As we continue to expand our Business SMS feature, customers have asked more about how they can monitor their business text messaging usage.
We often respond to these questions by pointing them to Zapier – the data automation service we have built an application for and which you can get started using for free. Today’s blog will focus on the basics of how to use Zapier. It will show you how to build a simple workflow that captures an SMS message sent to your VirtualPBX Phone Plan and logs that information into a Google Sheet.
Before we get started, take a listen from our COO, Lon Baker, about how we use automations like this every day at VirtualPBX.
How Zapier Works
For business text messaging analysis and other types of call data, you can use the VirtualPBX Zapier Integration to listen to inbound information that’s sent to your account. You pair the VirtualPBX application with other apps in Zapier to create zaps, which are workflows that transfer information from one online service to another.
Triggers and Actions
Applications inside of Zapier can act as triggers and actions.
The VirtualPBX app acts as a trigger because it waits for inbound calls, voicemails, and SMS messages before telling the rest of a zap to proceed. It’s the first step; when it sees your account receive an SMS message, for example, it tells other steps to manage the SMS data it found.
Google Sheets can act as an action (a response to your trigger) because it can use your VirtualPBX data in a meaningful way. In today’s setup, you will see a Sheet capture SMS data that you can view at any time.
Listen for Business Text Messages
After you have signed up for a Zapier account, click the Make a Zap button at the top-left of your screen. This will open a new screen where you can add a title and choose the trigger you want to use. Typing in “VirtualPBX” will show our app.
Now you can choose your trigger event. You will want to select “Receive Text Message” to have this zap respond whenever your account receives a text message.
After that, you will choose your account (where you need to enter your VirtualPBX login information) and test your trigger to receive some sample data. You can send a colleague an SMS message from the VirtualPBX Softphone to give Zapier some data to grab. A resulting test should output something like this in your zap.
Log Messages in a Google Sheet
Now you can use that sample data to populate a Google Sheet. When you click the Continue button after setting up your trigger, you will be presented with another screen that allows you to select an action. Type in “Google Sheets” to follow along here, and select that app.
Select Your Event
Just like before, you will now have the option to select an event. This time you will want to select “Create Spreadsheet Row” so you can copy the SMS data into a row in your spreadsheet.
Choose Your Spreadsheet
Now you can choose your Google account and begin populating your sheet with the fields you want to record. The Google Sheet we have created for this example includes only three fields – From, To, and Message – that you can see in this screenshot.
In our zap, we chose our spreadsheet by first selecting “My Google Drive” from the Drive option and then choosing the name of our spreadsheet we had already created in our Google account.
If you create a Google Sheet from the same account you log into Zapier with, then your personal Google Drive will be the default location to find the sheet you created. Your Sheet will have saved automatically, and Zapier will be able to find your sheet by presenting you with a list of documents you own. The end result of our setup looks like this.
Fill in Your Fields
Now we want to fill in our From, To, and Message fields of our spreadsheet. You do this by clicking in one of those fields in your zap and selecting the type of information you want to be placed there.
In the From column of our spreadsheet, we want to see the number that sent us a text message, so we select “From” in the list of options presented here.
Similarly, the To column should show the phone number where a message was received, so we select the “To” option. Then we select “Body” to fill our Message column. The end result will show three placeholders that represent the type of data you will see populated in your Sheet when messages are sent to your account.
All future SMS messages sent to your VirtualPBX account will now have their associated phone numbers and message content logged in the Google Sheet you chose.
Look At An Example
Now you can test your setup. When you click the Continue button after filling in your fields, you will be presented with the option to “Test & Review” this stage of your zap. Click that button to see what happens in your Sheet.
If it was successful, the zap will notify you, and you will be able to turn on your zap. Turning it on will allow the zap to wait for all your SMS messages and automatically send them to your Sheet.
The screenshot here might not look like much yet, but when your business begins communicating with customers, this helpful log will allow you to keep track of all the SMS communications happening through your company.
Take This One Step Further – Use a Filter
Your zap will run fine with this setup. However, you might want to consider using a filter to keep unnecessary items out of your log.
The zap we have just created will log all the messages sent to your account. You can easily add a Filter action in your Zap — between the VirtualPBX and Google Sheets steps — to help you more accurately monitor your business text messages.
First click the plus sign between your VirtualPBX trigger and your Google Sheets action.
Then search for “Filter” to choose the Filter By Zapier action. This step requires that you specify the conditions you want to meet for the zap to proceed. In this case, you can choose your “From” field to be the element that is checked. We have then asked the Filter to see that From contains the exact phone number that’s in our example.
Hit continue to see if your zap would have proceeded. It’s no wonder that ours worked since we matched the From fields exactly.
You could change your Filter step to ask for any kind of information you want. Here are a few options to consider:
- Text Contains an area code you want to choose
- Text Does Not Contain phone numbers on a blacklist
- Text Does Not Contain phone numbers from your company, so you can filter out all internal conversations from your log
Here to Help You Further
There are a lot of other tasks you can complete with Zapier. We hope that this tutorial has provided you with a useful instruction for getting started with basic setup of a zap.
You can use this exact configuration to monitor your own business text messaging, and you can expand this zap or create further zaps by following similar tutorials on our Zapier Integration page. Our zap templates are useful for linking your call data to other services such as Slack and Trello.
We’re also available 24/7 through live web chat to further assist with your needs. Happy creating!