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This article was published on August 9, 2015

    9 clever ways to automate your small business with IFTTT

    9 clever ways to automate your small business with IFTTT
    Jordan Simas
    Story by

    Jordan Simas

    Jordan Simas is a content crafter at Shopify, a commerce platform helping over 275,000 entrepreneurs sell online, in-store, and everywhere i Jordan Simas is a content crafter at Shopify, a commerce platform helping over 275,000 entrepreneurs sell online, in-store, and everywhere in between. Get more in-depth articles like these by visiting the Shopify blog.

    IFTTT (If This, Then That) is a free online tool that automates actions between websites, apps, smartphones, gadgets and more.

    Want your tagged Facebook photos backed up on Google Drive? IFTTT can do that. Wish your smartphone could turn off WiFi when its battery gets too low? IFTTT can do that, too.

    IFTTT has a lot of novel uses for the average user, but it can be a major marketing ally for small business owners. With the help of clever “recipes” (how IFTTT refers to each automation), you can spy on competitors, streamline your social media, and delight your followers – all without lifting a finger.

    Here’s our list of 9 clever and creative ways to use IFTTT to automate tasks for your small business.

    Competitive analysis

    Gathering competitive intelligence is an often overlooked strategy for new ecommerce merchants. Here’s how you can use IFTTT to build custom alerts and keep a watchful eye on your competition.


    1. Monitor your competitors’ websites

    VisualPing.io can send you email updates when competitors make changes to their website, but if you’re watching more than one competitor, you’ll want to take a smarter approach. To keep an eye on your multiple pages without maxing out your inbox, use the following recipe:

    Step 1. Visit VisualPing.io and enter one of your competitors websites. Set the check interval to however often you want to scan their page for changes, and set a tiny trigger to catch content changes and A/B tests.

    Image via VisualPing.io
    Image via VisualPing.io

    Step 2. When you receive your confirmation from VisualPing, create a rule that auto-archives their email and marks them as read (Here’s how to do it in Gmail).

    Step 3. Create an IFTTT recipe and select Gmail or Email as your trigger channel.

    screencapture_12_large
    Image via IFTTT

    Step 4. Set VisualPing’s email address as the sender.

    Image via IFTTT
    Image via IFTTT

    Step 5. Select Evernote (a great, free way to store notes, lists and research) as your action channel and choose a notebook in which to save VisualPing’s emails. Make sure to create a new notebook for every site you want to monitor.

    Image via IFTTT
    Image via IFTTT

    Done! Now you’ll have a self-updating Evernote notebook filled with screenshots of your competitors website tweaks and redesigns.


    2. Archive and organize emails from your competition

    According to a Gigaom research study, US digital marketers deem email the most effective for awareness, acquisition, conversion and customer retention. Ensuring your emails convert can play a big role in the success of your business.

    A good way to stay on top of email marketing trends in your industry is to study and dissect those sent by your competitors. Thankfully, IFTTT lets you do so without clogging up your inbox.

    Step 1. Subscribe to your competitors email newsletters.

    Step 2. Create a rule in your email provider to auto-archive and mark those emails as read.

    Step 3. Create an IFTTT recipe and select Gmail or Email as your trigger channel.

    screencapture_12_large
    Image via IFTTT

    Step 4. Enter the email address from which your competitor sends their newsletters.

    Image via IFTTT
    Image via IFTTT

    Step 5. Select Evernote as your action channel and create a notebook in which to save your emails.

    Image via IFTTT
    Image via IFTTT

    Your competitor emails will now archive in Evernote, allowing you compare and examine them whenever you’re ready.


    3. Monitor your competitor’s blog

    Every ecommerce business needs a blog; they’re a great way to drive traffic, tell your story, and build an audience. If you want to stay current on what your competitors are writing about, but don’t have the time to make daily visits to their blog, this recipe can help:

    Step 1. Easily create an RSS feed for any blog using Page2RSS. Once you’ve entered the URL of the blog you want to monitor, right click the link pictured below and copy its URL:

    screencapture_1

    Step 2. Create an IFTTT recipe and select Feed as your trigger channel.

    Image via IFTTT
    Image via IFTTT

    Step 3. Enter the RSS feed URL you copied in step 1 in Feed.

    Image via IFTTT
    Image via IFTTT

    Step 4. Depending on how often you’d like to review this data, select Email or Evernote as your action channel.

    Using this method, you can either receive email notifications whenever your competitor makes a blog post, or compile a list in Evernote to review when you’re ready.

    Simplify social media

    Social media is an essential tool for any small business, but managing multiple accounts can eat up a lot of your time. Here are a few recipes to help streamline and automate your workload.

    4. Sync your Twitter photo to your Facebook photo

    Simple but useful, this recipe will automatically update your Twitter avatar whenever you update your Facebook profile photo.

    IFTTT Recipe: If your Facebook profile picture changes then update your Twitter picture too connects facebook to twitter


    5. Post your Instagram photos as Twitter photos

    Yes, you can already (sort of) do this by linking your Twitter account to your Instagram app, but thoseTweets only show up as links, not full images. To make your Instagram photos truly stand out in your followers’ Twitter timelines, use the recipe below.

    IFTTT Recipe: Automatically post your Instagrams as Twitter photos connects instagram to twitter

    6. Build an effortless Tumblr page with Instagram

    Marketing with Tumblr is a lot like marketing with Instagram; you should wow people with your images and attract a loyal following who’ll not only purchase your products, but become evangelists for your brand.

    These two recipes will help cross-post your Instagram posts, plus any Instagram photos you’ve liked, to your Tumblr account. It’s a dead-simple way to build a Tumblr page and keep it constantly updated.

    IFTTT Recipe: Post your Instagram photos to Tumblr connects instagram to tumblrIFTTT Recipe: Post the Instagrams that you like on your Tumblr blog connects instagram to tumblr

    Listen in on your followers

    Automation doesn’t always have to happen behind the scenes. These recipes are a great way to build a friendly, attentive presence on Twitter.


     

    7. Auto-generate Follow Friday Tweets for those you’ve favorited in a week

    Spread some goodwill by encouraging your followers to follow those whose Tweets you’ve found helpful, entertaining or thought-provoking throughout the week. This recipe requires a free Buffer account, but you should really have one anyway. IFTTT Recipe: Auto-generate #ff (Follow Friday) tweets for everyone you've favourited in a week connects twitter to buffer


     

    8. Thank your new Twitter followers

    A quick greeting or “thanks for following” can go a long way in fostering engagement with your followers. Just don’t try to sell them on your products or push them to other social accounts this early. IFTTT Recipe: Thank new twitter follower connects gmail to twitter

    9. Collect Tweets that praise your business

    Social proof is a powerful persuasion tool used to influence potential customers who are trying to make a buying decision. One of the many forms it comes in is user testimonials, which you can often find on Twitter.

    This recipe will constantly search Twitter and add any positive Tweets about your business to a Google Drive spreadsheet.

    Step 1. Visit Twitter’s Advanced Search page and type in your business name, products, and as many positive words as possible.

    Image via Twitter

    Step 2. Copy the URL of that search query’s result page and plug it into Page2RSS. Retrieve the RSS feed URL from the link highlighted below.

    screencapture_1
    Image via Page2RSS

    Step 3. Create a custom IFTTT recipe with Feed as your trigger channel using the RSS link copied in step 2.

    Image via IFTTT
    Image via IFTTT

    Step 4. Select Evernote as your action channel and create a custom notebook to store your Tweets.

    Image via IFTTT
    Image via IFTTT

    Now you’ll have an automatically updated list of positive Tweets about your business to use on your homepage, product pages, and anywhere else you can leverage testimonials.

    Bonus: For more ways to automate your ecommerce business, Shopify merchants should also make sure to check out the Zapier app in the Shopify App Store.

    This post originally appeared on the Shopify blog.

    Image credit: Yeamake / Shutterstock.com