Before you start reading, here’s a quick testimonial from GrowthTurn’s founder, Marcin Chirowski:
In this Zapier Automation Case Study, you’ll learn how GrowthTurn, an SEO agency focused on SaaS used Zapier and other no-code tools to:
- Save time on client onboarding for their new offer of productized services.
- Improve their customer communication, providing their clients with better customer service
- Get control over their customer data and create a central dashboard for lead and customer management
So, let’s jump right into it!
First, let’s look at the basics – the service, the client, and the problem.
Note: If you prefer a video version, here’s a quick overview of the Zaps created in this case study. However, the video does not go as in-depth into Zaps or other workflows and deliverables as what’s written here – so I encourage you to check out both.
Main Service: Zapier Automation
Client: GrowthTurn, an agency offering productized SEO services for SaaS businesses.
Project: Automating Client Onboarding and Communication for their Growth Packages – a productized SEO service.
The Problem: Recently, GrowthTurn started offering productized SEO services called “Growth Projects”. Unfortunately, the team is using different tools for project management, payment processing, and communication.
As a result, onboarding new clients takes a significant amount of time.
On top of that, because clients don’t send the required project details right away, the team has to waste time on sending reminders and collecting that data at a later date.
If you look at the step-by-step process, any time a client buys one of GrowthTurn productized services, the team needs to manually do the following things:
- Let the team know about a new client.
- Create a task in the PM tool, and assign it to the right person to start working on it.
- Copy and paste client data from their payment processor (SPP) to their PM tool (ClickUp).
- Once the client submits the intake form, move that information over to the project management system. It’s important to note that the client doesn’t have to submit the form right away.
- Remind the client about the intake form, if they don’t submit it.
- Reach out to the client once the project timeline/delivery date has been estimated.
- Notify the client any time there’s a change to the timeline.
- Notify the client once the milestone of each project is completed.
- Ask the client for feedback and a Clutch review once the project is done.
- Remind the client about the review/testimonial request in case they missed it.
- Send two upsell emails offering the client a month-to-month SEO service.
All of the above have to be done manually for each of their 14 services. That’s 154 tasks if you were to perform them once per service. That’s not counting tasks they don’t even perform due to lack of time, such as adding all that data to a central data hub.
Not to mention that some tasks, such as sending email reminders or follow-ups, are made up of more than one step.
It’s easy to see how the time spent on repetitive tasks adds up to entire days wasted on things that can be automated.
The goal of this project was to create a Zapier automation system that will:
- Cut down the time spent on repetitive client onboarding and communication tasks.
- Unify customer experience across all 14 Growth Packages.
- Help the team collect customer data in a single data hub and CRM. Thanks to that, the team can track lead and client progress easily (and even trigger personalized automation workflows)
- Reduce the time the team spends on non-SEO tasks to the absolute minimum.
Tools: Zapier (automation workflow), ClickUp (project management, automated email notifications), Gmail, Slack (team & client communication), Airtable (data hub a.k.a the Single Source of Truth) Service Provider Pro (payment processing, data collecting)
For this service, we didn’t automate any technical SEO work. Rather, we focused entirely on client onboarding and communication.
The implementation was split into the following 7 steps:
1. Consultation with the Client
First, we met with the client to discuss their client onboarding and delivery process.
Whenever someone buys one of the Packages, their data gets added to SPP. The problem is, that’s not where the work happens. At the moment the GrowthTurn team is using ClickUp as their main project management tool. And, up until now, the team had to manually move all data between SPP and ClickUp.
On top of that, the PM had to keep an eye on SPP, and manually move any input from the client to the right task.
That part was especially problematic because not all clients fill in the intake forms right after they make an order. In fact, most of them don’t.
We also discussed their communication issues. We decided to focus on several key “touch points” present in every project.
Lastly, we discussed getting client feedback. We then decided to create automated emails for collecting Clutch reviews.
2. Setting Up Zap #1 – A New Order in Service Provider Pro
Because SPP lacks direct integration with ClickUp, a Zapier automation was needed.
But, this is where we came across the first problem. With 14 different services and ClickUp templates, we’d need 14 different Zaps to make things work.
Luckily, that’s where Zapier’s lookup tables come in handy.
By mapping the SPP services to their respective ClickUp task IDs, we were able to automate the process for all 14 services with just two Zaps:
- A Zap that gets triggered whenever a new order is happening.
- A Zap that gets triggered when the client updates order data.
Let’s look at the first Zap which is made up of 20 steps. The steps are designed to achieve the following:
- The first step is a trigger. It starts the entire automation whenever someone orders a new Growth Project package.
- The second step is trying to find the client in Airtable. If the record does not exist yet, Zapier will create it in the Airtable CRM table.
- The third step is a lookup table needed for mapping SPP services to ClickUp templates.
- In the next two steps, we create a new ClickUp task (from a template) and then update it with client data.
- Then, we create a record in another Airtable table called Transaction Log.
- After that, we send a Slack message to the right channel.
- Lastly, we wait for a few days to send a reminder to the client in case they don’t fill in the intake form. There are three 3-day delays, between which we send two emails. We use Airtable, Zapier Filter, and Gmail steps in between those delays (more on that later).
- If the client fails to submit the form, an automated comment gets added to the ClickUp task. In the comment, we ask the team to try to reach out manually.
This is what the entire flow looks like in Zapier:
Now, let’s break down the entire Zap and look at each step individually.
The first step is pretty straightforward – someone makes an order and the Zap gets triggered:
In the second step, we look for a record in our Airtable CRM. If the record already exists, we do nothing. But if it doesn’t, we ask Zapier to create a new one:
The third step is where the magic happens.
Basically, the lookup table consists of all 14 SPP Growth Package IDs and their respective task IDs in ClickUp:
Why do we need a lookup table, and can’t just search the template using the package name?
Unfortunately, ClickUp won’t find a template by its name alone. Because we’re creating a task from a template, we need to give ClickUp a task ID.
In step #4, we take that ClickUp task ID and create a ClickUp task. In step #5, we update that task with SPP data.
For better project management, we pull the following data from SPP (and move it to ClickUp):
- Client company name
- Client email
- Client’s first name & last name
- Service name
- Invoice ID
Zapier automation then adds them to the right custom fields in ClickUp:
Note: The “Assignee” field is not a part of this automation workflow.
Why do we need the above client info?
- Information such as client name, email, and company name is used to personalize automated communication (more on that later).
- Invoice ID serves as a unique identifier of the task in another step. Each service task is a separate transaction and comes with a unique invoice ID.
That unique invoice ID also gets sent to Airtable, to create a record in the Transaction Log table:
You may be surprised why we don’t pull any website information – after all, it’s an SEO service. However, all the data required to deliver a particular service gets delivered in the second Zap.
Once the above gets added to ClickUp, Zapier sends a message to the Growth Packages Slack channel.
We then wait for the client to fill in the intake form.
But, what happens if they don’t do that?
After three days, they get an Email, reminding them to submit the form. The same happens if the form is still not submitted after another three days.
Why three days? SPP has built-in automation to send an email after 24 hours. Unfortunately, there’s no way to extend that time window.
So, in total, the client gets three reminders. One within 24 hours, two days after that, and then in the next three days.
Also, unlike standard notifications, these two emails are branded and built with HTML. That’s because we’re asking the client to take action and provide data. A branded email increases trust and, as a result, the chance that they’ll take action.
Here’s what this part of the workflow looks like in Zapier:
Also, here’s a filter that we use to prevent Zapier from sending emails to people who:
- Have already submitted the form
- Don’t need to send them (the Growth Project does not require it).
Naturally – these Airtable tags are fully automated too – more on that in a second.
Lastly, if, after another three days, there’s still no “Uploaded” tag in Airtable, the task gets flagged. Zapier then posts an automated comment, asking the team to reach out to the client. Here’s that part of the workflow:
And here’s what the actual comment looks like:
Of course, by now, you might be wondering the following:
- What if a task doesn’t have an intake form? For example, a strategy call that requires 1-on-1 work and a customized approach?
- And how do we know if the client has submitted the form?
That’s what you’ll see in Zap #2 and Zap #3 respectively 🙂
3. Setting Up Zap #2 – Excluding Tasks That Don’t Need Intake Forms
This Zap is made up of just three steps and runs simultaneously to Zap #1. Its goal is to mark transactions (remember that each transaction is a separate Growth Project):
The Zap is triggered by a new Airtable record in the transaction log table (step #6 in the first Zap). It then checks a filter that lists Growth Projects that don’t need an intake form.
If the Growth Project name found in Airtable is one from the list, it then proceeds to step #3. In this step, we set the “Form Uploaded” value to “Not Required”:
This is then used in Zap #1 for verifying if it should send email reminders.
In theory, we could add this filter to the first Zap right from the start. However, this could make the entire Zap way too complicated.
The goal isn’t just to automate things (although that’s critical). We also want to make things clear and easy to update for the final user.
4. Setting Up Zap #3 – Collecting Growth Project Details
In the third Zap, we collect the details needed to proceed with the project. This data is collected via an intake form in Service Provider Pro.
The Zap that’s set to process that intake form is made up of 11 steps – including a Loop:
- The first step is triggered whenever order data is submitted. Note that the data can only be submitted once, so there’s no risk of duplicate submissions.
- The second step delays the execution for two minutes. This is to prevent a form that gets submitted too fast from breaking the Zap. This could happen if Zap #1 doesn’t create a ClickUp task before the client submits the form.
- In steps #3 and #4, Zapier uses invoice ID to find the Project in ClickUp and Airtable respectively.
- The next step is a Lookup table that maps forms to an SPP service name.
- In the 6th step, we let the team know the intake form has been submitted.
- In the step that follows, we update the “Form Uploaded” value in Airtable so that the Project won’t trigger email reminders seen in Zap #1.
- The last four tasks are in a loop that goes over each intake form. It then adds a comment with the intake form data to a ClickUp task.
This is what the entire workflow in this Zap looks like:
Now, let’s dive a little bit deeper into some of the steps in this Zapier automation.
Steps #1 to #4 are pretty straightforward. We trigger the Zap, delay its execution, and then look for records which we then update in some of the upcoming steps.
But step #5 – a lookup table – is where the heavy lifting starts to happen.
In the lookup table, we map each service name to the intake form names (and their data).
This had to be done because not all tasks use the same intake forms. Some even accept files!
The table helps ensure that Zapier looks for the right intake forms in the task data it receives:
It’s important to note that some tasks have more than one intake form element. That’s why, in steps 8 to 11, we loop over the data from the table. If there’s just one form – the loop finishes after the first run. But, if there are four, the loop will run four times.
In each loop, the text will be converted to line items (this is what the additional comma is for).
Then, Zapier converts line items back to the text, but with a different separator. That way, we can put each row of submitted data as a separate line in a comment without any visible separators.
The above steps allow the Zap to send each form as a separate comment. This keeps the data clear and easy to navigate. Here’s a sample comment for a “Top 10 pages” intake form:
So far, we used three Zaps to collect all the data.
But, we also want to automate client communication. For that, we used a combination of ClickUp and Zapier automation. Let’s dive right into them – starting with the former!
5. Setting Up ClickUp Automated Client Notifications
In this step, we set an automation system inside ClickUp that sends an email notification whenever:
- A new deadline is set.
- There’s a change in the timeline/deadline.
- The work on their Growth Project begins.
- The work hits a 50% milestone.
- The work hits a 90% milestone.
- The work is undergoing internal review.
For the first two workflows, we use a Deadline custom field (date type) as the trigger.
Whenever someone adds or changes the custom field value, ClickUp sends an email letting the client know about the change.
And here is what the email looks like:
Similarly, we use task statuses to let the client know about the start (or the progress) of their task:
And this is what the setup for one of the steps in this automation flow looks like:
The above automation sends an email whenever the GrowthTurn team starts working on the Growth Project.
And here are all ClickUp automation tasks used in this stage:
A quick note regarding the triggers. In ClickUp, you can use either statuses or custom fields to trigger an automation workflow. It’s up to you which one you choose. Most of the time, the choice will depend on how you manage your projects and tasks.
And why did we use ClickUp instead of setting everything up in Zapier? ClickUp offers 10,000 automation runs per month in the core and pro plans. The drawback is, you can’t brand the emails.
But, because these are simple notifications, we decided there’s no need to brand them. After all, you don’t ask for client data and aren’t selling anything.
All you want is to tell your client you haven’t forgotten about them. This helps you look more professional and strengthens your relationship with the client.
It also creates an excellent customer experience and shows that you value your client’s time and trust.
And the best is – once everything is set up, you don’t have to spend a single minute to achieve all that!
6. Setting Up Zap #4 – Changing Project Status to “Done”
Before we get to more client-facing automation, let’s quickly jump into Zap #4. This three-step Zap is triggered whenever the task is set to “Done”.
It doesn’t send any notifications to the client – but it lets us add the right value to our Airtable transaction log:
The Zap is super simple. Its main goal is to help GrowthTurn keep their transaction log up-to-date. That updated Airtable data is then used as one of the filters in Zap #5.
7. Setting Up Zap #5 – Getting Client Reviews
Now that the work is done, it’s time to start collecting customer reviews. To do that, we’re going to use another Zapier automation that’s sending emails asking clients for a review.
Of course, the team may not want to collect reviews for all Growth Projects.
To ensure that the Zap only asks the clients that GrowthTurn wants the reviews from, the Zap is triggered manually for each Growth Project.
To trigger the Zap, the team has to add the “request feedback” tag to the ClickUp task that they want the reviews for:
Then, Zapier will look for the task in Airtable to check whether it hasn’t already been marked as reviewed:
Here’s a sample list of projects in Airtable. As you can see, the first one is already reviewed and the second one has finished the workflow to no success. The next two projects would pass the filter:
Once the project passes the filter and Zapier sends an email, it then waits for 14 days. After that, it re-checks Airtable values. If the task hasn’t been marked as reviewed, it will send another email reminder.
To increase the chance that the client leaves the review, in the email, we:
- State WHY reviews are important and how they help GrowthTurn improve their service.
- Add direct links to the platform that we want to get the review from.
- Provide an incentive for leaving the review – in the GrowthTurn’s case, it’s a small discount for the next project.
- Thank the client for helping them improve GrowthTurn.
If, after another 14 days, the task is still not reviewed, Zapier will add the “Reach Out Manually” label inside Airtable.
Here’s what the entire review Workflow looks like:
This is the 5th and last of all Zaps that we used in this project. But, Zaps are not the only deliverables that the client has received.
Before we get to a list of deliverables, let’s take a quick look at some of the obstacles that we had to overcome in this project.
Key Obstacles and Challenges
When planning and setting up the automation, we’ve come across several challenges. Here are some of the key problems together with their solutions:
- There are 14 services in total, which means the setup had to be tested for all of them. Thanks to SPP’s test mode, testing could be performed in a real-life-like environment.
- SPP is a great payment processing tool. However, most team members don’t have access to it. It’s also not the best tool for triggering Zaps other than those related to processing payments. To give the team better control over their data, we turned Airtable into a central data dashboard.
- Some services come with unique intake forms that collect different data. Because of that, each intake form had to be manually pulled from SPP. It then had to be tested with real-life data.
- Sending data to ClickUp in the form of comments breaks data formatting. The use of loops allowed us to send each in-take form as a separate comment. This keeps the submitted information readable and easy to process.
- Not every Growth Project qualifies for a review. If a client has already reviewed another Project, it’s better not to ask them for another review right away. To prevent a situation where they still get the emails, the team has to trigger the review Zap manually.
Documentation and Other Deliverables
Every project comes with three key file types: an automation masterfile, a data flowchart, and a video review of the setup. When needed, the list of deliverables may include other positions.
Here, the GrowthTurn team received the following:
An Automation Masterfile
The main file listing and explaining every Zap in the automation. It helps the team understand how to use the Zaps, how to edit them, and what to look out for.
It also links to all the other deliverables, providing the team with easy access to all files.
A Data Flowchart
The flowchart explains how each automation moves data from the first to the last step. It also shows how the different Zaps are related to each other.
A document with all the emails used in this automation:
- Five Clickup notification emails.
- Two email reminders about the in-take form.
- Two emails asking the client to leave a review.
- Two bonus upsell emails (not used in the automation) upselling the month-month SEO package.
A Data Mapping Spreadsheet
The spreadsheet consists of two different sheets:
- In the first sheet, we map different SPP service order forms to their respective ClickUp task templates.
- In the second sheet, we list the intake forms used in each SPP service.
The Zaps connect several key business services. That’s why adding or removing existing services from the automation needs to be done with extra caution.
To help the team do that, the list of deliverables includes a special SOP outlining all the steps needed to do that.
Relevant Video Recordings
All documents and automation workflows are summarized with several short video recordings. Each video briefly explains one of the key elements of the automation setup.
Finally, we get the results that GrowthTurn achieved with this automation setup.
In general, the results can be split into three categories:
- Time savings
- User experience
- Data management
Let’s take a very quick look at each of those categories:
This is the most obvious benefit of this Zapier automation setup. It’s estimated that the team saves around 90% of the time required to collect client data. On top of that, Zapier automatically moves all that data to the right ClickUp task.
Additionally, the team doesn’t have to worry about reminding the client to send the data (should they forget). Only once the automated reminders fail does the team have to move in and send them manually.
In fact, the only tasks that the team has to focus on include:
- Collecting extracurricular data for projects that are not covered by Zapier
- Delivering a Growth Project report (although this also could be automated)
- Triggering a review workflow.
Unified Client Communication
Thanks to Zapier automation, all clients receive timely, personalized email notifications. These help clients up-to-date and inform them about important project changes. Automated email notifications include:
- A Notification whenever the task deadline or status is changed.
- An email reminder to submit the details necessary to start the Growth Project.
- A notification/reminder to submit a review once the Growth Project is completed.
Better Data Management
Thanks to Zapier automation, the team at GrowthTurn no longer has to jump between different tools to access their lead or client data. All Zaps send critical customer information to a secure database in Airtable.
This gives them a clear overview of all their clients and their progress in the lead or buying journey.
This also gives the team more control over their automation workflows. In fact, they can even use Airtable to trigger new Zaps.
Most importantly, they get complete control over one of the most precious resources of every modern business.
Now, the GrowthTurn team can work on automating other areas of their Growth Package service. The two key processes that are a priority:
- Reporting – sending branded reports with a summary of the project
- Upselling other services (especially their month-to-month SEO package)
Of course, there’s a lot more they could automate. Thanks to their new Airtable dashboard, they can also set new automations to trigger whenever they change specific values inside their CRM table. This allows them to create and trigger highly personalized automations that trigger only once clients reach a specific stage in their customer journey.
Of course, even with their current setup, they save a lot of time and money – and they savings quickly add up as they keep selling new services.
GrowthTurn’s example shows that with a few Zaps, you can almost completely automate one of the most important business processes.
While doing that, you can save money, time, and focus on things that really matter.
If you’d like to start saving time and get more control over your data (and business), let’s talk.
Visit this page to schedule a call or use the form below to shoot me a message. Let’s discuss your automation needs.
Hey, I’m Jacek. I’m the founder and Chief Automator at Clickleo.com
I’m on a mission to help you use automation to reclaim your time and achieve more in your business.
You can find out more about me – and why I started Clickleo – over on this page