Over the last few years, the content marketing ship has undeniably steered in the direction of automation.
According to statistics, 51% of digital companies now use marketing automation, and 58% of B2B companies are planning to adopt it soon. Even more topically, 91% of successful content marketers agree that automation is crucial to their overall success.
Some cynics believe that automation is just another buzzword that tricks small companies into investing in expensive tools and services. And hey – if you think marketing automation is all about paying a computer to do the job, then sure – you’ll probably end up wasting money on cash grabs.
However, if you incorporate the essence of automation in your core marketing strategy – particularly the areas that are already proven to work – it’s the best thing you can ever do for your business.
The overall objective of automation is to save you time, effort, and focus that you can spend on more meaningful tasks. In today’s digital marketing world, there are many automation tool options for many different sorts of workflows.
To quickly give you a better grasp on how automation works, take a look at the infographic below.
Image source: MavenEcommerce
From a content marketing standpoint, automation usually means utilizing automated workflows that perform repetitive activities, such as sharing content on social media, sending follow-up emails and keeping track of all data-related internal processes.
In this post, I’m going to share how you can build an automated system for content marketing that will boost your efficiency and supercharge your business.
Let’s get started.
1. Automating social sharing
Buffer works by enabling users to create a social media posting schedule, add new content to their publishing queue, and waiting for it to be shared automatically.
Although it is frequently advertised as a social media marketing automation tool, I see it more as a scheduling platform that still requires a lot of attention from your end. In other words, I feel like the ‘automation’ aspect isn’t necessarily there.
However, the good news is there’s an automated system for using Buffer’s automated system without putting in all the legwork. I’d like to introduce you to a tool that, in my opinion, can save you a lot of time on social sharing called IFTTT, or If This, Then That.
It allows you to create an ‘applet’ to develop your own automated workflow. To show you the true potential of automation for social sharing using IFTTT, let’s go ahead and create an applet for social sharing to Buffer.
First, create an account, log in, and then click on ‘My Applets’.
In the ‘My Applets’ page, you can store every single custom workflow you create. Go ahead and click the ‘New Applet’ button.
IFTTT lets you connect two different tools or services. One functions as a trigger and the other becomes the resulting action.
For example, let’s say you publish content to a WordPress site. First, you need to click the big ‘+ this’ button.
Then you need to search for ‘WordPress’ and click the first result that shows up.
You will then be prompted to connect to your existing WordPress site to grant IFTTT permission to access your content.
Moving onto the next page, fill in your site’s URL along with the login credentials for the account you wish to use.
On the next page, you can choose between two of the available triggers for the WordPress service. The second option – ‘New post with tag or category’ – is pretty useful if you only want to send specific posts to Buffer, or if you have other authors on board.
Any option will do for our purposes today, but for the sake of simplicity, click the first option: ‘Any new post’.
After clicking an option, the next step is to pick the action, which is doable by clicking ‘+ that’.
Are you starting to get an idea of how this works?
In the search box, type in ‘Buffer’ then click on the result. Connect the services by providing your Buffer account credentials.
If you already have multiple accounts connected with Buffer, don’t forget to select the specific social media account that you’d like to use as the content distribution channel.
Select ‘Add to Buffer’ to load up the ‘Complete action fields’ page.
Finally, write a description, click ‘Create action’ and then ‘Finish’ to start automatically adding new posts to your Buffer queue.
That’s it! Whenever you publish new content on WordPress, it will now automatically be scheduled for social media sharing through Buffer.
It may take a bit of work, but once you’ve figured out the best posting times and strategies for social media and how to apply it to your Buffer strategy, you will be able to save several hours per week on your sharing tasks.
The key takeaway is there’s even an automated system for using an automated system like Buffer.
2. Automating emails
Social media is effective at raising brand awareness and extending the online reach of your content. But when it comes to interactions that truly generate conversions, you need a more direct line of communication with your target audience.
This is where content marketing automation is great for email marketing platforms.
In theory, you should be able to use IFTTT’s ability to create applets for email marketing automation. The only problem with this approach, though, is that it’s hard to align your workflows with your target audience’s actions.
That’s why, for this purpose, I’ll introduce you to my favorite comprehensive email marketing tool that not only allows automation but can also track your audience’s interactions. It’s called GetResponse.
Sure, plenty of other email marketing platforms support automation, but GetResponse has one of the most intuitive workflow builders I’ve ever seen.
After registering, you start by clicking ‘Create a workflow’ under the ‘Automation’ menu.
This will bring you directly to the ‘Workflow editor’.
GetResponse works by letting you link together different elements. Just like IFTTT, these comprise mostly of conditions and actions.
With GetResponse, however, you can also take advantage of filters, which control the flow between each element.
Let’s say you want to automate a welcome email so that whenever you acquire new subscribers to your mailing list, they get a nice message. For this task, you’ll only require two core elements:
- A condition – ‘Subscribed via…’
- An action – ‘Send message immediately’
To add these elements into your workflow, simply drag and drop them into an empty space in the editor.
To spice things up and show you how flexible GetResponse can be, let’s add a filter that will only send the email to the first thirty subscribers.
Under the ‘Filters’ section, add the ‘Amount’ filter into your workflow.
With the ‘Amount’ filter element still selected, click the ‘Properties’ tab and then insert 30 as the number of contacts you wish to reach.
If you’re wondering why you would limit email recipients to a certain number, the answer is simple: it adds exclusivity and therefore increases the value of your content. This is handy if you’re trying to send special offers or host an exclusive webinar for your first-ever customers.
Next, do the same thing for the ‘Select the message’ filter. This time, you need to choose which email will be sent.
Of course, you must build an email before you can proceed with this step. Don’t worry – GetResponse also has a drag and drop email builder that can help you create beautiful newsletters in a few quick and easy steps.
Once you’re set to go, it’s time to connect the final dots by clicking the check mark from the condition and filter elements, and then dragging it to the next element in line.
Once done, you can save and implement your workflow. And that’s how you can automate for email!
Using GetResponse, you can also automate a whole heap of other processes in email marketing – from sending follow-up emails to lead segmentation. It’s just a matter of determining which elements you need and piecing them together in your workflow.
3. Automating research
Finally, the key to a sustainable automated content marketing strategy is streamlining a way to come up with topics that will keep your brand stay relevant.
In a perfect world, every piece of content you publish would be crafted with your own, original idea. But now that millions of blog posts are being written every single day, accomplishing such a feat is near impossible.
Your only chance is being quick to identify trends and hot topics in your industry.
This is where automated content research steps in.
Pocket is a simple, cross-platform app that allows you to discover, save, and organize web content into a personal list. The main point to remember is to make your list readily available to your content team.
Google Sheets doesn’t need an introduction but definitely has a place in your content marketing strategy, particularly in the area of automated content research. A popular strategy is to have a Google spreadsheet of content ideas that writers, editors, and everyone else involved in your content strategy can access.
So, using IFTTT, you can link Pocket and Google Sheets together into one convenient, self-designed applet.
To do this, go to the applet creation page, set Pocket as the trigger and select ‘Any new item’.
Next, in the ‘Choose action service’ page, look for Google Drive. This time, select ‘Add row to spreadsheet’.
This is where things get a little complicated. At the ‘Complete action fields’ page, insert the spreadsheet’s name as well as its Google Drive folder path. If the spreadsheet you specified doesn’t exist yet, IFTTT will create you a new one.
In the ‘Formatted row’ field, IFTTT will automatically generate a bunch of ingredients intended to pull data from your Pocket account and into Google Sheets.
You can modify the format of new rows as you see fit. For a list of all the possible ingredients, you can use, click the ‘Ingredients’ button. Also, don’t forget that you can separate the information between cells by adding ‘|||’!
Once you’ve created and activated this applet, you can start looking for trending content via Pocket while populating an ideas list for everyone to see in Google Sheets.
Bonus tip: You can use IFTTT to connect Pocket with Buffer as well for an automated content curation workflow. Whenever you ‘tag’ or save new content to your Pocket list, it can automatically be added to your Buffer queue.
Today, online marketing success can be achieved in many ways. You can hire social media influencers to advocate for your brand, launch experiential marketing projects to generate buzz, or ride the virtual reality hype train for instant exposure.
Sure, these approaches will give you results, but before you spend top dollar on them, focus on maximizing your results with what you already have.
Automation is a cost-effective practice plus it can help you spot room for improvement from within your organization.
Hopefully, the tips and tricks listed above can help you build an automated system for content marketing that will save you time, and improve your results.
When it comes to automation, the possibilities are endless. For more tools and resources on leveraging automation, I suggest you check out this post on the top 10 digital marketing automation tools for businesses.
Guest Author: Vikas Agrawal is a start-up Investor & co-founder of the Infographic design agency Infobrandz that offers creative and premium visual content solutions to medium to large companies. Content created by Infobrandz are loved, shared & can be found all over the internet on high authority platforms like HuffingtonPost, Businessinsider, Forbes , Tech.co & EliteDaily.