CRM #4 Build your first automation

Triggers & Actions

A trigger is what initiates the automation. An action performs a task like sending an email.

Trigger: “When Bob books his tour…”

Action: “…send me an email reminding me”

There are two free services we will consider when Automating our CRM.

  1. Airtable’s Built-in Automations
  2. Zapier

You may be familiar with others. As of June ’21 I can say that at least for the free tiers IFTTT is very limited, & Integromat is not intuitive

Zapier AKA The Big Guns (Use only when necessary)

This info is relevant to the FREE tiers, as of June ’21.

Zapier – More integrations

Zapier offers 100 tasks per month, and max 5 different automations can be enable at a time. These are “single-step zaps”, meaning the automation perform one action. That action may be rather complex, especially when paired with airtable. For example “Update Record (in Airtable)” could update 20 different pieces of data associate with that record

Airtable – Allows Multiple steps

Airtable is more generous with their free tier. While they also offer just 100 automations per month, they do NOT limit the actions steps. So “When Bob books his tour, put it on the calendar, and send him a reminder, and send me a reminder” is possible with one automation in Airtable. It would require 3 (of the 5 allowed) on Zapier.

Our rule of thumb: Try to build the automation in Airtable, and only resort to Zapier when necessary.

Let’s build one already!

Let’s start with the first one from the last post. Bob books his tour, and we want to be prompted to update the CRM.

For bookings, you may already be using a software like Calendly, or Google Calendar. Those can integrate here. For this tutorial, we’ll use Airtable as the booking calendar.

Imagine Bob just booked his tour for 7/1/21. We manually update our Kanban, moving Bob’s Family to the next stage. (If you’re wondering if this step can also be automated, the answer is always going to be yes. But we have to start somewhere here.)

The next step is to notify the director to send an email.

In the top right corner click “Automations” and then click “New Automation”

Let’s call it “When Family Books Tour, Remind Director…”

Choose trigger type “When a record matches conditions” We’ll use this most often

See the picture for additional setup details

Run a test to make sure Airtable see’s Bob’s Family as matching the conditions

Add action – Send Email Here you will run into one of Airtable’s Free Tier limitations. “On your billing plan, you may only email collaborators with verified emails”. There are workarounds, including using Zapier. For this example use the email that you used to sign up for Airtable.

See the Picture for other details you might add

Switch it on, and test it!

OMG that was complicated. All this so Airtable could send me an email??

Its an example! Imagine someone else is inputting the data, or that it’s received from Calendly. Imagine 5 people need to receive different emails. Or that you need to automate around the Date.

Let’s add a date field and input the date Bob chose for his family’s tour. Again, this date could be added to Airtable automatically from Calendly, for example. Or we could send Bob a “Form” from Airtable, avoiding other services entirely. We’ll do it manually in this example.

Now let’s make sure the date is part of the email we receive. Using the blue “+” button, insert that date into the message.

In this step, we are simply adding the date to the message of the email. But we could have used the date as part of the trigger as well… Stay tuned

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