In web application terms, webhook is an HTTP post that updates information when something happens. It provides events notification via HTTP post.
What does it have to do with marketing?
Webhook is used to send data from one application (for instance, your active campaign account) to another system or database. They are event driven. Once your Active Campaign account is connected to a third party application (like Zoho CRM), you can have real time updates on the databases as the app passes information to another app.
This is a convenient way to keep all data in your applications in sync, consistent and updated. Thus, it helps your sales and marketing teams to deliver a coherent experience with clients.
In simple terms, how does it work?
By allowing users to input a URL for specific events, an application will post data to those URLs when the events occur. Think about webhooks as messengers, they post message to a URL based on the API you have chosen as the initiation option for the webhooks.
APIs are create by developers to request services from an application. They enable software programs to communicate with each other. The idea is web application uses API to initiate a request, transmits data with webhooks which facilitate response to modify its own data.
When web application allows users to register their own URLs, the users can customize their own extensions and integrate applications for data exchange.
Webhooks not only receives data, it can go out and do something new and meaningful outside of the original event context. In programming, this is known as Pipes that receives data and pass it on to enable applications behave in different ways. For example, you can create a script that generates a twitter post whenever you have a new blog post on the website.
How is it relevant to inbound marketing?
As an example, Active Campaign (marketing automation application) provides you with webhooks to capture real time data for new updated contacts, campaign sending and more. You can choose to receive data based on certain actions (subscribes, unsubscribes, reads, etc..) and have all applicable data sent to a URL of your choice. You can then use custom script to read, save, and do whatever you want with that data.
There are certain types of initiation options that triggers the webhooks to run:
|By a contact||Run hooks when a contact causes the action (IE: subscribes, opens a campaign, etc..)|
|By an admin user||Run the hooks when an admin user causes the action (IE: adding a contact from the admin area)|
|By system processes||Run the hooks when automated systems cause the action (IE: bounces, automated campaigns, etc..)|
|By the API||Run the hooks when an API call causes the action (IE: adding a contact using the contact_add API call)|
How to use webhooks?
Webhooks are used to connect applications. For instance, we want to retrieve data from the Google sheets from our gmail accounts. Simply connect Active Campaign with Google sheets using Zapier as an intermediary.
Zapier is a powerful tool. It facilitates integration between applications. We can generate a custom URL (highlighted) for each application we want to connect with. In active campaign we can place this custom link under settings >> developer. By sending test data, we can determine if the webhook is working.
To see the type of data sent, we can access the webhook URL.