Updated: Nov 19, 2020
When it comes to apps that allow integrating web applications together, Zapier is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, and biggest players in the field. They invented a new type of service by making it possible for anyone to integrate applications together without any code. As their success grew so did their competition. Now even Microsoft has a product to compete with Zapier. But today I want to compare Zapier with another big name in the industry, Integromat. Integromat like Zapier was founded in 2012 but it is not yet as famous as his distant American cousin. The two services have the same goal, build powerful automations and integrations, but their tools are very different. So which one to chose?
Zapier has over 2000+ apps and is adding new ones all the time. It is I believe the biggest library of apps in the industry. Integromat has probably close to 1000 apps and they are also adding them at an incredible pace. Looks like Integromat is catching up but Zapier still has a solid lead.
But having a lot of apps is not all. The endpoints available for those apps is equally important, if not more. It is a very frustrating experience to see that an app is available on one of those platforms only to discover that the desired endpoint is missing. For example, some CRM apps may let you create a new customer but not update customers.
Integromat offers an average of 16 endpoints per app when Zapier offers an average of 8. Clear lead for Integromat here. To top it off they have been adding "Make an API call" end-points to most of the apps allowing to make custom API calls for advanced users when an end-point is missing.
Those two apps serve the same purposes, integrating apps together, so logically they have similar core features. They sometimes look different or are named differently but they are similar on the surface. As always the devil is in the details. Here I am going to compare the main core features and I will touch a word about small features that sometimes platform-specific.
The trigger is the start of any automation and both Zapier and Integromat offer two types of triggers. Polling triggers that look for changes in a specific data set at regular intervals (e.g. see if a new row has been added to Google Sheets every 5 minutes) and instant triggers (= webhooks).
Webhook triggers work pretty much the same way in both apps. I would say the main difference is for "custom webhooks". Integromat webhooks can easily be reused across different scenarios. To re-use a Zapier webhook the Zap must be cloned.
For polling triggers, Integromat is way more granular. Zapier polling is based on the plan that you are on. From 15 min for the free plan to 1 min for the higher-tier plans. Integromat also offers shorter polling intervals in the pricier plans but they also offer advanced scheduling options so you can run a scenario at specific intervals.
This is great because it allows for creating way smarter scenarios. The snapshot above is extracted from a scenario that sends an email to job applicants that are "stuck" on a stage (e.g.: schedule interview) in a custom Applicant Tracking System app built on Knack. I needed to send the applicant an email when the applicant has been on the stage for 1-2 days and another email if they have been on that stage 3-4 days. On top of that, I want the email to go out at 5 am for an optimum open rate. It is doable in Zapier but I would have to set-up a complex bunch of filters to make it work. My zap would trigger every one minute and see that the "time on stage" field in Knack has changed. It is not nearly as clean as a solution.
Another cool thing about the Integromat trigger is that it is possible to start a scenario with a Search. It is not even necessary to look for new records or updated records. This is very practical to set-up scheduled automation or "utility" automation. For example, let's say you have some contacts in Sendgrid that unsubscribed but for some reason, some contacts in your CRM don't have the tag "unsubscribed" and you would like to get back in sync. You could schedule a task to look for unsubscribed contacts in your Sendgrid database and search them in your CRM, if the contact does not have a tag add tag. This is not doable in Zapier, the best way to do this would be to export the data into a csv, then import it to a Google Sheet and use Google Sheets as the trigger.
Filters are essential to refine the logic of an automation. Both Zapier and Integromat offer work with "And" and "Or" and also have the ability to group statements. The conditions listed are very similar also. So in terms of power, they are pretty much the same.
The main difference is that in Zapier filters are a step (=operation) so they cost money. In Integromat filters are set-up on the branch and do not consume operations. Another thing that bugs me with Zapier filters is that once you select a field to be filtered it shows differently as when the field is mapped on an app (colored background + test value). This can make it hard to work with complex data sets. What I do .ike about Zapier is the ability to test the filter logic easily, very useful!
Winner: Integromat but that was a close one
When a user builds a workflow on Zapier or Integromat mapping is the part that can get very boring. Finding the right data and mapping to the right-field can be very tedious, especially when there is a lot of fields and module/steps.
Zapier has a search box to quickly find data from any previous steps where in Integromat you have to scroll through thousands of lines in a complex scenario to find the right field to map. What about using the good old browser Ctrl + F? Well that closes the mapping window.
The only thing that saves Integromat here is the ability to clone a module. This is amazing to build scenarios with a lot of almost similar steps. Zapier does not offer this feature and it is a real bummer.
Winner: this is a draw, both apps have a lot of room to improve the experience of their users during the mapping process with some simple (I think) changes.
When I first used Zapier back in 2015 there was no ability to branch out a zap based on a value of a specific field, for example, "do this if the order comes from the Shopify store or do that if the order comes from our POS". Zapier finally added this capability in 2017 or even maybe 2018. That was a huge drawback because to branch out the builder had to create and maintain several scenarios.
Unfortunately for Zapier, the UX they designed is horrendous. To keep their original vertical design they had to sacrifice the user experience. To edit a branch (they call it Path) the user has to open a pop-up window that isolates them from the rest of the Zap. It is so unpleasant to work with that I always use paths as a last resort.
On the other hand, Integromat drag and drop scenario builder is one of the coolest UX I have ever seen. The user can easily re-arrange the modules on the page to make it easier to understand the workflow at one glance. They even have a magic tool called "auto-align" to re-arrange everything in one click when one made a mess.
The scenario above used to be 6 Zaps, some of them with nearly 50 steps (it was built pre-paths). It was giving me nightmares when I had to troubleshoot that automation.
Winner: Integromat! Zapier is not even in the same league in terms of UX...
5. Advanced Features
Both Zapier and Integromat have features and capabilities that are designed for power users and I will just mention the main ones
Custom Code Module/App
Zapier has a really cool built-in "Code" app that allows users with coding skills to supercharge their automation. Like creating loops. Integromat does not have an equivalent but they have an AWS Lambda connector that allows doing all of this and more if you are familiar with this service.
Advanced tools Integromat
Integromat offers a set of tools that are by themselves setting them apart from Zapier.
Iterator and Array aggregator: those two tools are not easy to use and require advanced knowledge but they alone make Zapier look like a toy. They allow handling complex data sets and processing multiple records at once.
Repeater: perfect to easily repeat a task a specified amount of times.
Text, Numeric, and Table aggregator: easily aggregate data from the different record into one output (e.g. application: look-up product on a Google Sheet and create a HTML list of all the product to send it by email)
Set and Get variables
I wanted to add that Zapier have 20 apps that do support line items, that include: Quickbooks Online, Google Sheets, Shopify, and a few others...20. That is very very limited for anyone but somewhat logical because unlike Integromat most app triggers and searches can only return one record at a time.
Parsing, Formatting, and Manipulating data
In Zapier the formatting and dynamic data handling is pretty limited. It is also a money pit. If you know the symbol below and you have built serious automations in Zapier you know!
Every time you need to format something you need to use the Formatter and this consumes one task. You want to sum two values from two fields from two previous steps, one task. Do you want to capitalize names that come from your intake form? One task. It creates a visual noise on the Zap and the only reason it is that way is to generate revenue. I don't blame them but that is one factor that contributed to working less and less with Zapier and more and more with Integromat.
On the Other hand, Integromat offer incredible dynamic mapping. It is possible to manipulate the data directly "in-line", in the field. To go back to the example above it is possible to capitalize directly in the field without consuming any operations. To top it off functions can be nested into each other so it is amazing. They have all sorts of functions to manipulate text string, dates, numbers or to create additional logic, including if this then that type of logic.
Regarding parsing, Integromat has a dedicated module that is quite powerful if you have a good knowledge of regex. Otherwise, it is not very useful. On the other hand, Zapier has a few basic parsing functions in the formatter that are easy to use. They do have a really cool tool to parse emails that act both as a trigger and an easy to use parser. Very handy.
Winner: Integromat ... so much power
6. Error Handling & Logs
Error handling is critical when building integrations between apps. So many things can go wrong that a good system is required to keep the automations running smoothly. There is nothing worse than building automations to save time and money and end up spending time and money to fix a mess created by that automation.
There are a few reasons for an automation to fail. First is when a third party throws an error like time-out, 5XX error, ...Or it could be an error in the format of the data being fed to a module. A classic is when an automation tries to create or update a record with a dropdown field with a value that is not supported by the destination app.
Zapier is very easy to handle the first type of errors. They have an option to auto-replay and they will try until it works. Integromat, on the other hand, will stop the scenario by default which can be a problem if a small error stops an entire automation until an administrator fixes it. However, Integromat offers many granular features to handle errors. The builder can decide exactly what to do when an error happens: retry, ignore, .. even create an entirely new path with several modules! For example, in a simple scenario that sends a text, it is possible to specify that if the send text fails because the text service is down then an email will be sent instead. For people coming from Zapier error handling will be a challenge at first because it is so granular that it is overwhelming.
One big issue with Zapier is that if a zap is turned off it will not queue the webhooks. So if your scenario that sends email confirmation to your customer when they make a purchase is turned off in the middle of the night you will have no easy way to send those emails to the clients that made a purchase while the zap was off. This can be disastrous.
Last thing but not least, Integromat has this amazing feature that allows the user to replay a scenario from the error point using a modified scenario. Let's say there is a complex integration that adds a new Shopify order into an ERP and that a step fails because the customer entered an unsupported character into a custom field. In Zapier the zap will fail and the administrator will have to either re-trigger the zap manually or enter the data manually in the destination app(s). This can be very cumbersome. In Integromat the administrator can just replay that execution after removing the dynamic mapping for that field and paste the customer entry without the special characters. This can be done in minutes instead of sometimes hours in Zapier for complex integrations.
When it comes to troubleshooting an automation issue, logs are critical. Both Zapier and Integromat store historical data for 30 days. They both offer similarity in terms of seeing the data that came in and out of each module/step but Zapier offers filters and search that makes it extremely easy to find a specific task that failed. Integromat UX in that regard is pretty bad. Find a specific execution feels like finding a needle in a haystack on a scenario that processes a lot of data.
It is always hard to compare apples and carrots, and rarely wise. There are many parameters to answer precisely which one offers the best value. As I write this a sure thing is that for most use cases Integromat is much cheaper than Zapier. Zapier prices have hiked quite a bit since I started using it back in 2015. Their product is mature and despite the cost, they can still deliver decent ROI to their customers but the trend is concerning.
A few things to take into account when you compare pricing between Zapier and Integromat:
Set-up cost: Integromat is more Granular so it tends to take longer to build the same simple workflows. For complex workflows, it is often the opposite.
The number of modules/steps per workflow. Because Integromat is more powerful it often allows building the same workflow with fewer modules hence lowering the number of operations/tasks required for each cycle. Some of the workflows that I moved over from Zapier to Integromat use 25-30% fewer operations/tasks than previously.
Cost per task/Operation
Pricing Comparison Integromat vs Zapier: volume of operations/tasks per dollar amount
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Looking at this table you can see that Integromat is much more affordable. If you think you will use a lot of tasks/operations the cost will be a big factor when the time comes to decide between Zapier and Integromat. If you think you are spending too much on Zapier the cost of migrating to Integromat has an amazing return on investment. This summer I migrated several task-hungry Zapier scenarios to Integromat and saved them thousands of dollars per year.
So Integromat or Zapier?
Choose Zapier if:
you want to build very simple integrations as fast as possible
have limited time to learn a new tool
your technical background is limited
your automation will not consume many operations
a critical app in your app stack is not supported by Integromat but is by Zapier
Choose Integromat if:
you think your automation will be task hungry
you will build complex logic between numerous apps
you are familiar with APIs and/or willing to learn a new tool
you like to have the best :)
Are you interested in switching to Integromat? Get a quote today