May 4, 2019

How to forward emails via Zapier to create new contacts in Airtable

Instead of manually creating new contacts in your Airtable CRM, this post will show you how to automatically create contacts by forwarding emails to a special Zapier Email Parser email address:

Forwarding an email to Airtable via ZapierForwarding an email to Airtable via Zapier

If you receive emails from prospective customers, this is a very handy way to capture them in your database.

Here’s an overview of the process:

Step 1: Create a Zapier account

For some reason Zapier Email Parser is somewhat isolated from the main Zapier website, but you can still log in with a Zapier account, so go and create one first at https://zapier.com/sign-up/.

Step 2: Set up your Zapier Email Parser Mailbox

Head to https://parser.zapier.com/ and click the Create Mailbox” button.

Home screen of Email Parser by ZapierHome screen of Email Parser by Zapier

Make a note of the unique email address that gets created for you.

A new mailbox in Zapier Email Parser with a unique email addressA new mailbox in Zapier Email Parser with a unique email address

Any emails sent to this mailbox will automatically trigger an action: we’re going to use this one for emails from prospective customers, but you could create more mailboxes for other automation workflows.

Step 3: Send an example email to Zapier

Now we need to send Email Parser an example of the email we’d like it to parse. Find an example in your inbox and click forward, but don’t send it yet!

Feel free to add any extra information in the email body, if you think it will be useful to save in your Airtable base. For example, below I am adding a line of notes as the first line of the email. Soon we will configure the parsing template to extract all of the relevant bits from our email.

Forwarding an email from a prospective customer to ZapierForwarding an email from a prospective customer to Zapier

If you wanted to capture more than just one line of notes, you could format your custom content like this:

Notes: These are my notes
Reminder: 24 August 2019

---------- Forwarded message ----------
...

Step 4: Set up the parsing template

Go back to Zapier Email Parser and with any luck, it will be displaying the email you just sent. Now we’re going to pluck out all of the pieces of information contained in the email by highlighting the example information and giving each field a name:

Extracting pieces of information from an emailExtracting pieces of information from an email

My final template looks like this:

Final template with fields extracted from the emailFinal template with fields extracted from the email

Once your template is looking good, scroll down and click Save Address and Template”.

Step 5: Create a new Zap to create new records in Airtable

Start clicking through Zapier’s Zap making workflow!

Choose the action and trigger

From the Zapier homepage, create a new Zap that connects Email Parser by Zapier” with Airtable”. You want the trigger to be New Email”, and the action to be Create Record”:

New Zap to create a new Airtable record when an email is parsedNew Zap to create a new Airtable record when an email is parsed

Connect to your Email Parser by Zapier” mailbox

After clicking Use Zap”, you’ll be asked to connect your Email Parser by Zapier” account — just log in with your Zapier account for this. For the next steps, choose the mailbox and sample email you created earlier.

Hook up your Airtable account

Click through the next few steps to confirm Airtable” and Create Record” as the action for this zap, and connect to your Airtable account.

Populate all of the relevant fields in your Airtable base

On the Set up Airtable Record” screen, you get to map the fields extracted from your email to the relevant fields in your Airtable table.

Use the insert field buttons to the right to find the data you want to insert. Any fields you extracted in your email template will be called Parse Output {XXX} in the list of available fields. Here are the fields I mapped:

Mapping fields from our parsed email to Airtable fieldsMapping fields from our parsed email to Airtable fields

You have flexibility here to fill in whatever information you need to save to Airtable — you could insert multiple fields or include pre-set strings, as I’ve done by pre-filling the Status” field to Initial Contact”.

Test it out

Save your field mappings and tell Zapier to send a test record to Airtable. If you go back to your Airtable base you’ll hopefully see the new record in your Contacts table! 👏🏼

Finsh and activate your Zap

Finally, for the most satisfying bit, turn on your Zap so it will automatically run whenever you forward a new email:

Finish and activate the ZapFinish and activate the Zap

All done

You should now be able to forward emails and watch the new rows appear in your Airtable base, like this:

Forwarding an email to Airtable via ZapierForwarding an email to Airtable via Zapier

Now all you need to do is save your unique Zapier email address to your contacts list for easy searching in your email client, and start firing off emails! It’s a pretty simple workflow, but you could replicate this technique to cut out other mundane tasks in your day-to-day.


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