Content marketing is crucial to building your brand, generating leads and ramping up revenue. But you already know that because you represent one of the overwhelming majority of brands that use content marketing. Among B2C marketers, 86 percent say they plan to use content marketing in their campaigns, and for B2B marketers, the trend is even stronger, as a whopping 91 percent of them plan to employ content marketing strategies.

And it should be little surprise why content is the driving force behind modern marketing efforts, as most consumers like to engage with brands through custom content. Nearly 90 percent of respondents in a Time Inc. survey said custom content helps brands reach them amid the digital clutter of modern life. Younger consumers are even more open than generations before them to engaging with brands through content marketing, so it’s not too late, even for brands that have lagged in adopting robust content marketing strategies.

Developing and publishing content is time-consuming, and it often can feel like you’re simply taking a shot in the dark. Whether it’s a blog post, a white paper, an infographic or an animated video, getting your content in front of the right people at the right time can be tricky. That’s why it’s so important for savvy marketers to use all the tools at their disposal, including content marketing automation resources. Our research found the average marketer can save themselves as many as 30 hours a month by wisely adopting automation.

How Content Marketing Automation Works

Marketing automation itself is quite a simple concept: using technology to automate aspects of your content marketing strategies. You probably already use automation in dozens of areas of your life (who else would be out on the street without auto bill pay?), so why not take advantage of increasingly sophisticated technology in your job, too?

Marketing automation allows you to use software or Web-based services to replace manual, repetitive tasks like scheduling, management and analysis. Not only does this allow you to ensure these tasks are done more efficiently than they might be right now — after all, humans make mistakes that computers don’t — but the time and brain power you save by not having to do these routine tasks frees you up for big-picture thinking and gives you more time to work on your campaigns.

Here’s a look at just a handful of the content marketing tasks that lend themselves to smart automation:

  1. Social media: Scheduling posts across platforms; analysis and tracking brand mentions and engagement in real-time; analyzing and integrating existing databases of contacts; immediate and robust performance tracking across platforms
  2. Content promotion and scheduling: Email notifications of new content for subscribers; republication of content links on social platforms; integration with social media scheduling
  3. Email marketing: Segmenting contact lists for targeted promotions; list cleanup, including purging old/invalid addresses; contact personalization, such as custom subject lines or body text; immediate and constant analysis of engagement and conversion potential
  4. A/B testing: Immediate and detailed testing of effectiveness between multiple approaches of a single piece of content (which CTA button gets more clicks, for instance)
  5. Advanced analytics: Deep and broad analysis of all user, visitor, lead and customer engagement across all sites, channels and content

Essentially, anything that is better and more efficiently done by a computer should be automated. Yes, you could visit each of your brand’s social pages every day, track engagement, put those numbers in a spreadsheet and then draw your own conclusions about what’s working in the short-term and the long-term. And you could do that five or six times every day for all the content your brands are producing across all platforms. Or you could deploy an automation platform to do the dirty work for you.

No doubt your mileage will vary depending on your specific strategies and campaigns, but if your job involves daily work on just those five tasks we listed above, you could easily save as much as 90 minutes every day. That adds up to 30 hours per month that you could be spending on more important tasks — that’s the better part of a full workweek!

It’s About Sales, Too

When you distill marketing’s purpose down to its essence, it’s really about sales. You might not like to think in those terms, but at its core, marketing is about telling a story that draws a customer to your business. So it should be no surprise that a good content marketing automation strategy should relate to and seamlessly integrate with your sales process at every step of the buyer’s journey from the top of your sales funnel to conversion into a regular, repeat customer.

Content marketing automation helps you reach consumers, prospects or clients at the right time in the venue that appeals most to them, so it’s a crucial aspect of your content strategy. Think about it this way — if you were a movie studio, would you place the trailer for your slasher horror epic in front of a saccharin-sweet kids movie? No matter how engaging the trailer is, the audience isn’t ready for it. Content is crucial, but so is context.

Marketing automation super-charges lead generation, but don’t just take our word for it: In one study, analysts found marketing automation boosted leads for 88 percent of those using it and that 77 percent of brands saw conversions increase.

Automation can help you blend together your content strategies and your sales goals, ensuring the ideal piece of dynamic content reaches the right audience when they are most apt to take the action you’re hoping they will. The ideal automation solution will allow you not only to automate some content and publishing efforts but will help you ensure all interactions are synched up with your buyer’s journey. This means you minimize churn and, using advanced analytics, truly understand the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.

But Wait — Don’t Automate Everything!

It’s tempting to go full bot when you dig into the features offered by marketing automation platforms and consider the time and money you could save across your organization. But there are some tasks in which even advanced technology is no match for a clever, creative marketer’s brain.

It should go without saying that you should not automate content creation (please tell us you’re not doing that), but remember that you can’t shortcut true organic engagement. So while some events can and should trigger automated responses (chat bots or event-triggered emails), automating all engagement makes your brand seem like, well, a robot.

Automation can’t replace human-to-human contact and ultimately, marketing’s greatest power lies in making emotional connections with your audience. So you should always make sure that you’re not letting an algorithm do a job better done by a person.

Still Not Convinced?

We hope you’ve learned enough about the specific tasks that are ripe for automation that you’re convinced it’s in your brand’s best interest to begin investigating which platform is right for you. But if not, consider this: Only 6 percent of marketers believe their brands’ current approaches are working well enough. That’s an incredibly low number and, chances are, you’re among that group. You’re a 21st century marketer; why waste your time on 20th century solutions?