Content marketing could be considered an endurance sport. The content you create has to be constantly flowing to help you reach your goals of attracting and engaging your audience. Unless your team has an Olympic-size staff, you may find yourself in a race that’s hard to stay in – you need support, and you need technology to enable smart workflows and content automation.
If you are just beginning to consider how to leverage content automation for your brand, you may be intimidated and overwhelmed. There are so many questions and considerations! Importantly, from your initial contemplation, it’s vital to understand that content automation doesn’t mean robots writing content for you. Rather, there are parts of the content production cycle that can benefit from automation.
And when you have strategic alignment and well-designed workflows guiding your content automation, it frees up your team so they can focus more on the core competencies of developing relevant content that your personas will love and consume.
First, Some Stats
Automation is undeniably appealing. You save time, technology does its job. But are there real benefits? Yes, here are a few stats to digest:
- 70% of respondents to a Liana Technologies survey said automation improved their ability to target messaging; additional benefits from the survey include optimizing productivity and increasing marketing ROI.
- 64% of eCommerce marketers say that automation has contributed to more sales.
- 46% of marketers said automation improves the user experience and relevance of communications while 77% said it has led to higher conversion rates.
Content automation can empower your creative team and deliver a better experience for your reader. So, what do you need to know about workflows and automation? Well let’s start by breaking down some of the main concepts, namely production and content workflows.
What Are Production Workflows?
Production workflows are essentially the soup-to-nuts process steps that content marketing software platforms help you manage. Production workflows often include some form the following:
- Ideation (ex: a campaign planning meeting/exercise) or intake (ex: internal stakeholders requesting content assets)
- Review and approval of ideas
- Scheduling on a content calendar
- Content production (see content workflow below)
- Content optimization
- Performance evaluation
- Rinse & repeat
Most content marketing platforms are built with this process in mind and provide a variety of workflow features, from something simple and manual to something fully automated. Just think of how much time your employees could save if even half of the list above could be automated in some fashion.
What Are Content Workflows?
In most cases, a content workflow is simply a linear checklist of the individual tasks that take an individual content project from idea stage to a published state. Each task should have clear directives, an assigned person who is ultimately responsible for getting it done, a deadline and quality thresholds. A content workflow must be repeatable and scalable to work for any organization. Content workflows will vary widely based on content type, content quality requirements and production team makeup.
Creating workflows typically involves a discussion with your production team to identify the individual steps that need to be tracked. Then workflow or project management platforms can be configured or templatized to automate workflow creation. Simple tools can be used to manage simple workflows, but more robust tools will probably be needed to automate more complex or high-volume content initiatives that include many team members.
So, why do both production and content workflows matter? Without them, you’re limiting your team’s potential. Projects may run in circles. Bottlenecks occur around every corner. Nobody knows what they are supposed to do next. It becomes almost impossible to stay organized and hit deadlines.
Identifying Automation Opportunities
With robust content marketing software, you’ll have the ability to automate many parts of content production. Not all will be applicable to your workflows, but here are some areas to start.
Your content calendar may be one of the most important components of your content process. It’s the hub that communicates what needs to happen when. Content calendars have automation features as well.
Calendar technology can manage the grunt work of production scheduling, deadline calculations and resource shortages just with a simple drag/drop from one day to another. Say farewell to manually updating spreadsheets! Changes can instantly be made to the calendar should deadlines change, or new ideas can be inserted that come along because of a timely event.
In addition, when team members get things done or add something new, automated notifications are sent to those who need to know. These automation features along can play a huge role in improving communication, streamlining production and minimizing wasted time in status update meetings.
Automated Publishing & Promotion
When it’s finally time to publish your content, automation is a great tool to have. Content marketing platforms can be configured to push content data directly to a variety of publishing platforms, saving you gobs of time that would be better spent on starting new projects. Look for a platform that offers synchronization and transition for multiple elements – things like titles, images, tags, etc. – so you aren’t stuck in an endless back-and-forth, copy/paste hell between platforms.
On the promotion side, most platforms also offer automation surrounding scheduling of social media posts to engage your audience, or promote other content assets.
Adapting Workflows to Your Content Goals
When you have a well-conceived workflow, it should do more than just make you more efficient. It should be a catalyst to help you reach your content goals. When you weave in the necessary elements for content to be successful within your workflows, you’re more likely to hit your goals.
For example, if your business is highly dependent on organic keywords to entice readers, then SEO should be part of your content workflow. Even though you know keywords are important, without the actual step of identifying keywords and optimizing for them, that crucial step may get missed.
As you learn more about the impact of your content marketing, this can help you optimize workflows to align with business objectives. If you find that your content is not being distributed on time based on reports, then you know there is something amiss in that part of the workflow and you can fix it.
Workflows and content automation are absolutely imperative to any company in the modern content marketing race. Yes, you need endurance and a little help from technology. Perhaps DivvyHQ could be your next pair of solid running shoes. Find out why so many content marketers love it.