Be less busy – Zapier success story

02 Sep 2014
| Last update: 28 May 2020


Another day at the office, another day full of tasks, which you need to juggle with. Well, not anymore. Zapier is here to the rescue! It is a company that was born so that computers should do more work, and not we, humans. I totally agree with that! We use so many web apps nowadays that it’s hard to keep up with them.

What is its story?

Why did I choose to write about Zapier? Because the company is actually a success story. It was born at a Startup Weekend in 2011. That being said, I encourage you to go to a startup weekend, and work for the dream you have. In an interview, Wade Foster, the founder, said that he saw an opportunity when he heard there was a startup weekend going on in Columbia, Missouri. He had the idea of an API mixer before the event. He presented his idea to a friend, and his friend pitched the idea at the startup weekend, and surprisingly, his idea was the chosen one. After that, they both started working 40 hours a week at the product, aside from their everyday jobs.

In march 2012, they applied for a Y Combinator. At that point, they already had 1000 clients, people that actually paid to use their product.

How does Zapier work?

Let’s face it: not everyone knows how to code, or wants to. Zapier solved the problem of connecting over 250 web apps. A “Zap”, as they call it, “is a link between two apps”, and it consists of a trigger and an action. I will give you an example from their website. Let’s say that you want to receive a SMS every time you get an email. The first part is the action, and the second one is the trigger. You can turn the Zap on and off, as needed.

Automation web tools are becoming more and more popular, since our workflow keeps increasing. To give you an example of what I’m talking about, I will tell you how Zapier saved Kelly Hodgkins a crazy amount of time. She needed an efficient way to move content from some Gmail emails to Google spreadsheets. After hours of research, Kelly found the online tool that helped her do the work she needed, in a matter of minutes.

Kelly also pointed out that Zapier has a great advantage over his competitor, IFTTT, and that is its granular controls. What’s great about that, is that “not only can you link two apps, you can set parameters for the trigger and customize the resulting actions”. Here is a more detailed example on how granular controls make it a powerful tool:

“I use Zapier with an RSS feed and Google Spreadsheets for invoicing. I can pick an incoming RSS feed as a trigger and configure my name as a search criteria. It identifies posts with my name and then allows me to pick what data I want to save as an action — in this case, I send just the date, post title and the link to a Google Spreadsheet. At the end of a month, all my posts are listed by date and ready to be sent off with an invoice.”

Customer acquisition through blogging


Zapier’s blog was definitely not one of the main customer acquisition channels. In June 2013, Wade decided to change that. His main goal was to “build a sustainable readership” that will keep people coming back for more. Their blog consisted of some posts, but they had a small readership. However, they were writing articles for Hacker News, on which they had quite an active readership, which helped them get some traffic on the blog. The problem was that immediately after the posts disappeared from the homepage, the traffic was gone too.

I got in touch with Wade Foster, and asked him if the content they created for the blog turned out to be a success. The answer was positive. They’ve “certainly done a lot better in 2014 with the blog than in 2013“. What was the key to its success? The fact that they write the content for their existing user base, and that they also talk to them. Influencers were also an important part of their strategy, because they helped with sharing the articles, so that they reach out to as many people as possible.

Writing content is not easy

If you decided that your company needs to create content, so that it does better at engaging customers or to help with customer acquisition, bare in mind that you need to create a strategy specifically designed to meet that specific goal. Success will not come overnight, so be patient, and consistent.

Zapier shows us, content strategists, that creating quality content for a company will bring only benefits, and in the long run, too. What success stories about companies that used content to attract new customers do you know? Share them in the comments.