As businesses tap into the cloud, software applications become more interconnected than ever. A single piece of functionality may be shared with hundreds of other applications and services, creating new opportunities for developers to create unique customer experiences.
Your decades-old on-premise programs need to communicate in real-time with the latest web-based integrations to support your business functions. If you’ve ever wondered how these programs actually communicate with each other, webhooks are one common method. Let’s explore what webhooks are and how to use them.
What is a Webhook used for?
In its simplest form, a webhook is an automated data exchange tool. A webhook sends a message to you whenever an action happens between two connected apps. For example, you can connect your lead data from Parserr to Salesforce through a webhook. There are a few key terms to understand when it comes to what is a webhook:
Notification: This is the message you receive once the webhook experience a trigger on your application.
Payload: This is the data contained in the messages sent by the webhook.
Event: An action that a user takes triggers the webhook.
Webhook HTTP endpoint: This is where the system sends out and captures your data or payload.
Webhook provider: The application sends the data or notifications when the webhook gets a trigger.
Webhook HTTP callback: Also called HTTP request or POST request. This is a webhook function that sends data from one system to another.
As an example, consider an automated notification system that links your bank account to your phone number. If you purchase or transfer funds using your debit or credit card, you will receive a text message to notify you of the transaction. You will also receive an SMS if there’s any other activity on your account, so you can take action if suspicious activity.
In this case, the webhook event is the bank transaction. It triggers a callback across the banking and mobile systems to send you the notification to your phone. The webhook provider automatically sends the payloads every time a transaction takes place.
As you can imagine, you can make many applications through a webhook subscription as long as you need two systems to exchange information. This data exchange happens on the web using a webhook URL that supports JSON or XML files.
Once your webhook settings are in place, you don’t have to query your apps for data manually. You’ll simply receive the notifications immediately after an action occurs.
Why Use Webhooks?
There are many benefits of using a webhook in your business, but eliminating manual data entry is the main advantage. Ask yourself one question: where do you want your data to go? If a subscriber changes their email address, you want that change reflected in your CRM. Set up webhooks on both ends, that is, on the subscription platform and your CRM.
When the email change occurs, the data automatically transforms to your CRM, and you’ll receive a notification about this event. You won’t have to manually check your subscriber list for changes or input the new email address manually into your CRM.
A webhook connects any third-party app to your accounting, marketing, payment processor, CRM, spreadsheets, or other external API. It automatically exchanges information and sends a push notification for every specific event. Here are some more examples of how a webhook provider saves you time and increases your efficiency.
Link new leads from your email inbox to your CRM software
Link a payment platform to your email marketing system for transaction notifications
Send customer data to your business intelligence system for data analytics and insights
Send parsed data from your email inbox to accounting software for reconciliation
Link receipt and invoice data to your lead management system for aftersales follow-ups
Keep in mind that many different APIs use the same data, so you can feed them all using webhooks. For example, online transaction data can link to accounting, marketing, scheduling, and other software. More importantly, use webhooks for every event that needs a notification.
These events need notifications: online inquiries, ticketing systems, bounced online payments, new appointments, and rescheduling. Why use webhooks? The less time you spend manually checking your APIs for changes, the more time you spend nurturing other facets of your business.
What Is The Difference Between An API And A Webhook?
While a webhook and an API have similarities, the key difference is receiving data. A webhook is also called a reverse API because it offers data as it comes. In contrast, an API needs a query to reveal new data. API pulling is the process of getting new data from an API.
Your application periodically requests the API server for new data to stay updated. A webhook, however, pushes data to you as soon as a unique event occurs. There’s no need to request new data with a webhook because you’ll receive it immediately it happens.
Let’s use an analogy: imagine that you’re looking to buy the latest smartwatch from your preferred online retailer. The API way is to keep checking the retailer’s website to see if any new smartwatches are available. The webhook way is for the smartwatch retailer to contact you when the product is in stock. You wouldn’t need to visit the retailer’s website after all frequently.
Webhook integration may seem a lot better than using an application programming interface (API): webhooks are faster, easier to use, and save more time. But in some cases, an API may be the better choice. Understand that:
Some applications don’t support webhook integration, and building a webhook at the API endpoint may be challenging.
A webhook only gives notifications about an event. You’ll still need an API to use the actual event payload.
A webhook may generate lots of data, which may get flagged as a DDoS attack on the API.
An API call may better track changes over a longer duration if an application frequently changes, rather than immediate notifications for every change.
Your use case is a major factor when considering the difference between a webhook and an API. An API is driven by requests, meaning that you need to ask or query it for changes. This is like searching for a specific hashtag on Instagram.
A webhook stays active through events, meaning that it generates notifications for every single change. This is like Instagram telling you when that hashtag is in use. Always check that your webhook integration can handle the amount of new data generated by your applications.
How to Set Up Webhooks?
The best way to learn how to set up webhooks is to try it yourself. Let’s use Parserr as an example. Once extracted, your email data can go out to any third-party app through a webhook. Any API that exchanges data using JSON and HTTP POST requests can work with webhook integration. Your webhook setup would be as follows:
Step 1: Create a New Webhook URL
If you’re using RequestBin, WebhookHQ, or any other webhook provider, create a new webhook URL and copy it to your clipboard.
Step 2: Create a Custom Integration for Parserr
Paste the webhook URL as the recipient of the extracted email data. When the data is parsed from your incoming emails, the webhook will POST the data to your CRM program.
Step 3: Select the Webhook Events
In this case, your webhook event is an incoming email on your Parserr account. The webhook payload will contain the extracted information from your emails.
Step 4: Test the Webhook Setup
Navigate to “Test URL” on your webhook provider to verify the link between Parserr and your CRM.
Step 5: Check the Webhook Event Log
On the webhook provider, check the POSTs section to see whether the link works and which data went out to your CRM. Every time an email is extracted for data, your webhook notification will get a trigger.
Note: Even if your CRM doesn’t have the webhook integration built into it, you can still create a webhook endpoint and set up a webhook request to derive data. This means developing custom webhooks to enable your CRM to share data with other APIs.
That said, Parserr is already built to exchange JSON data through HTTP POST requests. It’s easy to integrate webhooks with Parserr with no coding skills.
Ready to Start Using Webhooks?
Webhooks are becoming a popular choice for businesses looking to increase automation and reduce manual data entry processes. With simple webhook integration, you can instantly transfer data from one app to another.
Many applications, including Parserr, already use webhooks right out of the box. This helps you unlock your parsed data’s full potential to improve your business. Contact us today to learn how to post requests and integrate Parserr webhooks in your business processes.