A Step-by-Step Guide to Building Your First No-Code Zapier Automation — Part 2

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Last week, I introduced the concept of systematizing your workflows and identifying which task to automate first. If you missed it, you can check it out here.

Today I'll be addressing Christine's concerns and her automation challenges. 

I'll walk you through the process of building a Zapier automation and use Christine's swipe file workflow as an example. 

By the end, I hope you'll clearly understand how to prep your automation, build a Zap, and get started automating simple repetitive tasks!

Recap: Swipe File Automation – Write your "outline."

Christine's current (manual) process looks like this:

  1. When she receives an email in Gmail and wants to add it to her swipe file collection (in Airtable), she adds the "swipe file" label to the email. 
  2. Every Sunday, she reviews the emails in her swipe file folder and manually adds them to her Airtable Database. This process takes her about 30-45 minutes. 

If we use our Automation Receipt, "When X happens, then do Y," then this is what we come up with:

When a new email is labeled "Swipe File" (Gmail), add the email to Airtable.

Review Zapier’s App Ecosystem and Integrations

Note: There are a few ways to automate this—for the sake of this tutorial and to keep it simple, I will cover the alternative methods in a future tutorial.

Getting familiar with automation and the tools available will help you develop the skill of finding the easiest and most effective ways of streamlining your workflows. 

Find the Triggers/Actions of your favorite apps in Zapier.

Hopefully, you're now familiar with the difference between triggers and actions in Zapier. You should be aware that each app has its own triggers and actions. Check out this Scribe for more information on determining what triggers/actions your favorite apps offer.

Supported Zapier Triggers and Actions (Template Included)

Zapier supports over 5K+ apps and tracking which apps support which triggers and actions can be challenging. That's why I've included this template to help you keep track of your supported triggers and actions. 

Use this spreadsheet to note the app(s) triggers and actions, as I've listed in the example.

Note: The Zapier plan you have affects your Triggers. (Check out Zapier’s pricing)

If your apps don't have the proper trigger/action you need or aren't listed, I'd recommend checking out if they have an open API or webhook. I will cover this in a future tutorial, but feel free to message me if you run into this issue.

Create a list of data points.

Note: Typically, you don’t need to do these steps if you’re building a simple automation like the one we’re using in this example. I usually only do this when building multi-step automations (ones involving more than one step/action event). But, I figured it’ll help you better understand all that’s involved using simpler automation.  

Before building your automation, having a list of data points is important so your data is transferred across different apps accurately and without bugs.  

You can read more about the different field types in Zapier here.

Why is this important?

Whenever you "map" a specific piece of data, meaning you tie it from one app to another, it must match the data type (field type). 

Below are the different data points Christine is going to need.

We’ll start with Gmail first.

Subject line: She uses as the Title in her swipe file database 

Body: As the Content 

Link: Email URL

Attachments: (If any) 

To help keep her database organized she also includes the source and category

Example Airtable database:

[Template] B2L - Make a Copy Table 1 - Airtable 2023-02-15 at 8.04.27 PM

Data Points: 

You can see how I match all of these data points from Gmail to Airtable here (this is the final step in this particular automation). 

Remember that the names may change depending on the app(s) you use, but the rules remain the same. 

Next, take out a pen and paper and write your own Trigger and Action steps, similar to what I've done below. Make sure the Trigger/Action you choose is allowed in Zapier. Use the spreadsheet I shared with you to help you with this step.

  1. [TRIGGER] When a new email (in Gmail) is tagged with the "Swipe File" label
  2. [ACTION] Then add the email to my Airtable Database

Once it's written down, then it's time to head back to Zapier and start building your automation. 

Next, we'd typically use a flow chart diagram to map out our automation workflow. Do I always create one? Personally, only if it's a complex workflow involving many steps. 

Log into Zapier and follow the steps in the Scribe I've created. You'll be able to confirm whether Zapier offers a native integration. 

Creating our Swipe File Automation in Zapier

  1. [TRIGGER] When a new email (in Gmail) is tagged with the "Swipe File" label

Here we set up our trigger by selecting the label/mailbox we want our Zap to monitor.

  1. [ACTION] Then add the email to my Airtable Database

Here we map our data points:

Send labeled swipe file emails to Airtable Zapier 2023-02-15 at 7.51.37 PM

Click “Test action” to run a test and ensure it works properly

Send labeled swipe file emails to Airtable Zapier 2023-02-15 at 8.02.15 PM

And there you have it!

You can duplicate the Zap template yourself and try it out.

This wraps up part 2! Next week, I’ll be covering Zapier alternatives, calculating automation ROI, and wrapping up this series!

If you’d like me to cover a topic, please let me know by sending me an email!