Syncing contacts data with Google Sheets

November 22, 2018
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Here’s a request we get often at PieSync.

Can I use PieSync to sync contacts data from and to a Google Sheets?

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It’s an intriguing request because Google Sheets is no ordinary app. Yet, for many SMB’s, it is often used as an important data source, and sometimes in fact acting as the main CRM. Here’s the truth: a direct sync with Google Sheets through PieSync is not yet available - we’re still working on that.

But in this article I will propose a valid workaround.

Why would you want to sync with Google Sheets?

A spreadsheet offers great flexibility to store contacts data. You are totally free to choose the structure in which you want to store your contacts data. Columns, rows, formula’s… all up to you. Whether it is existing customers data, or newly obtained contacts… chances are you do find yourself often processing that data in a sheet. Some people like to call this massaging.

The flexibility of a spreadsheet, however, becomes its greatest weakness when you consider Google Sheets as an app to start a 2-way sync with. In the many apps that PieSync supports, the common denominator is that they share a preset contacts object in their database.

MaiChimp has subscribers. Hubspot has contacts. Salesforce has leads. Xero has customers. Whichever the app, it’s a data object that comes with predictable names, emails, phone numbers,… This comes with the great advantage that PieSync has stored & mapped out the contacts schema for each and every app! This is what makes syncing any app to any other app possible through PieSync.

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Google Sheets does not come with such a clear & predictable layout. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. One sheet may have clearly titled columns “first name” “last name” and “email”… Another sheet may have completely different labels, or not come with any labels at all. Luckily, there still is a way to have Google Sheets sync with any of your favorite apps, and the solution is provided by our good friends over at FullContact.

Sync your app with FullContact, which in turn syncs with a sheet

Unfamiliar with FullContact? It is a powerful contact management tool that I sometimes like to think of as Google Contacts on steroids. FullContact also offers an enrichment API for big datasets, but in this case you’ll only need their free web interface which also comes with handy iOS & Android apps. It’s free limited to 1000 contacts and affordable if you go over.

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FullContact is a straightforward interface to store & process your personal & business contacts. Most interestingly, FullContact comes with a wide array of integrations. One of those integrations is FullContact’s ability to sync, 2-way (!), with a Google Sheets. And that’s the workaround. If you want to sync your app to a Google Sheets, sync it to FullContact instead. Then, in turn, have FullContact sync with Google Sheets and you’ve essentially set up a 2-way sync to Google Sheet in a controlled fashion.

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If you have FullContact installed, hop on over to their integrations page to install the Google Sheets plugin. . The sync between FullContact & Google Sheet gives the possibility to bulk edit FullContact contacts inside a dedicated Google Sheets. Having a 2-way sync setup with that very same FullContact account essentially makes those changes sync all the way through.

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One thing to note though is that you do need to have your contacts data properly formatted inside the layout of FullContact’s templated sheet. However, with a little bit of spreadsheet magic you can go a long way. Linking cells on external sheets or workbooks, concatenating cells, … The FullContact sheet acts as a simple communication bridge inside your Google Sheets environment, to make whatever source data you have sync directly with contacts in your other apps.

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Is your app available to sync with FullContact? Then it is available to sync with Google Sheets too.

About Frans Leys

Frans helps various companies set up their data syncs, collecting all kinds of customer feedback to drive the PieSync platform forward. He started his career in corporate finance and switched four years ago to work with exciting software startups as a solutions engineer for SMEs.