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Using Zapier templates for Calendar Automation

If you want to send automated calendar reminders to appointment holders, you can do so by connecting your MessageMedia account to your Google Calendar account via Zapier. In this article we'll show you how to set up, customise and activate a calendar automation using Zapier, which will trigger an SMS to be sent to your appointment attendees at a set interval prior to their appointment.

What is Zapier?

Zapier is essentially a piece of middleware that allows applications to talk to each other when there isn't already a native connection in place between them. It does this via an API (Application Programming Interface) - receiving information from one application, and then passing it on to another application to trigger actions (in this case, the information will be from the calendar to MessageMedia to trigger a message send).

Zapier allows anyone, even those with no coding experience, to connect applications. It just requires a few more steps which we will take you through in this article. The best part about it is that they are entirely customisable, so once you get the hang of it - you’ll be setting up this and other "Zaps" before you know it!

The steps you will need to follow are:

1. Set up an appointment in your Google Calendar

2. Create an API key in your MessageMedia account

3. Create a Zapier account (if you do not already have one)

4. Connect your MessageMedia and Google accounts to Zapier

5. Turn on your Zap

You can also customise your Zap once you have set it up.

Setting up the appointment in your Google Calendar

In your Google calendar, you will need to create appointments using the attendee's mobile number as the location, entered in full international format as shown below:

Later in this article we'll show you how to set the country for your automation so you don't necessarily need to use international format when entering these numbers.

Creating an API key in your MessageMedia account

In order to connect your MessageMedia account to Zapier, you will need what is called an API Key. This is easy to set-up - just follow the steps in this article.

Creating the Zapier connection ("Zap")

To start, you will need to set up a Zapier account - just be sure to click on "MessageMedia SMS" when asked what apps you use:

Once you have done this, you can use this pre-existing Zapier template to complete the connection. It is configured to send the following message to your attendees 24 hour prior to their appointment, where the variable field "start_time" will be populated with the appointment time:

This is a reminder that your next appointment is tomorrow at [start_time].
Please reply "C" to confirm or call to cancel.

Just click on Try this template at the bottom of the page:

Connecting your accounts

Next you will need to sign in to your Google Calendar and your MessageMedia account:

When you click on Sign in to Google Calendar, you will be asked to give Zapier access to your Google Calendar - so click Allow to make this happen:

When you click on Sign in to MessageMedia SMS you will be asked to enter your MessageMedia API credentials (these were generated when you created your MessageMedia API key and should have been copied to your clipboard):

Turning on your Zap

Finally, you need to select from the dropdown list the calendar to be used for this automation:

If you're happy to use the preset message content and settings, simply click Turn on Zap and your automation will be up and running!

If, however, you want to change the message content (or make changes to the message timing) - just click on Go to Advanced Mode in the bottom left.

Customising your Zap

After clicking on Go to Advanced Mode as above, you will see the two steps of the Zap in the form of a workflow. Hovering over each step will present an Edit option:

Editing the trigger

Click on Edit in the trigger section as per the above image to display all the parameters of the trigger:

To alter the trigger timing, click on Set up trigger:

Let's say you wanted to change this setting so that the reminder was sent two days prior to the event. In the Time Before section, just change the 1 to a 2, and leave the unit in the field below as days. If you wanted to change this to three hours before the event, you would change the Time Before to a 3, and then change the unit to hours:

Click Continue to test the trigger and make sure it works.

Customising the reminder message

Click on Edit next to the Action section of the workflow:

Click on Set up action and then enter your preferred message in the Content field:

Note that editing the message may result in a higher character count. You can alter the character limit of your message in the Character Limit field below the Content field.

Variable Data Fields

When writing your message, you can include data fields (such as the event start time) to personalise your message. By clicking in the message content field, a drop-down list will appear, showing all of the potential fields that can be utilised in your message along with examples of how they would appear if populated. Bear in mind though that the data must be available in your calendar event in order to be pulled into your message.

Where a field includes the word "Pretty," it means that the data will be displayed in a "pretty" format (i.e. easy to read). For example:

Changing the country

If you are only going to be sending messages to recipients of one country, you can set the country in your Zap configuration so that you don't need to enter phone numbers in international format in your Google Calendar invites. In this example, we'll set the country to Australia, so we can enter mobile numbers as "04xxxxxxxx" instead of having to use the "614xxxxxxxx" format.

FAQs about Zapier integrations and calendar automations

Q: "Where do the replies to my message go?"

A: Replies to your messages will go to your MessageMedia inbox, where you can continue the conversation with your recipients and run reports on messaging activity.

Q: "Can I report on outbound messages sent using the Zapier connection?"

A: Yes you can. The Zapier connection simply enables your Google calendar to trigger the message send from your MessageMedia account. The message sending process at the MessageMedia end is the same as any normal message send - which means that all the data will be available in the MessageMedia reporting suite just like any other messages sent from within the portal.

Q: "What happens if I change the appointment time after the initial reminder message has been sent? Will the message trigger again?"

A: This depends on how you've configured the trigger and when you actually perform the task of rescheduling the appointment.

Let's say the appointment is set for Wednesday at 9am, and the message triggers 24 hours prior on Tuesday at 9am. The message recipient then responds an hour later at 10am Tuesday asking to delay the appointment by a couple of hours to midday Wednesday. You then reschedule the appointment accordingly - will another reminder message trigger at 12pm on Tuesday? Well - that depends on how quickly you get around to re-scheduling the appointment. 

If you managed to complete the rescheduling prior to 12pm Tuesday (i.e. more than 24 hours prior to the appointment), then yes, the message will trigger; however, if you didn't get around to rescheduling the appointment until after 12pm (i.e. less than 24 hours before the message appointment) then the message will not trigger.

Q: "Can I have multiple Zaps running for the same calendar?"

A: Absolutely. 

Let's say you wanted to send two reminders - one 24 hours before the appointment and another at one hour before the appointment. All you need to do is set up two separate Zaps - the first being just like we've shown you in this article, and the second being almost exactly the same but with 1 hour as the "Time before" setting in the Action section of the workflow.

Q: "How do I re-visit my Zap to alter the configuration once it's live?"

A: From the Zapier dashboard, click on Zaps in the left hand menu, and then select your Zap from the list on the right:

You can also organise your Zaps into folders to make it easier to find them.