar but now I don't have to," says My Shuttle's Chad Lawrence. "There was always a chance for error when you manually put in reservations into the Google Calendar. But now there is no chance of that happening."

No matter what type of service business you're running—lawn care, consulting, a barber shop, or anything else—you can use a form and Zapier to keep your automatically schedule maintained, while also notifying your customers and making sure the right data is ready for your team when they need it.

Keep Your Company Going

"If you are having any issues maintaining and integrating web forms for your business, just stop what you're doing and take a look at Zapier."- Ben Ryerson, Oldcastle web developer

It takes a lot of busywork to keep a company running: copying data from this app, adding records to another app, making new accounts just to post something new. It's tedious, and unnecessary.

These teams have made forms that help them automate away the busywork, letting them onboard new customers, manage finances, and empower their partners with just a form.

17. Build Your Own Internal Tools

You can spend hours finding the perfect CRM or the best app to send automated marketing messages—or you could build your own internal tools that work just like you want. All it takes is a way to collect data, somewhere to display the data, and Zapier to tie them together.

A form is the perfect tool for the first task, as Brian Casel found when building his own sales CRM for his startup Restaurant Engine. He used Gravity Forms to gather info from potential leads, then immediately follows up by sending them an email course via MailChimp.

form
The form behind the CRM

That's only the beginning. That same form also used Zapier to send all of the data to a specially formatted Trello Card. The Restaurant Engine team will be able to see everything that's entered in the form, and the cards will automatically get a checklist of the next tasks that need done and a due date set three days for 3 days later.

The team can then work together to contact potential clients, and move the Trello card through the different columns as they move through the sales process. Then, they've added integrations with Help Scout for sending emails, and use Grasshopper to route calls, which gives them a full-featured custom sales CRM from just a form and a handful of other apps.

trello
Trello turned into a sales-focused CRM

"There are a few things I plan to implement to help improve and optimize our system," Casel says. "But instead of getting bogged down in these technical perfections, I decided to take a lean startup approach: Get this up and running quickly, learn, iterate, refine, and improve."

Take that same approach with the tools your team needs, find unique ways to pull forms together with other apps, and you'll find your "dream apps" aren't so hard to make after all.

18. Add Product Listings to Your Site

Managing a large store is difficult. In addition to caring for your customers and shipping orders, you need to maintain your product listings and add new products as they become available.

brewdonkey
Brew Donkey's product listings, added by their customers with a form

That's why the Brew Donkey team—a craft beer delivery service—decided to let their suppliers add new products to their store. They built a Typeform form, then connected it to Shopify with Zapier. That lets their suppliers add new beers to their Shopify store, without taking any of the Brew Donkey team's time.

You could do the same with your own store. Just put together a form that gathers all the product info you'd need, and use Zapier to connect it to your store. You'll get updated content on your site without having to copy/paste submissions from your suppliers. They'll likely find it helpful, too, since they'll be able to get their products listed quicker.

And, with a bit more work, you could almost start your own eBay or Etsy competitor just with a form.

19. Onboard New Customers

Whenever someone buys your products or services, you'll want to make sure they understand everything about them. Depending on your products, you might want to send along a training course, instructional emails, or schedule a time to walk users through your product. It'll take time, so you'll want to automate onboarding as much as possible.

The Ensuite Media team does that with a 123ContactForm form to sign up new clients, and uses Zapier to automatically create tasks in Asana for their content, strategy, and graphics departments.

Then, they have an internal form that their sales team can fill out while they're on the phone with clients. Once it's filled out, it'll create Asana tasks and add clients to QuickBooks to make it easy to invoice them. "Its very easy and fast to onboard new clients that way," says Daniel Forman, Ensuite co-founder.

Whether you need to send out documents, create tasks for your team, schedule an appointment, or anything else to onboard your customers, there's no reason to do it all manually. Just hook your form to the other apps you use, and let your team focus on your real work: interacting with customers.

20. Manage Finances

In addition to adding customers to your invoicing app, you can use forms and Zapier to manage your company's finances. The Visit Sierra Leone team, for example, has an internal Formstack form linked to a Google Sheets spreadsheet for their finance officers to keep track of their cash and expenses. That way, they can quickly input current cash-on-hand or log new expenses from any device, and then have them automatically organized in a spreadsheet for accounting.

Best of all, with a bit of work you can get the spreadsheet to do a lot of the accounting heavy lifting for you. "With some logic and conditions, I am able to populate other sheets with only the one form," says Visit Sierra Leone's Carrol.

Whether you keep track of your finances in a spreadsheet or have a more advanced accounting app like Xero or QuickBooks, Zapier and your form can give you the freedom to make simple interfaces that let everyone on the team log expenses and more.

21. Consolidate Feedback

Selling products and managing the cash you're making isn't the only thing your business will need to do. You'll also want to know what people think of your products and services. That's one of the few ways you'll know what you need to improve or focus on.

Synergistic Systems, an ISO standards consultant firm, uses a Formdesk form and a QuickBase database to make sure they never miss any customer feedback.

iso
Even ISO compliance can be improved with a form

"Before using Zapier, when our Customer Satisfaction Surveys came in through Formdesk I would get an email with the data. I would then need to migrate the data manually (field by field) to create a record in the other database system," says Ben Lane, systems engineer at Synergistic Systems.

Now, with a simple Zapier integration, all of their customer feedback is stored in the same database. "My job of manual entry is a thing of the past," Lane says. Now he can focus on customers—and actually have time to work on improving their services.

Customer feedback can come from all types of places—not just your form—but Zapier can help you keep track of it together. You can link your form to a database or spreadsheet, then also link your Twitter mentions, feedback emails, and more with other Zaps, to help you get a full picture of your feedback.


There's So Much More You Can Do

"I have actually enjoyed building these forms and finding new ways to make all this work for my business. Automagically."- Bimbola Carrol, Founder, Visit Sierra Leone

These two-dozen examples are only a sampling of the many ways forms are used by businesses around the world. You can make a form to collect, automate, and organize almost any type of data you want—just break down your need into parts, put them together in a form, and then use Zapier to connect with the apps where you need to take action.

You'll get a tool that's specialized just for your needs, without spending the time or money to build a custom hand-coded solution. Heck, you might even have fun building your own form-powered tools!


Now that we've explored the best form apps, hidden form features you should be using, and ways to automate your forms, it's time to move on into the world of surveys. Forms are great for gathering all types of data, but if you want to know what your audience is thinking and get their opinions on what your company should do next, you'll want a survey.

Surveys can be confusing, though, so in Chapter 6 you'll find a guide to the best ways to build a survey, the question types to use, and the common survey pitfalls to avoid. You'll then be ready in Chapter 7 to find the perfect survey app and integrate your survey builder into your workflow.

Go to Chapter 6!

Written by Zapier Marketer Matthew Guay.

Image Credits: Crane photo by Pedro Moura Pinheiro via Flickr.

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8 Overlooked but Powerful Form Features

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Surveys 101: A Simple Guide to Asking Effective Questions

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