Automation workflows give you the freedom to forget about mundane, repetitive tasks. They save you money and free up time you can spend focusing on more important things that cannot be automated.
The problem with Zapier (or any other automation) is that, unlike us humans, it can’t “comprehend” what it is doing. For example, if you tell Zapier to trigger a workflow whenever a lead comes in, it will trigger each time it does. After all, that’s what you asked it to do.
But what if you want Zapier to trigger only if it’s a completely new lead? Or only if they answer in a specific way to the screening question in the lead form? This is where Zapier Filters come in.
In this guide, I’ll dive deep into Zapier filters (also known as Filter by Zapier). You’ll learn how to set them up (and why you should do this), as well as you’ll see several sample Zapier filter ideas.
Understanding Zapier Filters
A Zapier filter is a built-in Zapier app that allows you to control the flow of your Zap. To do that, the step checks if the data passing through meets certain preset conditions. The conditions fall under four different categories:
- Boolean (True or False)
The filter can also check if the data exists (or not). Additionally, each of the conditions in the above categories can be categorized as either “positive” (for example, the text matches the condition) or “negative” (the text doesn’t match the condition).
When to Use Zapier Filters
Keep in mind that if your data doesn’t pass a filter, the Zap will stop. This means that, unlike Zapier Paths, Filters cannot be used to create logic and add multiple scenarios inside a Zap. When a Zap doesn’t pass a filter, it will be marked as “filtered”:
That’s why, filters are best used either at the beginning or end of your Zap. If you use them at the beginning, they can prevent the Zap from running entirely, if the data doesn’t meet certain conditions.
The upside of this is that if it’s the first step after the trigger, you won’t be charged any task for it. That’s because Zapier triggers are free-of-charge in Zapier, and a filter that fails doesn’t cost anything either.
Of course, the main prerequisite to using Zapier filters is a paid Zapier subscription. While technically they’re not a premium Zapier app, you need at least one step after a filter for the Zap to make sense. And multi-step Zaps are available in the Starter plan and above.
So, now that you know when to use Zapier filters (and how they work), let’s go over the different conditions in each of the aforementioned categories.
Filter by Zapier Text Conditions
Text conditions are the most popular conditions out there. Currently, there are 10 different conditions you can use to control the flow of your Zaps. Additionally, in brackets, I mention if the filter is positive or negative.
- (Text) contains a certain value (Positive). The value can be anywhere inside the text.
- (Text) does not contain a certain value (Negative).
- (Text) exactly matches a certain value (Positive). The text has to be identical to the value provided. This condition is case-sensitive.
- (Text) does not exactly match a certain value (Negative). This condition is case-sensitive.
- (Text) is in (Positive) – this checks if the text matches one of the provided values (see the explanation below).
- (Text) is not in (Negative) – this checks if the text does not exactly match one of the provided values.
- (Text) starts with a certain value (Positive). The value has to be at the beginning of the string of text.
- (Text) does not start with a certain value (Negative).
- (Text) ends with a certain value (Positive). The value has to be at the end of the string of text.
- (Text) does not end with a certain value (Negative).
As you can see, in general, the positive filters are the ones that “include” a certain value while the negative ones exclude it.
The same categorization can be applied to the other Zapier filter categories. But before we get to them, let’s take a quick look at the (Text) Is in filter.
The Zapier Filter Text Is In Condition
Unlike all the other condition, the Zapier filter text is in condition allows you to easily create filters that check a single data point against multiple variables – all that in a few seconds.
In a nutshell, it allows you to check input data against a set of conditions. So, instead of adding several different (Text) Exactly matches conditions:
You can add one Zapier Filter “(Text) Is in” condition and put all the values in a list:
Similarly to the above, the (Text) Is not in condition is a substitute to multiple (Text) Exactly matches conditions.
Now, let’s look at the Number Zapier Filter conditions.
Filter by Zapier Number Conditions
Compared with the text filters, the number filter has only two conditions to choose from – both are pretty straightforward:
- (Number) Greater than. This condition compares the input number against the given value. The Zap will continue if the input number is greater than the value.
- (Number) Less than. Same as above. But, the Zap will continue only if the number is less than.
The two conditions don’t really let you do much. On the other hand, if you want to perform math operations, you can always use the Zapier Formatter Numbers step, before sending it to the filter. But, there’s one step that would come in handy – checking for an equal number.
Similarly, make sure that you’re only using numeric values – the Zap doesn’t work with written forms (like “one” or “twenty-seven”).
How to Check for an Equal Number with Zapier Filter
Surprisingly, you can check if the number is greater or less than, but there’s no straightforward way to check for an exact number. Thankfully, there are two ways to go around this:
- Use the (Text) exactly matches the condition to compare the two numbers (Zapier will treat them as strings for this comparison). Here’s what it looks like (note that I tested the Zap here already):
- Use both the (Number) Greater than and (Number) Less than connected with an “And”. The problem with this, though, is that it will only work for integers (you can have an infinite number of floating numbers). Here’s what it would look like:
The first method is a more bulletproof one – so while it may seem counterintuitive to use a text step to filter numbers, it’s one of the many little Zapier limitations.
Filter by Zapier Date/Time Conditions
The third category is the date/time filters. There are three different conditions in this category:
- (Date/time) After. Checks if the input value is after a selected date or time.
- (Date/time) Before. Checks if the input value is before a selected date or time.
- (Date/time) Equals. Checks if the input value is equal to the selected date or time. It’s quite surprising they have it for dates but not for numbers).
Interestingly, the filter will look for both a date and a time – you can’t pick one or the other. You also have to use numbers – you can’t compare days of the week (use text conditions for that).
But, you can still compare a full timestamp to just a date – Zapier can compare some of the different date formats successfully.
In the following example, I compared a timestamp in a YYYY-MM-DD format with a DD-MM-YYYY value. As you can see, the output correctly states that 2023-06-21 is before 22-06-2023.
However, I recommend that you use the Zapier Formatter date/time step to format the dates and make sure they’re in the same format. This is especially if one of the dates is in the MM-DD-YYYY format or you plan to use the (Date/time) Equals condition.
In the case of the latter, if the input date comes with an entire timestamp, your condition needs to specify that timestamp too:
If it does not, the Zap will fail:
Note that you can always remove the Timestamp with the Formatter before you send the data to the filter!
Filter by Zapier Boolean (True or False) Conditions
The next category is a very simple boolean filter. The only two options check whether the input data is true or false:
- (Boolean) Is true
- (Boolean) Is false
Of course, Zapier is not able to analyze the contents of the input data and verify its logic – so you need to pass either a “true” or “false” value explicitly.
But, you can always use steps like a “Spreadsheet-style formula” of Zapier Formatter to output the right boolean value.
The Data Exists (Or Not)
Lastly, we get to the last category with two very straightforward conditions:
- Exists. This step checks whether you forward any data for a particular field before running the Zap.
- Does not exist. This step will run the Zap if there’s no data in a particular field.
Note that you may not be able to map this filter correctly if you don’t forward any data in the desired field first. The reason is, it may not be visible in Zapier if it’s an empty field. Some apps, such as Typeform, forward all fields – so mapping even empty fields is very simple:
As you can see, there’s no data provided with the price variable. And here’s a result of the Zap checking for an existing value:
Note that the data in the field doesn’t matter – what’s important is that there’s any data at all.
Now that we’ve reviewed the basics, let’s review two of the most common Zapier filter use cases.
Zapier Filters – Common Use Cases
Even though Zapier filters may, in some ways, feel inferior to Zapier Paths, there are many strong use cases for them. The majority of them, however, fall under one of two examples.
Decide Whether You Want to Run a Particular Zap at All
The first, and most obvious use case is to add a filter at the very beginning of your Zap. This allows you to decide if you want the workflow to run at all, potentially saving you a massive number of Zaps. As mentioned earlier, if the filter doesn’t pass – you don’t get charged with a single task.
An interesting real-life use case is a filter that lets you run the workflow only for a specific product or service. For example, let’s say you’re triggering a workflow with Stripe:
The filter then looks at Charge Metadata, checking if it exists and whether the text matches a specific ID. That ID is assigned only to that particular product or service:
Note that if you’re using the same workflow for several services, you can use the (Text) Is in condition. After all, the goal of automation is to simplify your work – so there’s no point in overcomplicating your workflows.
Advanced Flow Control with Multiple Zapier Filters
This technique involves using multiple filter steps in one Zap. You can use one after the other or have them separated with different apps. This will depend on your Zap’s goal and the kind of data that you’re filtering. When to use multiple filters?
A great example of when multiple filters come in handy are Zaps used in lead processing.
First, add a filter step to check if the lead fits a particular workflow. This could be useful if you’re getting leads from a tool like Calendly with Zapier, which (as a trigger) doesn’t allow you to choose different meetings during setup.
Then, as you can start processing the lead, you can add another filter that checks if the lead fits additional criteria after a given period (for example, if they attended a meeting). To do this, you’ll need to combine your filters with a delay step.
Here’s a real-life example of this workflow (with steps other than filters or delay removed). In the following example, I created a Zap processing a Calendly lead. The Zap processes the lead from the moment they sign up for the meeting to sending an email asking for feedback a few weeks after the meeting.
But, because in this client’s case, not all attendees should receive the email, I added another filter along the way. Overall, the Zap is using three filters – steps #2, #10, and #16, and two delays in steps #8 and #14. The second delay allows us to send a reminder if they don’t send the feedback back.
As you can see, the multiple filters let you not only better control which data gets passed into your Zap, but also can be used as an excellent tool to control the flow of your automation workflow (especially if combined with delays).
Ideas for Zapier Filters
The above two are just general ideas, on which you can build literally thousands of different Zapier automations. Here are just a few examples of workflows that you can build that take advantage of Zapier filters:
- Use a filter to trigger the workflow only if the emails come from specific domains (your key clients).
- You’re using a scraper to find potential leads – but, you’re looking specifically for people who work in specific roles. If their experience fits that role, the workflow gets started. In general, filters are a great way to filter data coming from a webhook.
- You want to delay the Zap and continue running it only for people who fit certain criteria after a specified time.
- The Zap gets triggered only for Slack messages/replies with certain keywords or tags.
- You only trigger the workflow for premium subscribers, tagged with a specific tag.
- Prevent a situation from triggering a specific workflow for recurring or returning clients.
- Use a Pipedrive Zapier automation to only pass leads over a certain value to your top sales team.
In the case of workflow automation – the sky’s the limit. Thanks to Zapier filters, you can get more control over your Zapier workflows.
Take Your Zaps to the Next Level with Zapier Filters
Zapier filters are a simple but powerful tool – and, as you start adding more and more conditions, they can get complex too.
At the same time, complex filters give you control over your workflow. This, in turn, allows you to create a lot more effective automations. Not to mention that they’re often essential to filtering out unwanted data and allowing your automation to achieve its goals.
Speaking of which – are you already using Zapier filters in your workflow? If you do, don’t hesitate to share your own Zapier filter use cases in the comments.
And, if you need help with Zapier filters or simply want to discuss your Zapier workflow setup – let’s talk. Schedule a call and let’s talk about your workflow 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