Zapier and IFTTT — What’s the Difference?

Seamless app integration is bliss. Both Zapier and IFTTT are brilliant in their own way. Learn which one is best suited to your situation and get unashamedly hooked.

These days, countless app makers produce even more countless (?) apps. And for normal human beings, quite many of them look just too delicious to pass on. You now have a lot of functionality on your hands, and you’ll briefly feel like you’re in the game and on top of things. But the story doesn’t end there.

The problem is, all of us end up with quite a bulky ‘selection’ of apps you work with every day.

Switching between a growing number of apps is becoming increasingly tedious. Yes, your apps work and they clearly add value, but even the simplest to use apps become a pain when you have to manage 10 (or 100) of them. 51% of organizations are now using 21 or more digital marketing solutions. Marketers regularly use over 100 software programs.

As you try to make your many apps work together, you’ll soon find yourself having to manually cut data that’s generated in one tool, and tediously pasting it into the next tool in your process. This is clearly a far from ideal solution.

And don’t even think about requesting your IT department to deliver the API to exchange the data. Automation requests like that are close to hopeless. Normally, any marketing related requests end up right at the bottom of the development department’s to-do list.

Consequently, you do one of two things.

  • You accept that your daily routine has become complex and repetitive, and you bravely fight through it, repeatedly telling yourself that this is just what modern life looks like. Everybody does it, so therefore it’s perfectly ok, right?
  • You give up on using the fast majority of newly discovered and incredibly useful apps altogether because there are just too many little steps to complete day after day. Don’t tell me you don’t have an extensive graveyard of ‘useful tools’ somewhere.

If only there was a way to easily use all the functionality you have available to you, spread thin over dozens of apps, on a daily basis. If only there was a way to effectively manage your technology stack and exchange data without needing IT. How cool would that be?

Connect your MarTech stack

Well, there is a way. You can manage your technology stack like an ecosystem of interconnected apps using task automation apps. You have to start doing automated app integration and synchronization (which sound more impressive than it is), if you wish to have any chance of surfing the app tsunami.

Thankfully, promising new software developments in the shape of Zapier and IFTTT have been introduced to provide more efficient management solutions. A quick Google Trends search reveals that Zapier and IFTTT are indeed pretty much the only competitive players in the field.

So, Zapier versus IFTTT it is then. Which of these two software options should you use? We’ll take a closer look and compare them to provide you with the definitive answer.

Two types of glue, two types of components

Automated app integration and synchronization is the noble art of ‘making a whole bunch of apps do the right stuff for you’. In both Zapier and IFTTT, you specify what needs to happen when something else you specify happens. If this happens (trigger), do that (action). The possibilities are endless. Very endless.

Imagine this use case…

Whenever you receive an email in Gmail from particularly important person X, send a Slack notification to the team and keep a log of the conversation in Dropbox.

IFTTT use case Boardview

Or this use case…

Whenever you’re less than 1 mile from home on your way back from the office and it’s rainy outside, preheat the electric blanket and send your significant other a generic prewritten romantic text message.

IFTTT use case Boardview

One of these cases can best be facilitated by IFTTT while the other calls for using Zapier. Here’s why.

Differences between Zapier and IFTTT – Business vs Personal Productivity

To cut to the chase: use Zapier for business, and use IFTTT casually. Here are the differences between the two contenders, explaining how we got to this conclusion.

  • App library

Both Zapier and IFTTT list a generous number of apps to play with: 500+ and 350, respectively at the point of writing. At the risk of sounding simple, both tools connect to ‘a lot of apps’.

The set of two connected apps is called a ‘recipe’ in IFTTT, and a ‘zap’ in Zapier. No real news here.

There is some overlap in the to be connected apps on offer, but there are clear differences too. Zapier connects to more business-like apps, and IFTTT covers the more casual home users.

IFTTT use case BoardviewOnly Zapier covers Hubspot and Marketo, and only IFTTT covers several lighting and dishwasher apps. That basically tells the whole story.

  • Workflow

IFTTT keeps it simple and casual. Zapier keeps it a bit less simple but it has more potential.

IFTTT uses a straightforward single-trigger-single-action process. If this, then that, as the name suggests. They also provide an even simpler ‘do’ functionality, with which you can make things happen manually without having to provide a trigger beforehand.

You can access all your household appliance apps via one IFTTT hub. Turn your Philips kitchen lights on and your Bang and Olufsen TV off in just the one IFTTT app.

Zapier basically does what IFTTT does, but adds the functionality of Multi-step Zaps and Filters. Filters allow you to zoom in and become really specific about the conditions under which a certain Zap should take place, within that one app. If a new Gmail message says “Dear CEO” in combination with “I am afraid to say”, send my team a copy via Slack.

Multi-step Zaps are about performing a whole bunch of actions in different apps based on one trigger. And what’s more, you can even make up that trigger over different apps. That means you can get any set of conditions from any number of apps to create a trigger, which instructs any number of apps to do something. Confused yet?

Get this bit of data from Evernote, check if at least this number of Trello cards has been created, and check Google Analytics to make today’s website traffic is at least this much…. and if all this is true, notify my team with this message through Slack and Marketo. Welcome to the future.

  • Pricing and devices

IFTTT is completely free, while for Zapier you’ll have to start paying when you want to build more complex Zaps and want more frequent data synchronization jobs.

Both are web based, but only IFTTT offers an app available on Android and Iphone. Which is to be expected given the different nature of the tools. It’s fine to quickly set up a simple “If: it rains tomorrow, then: send me an email” in IFTTT. But thinking through a Multi-Zap to (potentially) transform your entire company is just not something you’d do while you’re waiting for the bus to arrive.

Which one should you choose?

Both Zapier and IFTTT are fantastic in their own way. We recommend you start with IFTTT for home use to get hooked on the whole phenomenon. Then ask your boss for no more than a hundred bucks to build awesome Multi-step Zaps for your company in Zapier.

Your boss will be delighted to get rid of his expensive enterprise software, and you will be getting paid for shamelessly giving in to your newfound task automation addiction.

Learn more