marketing automation
Marketing Marketing Technology

The Hashtag That Could Tilt the Marketing Automation World

6 Minute Read

I remember being challenged by my company to show ROI on individual articles we created for our content marketing program. They wanted more insight—via our marketing automation platform, Marketo—into which content was driving new leads and bookings. I spent many late nights at work trying to figure out ways to show which pieces of content were working for our content marketing program. At the end of the day I’d feel something like this:


I’d pull pageviews manually to show which leads viewed the content (known vs. anonymous), which company they were with, and their level/title. Then, I’d comb through leads manually to try to figure out their path on the website and which article contributed to their conversion (if applicable). I would come up with powerful data—but only after hours and hours of research. There had to be a better way to find which pieces of content were working via our marketing technology stack.

Creating emails for our various segments was another thing that often kept me at work late. We’re all aware that personalization isn’t just something that consumers value—it’s something they expect. Developing email content for your many target personas is an incredibly daunting task that creates a bottleneck for most marketing teams. I’ve personally experienced the huge headache that comes with asking your coworkers to review an email that is going out to thousands of leads, and I’m certain I’m not alone. But on the other hand, how many times have you reviewed an email that had an egregious typo, didn’t follow best practices, or wasn’t brand aligned? According to Litmus, in the past 12 months, 50.6 percent of companies have had to apologize for a mistake in an email they’d sent. Don’t let it happen to you.

In short, the many pain points inherent to marketing automation can make the whole process feel like a nightmare (albeit a necessary one). That’s where a solution that integrates content marketing with marketing automation—like the one we introduced to the Skyword Platform—comes into play. I like to call it #ContentMarketingAutomation. (If you’re counting characters, you only have 117 left for that Tweet of yours.)

There are two key pieces to a #ContentMarketingAutomation integration:

  1. Email Publishing. This makes your team more efficient and organized, facilitates email content creation so it’s less painful, and ensures your content is brand aligned and error free by putting it in an approval workflow.
  2. Lead Reports. These enhance your content strategy by helping you figure out what’s working.

Rethink Email Creation and Review

One of the most powerful things about #ContentMarketingAutomation is that it reduces headaches by giving marketers a streamlined and organized method for creating, reviewing, and publishing content for their email marketing campaigns.

When repurposing articles for emails or creating promotional emails for a piece, who better to create the bulk of the email than the story’s original author? Instead of commissioning your writers to create a blog post, encourage them to fuel other channels as well: create emails and social media posts to support the article, for example.

Once these emails are submitted, they enter a customizable workflow where they’re optimized by an editor, email marketing manager, social media manager, marketing automation manager, and others of your choosing. Your team should review emails just like you would review an article for your digital publication. In many cases, more people read your emails than your longer-form content, so why wouldn’t you want them to go through similar approvals and workflow?

In addition to a grammar and spelling check, a good marketing technology solution should include guidelines that must be met before an article is submitted. Should the subject line contain a certain number of characters? According to Return Path’s best practices for emails, 65 characters seems to be the sweet spot for email subject lines. Does the email need to be a certain length? Should it only have one CTA?

Approximately 60 percent of companies have three or more people approving emails before they are sent. With so many eyes on the content, email review could easily turn chaotic. The workflow enabled by this integration prevents back and forth via email, avoids duplicating efforts, and cuts back on the pain of compiling everyone’s feedback. It gets everyone on the same page and puts order to a messy process. A sophisticated solution should show version history and edits made to the original submission, have an in-platform commenting feature, have the ability to add the email to your marketing calendar, and manage all the content for your various channels in one location. Once the article goes through a workflow you designate, it is sent to Marketo and is ready for dissemination.

Pull More Effective Lead Reports for Your Content

Content marketers are constantly being asked to show the ROI of their programs, but they have limited ways to do so. Showing ROI on content programs is one thing, but showing ROI right down to the piece of content is a-whole-nother ballgame. It’s easy to show certain metrics, such as pageviews, social shares, and comments, on an article. But while these are crucial, they only tell a part of the story; at Skyword, we wanted to dig deeper.

Integrating with Google Analytics showed us a bigger piece of the pie—goals, time spent on page, new sessions, etc.—but we wanted to know if we were reaching the right people at our target companies, and we wanted to do that at scale. We knew that, as a best practice, we had to ensure our content was resonating with the right audiences by tracking who was coming to our site, the stories that piqued their interest, which of our writers were most effective at reaching leads, what types of content drove the most leads, and who kept returning to the site. Then, once we knew who was viewing our content, we could start fostering personal relationships with our subscribers. It’s a great way to build brand loyalty and keep readers coming back for more.

#ContentMarketingAutomation has helped us achieve this. For example, today, the managing editor of our content marketing program now has a view into who is reading which articles and, if he feels so inclined, he can reach out to the lead with a personal message. In addition to the lead’s company, title, email address, and lead score, he can also view their lead status in the platform. Because he doesn’t have access to this information in the customer resource manager or marketing automation platform (MAP), this integration is valuable for him. At much larger companies, where marketing teams are made up of dozens of people and Marketo logins are scarce, this feature would grow in significance.

Through #ContentMarketingAutomation, you also have the chance to uncover opportunities that might be hidden in your database. Have you ever had a sneaking suspicion that several leads from one company were looking into your site? Without account-based marketing tools, that data can be difficult to dig out of your database—but a report detailing the most active companies viewing your content can help you find it. If you have a hard time keeping company names in order, create a recurring batch campaign in your MAP to normalize company names for target accounts. Here’s an example of a recurring batch campaign I created for IBM for this purpose out of Marketo:

Recurring Marketo Batch campaign for ABM

Connecting your MAP to your content marketing software is a no brainer—and it will help your marketing team get more sleep. Creating emails for your various segments and showing robust lead reports to demonstrate ROI for content optimization doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. If you’d like to see screenshots and learn more about Skyword’s integration with Marketo, click here.

Adam Vavrek is a Texan at heart and a sports enthusiast with an addiction to ice cream. He is the Director of Marketing Operations at Skyword and was inducted into the summer 2016 class of Marketo Champions. Follow @avavrek, and circle Adam Vavrek on Google+.

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