Teams and individuals across the globe are adopting Notion in droves to organize their work and personal lives. The app's unique blend of features creates a foundation on which users craft custom workspaces for cohesively managing projects, relationships, finances, events, travel, goals—you name it. The minimal interface and rich database formats give pleasure to these otherwise dull initiatives.
Personally, Notion has become the operating system of my life and my business. In fact, Notion now constitutes the bulk of my work: I publish resources via Notion VIP and my YouTube channel, including Notion's most widely employed framework, The Bulletproof Workspace; I consult enterprise users; and I work directly for Notion on a variety of projects, such as the Help & Support page, the Certified Consultant program, and a training curriculum for the customer support team. My forthcoming course, Notion A-to-Z, will dive deeper into many of the concepts we'll explore in this piece.
Despite Notion's expanding pool of loyalists, workspaces were siloed for many years—until this past May, when Notion released its API. That allowed developers to connect Notion with other apps. The API also introduced Notion to automation tools like Integromat, where users can construct sequences of triggers and actions, which often incorporate other apps.
Below, we'll explore Integromat's distinct capabilities over other automation services, then construct the practical example of a personalized mass email.
Integromat and other automation services are like visual interfaces for APIs; they allow non-developers to automate actions in Notion and connect it with other apps to exchange information and make updates. To do so, users construct sequences of triggers and actions, which often include intermediate functions that control flow and manipulate information. In Integromat, these sequences are called "scenarios."
One of the most common automations is to sync a Notion database with Google Calendar:
I dive deeper into integrations and automation sequences in my post Notion Explained: The API Debut.
Automation services offer many of the same essential functions, but their interfaces and advanced capabilities differ considerably. While Integromat generally supports fewer apps, experts agree that it's far more versatile than other services and offers a more user-friendly interface.
Here are a handful of Integramat's distinct advantages over Zapier, the most commonly used alternative:
When it comes to Notion, Integromat's advantages extend even further:
Whereas Zapier can only be triggered by new database items, you can trigger Integromat scenarios with updated database items and pages. In this regard, only Integromat can support a two-way sync.
Consider the Google Calendar example. Zapier can add new items in a Notion database to a Google Calendar, but any updates to those events will remain unreflected. By contrast, the update in Notion can trigger Integromat, which can then updated the event in Google Calendar.
In addition to populating the properties of a database item, Integromat allows you to add content to the item's page body. Moreover, that content can assume many block types, including all formats of headings and lists, and even sub-pages.
Say you have a member directory, where each member's page includes biographical information. With Integromat, you could create a Typeform for members to create their profiles, including that inner page content.
By pairing Notion with Integromat, you can send an email to specified contacts in a Notion database, who will see personalized information, such their first names in the salutation. This example showcases many advantages of Integromat over Zapier, including the streamlined interface, triggers from updated database items, in-line functions, and interactions with inner page contents.
Meanwhile, it leverages such powerful Notion features as relations, templates and synced blocks.
Watch the video above for step-by-step configuration. Here's the gist:
Most Notion workspaces contain some variation of a Contacts database, with First Name, Email and other properties commonly found in a CRM. For this example, we call that database "Recipients."
In a Bulk Emails database, each item represents a message to be distributed to contacts selected from the Recipients database. It includes these properties:
Select → Planned, Drafting, Sending, Sent)
Relation → Recipients)
The emails are composed within the inner pages using only
Text blocks, each of which represents a paragraph.
A placeholder "variable" exists where the first name will be inserted for each recipient, formatted as:
. Each first name is drawn from the "First Name" property of the corresponding item in the Recipients database.
At the top of each page, above the email body, is a reference for HTML tags, which facilitate basic formatting. This reference is an instance of a Synced Block, which is populated from the "Bulk Email" template.
Comprising eight modules, the Integromat scenario triggers from a new or updated item in the Bulk Emails database. If the item has a status of "Sending," the email is personalized for, and sent to, each recipient, and Status is updated to "Sent."
Monitor the Bulk Emails database for new or updated items.
Continue only if the item has a status of "Sending."
Retrieve the blocks from the item's inner page (the email body).
Convert the inner-page blocks to an array.
Using an in-line formula, generate the email HTML as a text string:
unsupportedblocks (the Synced Block).
Update the Status property to "Sent."
For each contact in the Recipient property, execute the remaining two modules.
(Performed for each contact.)
Retrieve the item from the Recipients database.
(Performed for each contact.)
Using another in-line formula, replace
with the recipient's first name, then send the email to the recipient's email address, with the subject line from the Bulk Emails item that triggered the scenario.
If you hit any snags in your experimentation with the powerful Notion-Integromat duo, I welcome your questions @WilliamNutt.