We are sometimes asked, “What’s the difference between Formstack Sync and Zapier?”
Zapier is a tool that stands out for its ability to push data from one system to another, as a one-time data push in one direction. Zapier’s strongest use cases are ones which require a one-time move of data, without the need for ongoing back-and-forth communications between two systems.
Marketing Automation and CRM integrations require back-and-forth communication between systems that extends far beyond a one-time push of data. The common scenarios below prove why a bi-directional data sync between your marketing automation system and CRM is needed for business success.
Scenario 1: A lead already exists in your CRM.
If a lead comes into your marketing automation system, but already exists in your CRM, you’re going to run into an issue.
Zapier will create conflicts in this scenario, as the only options you’ll have will be to overwrite the full record in your CRM, which doesn’t make sense. You don’t have the ability to select specific fields to be updated; it’d be all or nothing with Zapier.
Scenario 2: Marketing automation has updates to a lead record that has already been pushed to your CRM.
If a lead comes into your marketing automation system, it will get synched to your CRM system. But if that lead then further engages with marketing content (registers for a webinar, signs up for a newsletter, etc.) the extra data collected on that lead needs to be sent to your CRM to ensure both systems have the most up-to-date information.
Zapier will fail at this use case because it won’t be able to update the specific field(s) on the CRM record that have been added into the marketing automation system.
Zapier makes this very clear on their Common Zapier Problems page where they say: “Zapier does not support two way-syncing right now, for any App. This extends to the idea of keeping records up to date after the initial Trigger and Action occurs (it is not currently supported). Think of Zaps like one-way, one-time actions.”
Zapier goes on to say under the “Update Items and Keep Items in Sync” heading: “Zapier in general does not have a way to keep items in sync after they have been run through a Zap one time. Think of Zapier like a one-way one-time pipe right now. To this end, updating is something we don’t have support for either.”
Some of the other key areas where Zapier falls short that are important for marketing automation and CRM integration include pulling data from related objects and syncing updates to opportunity objects back to the marketing automation system.
Scenario 3: You want to target account level data on contacts via your marketing automation.
You have contacts in your CRM which are tied to accounts. These account objects house data like size of company and industry. Oftentimes, these are helpful data points to use for campaign targeting through your marketing automation.
Formstack Sync has multiple ways to support this. One way is to map the account data from your CRM to an account object in your marketing automation system. If your marketing automation system does not have an account object, Formstack Sync can use its related object functionality to map the data to contact fields for segmentation by marketing. Zapier will fall short on its ability to do this.
Related: What Makes Formstack Sync Different?
Scenario 4: You want to sync opportunity data from your CRM back to marketing automation.
As opportunity data updates ($ values, opportunity status), you want to sync that data back to marketing systems. Your marketing systems rely on this data to enable closed loop reporting, such as HubSpot’s lead source to customer reports, Marketo’s Revenue Cycle Analytics, or Pardot’s Customer Lifecycle Reporting.
As opportunity data is continuously changing, Zapier will also struggle with this use case due to its inability to update specific field values without overwriting the full record.
In Summary: Formstack Sync vs. Zapier
Here’s a way to look at scenarios which Zapier handles vs. falls short. If you are looking for a one-time, one-way push of contact records, then Zapier fits the bill.
If your needs involve updating existing records, then Zapier will fall short – and Formstack Sync will stand out.
For Example: Connecting HubSpot & Pipedrive via Formstack Sync
As a specific example, I was recently asked by one our website visitors how a Formstack Sync integration of HubSpot and Pipedrive compares to using Zapier. I explained that the key advantages for Formstack Sync include:
1. Being able to keep records in sync back-and-forth (e.g. as records further update in HubSpot, getting those updates into Pipedrive)
2. Pushing opportunity data from Pipedrive back to HubSpot for reporting (e.g. top lead sources, tied to opportunities/revenue)
3. Pushing Pipedrive account/contact data to HubSpot, for use in smart lists, lead nurturing, and customer marketing
Furthermore, the Formstack Sync on-boarding team supports the setup of the integration by helping you configure it in both systems; on-boarding is included in our services. With Zapier, you’d have to figure it out yourself. If you’re trying to solve any of the use cases above with Zapier, the result will be banging your head against the wall.