For business owners, extracting useful information from direct inquiries, invoices, receipts, and other important documents can be stressful.
Solopreneurs, for example, are usually more hands-on when it comes to their email communication channels. On top of pertinent business emails they should worry about, they sometimes have newsletters, personal messages, and other notifications in the mix.
Today, we’ll take a look at what an email parser is and what you should look for as well as the the inner-workings of Parserr — an email parser software that automates the data extraction process. First, a quick introduction.
What is an Email Parser?
An email parser is a tool designed to sift information from emails and eliminate the need for manual data entry.
An email parser typically works by letting you specify “rules” that can be tailored to perform specific tasks, such as to extract tabular data, obtain the sender’s email address, scan specific sections of PDF documents, and more.
Once the data is collected, you can send it straight to third-party services, like your CRM platform or email marketing tool. You can also download the data in CSV or Excel spreadsheet form.
Before emails can be parsed, they must first be made available to the email parser. Often this is by forwarding to a designated address that the parser has access to. That’s why it’s required for you to enable automatic forwarding in your email service provider after you set up your email parser software.
Most common uses of an email parser
We use email for a wide variety of reasons, making an email parser the go-to solution in any scenario that involves email data extraction. The following are popular uses of an email parser:
- Automatically extracts invoice data from services like PayPal, Amazon, eBay, and more
- Automates order fulfillment in e-commerce transactions
- Captures relevant contact information from real estate leads
- Consolidates important data extracted from web forms
- Pulls pertinent data from automated PDF reports sent via third-party applications.
While an email parser is a powerful automation tool for email data extraction, there are numerous productivity hacks to make you work even more efficiently.
- Integrate your email parser software with a communication tool like Slack so you can automatically share useful leads to your team.
- Connect your email parser to Zapier to allow easier consolidation of data into any platform you prefer.
- Teach the email parser how to manage variations in your emails by selecting the text where the preceding word or phrase is the same every time.
- Saving email data to a spreadsheet allows for easier importation into another app.
- Integrating your email parser with a CRM platform allows you to address customer issues more quickly and efficiently.
To learn more about how an email parser, and specifically Parserr works, here’s a closer look at platform and its key features:
If you’ve never heard of email parsing before, getting started might seem intimidating.
Parserr makes the initial setup process doable in less than 5 minutes. After creating and logging into your account for the very first time, you’ll be required to send a “test email” that represents the kind of email you expect to extract data from.
For this, you forward an email from your inbox to the address shown by Parserr.
In case an existing email isn’t available, you can also create a mock message that contains the details you want to parse. Parserr can automatically detect the useful details in an email all the same.
However, you need to tell it where to look by selecting the right part of the email on the next page.
The ensuing steps involve specifying any third-party tools you currently use and would like to integrate with Parserr. This includes automation platforms like Zapier as well as hundreds of other services where you can send your parsed data — like email marketing tools or CRM platforms (here’s whats the difference).
At this point, you don’t have to worry about your choices since you can still construct and change the parsing rules later on.
If you have no idea what to select, you can leave everything to the default options until you complete the initial setup.
After which, Parserr will automatically generate parsing rules based on the test email you sent.
Here’s a screenshot of what you may get:
Of course, not all auto-generated rules will make sense to what you want to accomplish with your email parser. That said, read through everything and select only the ones you intend to keep before clicking the “Yes, create the rules I have checked above” button.
2. Advanced Rule Management and Creation
Going through the initial setup process should help you understand much the features.
An email comes in, the email parser extracts data based on your rules, then you send them to an external platform or download them as either a CSV or Excel document.
However, Parserr’s most interesting feature is the rule management tool that lets you target the data you want to extract with much more accuracy.
On the “Rules” page, you start off by selecting the email part or attribute where Parserr should look for information.
Selecting an email attribute will automatically update the “Initial data” field, which gives you a preview of what the extracted data would look like.
Looking at the initial data, it’s clear that it’s far from usable. That’s why you need to refine it by adding filters to your would-be parsing rule.
To do this, click on the green “plus” icon to add a new filter. You then have to choose a “rule category” that aligns with your parsing goals.
For example, let’s say you want to extract a single line of information. The best rule category that fits this objective is the “Find content you need” category.
Upon clicking “Save,” you need to fill in a keyword that matches a piece of data on the email.
For the sake of this walkthrough, let’s say you want to extract the “Invoice ID.” Once you click “Update,” Parserr will immediately remove the rest of the email except for the content that contains that specific keyword.
That’s how rule filters work in a nutshell.
You can further refine this result by removing the “Invoice ID:” text by using the “Find & Replace” filter. Simply enter the exact characters you want to remove and leave the “replace with” field blank.
Finally, enter a name for your new parsing rule and click “Save Rule” to enable it in your Parserr account.
3. Data Export and Integrations
You now know what Parserr does and how you can use it to automatically extract specific bits of information from emails.
It’s time to learn about what you can do with your parsed data. With Parserr, you have two options: you either export the data into a spreadsheet or funnel it directly to other services via an integration platform.
Let’s start with the simpler option.
To export your data into a downloadable file, go to the “Export” tab and choose if you want to save it as an Excel or CSV document.
You can also choose the exact dates of the data you want to include. After you select “Data between dates” from the drop-down menu, pick start and end dates in the virtual calendar.
If you’re satisfied with your export settings, click “Download Now.” For security purposes, Parserr will send the data to your registered email.
Sending your data to a third-party platform may requires you to choose the right workflow from the “Integrations” tab, which are mostly through the Zapier automation platform.
Put simply, Zapier works by linking two services into one automated workflow. In this case, Parserr is your first service whilst the second one could be an email marketing platform, a cloud storage service, and so on.
For example, let’s say you created a parsing rule that collects the email addresses of senders. You can use this information to create new leads for your MailChimp mailing list.
In other words, the flexibility of Parserr is partly dependent on the services supported by Zapier.
Key considerations when choosing the right email parser solution
Ideally, you need an email parser solution that can accommodate your business needs. However, there are important qualifications you need to look into before making your final decision. They are the following:
- Offers flexibility in terms of creating rules.
- Has high compatibility with all email providers and all email formats.
- Clean and easy-to-use interface (parsing in itself is difficult already and an email parser solution that streamlines the process is just the thing you need).
- Easy integration through Zapier or direct to your own platforms.
- Has reliable customer service.
What has been increasing your email automation productivity?
Have you been using email automation to optimize your business process and increase your productivity?
If you answered with a “yes,” then feel free to share the tools you’re using in the comments section below and share with the community why you think the tool is awesome. Cheers!