Content marketing plays a key role in most inbound marketing strategies and has become essential for earning organic traffic and improving brand awareness. It’s also one of the most time consuming activities a marketing team has to manage. Automating elements of the content creation process can help teams speed up production, reduce errors, and improve the quality and volume of their content.
But what exactly does it mean to automate content creation?
What is content automation?
The term “content automation” can be somewhat confusing. That’s because people use it to describe two different approaches to content creation:
- The production of new content — out of whole cloth — by artificial intelligence. Human input into the content creation process is minimized or eliminated entirely. This is sometimes also referred to as “automated content production.”
- The use of software or tools to automate some elements of content production process. People still write and edit content, but other tasks in the creation cycle are completed by software.
In both cases, the aim of content automation is to reduce human effort in the content creation process. As teams start to scale their content efforts, automation starts to play a more important role in managing the content workflow.
While there have been some recent advances in natural language processing (NLP) and natural language generation (NLG) software, AI isn’t quite ready to write content that’s going to provide value to your users and create an ideal UX. The best content on the web is still made by humans for humans. It’s this kind of high quality content — planned, researched, and written by people — that ranks at the top of the search results and earns the lion’s share of the web traffic.
Can AI supplement these efforts? Possibly. Can it replace human content creators entirely? Nope.
|86% of marketers plan to implement marketing automation in their next role|
60% of knowledge workers currently use automation to save time
What is content process automation?
Even if content creation itself can’t be automated just yet, there are some elements of the content production process that can be. This is known as a human-centric model of automation: one in which software or machines are used to complement and support the creative work that people do.
This approach to automation reduces repetitive tasks and relieves team members of wasting time on low-value activities. It also speeds up production, reduces errors, and alleviates burnout.
That’s what the remainder of this article will focus on: Automating the content process workflows so that people spend more time on the creative and critical aspects of content creation, rather than on repetitive, low-value tasks.
Improving content workflows
The content marketing process is a complex equation that includes many tasks and activities. We can break these tasks and activities into two categories: those that require human effort, and those that do not.
The table below illustrates how common content production activities can be organized and the degree of content marketing work that can be automated. Even more importantly, it shows us that a lot of time spent on low value — but still essential — activities could be better spent on content creation itself.
|Cannot be automated||Can be automated|
Initiating new work items or records
Generating documents or content templates
Sending design requests
Assigning work to writer or editor
Some aspects of reporting
Advantages of automated content production
Content management and production become more time consuming as businesses scale their content marketing efforts. Content workflows may have more steps, require more approvals, and involve input from more people as marketing campaigns become more complex. Automating these workflows can keep them more manageable and easier to control. Specific benefits of automation include:
Automating a typical content creation workflow
Each content creation workflow is unique, but most share some common elements. While additional automations are available depending on the process phases and integrations with other apps and tools, the table below illustrates some of the most useful automation opportunities at each stage of the process.
|Content requests||Incoming requests from internal or external team members can be automatically converted into new work items.|
Team members receive notifications whenever new items are created.
New items can be automatically assigned to a writer based on topic, content type, or other criteria
|Research & outlining||Documents, forms, or templates can be automatically generated for research and outlines, to improve the quality of the content and deliver consistent results.|
These forms will be attached to the work item and remain with it throughout the production cycle.
|Writing||Automated notifications can alert team members when items are approaching a deadline or become overdue.|
Late or past due items also appear in multiple views and dashboards.
|Editing||When drafts are received, editors can be automatically notified that the item needs their attention.|
After reviewing, notifications can be sent to writers if changes are needed or the item is approved as complete.
|Publishing||Once completed content has been published, the content library can be updated with information such as go-live date and URL.|
Items can be primed for social media sharing by automatically adding them to content sharing apps like Bambu.
|Design requests||Requests for design elements such as graphics or UX changes can be automatically generated and routed to the right person with a few clicks.|
|Reporting||Statuses, assignees, and other information is always available for reporting. The drag-and-drop interface makes dashboards a snap to configure.|
Automation in content workflow management
In 2015, researchers at the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that 10% to15% of a marketing executive’s time could be saved through automation using existing technologies. Since then, opportunities for content automation in marketing have only increased.
The point of marketing automation is to complement the creative and strategic work of the managers, writers, and editors on your team. Automation won’t write content for you, but it will make it easier to plan, produce, and manage your overall content strategy. Like oil for a machine, automation keeps the gears of your content marketing process running smoothly.
Content automation software makes it easy to scale and fine-tune content workflows as strategies evolve and businesses grow. No-code, drag-and-drop interfaces prevent bottlenecks and reduce dependencies on IT. Learn more about content workflow management and how Pipefy brings speed, control, and visibility to content marketing efforts.