Scrappy Tutorials For Small Businesses

The Total Beginner's Guide to Using Zapier

It's Easier Than You Think

Zapier is an amazing tool that gives you a scrappy way to connect the apps you already use and easily automate different parts of your business. Think of it like a human translator. If you have one friend that only speaks French, and another that only speaks Portuguese, then Zapier is a person that knows how to speak both languages, and can stand between the two relaying messages back and forth in the language they each understands. Zapier knows how to connect hundreds of different apps that you already use in ways that are only limited by your imagination.

Zapier allows you to do things that you would have had to hire a software engineer to do only a few years ago. It's incredibly powerful once you get the hang of it, and it's easier than you think!

We're going to build a simple app (called a "Zap" in the Zapier world) that sends you a text message when someone fills out a Google Form. All this can be done for free, without any coding or technical expertise and we'll walk you through every step. By the end of this quick 30-minute guide, you'll feel comfortable enough with Zapier to start experimenting and building on your own!

Here's our imaginary scenario: We own a pool service company that has recently won a contest to be featured in a local magazine. We want to take advantage of this free publicity by offering a 25% discount to anyone who fills out a form online. So how do we go from magazine to online leads without any help from a web guru? Easy! We simply set up a Google Form and then use Zapier to immediately text, call, or email us as soon as someone fills it out.

Step 1: Create a Google Form

Go to Google Forms (log in or sign up if needed -- it's free), and create a new form:

You can pick one of the templates if you'd like, or start with a blank form. For our example, we'll go with a basic, blank form.

Next, give your form a title. People will see this, so name it well. In our example below, we gave our form the title of "Get Your 25% Off Pool Service Coupon". Next, and add the details for what you want your visitors to fill out. You can select what type of answer you want, such as text or a checkbox (see #1 in the screenshot below). Then add a description for what you are asking for (see #2, or "Your Name" in the example below). You can add as many questions as you want by clicking on the "+" button (#3 in the image below).

There is also an option to make each question required, so make sure you select that as well.

Once you are happy with how your form works, you're ready to move to the next step! Click on the "Send" button (#1, below) and then you'll see a pop up with the details of how to share your form.

Click on #2 (the link icon) to see a link that you can share (#3) with the magazine publisher (in our imaginary scenario). You can click on the "Copy" (#4) button to copy it to your clipboard.

But wait! How are people going to use that big ugly link from a paper magazine? In our case, that link is https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScLg8tt46SRYsDcOO8dmIMV2R5TeK1zVT3SA4vCf8Jhj2oivA/viewform?usp=sf_link. There is no way someone is going to type that in, so we need to make it shorter.

You can take that big long link and go to TinyURL, where you can turn it into a smaller one that is much easier to type in. You can even customize your link to make it easier to remember. In our case, we customized it to be https://tinyurl.com/pool-coupon (give it a try -- it really works!). Now you have a link that you can really send to the magazine publisher that people can remember and type in.

Step 2: Sign Up for Zapier

Signing up with Zapier is as easy as any other website. Head over to Zapier.com and either click on the "Sign Up With Google" (or Facebook, or Microsoft), or enter your email and name. Don't worry about entering your "work email" (as it suggests) -- a Gmail or personal address will work just fine. Once you do, you'll be taken to the "Welcome" page.

Don't worry about what everything means on this page. We'll walk you through the important parts. The important terms to know are:

Zap: Think of zaps as mini programs that you piece together like legos. For example, a Google form that sends you a text message is a "zap". Or, for example, you could create a Zap to automatically add a Zoom call link on every outgoing calendar invite. Your imagination is the limit!

Workflow: A workflow is the set of instructions for how your Zap should work. For example, when a new Google Form entry is submitted (from Step 1, above), our workflow will tell Zapier to send us a text message. Zaps can contain multiple steps (it could also send us an email, for example), and the workflow defines how that should work.

Transfers (from the menu on the left): You can ignore this for now, but a transfer is a way to move a bunch of data from one system into another. For example, if you had a list of leads in a Google Sheet (or Excel) and wanted to import those into your CRM all at once, you could do that by setting up a Transfer. You just tell Zapier "For each row in this spreadsheet, do _______".

My Apps (from the menu on the left): Apps are simply other accounts (like Gmail, Zoom, Facebook, etc) that you give Zapier permission to work with when you're setting up your Workflows and Zaps.

That's really all you need to know for now! You create Zaps by creating instructions (called "Workflows") and those Zaps run all by themselves as soon as you turn them on!

Step 3: Connect Your Google Account to Zapier

Google won't let Zapier know that someone has submitted their information without your permission, so we're going to tell Google that it's ok to do that.

Click on the "My Apps" button in the left menu (#1, below), so that you see the following screen and click on "Add Connection" (#2, below):

Then search for "Google Forms" (#1, below) and click on the Google Forms search result (#2, below):

You'll see a window pop up that will ask you for permission to connect your Google Account to Zapier. You may need to sign in to Google if you're not already logged in, or you might need to select which Google account you want to use if you have more than one. Once you're logged in, you should see this in the window that popped up:

Click on the "Allow" button to finish. After that, you should see that something similar to the following (my personal email has been covered up, but you should see yours):

Step 4: Connect Your Phone Number

Before Zapier can send you any text messages when someone fills out the form, it wants to make sure that you actually own your phone number (because they wouldn't want us spamming other people).

This will be very similar to Step 3 (above). Click on "My Apps" (#1, below), then "Add Connection" (#2, below), then search for "SMS" in the box that pops up (#3, below), and finally click on "SMS by Zapier" (#4, below)

You'll see a window pop up, which will ask you for your phone number. Enter your phone number (#1, below) and select SMS in the dropdown (#2, below). Then click on the "Send PIN" button (#3, below). Once you do, Zapier will send you a text message with a confirmation code that you must enter into the text field that appears where the "Send PIN" button was. Once you have done that, click on the "Yes, Continue" button.

Once you have followed these steps, you should see the following:

You only have to do these steps once. You can now set up as many Zaps as you want using text messages ("SMS") and Google Forms. Over time, you'll end up with dozens of connections like these that you can use to build all sorts of interesting things.

Now that the basics are taken care of, on to the fun part!

Step 5: Create Your First Zap!

Click on "Zaps" in the menu on the left (#1, below), then "Create Zap" (#2, below) to start building your first Zap:

Give your Zap a name (for example, "Text Me New Leads" (#1, below), then search for Google Forms in the Trigger search box (#2, below). A "Trigger" is what causes your Zap to run. In our example, we want it to run every time someone submits their information on our Google Form, so our Trigger is Google Forms. Select the "Google Forms" search result (#3, below) to continue.

Important: Now, before you continue, go to the Google Form you created and submit a test entry. This is important because Zapier will use the first entry from your form as an example in order to make sure everything is working. If your form doesn't have any entries yet, it won't have anything to show you.

Select "New Response In Spreadsheet" in the dropdown (#1, below), then click the "Continue" button (#2, below). This means that your Zap will run automatically when a new entry is added to the spreadsheet.

But wait! We have a Form, not a Spreadsheet. Why does it say "Spreadsheet"?

The answer is that when someone fills out a Google Form, a row is actually added to a spreadsheet in your Google account. For example, if you go to the Google Form you created, you would be able to see the responses you've received so far in the "Responses" tab (#1, below). #2 (below) shows you a list of responses for each question. If you click on the spreadsheet icon (#3, below), Google will create a spreadsheet where all the answers will be stored as well. This spreadsheet is what Zapier is actually paying attention to... but the trick is it won't exist until you click on that icon.

Click on the spreadsheet icon (#1, below), which will cause a box to pop up asking if you want to create a new spreadsheet with the answers to your Google Form. Select "Create New Spreadsheet" and give it a different name if you want (#2, below). Finally, click on the "Create" button (#3, below).

This step is important, because if you skip it you won't see your spreadsheet in a future step.

Next, you'll be asked to select which account you want Zapier to use for this Zap (#1, below). You probably only have one (the one you just connected to in Step 3, above), so select that and click on the "Continue" button (#2, below).

The next step asks you to confirm which spreadsheet Zapier should be watching for new entries. Select your "25% Off Coupon" spreadsheet (or whatever you named it) like in #1, below. Then select which worksheet Zapier should be looking at in your spreadsheet. You probably only have one worksheet (tab) in your spreadsheet, so just select it (#2, below) and click on the "Continue" button (#3, below).

The last step in setting up this Trigger is to test it and make sure Zapier can connect to your Google Form results (your spreadsheet). Click on the big blue "Test" button, and you should see something similar to the screenshot below (#1). Click on the big blue "Continue" button to go to move on (#2, below).

Of course, it should show whatever you entered as your test Google Form submission earlier.

Last Step: Set Up Your Action

Now that you have your Trigger set up, you can set up what happens when the Trigger is... triggered. In our example, that will be when someone fills out our coupon form on Google Forms from our link.

We're going to set up an Action that sends us a text message, so that we can give our new lead a call right away, no matter where we are.

Search for "SMS" (#1, below) and select "SMS by Zapier" (#2, below) in the search results.

On the next screen, select "Send SMS" (#1, below) as the Action Event, then click the continue button (#2, below)

Next, select the phone number you confirmed in Step 4, above (#1, below) and click on the "Continue" button (#2, below).

Now this is the cool part: You can now specify exactly how you want that text message to look.

First, select the phone number (owned by Zapier) that you want text messages to come from. Since that doesn't really matter to us, we'll go with "Random" (#1, below).

In the "Message" box (#2, below), type in what you want your text message to say. In this example, I literally typed in "You Have a New Lead! ๐ŸŽ‰". You can also add placeholders for the information that is submitted. In this example, I typed in "Phone: " in the Message box, then clicked on "1. Your Phone Number" in the "Insert Data..." dropdown (#3, below). That inserted a little placeholder (#4, below), so I could see where that text would show up. It also shows sample data that it pulled from your first example response on your Google Form, but that will be replaced with the real information your future leads will submit.

Once you are happy with your text message template, click on the big blue "Continue" button. Don't worry about getting it perfect the first time. Zapier will let you test your template and fix it if you need to.

On the next screen (below), you'll see an example of how your text message will look (#1), and two options, "Test & Review" or "Test & Continue". If you want to see how it looks before you continue, then click on "Test & Review" (#2).

If everything was set up correctly, you should receive an actual text message!

If you're happy with the result, you can turn on (enable) your Zap (#1, below) and you're all done! If you want to make changes, you can simply go back a step (#2, below) and test it until you're happy.

Congratulations!

You now have a working text message notification system, without needing anyone to write a single line of code! Even better, it didn't cost you a thing!

Just imagine all the things you can do, by simply connecting the apps you already use.

Extra Credit

You don't have to stop with text messages. If you go back to your new Zap, you can click on the "+" button (see below) and add additional Actions for when Your Trigger occurs. For extra credit, try adding an email notification as well!

Have Fun! ๐ŸŽ‰

As small business owners, we're always looking for scrappy, money-saving solutions to our problems, and Zapier is one easy and extremely flexible way to do that.

If you've found this guide useful, please share it and sign up for email updates about the upcoming launch of Super Simple CRM! We think you'll find it just as useful, and you'll be able to use it with Zapier soon as well!


Super Simple CRM is not affiliated with Zapier. We just think it's amazing and want to help small businesses like yours take advantage of it!

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