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What No Code Automation tool should you choose?

What automation tool is best for setting up basic workflows? What tool would I recommend for keeping databases and sync?

June 18, 2021

In today's video, I'm going to be giving you a few tips on how to pick the right automation tool for your no-code project. So without further ado, let's get into it.

Hey peeps, welcome back to the channel. If you're new here, my name's Connor, and on the channel I help people who cannot code build their own online businesses with no-code tools like Webflow, Airtable, and Zapier. 

So, I use five different automation tools to power the Unicorn Factory - I use Zapier, Parabola, Integromat, Airtable Automations and also Nobull, which has an Airtable app. In today's video, I want to break down why I use five different no-code automation tools, and I want to make some suggestions on where you should get started if you're just getting into no-code.

But before we get into it, if you aren't already subscribed and you want to see more no-code videos then please do me a quick favor - hit that red subscribe button down below. Also, it would be very much appreciated if you could like this video. It helps me understand that you're interested in these types of videos and I'll make more of them in the future. But without further ado, let's get into the first point. 

So if you're just getting into no-code and you are looking for a tool that allows you to set up basic workflows, then in my opinion, there are two key options. The first option, and probably the most known no-code automation tool, is Zapier.

What is Zapier?

So Zapier is a tool that I started using from the very beginning, and ever since I've started the Unicorn Factory, I've managed to set up 45 different workflows that connect all the different apps that I use in order to connect businesses to freelancers in New Zealand.

Now, what I loved about Zapier is that even though I didn't come from an automation or an app building background, it was very easy and intuitive to learn. At a real basic level. All you really need to do is, you need to define an event that starts the automation. Then you need to pick the individual action steps that you want the automation tool to take as soon as that event has started. 

So in this particular example, I have a workflow where a certain record moves into a special view inside of Airtable. As soon as that record has moved there, I send them to my MailerLite tool, which is my email marketing tool. And that's really all you need to do in order to set up your first workflow inside of Zapier. 

Now, as soon as you've set up your first basic workflow, you can actually take things quite far. For example, if you want to have multiple steps that are taken as soon as an automation is triggered, then you can just add more and more steps by just clicking on the plus button and adding whatever app you want.

So this step here, for example, has eight different steps after the automation is started. And this is the workflow that I have set up in order to see the freelancers that I've approved to join the platform, to Webflow, and all the other platforms that I use. I actually have a video on this channel on how I do that, so if you want to check out how you can set up more advanced workflows inside of Zapier, I recommend checking that out. Now, an alternative tool that you can use is Integromat. 

What is Integromat?

Now Integromat pretty much does the same thing that Zapier does, and again it has action steps (so in this case, when a form is submitted inside of Webflow) and then again, I can specify what the individual action steps are that I want Integromat to take as soon as that event has happened.

So in this case, what I do is I create a record inside of Airtable, and then I also send myself a Slack notification so that I know that I have to go and review a new message that has come in. So, if you are just getting into no-code and you want to set up some basic workflows, you can really not go wrong with either one of the tools.

Zapier vs Integromat

Now I actually use both tools, and the main reason why I use both tools really comes down to the pricing. So for starters, I just have to say that I find Zapier significantly more intuitive to learn compared to something like Integromat. When I started setting up different workflows, I tried both and I just got the hang of Zapier a lot faster, which is why I made that my go-to automation tool.

Zapier is however significantly more expensive than Integromat, meaning that as soon as you start getting some really high volume tasks inside of Zapier, you start moving through the different payment tiers reasonably fast. A way to get around moving up those payment tiers too fast was to actually also create an Integromat account and move some of my basic high volume tasks from Zapier to Integromat.

And that's the main reason why I use two different automation tools to setup these basic workflows. 

Again, I just want to stress that Integromat isn't necessarily a tool that I would use to set up more complex workflows just because I don't have the experience in it. However, if you just want to set up basic two to three step workflows, then Integromat is perfectly fine.

So if you are starting from scratch, then I'd potentially look into both of them and see what you find more intuitive to learn. So one thing that Zapier or Integromat are not necessarily the best tools for is updating large data sets. So when it comes to moving individual records from say, Airtable to Webflow, Zapier and Integromat  are perfect. But if you want to update all the records that sit inside of Webflow with data that sits inside of Airtable, you need to use a slightly different tool, and the tool that I use for that is called Parabola. 

What is Parabola?

So what Parabola does is it allows you to update large data sets or entire databases all at once. So at a real basic level, what you need to do is you need to import your databases. 

So in this case, I'm importing my Webflow database for my different skills. Then I also want to import the equivalent table that I have stored inside of Airtable. And then what I want to do is I want to basically join those two tables together where the records match. So you can match them by things like unique IDs or in the event of say a city that I am joining up here. I can join it where the name of the city is the same, and then I can basically export the more up-to-date data from Airtable to Webflow. Now, the real good thing about a tool like Parabola is that you actually can do it all at once, rather than having to update one record at the time.

Now, before Parabola came along, I was actually using Zapier to do this, and basically the way that it would work is it would run an update workflow one at a time, but the problem with that is sometimes it would fail. Other times it would also chew out a whole bunch of different paths, and it's just not a scalable thing to do with Zapier or Integromat. So when it comes to updating large data sets, Parabola is definitely the one and only tool to use. Now that was a real basic workflow that I set up inside of Parabola, but you can actually integrate multiple databases at the same time. So this is probably a slightly more advanced workflow that I've got set up inside of Parabola. Where, for starters, I import a table from Airtable for my different freelancers, and I also import all of the Google analytics statistics that I had for the last 30 days. And what I do then is I basically match up the profile page of a specific freelancer to the record inside of Airtable and then export the amount of page views that a particular freelancer got to a field that I have stored inside of Airtable.

So again, I have a video on this particular workload, if you want to see how Parabola works in a bit more detail, but again, the key difference between Zapier and Integromat and Parabola is that Parabola is just more suited when you're handling larger datasets. 

So if you're just getting into setting up workflows, this is probably a tool that you won't need from the beginning. I did without Parabola for a very long time. But as your databases start to scale, as you start to get more users into your Airtable databases, then you might want to have a tool that allows you to make sure that all of the different platforms that you use stay in sync. If that is the case, then Parabola is definitely the go-to tool. Okay, now I've got two more automation tools that I use. The first one that I'm going to be talking about is Airtable Automation. 

Airtable Automations

So, Airtable Automations is reasonably new and it pretty much does the exact same thing that Zapier and Integromat does. So what you can do here is, again, you can define a trigger event. For example, if a record enters view, if a new record is created and basically an event that happens directly inside of Airtable, then you can select corresponding actions that you want Airtable Automations to take. 

So for example, if you wanted to then automatically send an update to Twitter, you can do that here. If you want to then send information that was triggered in that first step to Facebook, you can do that as well. And the concept of how Airtable Automation works is pretty much exactly the same as Zapier. Now, because Airtable Automation is reasonably new, it means that there are not that many integrations available at the moment. Another thing is that you can only select your trigger event based on something happening inside of Airtable. 

Either way, I use it quite a bit just to update record between different bases and tables inside of Airtable. Meaning that if, for example, someone submits a profile update, it automatically populates fields that I don't let them submit in the form with information that I need in order to run those updates. I also send myself weekly digest emails, so for example, if you have a to-do list and you just want to have an overview of the things that you want to work on on a week to week basis, you can basically build your to-do list inside of Airtable and then send yourself a weekly reminder of all the outstanding tasks that have to be done.

So overall, Airtable is still in the very early days of setting up the automation tools, but I actually have very, very high hopes and expectations for it, and one of the things that is very very cool about Airtable Automations is that it is free, it's just included in your existing Airtable plan. If you are already using Airtable, and you're just getting started with setting up your first few workflows and you want to practice, then definitely feel free to use Airtable Automations, whatever you learn setting up the triggers and action steps in that will really allow you to translate those learnings into Zapier or Integromat later on, and considering it's free it might just be a great place to get started. And then the final automation tool that I use is an Airtable app called Noble. 

Nobull by Finsweet

So Noble was actually created by the guys from Finsweet who specialize in building Webflow products. And what Noble does is it allows you to sync your Airtable databases directly with Webflow. So as you can probably already tell it is very similar to what Parabola does with the main limitation being that it is just a straight Webflow to Airtable sync. So at the beginning, I actually just used Parabola to make sure that everything in Airtable was updated inside of Webflow; Noble now does that. So if you don't need to use any other databases, for example, Google analytics or Parabola or whatever else it is, then I definitely recommend checking out Nobel because essentially that's the same sort of thing. 

So all you need to do is just install Noble inside of your Airtable base, and then all you need to do is just import your Webflow collections and then map up the fields that you would do in all the other automation tools. You can then also specify where the data is taken from, so you need to pretty much pick your original source. 

So for example, if you select Webflow, it will take all of the information that currently sits inside of Webflow and update that inside of Airtable. However, if you choose Airtable and you want to update all of your Webflow collections with the information that sits inside of Airtable, then what you can do is you can then just select that field and it will take the information that currently sits inside of Airtable and update that in the corresponding record inside of Webflow.

So Noble is a pretty awesome tool. It's free to use, you can just go ahead and set it up, and it solves a very, very specific use case, which is making sure that you can sync data between Airtable and Webflow. 

And those are the five different automation tools that I use to power the Unicorn Factory. Obviously, there are a few other ones out there, like this, then that, and a whole bunch of other cool little niche automation tools, but if you are just getting started and you want to set up some basic workflows then just choose either Zapier or Integromat. My opinion Zapier is slightly easier to learn, it's got a more intuitive interface. Integromat on the other hand has a lot of integrations with a lot of different apps in it. It's also quite a bit cheaper. Either way, whatever one you choose will definitely work. 

If you then want to move into working with larger data sets - so instead of updating one record at a time, then you want to look into a tool like Parabola. And if you want to solve very specific use cases, for example, the Airtable to Webflow sync something like Noble is great to use. And then if you are looking for a free alternative to Zapier and Integromat, then you also have Airtable Automations that doesn't have as many different apps that you can integrate with, but it's a perfect place to get started practicing setting up different workflows.

So hopefully you found this video useful. If you have any questions about picking the right automation tool, then please let me know in the comments below what kind of questions you have, and I'll be happy to answer them. Other than that, thank you so much for sticking around for the entire video. Remember to like the video, and I'll see you back here for the next one.

00:00 Intro
00:57 What tool is best for setting up basic workflows?
04:19 What tool should you use to sync large datasets?
07:02 Airtable Automations - Alternative to Zapier and Integromat
09:09 No Bull - Webflow/Airtable Database Syncing

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