For the last few years, automation has been a buzzword in content marketing circles.
If you've been under the impression that it's just another fad that'll fizzle out eventually, this recent report from Markets and Markets will probably lead you to think otherwise.
According to the findings of the report, the global marketing automation sector is set to grow from $3.65 billion in 2014 to $5.5 billion in 2019.
The reason why businesses are increasingly adopting marketing automation software is because it reduces manual effort while simultaneously improving effectiveness.
It also enables sound decision-making, allowing marketers to make better use of the limited resources at their disposal. Through automation, marketers are able to achieve greater levels of customization, thereby enhancing customer experiences.
Here's how you can use marketing automation at different stages of your social media and content marketing campaigns to drive engagement and improve ROI.
1. Automation in content creation
It's true. You can have all your content written entirely by a computer program. While the technology itself is rather sophisticated, automated content often lacks depth and insight.
“Set-it-and-forget-it” applications definitely make content generation a whole lot easier, but they do little to establish your thought-leadership in the industry. Automating content generation entirely may not be the best idea, but there are several parts of the content creation process you could automate for better results.
The most critical and challenging aspect of content creation is ideation.
The content you create should not only be relevant to your business or industry, but should also interest your audience. However, you may often find yourself hitting a dead end when you're looking for topics or themes to address through your content.
Content explorers help simplify the brainstorming process by recommending topics and ideas for your content. You can also use these tools to look for posts on similar topics and take inspiration from them.
For example, BuzzSumo lets you identify blog topics that have received the highest engagement based on specific keyword searches. As a result it helps you align your blogs with trending topics, increasing their appeal to your audience.
Other tools like Headline Analyzer score your headlines to tell you how effective they are in attracting readers' attention.
Not only does it give your headline a score and a grade, but it also gives you a break up of the types of words you've used. Based on the word usage pattern it suggests a tip to help improve your score too.
In this example you'll see that I've used 0% Emotional words, and trying to use some could better my score.
It also classifies your headline by type – generic, list post, how-to, and question headlines. Another important factor based on which it scores headlines is their length. The ideal headline length recommended by the tool is 6 words (56 characters).
Automating lead management processes could have a significant impact on your sales numbers. Although these processes may not always involve content creation, in some cases they do.
Lets assume you own an eCommerce website. Several prospects may have visited your virtual store and left without making a purchase. Using marketing automation tools will help you generate custom messages and ads for every person that visits your e-store.
These tools typically take into account the visitor's purchase history and current location, and tailor a message that will nudge the prospect to make a purchase. You can also use automation in your email marketing campaigns to send more targeted messages to your prospects.
In a less direct manner, it is also useful in content creation since it lets you customize your message based on the buying stage that the prospect is in. Here's an example:
2. Automation in content curation
If you're looking to build a strong social media presence for your business, content curation is a must.
Social media has caused an unprecedented rise in content consumption and relying solely on content creation to meet the growing demand will simply not suffice. Content curation helps you stay visible and relevant in the transient social world.
However, curating content manually is a dreadfully time-consuming process, particularly if you maintain multiple social accounts.
Automating content curation will help you save a significant amount of time and effort, while also achieving consistency in your social media activities.
In most cases, content discovery engines recommend content based on a keyword search. The argument against such tools is that they affect the quality of content being shared. But that argument holds water only if you've set your tool on auto-pilot and are running posts without reviewing them.
In such a situation, you stand the risk of sharing content that may not reflect your business' values, or worse – may promote your competitors.
It's important to note that automating content curation is meant to reduce your effort, and not eliminate it entirely.
As long as you review all posts before you schedule them out, automating content curation will only work to the benefit of your business. In fact, more and more businesses are now using tools to automate content curation given their value proposition.
Content discovery and scheduling tools like DrumUp help you streamline your social media activities and significantly reduce the time and effort you invest in social media management. All you have to do is go through the recommended content for each account you add to the tool and pick the ones that you'd like to share.
You can also edit the post, schedule the same post to all/multiple accounts, add recommended hashtags, add images, choose a custom time of publishing and set posts on repeat schedules.
3. Automation in content distribution
Content distribution is an important aspect of your content marketing strategy. Ensuring that your content reaches the right people, at the right times is more important than simply creating content.
Without a holistic content distribution plan even the most exquisite piece of content could be left undiscovered.
You may have very well optimized your content for search engines, but with the amount of content being published online and the ease of access to all of it, your content distribution strategy needs to step up and move beyond those plain, old SEO tactics.
When you're devising a content distribution plan, you should consider paid media, owned media as well as earned media.
Ads, newsletters, email subscriptions, and social media all hold tremendous potential in amplifying your content. And if you'd like to reach out to thousands of people through content distribution, automation is imperative.
Tools like MailChimp help ensure that your content reaches all the right eyes and ears, all at once.
Ask Katie Cross, and she'll tell you just how good the little monkey postman in the blue hat is. The independent writer recommends the tool highly, particularly for its awesome analytics. Who wouldn't like to know how many people are actually opening those emails?
Given the challenges of a highly competitive market, the question really isn't whether you should use automation in content marketing; it's how well you use it that makes all the difference.
So, what tools will you be using today?
Author Bio: Vasudha is a blogger at Godot Media, a leading blog writing services firm. She writes extensively about social media marketing and content marketing. Her other areas of interest include travel and business.
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3 Brilliant Marketing Automation Hacks for Content Marketers