Developers

Zapier unlocks growth by building on top of Slack

How the company drives user engagement and new opportunities for automation with app development

By the team at SlackAugust 18th, 2021Illustration by Francesco Ciccolella

Zapier (rhymes with “happier”) is a service that helps you create automations among more than 3,000 different apps, so you and your team can save time and stay productive. Imagine any task you perform dozens of times daily, such as copying and pasting information from one system to another or uploading files. That’s where Zapier steps in. Voila! It’s done for you.

The real magic happens when you combine Zapier, which automates work, with Slack, where that work takes place. Which is why its team partnered with us to build its Zapier app for Slack. Bringing the two together was a natural fit, according to Dannielle Sakher, Zapier’s partnerships team lead. “With the Zapier integration for Slack, teams can facilitate better collaboration, improve processes and boost personal productivity,” she says. “Not only does that make people happier at work, it also helps with business outcomes.”

Here’s a deeper look at why Zapier’s development team built their app for Slack, how they work with the Slack team and the results they’ve seen from the partnership.

A decision driven by user demand

User demand and Zapier’s own mission largely drove the decision to build an app for Slack, according to Sakher. The Slack integration was highly requested among Zapier users. And once built, it allowed users to move information between Slack and Zapier’s thousands of other partner apps, ranging from productivity tools to CRM solutions.

For instance, a user can pipe customer leads from their website into a sales channel for swift follow-up. Or turn Slack messages into to-dos in their project management app.

Workflow Builder in Slack can pass data to Zapier, which is then used in any automations to other apps, like Trello and Asana.

For Ryan Powell, a product manager at Zapier, the math to invest time in their Slack integration was easy. “We prioritize opportunities by asking, ‘How does this tie into our mission?’ Which is to democratize automation for users. Slack has millions of daily active users. Given those numbers, it’s a great way for us to deliver on our goal.”

“Our team is dedicated to maintaining our Slack app because we see it as a tree that is always bearing fruit.”

Dannielle Sakherpartnerships team lead, Zapier

Driving user engagement and retention

The Zapier team’s investment of time and resources in creating and maintaining the app has paid off both in terms of user retention and engagement.

A snapshot of Zapier user activity shows that:

  • Zapier users who connected Slack on their first day are 150% times more likely to become paying customers in the future.
  • Compared to all other apps, Slack users are 10% more likely to convert to paid users at Zapier.
  • Every day, Slack users automate more than half a million routine actions with Zapier.

Slack users are also more likely to set up zaps, Zapier’s term for automated workflows, with a wide variety of apps versus users of other communication platforms, who tend to stick with apps within their respective product suites, according to Powell. “There’s a strong product-market fit between Zapier users and Slack users because of the wide variety of software tools they use,” he says. “By bringing Zapier and Slack together, you can accomplish just about anything.”

“Our task usage of Zapier with Slack is like a hockey stick; it just goes up and to the right. Our growth is just incredible.”

Ryan Powellproduct mananger, Zapier

Adopting the latest features to improve engagement

As Slack’s product has evolved, so have the possibilities for app development. Partners can add more interactivity to their app or integrate with new parts of Slack’s interface. So far, Zapier has participated in two beta programs around Slack feature launches: The company built an app home, a dedicated space in Slack where users can interact with a particular app, and worked with the Slack team to add Zapier functions to Workflow Builder, a no-code tool for automating routine processes.

With the app home beta, Zapier saw an opportunity to surface the value of automations, which often run unnoticed in the background. “If users toggle into a particular app within Slack,” Powell says, “they see, oh, there’s four zaps running right now. So you can really see the value you’re getting out of them.” The team also uses the app home to recommend other automations and use cases. “We use suggestions to show people what’s also possible with automation and what you can achieve to save more time,” he says. “Because ultimately, that’s our goal.”

Zapier’s App Home shows a user’s existing automations as well as ideas for new ones.

The Zapier team also partnered with Slack on creating steps for Workflow Builder, Slack’s own tool for creating custom workflows within the product. After Zapier debuted its Workflow Builder features at Slack Frontiers 2020, the company saw a surge in interest. Powell estimates sign-ups increased 300%. “We just saw a huge spike in activity during that marketing effort,” he says.

“A question we always ask ourselves is, how many users can we reach with this automation, so we can save them time? With Slack’s 750,000 customers, it was a no-brainer.”

Ryan Powellproduct manager, Zapier

What it’s like working with Slack

As a Slack platform developer partner, the Zapier team has instant access to Slack product managers, engineers and other experts via Slack Connect. Throughout the development process, Zapier’s team can reach out to Slack engineers in-channel to get quick answers to their questions or start a huddle to solve any problems that pop up. Slack product marketers also use these channels to share announcements, preview upcoming features and offer beta partner opportunities.

As for the app and feature development process, Sakher describes it as highly collaborative. “Slack brings us in early and always gives us the chance to share feedback,” she says. “We know the feedback will actually be used to improve the product, which makes our team feel validated about the work that they do.”

By joining forces, Zapier and Slack are making automation even more accessible. “Our customers are becoming more successful at automation because of our partnership,” Sakher says. “That’s true not only for existing builders and users but also for new folks who are attracted to automation because of what we’re unlocking together.”

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