You’ve probably heard a lot of buzz about automation in the past year and how it can supercharge a content marketing campaign. Automation is a simple concept: you let a program or multiple programs handle some part of your business, usually lead generation and sales, so that you and your employees have more time to focus on the things that computers can’t do.

Incorporating automation can go a long way toward boosting your content marketing efforts, but it’s hard to picture without examples. Let’s take a look at how automation can transform a content marketing strategy from something that kind of works for a business to a reliable business by itself. We’ll start with the most commonly used automated service that almost every online business uses.

A Constant Stream of Leads

This is the most basic and important thing automation can do. You likely need no introduction to email lists and why being able to send a mass email to a huge collection of customer inboxes is powerful. Even after many years since its inception, email marketing works. If automation seemed foreign to you, it shouldn’t because chances are you’ve been automatically getting leads from a sign-up form. When someone reading your content gets your pop-up subscription form and becomes a subscriber of your newsletter, you’ve just automatically gotten a lead.

Content marketing with a sign-up form is the one-two punch of online lead generation, and the first thing any business should get ironed out. Having a great squeeze page that you can naturally link to within your blog posts will cause interested readers who like your post to visit the page, sign up, and receive emails from you that are equally relevant to them. More content means more visitors and more leads every day, with no added effort.

Automated Email Series

people at computer

Image via Flickr by City of Seattle Community Tech

Once a business gets a large quantity of email addresses, they’ll typically just send the occasional email when they have something all of their customers should know about, such as a sale. Consider, instead, emails that deliver to your leads and customers automatically in response to some type of trigger. For example, a business sells materials for DIY home improvement and has a series of instructional blog posts on fixing up a certain part of the home. A series of automated emails could deliver to each person who signs up for these lessons on an individual basis, encouraging them to buy.

This email series would get people more familiar with the brand, just like when they browse the website’s content, but the business would have complete control of the order that customers get the information. They could also test whether people like them delivered once a day, twice a day, or less often, and set up reminder emails that trigger if people don’t open an email in the series, among other possibilities. Automation is the true power of email marketing, and you’ll find it very effective for getting people to regularly look at your older content.

Making Room for Timely Content

One of the common mistakes in regular content marketing is making something evergreen and sending it out as soon as it’s done, all on a schedule. If your team is too busy making the next big post or other content piece for that week, they won’t have the time to take advantage of any sudden opportunities. This is why it’s better to get a good number of evergreen content pieces all done and scheduled in advance, freeing up the team to make time-sensitive content.

Let’s suppose “Mom and Pop Pizza” puts out a blog post once a week about special pizzas, their methods, etc. They don’t schedule their posts ahead of time, so if a major pizza chain in the area gets into a health scandal, Mom and Pop don’t have time to put out a blog post that capitalizes on the scandal and how their product is fresher and safer. Or they manage to get one out, but only after the scandal has reached its trending peak. Put simply, automation frees up your evergreen content responsibilities so you can post the perfect idea at the perfect time.

Personalized Website Experience

When you look at your website analytics, you can determine out how people are responding to your website and what they like best. In fact, it’s a terrific way to optimize your website and make it user-friendly. However, what if you could change your website experience for everyone who visits? Engaging content will draw people to your website and keep them coming back, and those repeat visits are key. Let’s look at the home improvement scenario again.

If a customer only visits their website for blog posts about floor demolition, an automated service could show ads on the website to that customer that tell them about special store discounts on floor demolition tools, never showing ads for irrelevant products. Related content could be automatically moved to the top of the sidebar or to other places that are easier to see. Combine this with customer surveys asking exactly what they like and don’t like about your site and you’ll have a scary-good way to satisfy all of your best customers.

When you’re hard at work in the content creation game, it’s important to also make that content work harder for you. Automation uses the full potential of our connected, digital age by making aspects of the customer experience run in the background. The terrific thing about incorporating automation in these ways is that you get more engagement, sales, and return on investment, so you can spend more time putting out great content and scale up that much faster.

Just remember: if automation is one side of the content marketing coin, quality is the other. You need to trust your content creation efforts to experienced writers and marketers who can understand your brand and get inside the heads of your target audience. Always consider looking outside your own team for content writing, because there are talented people out there, and their separation from your business can give them a clearer, more customer-like perspective. Give your business the awesome content with crafty automation tools it deserves to reach the most people.