We’re in the midst of an automation revolution. Automated tasks in content marketing can help to increase your output, make your workflow more efficient, and remove non-creative repetitive jobs from your daily to-do list. But, content marketing still needs a human touch to be successful.
The most successful content marketing strategy will combine automation and human workers for the best of both worlds. Automating certain tasks will free up human marketers, giving them more time for strategic planning, creative content creation, and one-on-one interaction with customers.
So, how exactly do you achieve the perfect balance?
Refocus on the Customer
Many brands turn to automation because they’re thinking about the benefits it can offer the business. Increased productivity, better efficiency, and ultimately better products are all good reasons to consider introducing some kind of automation into your workflow, but it’s vital not to lose sight of the customer needs in this process.
Before making any decisions about a change in workflow, or whether to implement a new kind of technology, companies must consider how this will ultimately affect the customer.
If introducing automation will enhance the customer experience, then it’s undoubtedly a good business decision. However, if there’s a chance that the customer experience may be negatively affected, this is a sign that automation may not be a good fit for this particular task.
Automating customer service by using chatbots is one example of how the customer experience can be improved. Chatbots reduce the time customers have to wait before getting a reply and can even offer more helpful and accurate information than a human agent in some cases. Now that chatbots are becoming more common, consumers are generally positive about their interactions with them (provided they’re managed well and they still have the opportunity to talk with a human on request.)
Think about aspects of your content marketing that may benefit from automation in the same way that customer service can benefit from the use of chatbots.
Likewise, consider use cases of automation that would not be beneficial to the customer and may have a detrimental effect on the customer experience. For example, setting up an automatic reply to blog comments will achieve nothing except to show your readers that you don’t care enough to read and personally reply to their comments.
Identify Repetitive and Time-Consuming Tasks
As well as identifying areas where you can use automation to improve the customer experience, you can look for ways to save time by integrating automation into your processes (in a way that doesn’t negatively impact the customer experience).
For example, posting to all your social media channels multiple times a day can be a full-time job. It’s much more efficient to write your posts in bulk and schedule them to post automatically.
As a human is still in charge of the actual content writing, the result is not any lower quality or, indeed, distinguishable from manually posting in real time – you’re not automating the content creation, merely the posting process.
Other examples of repetitive tasks that make sense to automate include:
- Sending out a “thank you” email when someone signs up to your mailing list
- Collecting news and articles related to your industry that can be reposted on your social media accounts or used as research materials for your own content
- Identifying content topic ideas
- Tagging and categorizing content
- Managing content workflow and publishing
- Recording lead and customer information
- Analyzing and running reports to measure the effectiveness of content marketing campaigns
What NOT to Automate in Content Marketing
We’ve touched on this already, but there are certain aspects of content marketing that should never be automated, no matter how tempting it may be.
While the technology exists to automate pretty much every task involved with creating, publishing, and promoting content, that doesn’t mean you have to use it.
Overuse of automation will result in dull, non-creative content, a lack of real interactions with your audience, and potentially damaging relationships with existing customers.
Here are a few examples of things you should never automate in content marketing:
Yes, it’s true – there is incredibly advanced AI software available now that can write an entire article for you in seconds, based on a few keywords. The results are surprisingly sophisticated.
But a machine can never replicate the thought processes and creativity of a human. Attempting to replace human content creators with a piece of software will almost certainly result in cold, flat content that your audience will not resonate with.
The only exception to this might be for short news updates or other snippets of informational content where the facts are more important than the writing quality. For example, Yahoo Sports uses AI software to publish recaps of sporting events.
Building Community on Social Media
Social media users can spot a message from a bot a mile away. And, this type of inauthentic content can be highly damaging. Twenty percent of consumers say they have unfollowed a brand on social media because they felt their content was inauthentic.
Many other uses of automation in this area, such as automatically following users, may result in a temporary increase of followers. But increased numbers do not translate to a real and valuable community.
Treat your audience on social media as the valued resource it is. Keep your interactions with people real and genuine and avoid spammy techniques to artificially increase your following.
Non-segmented Content Distribution
Automation makes it very easy to send an email blast out to your whole list whenever you want. But, be wary of annoying your audience with too much content, especially when it’s not relevant to them.
Use market segmentation and personalization tools to make your automatic content distribution more sophisticated, and ensure you only send the right emails to the right people at the right time.
The same goes for social media. Automation makes it easy to publish a ton of content, but people will quickly unfollow if you’re spamming their feeds. Make sure everything you post is useful and invites engagement.
Automation is a powerful tool, but it’s one that should be used with great care. When deciding which part of your content marketing process to automate, always keep the customer experience in mind and stay well away from any tool or technology that runs the risk of damaging your brand.
Strategic use of automation can free up your time for more creativity, innovation, and real interactions with customers. For more posts on automating the content marketing process, subscribe to the DivvyHQ blog.