Use this Zap to Auto-Respond to Emails (Part #3/3)

Automatically reply to emails (in Gmail) without lifting a finger.

Corner of a laptop with email software Gmail open. Title: Zapier + Gmail logo = heart eyes
Corner of a laptop with email software Gmail open. Title: Zapier + Gmail logo = heart eyes
We’re setting up a “zap” to get closer to an empty inbox — Original Photo by Krsto Jevtic on Unsplash

Background info

The number one issue or question I find in my inbox is people requesting edit access to spreadsheet templates. It’s my duty to point them in the right direction and help them get their copy. I used to manually type out the same response each time.

Screenshot of Gmail filter settings.
Screenshot of Gmail filter settings.
Each email that has “Social Media Editorial” in the subject line will get filtered — All screenshots by author
  • Archive them in a folder with all incoming emails for Google Sheets edit requests
  • And automatically send a reply with instructions explaining how people can get a copy of the template
Screenshot of filter settings used initially to try and automatically archive and reply to emails.
Screenshot of filter settings used initially to try and automatically archive and reply to emails.
The initial settings I used to filter, automatically archive and reply to emails. This however didn’t work accordingly.

Setting up your Zaps in Zapier

I immediately thought of Zapier, a software platform you can use to connect apps with each other and automate the tedious work, as they say. There’s a free plan you can use to get to know the platform with a limit of 5 zaps to set up for free. These 5 zaps can carry out 100 tasks in total before you’d have to upgrade.

Screenshot of current Zapier usage on the Free Legacy Plan
Screenshot of current Zapier usage on the Free Legacy Plan
So far so good.
Auto-respond to emails with Zapier Zaps.
Auto-respond to emails with Zapier Zaps.
Auto-respond to emails with Zapier Zaps.

When this happens… ( New Thread in Gmail)

Follow the steps from top to bottom on Zapier.

#1 Choose App & Event

The App we use is Gmail. The Event is a “New Thread”. In my use case, I want the zap to respond to incoming emails in one mailbox, and respond to a new thread. (We don’t want to send a new email, because it will appear as a new email in this same mailbox, thus triggering the zap again, resulting in an infinite loop and eating up all your free actions. That’s bad.)

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Choose App and Event in your Zap.

#2 Choose Account

Choose your Gmail account. You’ll be asked to verify your account if you’re doing this for the first time, so you’ll have to click through a few popups.

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The first step behind us and ticked off with a green icon.

#3 Customise Thread

Select the inbox where you want to unleash zaps on!

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Click on “Inbox and All Labels” and select the mailbox you want to watch new emails.

#4 Find Data

Make sure there is at least one email in your folder for testing purposes. Then, click the “Test trigger” button to search for one.

Click the blue button to check for emails in your chosen folder
Click the blue button to check for emails in your chosen folder
Click the blue button to check for emails in your chosen folder.
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A thread was found under the Find Data section in the Gmail account.
A thread was found under the Find Data section in the Gmail account.
Success after testing! I suggest to not skip any testing steps here. Keep trying until the test succeeds.

Do this… (Reply to Email in Gmail)

#1 Choose App & Event

Again we use Gmail. We want to reply to an email.

The first part “When this happens…” is fully completed! Now the “Do this…” part and filling out all settings here.
The first part “When this happens…” is fully completed! Now the “Do this…” part and filling out all settings here.
The first part “When this happens…” is fully completed! Now the “Do this…” part. Again, Zapier will take you through all necessary settings from top to bottom.

#2 Choose account

Fill out your Gmail account once more.

#3 Customise Reply

I specifically wanted to respond to an email on the existing thread, and not create a new email as a response in the same folder that would trigger the zap until eternity. This is something to keep in mind. Zapier warns you for this in the explanation boxes.

  • To: Message From Email
  • From Name: [Fill out whichever name you want to appear in someone’s inbox, it could be “Henk from Henk’s Dog Food” or whatever]
  • Body Type: Plain
  • Body: [Here I copied the content from my generic email template]

#4 Send Data

Click this row to continue. Press the test button to check if you set up everything correctly.

An automatic reply was generated successfully through Zapier to Gmail.
An automatic reply was generated successfully through Zapier to Gmail.
If the test was successful, Zapier will tell you.
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You can always “Retest & Review” your Zap.
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Zap away my young grasshoppers 🐛— Photo by Sandro Katalina on Unsplash

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Writing my way to progress. Topics: personal growth, life lessons, tooling & (failed) ventures.

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