What is content marketing automation?
Content marketing involves using content such as blog posts, social media posts, videos, and emails to boost brand awareness and generate new leads. It has transformed the world of marketing — serving as a less invasive alternative to traditional forms of marketing.
There are numerous success stories involving content marketing from big brands. Often the key to successful content is high quality and high quantity — by producing original, interesting content consistently, you will get people hooked.
Of course, creating such content requires a lot of time and energy. According to tech investor Antoine Bechara, “This is where content marketing automation comes in. By using algorithms to help automatically carry out content marketing tasks instead of manually carrying out such tasks, content marketers can save time and energy.”
Many of us already use automation in other areas of business, from accounting to stock keeping. Often it is useful for eliminating repetitive tasks. Content marketing might not strike many people as a repetitive task considering that it relies on generating original content.
However, there are tasks within content marketing that can be repetitive such as reposting social media content and sending out mass emails. This guide explains how you can automate these tasks and the benefits this could have.
What are the benefits of content marketing automation?
There are many benefits to content marketing automation. Some of the biggest perks to automating your content marketing include:
- Saving time: Time is not a luxury many of us have. Automation allows you to effectively delegate tasks to software. By not having to handle these tasks yourself, your content marketers have more time to focus their energy elsewhere.
- Saving money: Automation can often save money for businesses in the long run. By reducing the workload for your content marketing team, you may not need to hire as many employees.
- Increasing qualified leads: When used to nurture prospects, content marketing automation can increase qualified leads for businesses by as much as 451%. By using analytics to identify content that is hot, and identifying the audience that regularly consumes this content, you can use automation to target your content at the right places.
- Pour energy into creativity: Your content creators are likely to be motivated by creativity and not by routine. By eliminating these routine tasks, you can allow content creators to pour their energy into creative tasks, rather than having it drained by those less desirable repetitive tasks.
What are the drawbacks of content marketing automation?
There are drawbacks to content marketing automation that are worth noting as well. Such drawbacks include:
- Cost of tools: While content marketing automation can be a means of saving money and potentially generating more customers, it may cost some companies more to implement. Automation software often comes with monthly fees — unless you’re using this software to its full potential, you may not find that it has much of a positive effect on your cash flow. Finding the right subscription plan will help you to get the best impact out of automation software.
- Training of employees: Your employees need to be trained to use these automation tools. This is extra time that you may initially have to invest in onboarding new recruits. Of course, choosing a program that is not overly complex could prevent this.
- Use of wrong tools: With so many automation tools out there fighting for attention, it can be difficult for companies to know which ones to use. According to Automizy’s 2019 Marketing Automation Challenges Report, finding the right marketing automation tools was the #1 challenge. Of course, finding the right guide to content marketing automation tools can stop this from being such a problem (which this guide does in the next section!).
What are the various ways to automate content marketing?
It may not be initially clear as to how automation can play a role in content marketing. Below are just some of the various ways in which content marketing automation is most commonly used and the ways in which this can benefit you.
Social Media Automation
Finding an image to post on Instagram or deciding upon the wording of a tweet is only a small part of the social media marketing process. In a true sense, there’s a whole lot that goes into social media planning. As content planners, one needs to focus on design, editing, reporting, and more. But the most critical one being social media scheduling. Knowing when to post content and when to repost it is also important. This is where automation can come into play.
Automation tools can share content at the best times in order to get the most engagements. They do this by using analytic data to determine when your followers are most active, and when content gets the most interactions.
There are also other ways to use social media automation, including automatically sharing blog posts to social media, automated Instagram messages, and even identifying hot content topics to post about.
A few automation tools that can come in handy when automating social media content include:
Hootsuite is the world’s most widely used social media marketing platform. It can help you manage all your social media channels from one place while also allowing you to schedule posts. There’s a free version of Hootsuite, but it’s quite limited. Compared to other tools, it can be quite expensive, but it’s easy to use and has a lot of support.
Sendible is a social media management platform just like Hootsuite that arguably offers more bang for your buck. On top of being able to schedule content, you can automatically repost content, monitor keywords and share relevant content from RSS feeds. There is a range of plans offered, starting at $29 per month.
When it comes to sharing blog posts on social media, MissingLettr is the ultimate platform to automate the process. On top of being able to automatically share or schedule content once it’s published, MissingLettr can help you find the best quotes, images and hashtags to accompany your posts. It can also automatically repost content at relevant times. Subscription plans start at $9 per month.
Zapier allows you to create custom automated processes between your applications, including social media ones. The team at Solitaired, for example, uses Zapier to immediately share their blog posts about new solitaire games across their social channels.
SEMRush is primarily a PPC and SEO tool, but it can also be used for social media purposes. Its Social Media Poster tools allow you to schedule posts months in advance. Its Social Media Tracker tool can also be used to offer analytics of your best performing content, as well as content posted by competitors so that you can see what hashtags and topics they’re using.
A study by Vertical Response found that 43% of small business owners spent six hours or more per week on social media marketing. By using automation, social media marketing could become a lot less time-consuming, freeing up time for you to focus your energy elsewhere.
Email Marketing Automation
According to Ascend2’s Marketing Technology Utilization Survey, 53% of marketing influencers found marketing automation email to be one of the most effective types of technology for marketing purposes. Of all the content marketing automation tools, email automation tools are the most commonly used.
What makes email marketing automation so popular? The main pull factor is the ability to manage mailing lists and automatically send bulk emails to certain groups. Some of these tools also allow you to see who has opened your emails and clicked on links within them to get a good idea of how engaging your emails are. Automation clearly makes communication with your audience much easier.
Such tools can allow you to segment your mailing lists so that you can focus specific emails towards certain members of your audience. This can be useful for carrying out A/B testing – you can send out two slightly different emails to two sections of your mailing list and then compare the results of both.
Email marketing automation tools can also be used to trigger specific emails when customers or subscribers take certain actions. This includes thank you emails, reminder emails, shipping confirmations, or updates to individual subscribers and clients that you might otherwise forget to send manually.
There are a few different marketing automation tools on the market. Some tools that you may want to adopt include:
Outfunnel is ideal for those that want a sales-centric tool. It’s designed to help automate B2B lead nurturing, something other email automation tools don’t focus on. On top of being able to be integrated with email platforms like Mailchimp, it has its own drip campaign feature. Outfunnel also includes web tracking and lead scoring features.
Mailchimp’s main perk is its ease of use. While it cannot handle the complex processes of other email automation tools, it does offer a host of automated actions that you can trigger. The actions include welcoming sequences to new subscribers, birthday emails, engagement emails for inactive customers and abandoned shopping cart reminders.
Drip is another popular email automation platform. On top of allowing you to carry out all the general mailing list features, it also allows you to set triggers and corresponding actions. This can effectively allow you to send chains of automated emails depending on how subscribers react to each email – a useful time-saving feature.
Sendinblue arguably has the most features of any email automation platform on the market. Like Drip, you can set up triggers and corresponding actions, but with even more parameters and functions. It’s a tool for serious email marketers – while fairly to use, beginners might find its range of features a little intimidating (and you likely won’t use half of them).
Automating Advertising Content
PPC (pay per click) ad campaigns are themselves automated processes. You create an advert, choose your budget, choose the demographic you’d like to target, and the ad is then automatically shared with an audience that meets your specs. Google Ads and Facebook Ads are the two most popular platforms.
There are ways to further automate your advertising, including using scripts that can help to fine-tune parameters for you. This can take a lot of the time and effort out of setting up and renewing campaigns — especially if you’re a company that likes to have several PPC ad campaigns on the go at once.
Can you automate content creation?
Content marketing automation has its limits. When it comes to creating the content itself — whether it be capturing an alluring image to post on Instagram, composing an engaging email or writing an entertaining blog post — there is often no replacement for human creativity.
Good content creation involves establishing new ideas and not following a formula. Only once you’ve established the idea and created the content can automation play its part, helping to connect your content with an audience in the most strategic way possible.
There are many tools for Instagram out there that can help you to find inspiration for hot topics and content ideas. Such tools can be useful if you desperately need content and are stuck for ideas. Similarly, there are templates that you can use for emails, infographics, blog posts and social media posts.
These can be useful when formatting your content. However, you’ll still need to come up with fresh ideas to fill in the gaps if you want your content to have any chance of making an impact. If you’re a medium to large company, you’ll still want a team of employees to focus on this content creation.
All in all, there are many ways to use content marketing automation to save time and boost leads through better targeting. Below is a summary of some of the content marketing automation tips that will guarantee success.
- Make sure to use the right tools. Some automation tools will be better suited to your business than others. The tools that are mentioned above are some of your best options.
- Understand the costs of implementing automation versus the costs gained. Most automation tools will have different subscription plans suited to different company sizes
- You’re a small company, you may not be able to afford automation tools aimed at a large company. In that case, you may consider working with a digital marketing agency who can help with your marketing automation.
- Remember that you can’t fully automate content creation. While you may use templates and idea generation tools to help, only human beings can come up with truly creative and engaging content. If content creation isn’t your strong point, be sure to hire creative employees that can do this for you.