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Robly: Contact already exists error

  • 24 June 2022
  • 5 replies

I handle marketing for a small YMCA. Folks are able to register online for YMCA membership. When they do this, we want a “Welcome to the YMCA” email automatically sent to them. Our registration program doesn’t allow for this, but it will email our team whenever someone joins or renews membership. That email includes the new member’s email address, so we’re using Zaps to connect Gmail to Robly (our newsletter program.)


  • Our Gmail account has filters set up, so it separates the joins/renewals from other emails and sends them to a separate Label (folder).
  • Our e-newsletter program is Robly.
  • We have a three-part Zap set up. Whenever an email hits that Label/folder, the Zap is triggered to pull the email address and create a new contact in Robly under our “New Member” list.


Where we’re running into issues…

If an email address already exists, the Zap returns this error: The app returned `{"message":"Contact already exists."} I’m currently adding these email addresses manually to the correct list, but I’d love to find a way to work around this. Any recommendations? Doesn’t look like there’s an option to “Update or Create Contact” with Robly.


Some other details…

  • Someone might be a new YMCA member, but may have participated in a Y program in the past. Therefore, their email may already exist in Robly.




Thank you in advance!


Best answer by Danvers 20 July 2022, 15:49

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5 replies

What about the ‘Add contact to list’ Robly action?

Thanks for the response @GrahamNedelka! I experimented with that option a few weeks ago. I think that one only works if the contact already exists in the Robly list. I’ll give it another shot, though!

Right now, I’ve found options that assume everyone is already in Robly and needs to be added to the correct list, or assume no one is in Robly and needs to be created as a contact. I’m hoping there’s an option that could marry the two.

I could definitely be doing something wrong, though. I’m pretty new to Zapier.

Userlevel 4
Badge +6

Hello @mslaymca 

You might be able to achieve by creating a database of contacts in Google Sheets or Airtable whenever you receive a new member registered.

1.Add search lookup Action in Google Sheets that contains the list of contacts you added in Robly

2.Now apply filter with the condition of Contact Not Found in that Google Sheet

3.Add a Create Spreadsheet Rows Action step after you add the Contacts to Robly.

Using these three action steps in your zap can be a good workaround solution for your problem.

Userlevel 7
Badge +9

Hey there, @mslaymca! I wanted to swing by and see if @Satya09 recommendations did the trick for you? Keep us posted! 🤗

Userlevel 7
Badge +12

Hi @mslaymca!

It sounds like in a perfect world you’d like a search action that would Find a contact and if it doesn’t exist in Robly, it creates one. That doesn’t exist in the Robly integration right now, but it is the most popular feature request for the app! I’ve added you to the list of interested contacts for that feature request, which lets the Robly team know how many of our mutual users would like to see that added and means that we’ll send you an email if we have an update. 


In the meantime, the workaround by @Satya09 might help you out here - did you need any help understanding that? My understanding is that you would need to download a list of all the current contacts in Robly into an app like Google sheets or Airtable, then when you get a new contact, you search that list and only continue if the email address isn’t found. If it’s found, the Zap stops. If it isn’t found, you add the contact to Robly and then add the name to the sheet so it’s there the next time you search the list. 


The other way that I could think of doing it would be to set up 2 Zaps both with:

  1. Gmail - New email 
  2. Formatter - Text
  3. Robly - Find Contact

Then add a Filter by Zapier step that looks to see if any of the fields fromt eh Find Contact step exist (ie it sees if a contact was found). 


One Zap would continue if the contact was found and moves the contact to the correct list, the other Zap would only continue if the contact wasn’t found and creates the contact. You can find more information on using Filters to create this kind of ‘branching logic’ (if x happens, do a, if y happens, do b) in this help guide:


I hope that helps!