Content marketing is a game of tug-of-war. As you vie for your audience's attention, you must pull in new customers without undoing your work with brand loyalists.

Companies now have a lot more time to focus on expanding their digital marketing efforts, since in-person marketing and sales options have diminished because of the current public-health crisis. But to expand, you will have to automate your campaigns.

Yet, the process isn't as simple as turning on the oven and letting your content cook. That approach is like leaving a Thanksgiving turkey in the broiler without worrying about whether the skin is browning.

If you aren't careful with your automated system, you're bound to get burned and turn people off during these challenging times: Your brand loyalists will notice when your content is less timely, lower quality, or less personalized.

Automation needn't isolate your biggest fans, however. To maintain customer trust while streamlining your workload, keep the following three tips in mind.

1. Treat your automated campaign like a baby

Don't think of your software as an AI-fueled robot. Picture it instead in more human terms: Your brand is your baby, and your campaign is your brand. Treat it as you would your child:

First, monitor how your campaigns are doing

Some pediatricians recommend keeping daily diaries of your child's eating, sleeping, and waste patterns. Treat your marketing work the same way: Automation systems like Ontraport often provide real-time performance updates so you can routinely check the "health" of your marketing campaigns.

Say you're working on an upsell campaign but aren't getting any bites. Try segmenting campaigns by channel, medium, and stage of your buyer's journey to figure out exactly where prospects are falling out of your funnel.

Second, reassess at preset intervals

When your child is small, you take them in for doctor's appointments far more frequently than you do when they're grown. You need to give the same regular check-ups to your campaign.

For some companies, that should be every week. For others, it should be once a month. To determine the frequency of yours, consider the duration of your campaign and your product or service.

Generally speaking, campaigns for products with shorter path-to-purchase should be checked more frequently.

Third, make frequent changes

If a disciplinary tactic isn't working with your troublesome toddler, you don't keep trying the same method. If your campaign isn't generating conversions, take a peek under the hood. The problem could be a setting, like a follow-up email scheduled too late, or a content issue, such weak email copy.

Tweaking your tactics could get results.

2. Customize your campaign around the customer

Automated campaigns are not one-size-fits-all. Tempting though it may be, don't use scripts to save time: Barraging people with spam messages is a surefire way to trash your email list.

One way to get more personal is using avatars. You may not know much about your buyers beyond their name, role, and company, but you can still guess at their pain points: A social media manager is probably sick of dealing with trolls; a CFO is always on the hunt for costs to cut. Customizing content based on roles avoids the "creepy" effect that over-personalized emails can create.

Add those persona-specific emails into a drip campaign: If you tell your system what to do when customers click, don't click, respond, or otherwise interact, you can deliver relevant content at the right time.

3. Strengthen key supports

Also like babies, automated campaigns take a village to raise well. As you optimize your automation program, ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I publishing high-quality content on a consistent schedule? Automation is merely the delivery mechanism. Your content should still be engaging and educational so that it can hit home with the people who actually read it: your fans.

  • Does my team know how to use automation tools? Automation systems are only valuable when the people using them are trained properly. Some marketing automation providers have taken to posting online guides for using key features. If you're interested in a tool that does not come with instructions, ask for an on-site tutorial.

  • Am I measuring what matters? If it seems that leads simply aren't finishing your funnel, remember that even conversion experts like Invespcro convert only about 3% of the prospects poured into their funnels.

    Optimizing that number means measuring related stats, too. Try sending Net Promoter Score surveys to loyalists asking how satisfied they are with your frequency and style of outreach. Check email clicks and open rates at least once a month.

* * *

Whether your automation initiative is a newborn or nearly ready for school, it deserves your attention. "Automated" does not mean hands-off. Start with great content, personalize it thoughtfully, keep the people using your tools in the know, and check back often.

Anything less, and your fans won't be around for long.

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Three Tips to Automate Your Content and Campaigns but Not Alienate Customers and Brand Fans

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image of John Hall

John Hall is a co-founder and the president of online meeting-scheduling and shared-calendar app, a speaker, and the author of the best-selling Top of Mind.

LinkedIn: John Hall

Twitter: @JohnHall