DON’T Automate Everything

Do not automate

We’ve all heard the mantra: automate everything! And, automation is awesome. Marketing automation allows you to send informative email drip campaigns to prospects with little extra effort. It makes it easy to keep up with client anniversaries, birthdays, and even things like local weather in your client’s part of the world.

But, there’s a lot that still requires a human touch. A few places automated tools are almost guaranteed to steer you wrong:

ticked-checkbox-1280927-mSpelling and Grammar Checks

Automated tools can do some interesting things. They can, of course, identify most misspellings. Many can help you spot passive text or other issues. But, they are no replacement for manual proofreading. They won’t catch homonyms. They’ll give false positives for grammar issues or miss them altogether. And, if you are writing in a niche that’s heavy in technical jargon, a lot of the words you use won’t be in most spell check dictionaries at all.

twitterDMsNew Follower Greetings

How many automated DMs do you get from people you follow on Twitter? How many do you open? And, even if you do open them, how many times do you take the sender up on the inevitable invitation to visit their Facebook or LinkedIn? I mean, you just started following them on Twitter. What makes anyone think that you automatically want to traipse all across the web listening to everything they have to say? Or, even worse, immediately go to trying to sell them a service?

Instead, how about a simple, personal hello? Take a look at a new follower’s profile and find something specific to note in your response.

If you do need to automate, at least offer something instead of asking something from this person who has already been kind enough to increase your number of Twitter followers by one. Offer a four or five word bio, then ask them something about themselves. This way, you’re starting a conversation instead of turning them off.

Ad Bids

There are plenty of tools to automate your PPC bids. But, left unchecked, you can find that campaigns either get little reach or take a hefty chunk out of your advertising budget. There are a ton of analytic tools available. Use them to test ads and tweak your parameters based on performance. Over time, you’ll find that you are getting much better qualified clicks and making your budget go much farther.

Ad Targeting

Many marketers consider it a slam dunk: the prospect posts about a kayak trip and all of the ads he sees are suddenly about outdoor water sports. But, a recent study suggests that, rather than finding this serendipitous, modern surfers merely find it creepy. And, some targeting is incredibly tone deaf. I’ve seen Facebook friends who’ve complained of ads for counseling after confiding in a friend about depression, or weight loss ads after they’ve made a joke about eating the whole pie after dinner. Not cool, marketers.

Automation’s awesome. But, it’s not everything. Good thing, too, since a totally automated internet would put people like us out of a job. So, while we’re still a viable part of the online economy, take some time to do more by hand and get selective with what you automate.

Should You Be Worried About the Content Glut?

If you’ve been following content marketing trends, you’ve probably seen a lot of hand-wringing about an overabundance of content online. And, superficially, it can seem like we are on the precipice of some sort of content apocalypse, where your content will get lost in the torrents of new material being pumped out onto the ‘net every day. But, when you examine the issue more closely, you can see that there isn’t really as much to worry about as you might think.

A few reasons it doesn’t matter:

Most Content Is Pretty Ephemeral

While there are a lot of pieces of content that continue to perform well for months or even years after they’re posted, they are the exception, not the rule. In general, a surfer is not going to click through pages and pages of blog posts. So, adding fresh posts is a strategy that makes sense.

No one worries that there have been too many issues of specific magazines. Publishers understand that the newly released content is going to get eyes and that older stuff will lose relevance.

Things Change

No matter what industry you are in, technologies, laws and trends are going to change. So, someone’s five-year-old “How to Find the Most Efficient Thermostat” article will be sorely out of date. Creating or commissioning new content means being able to provide your surfers with the most up-to-date information.

Your Content Should Reflect the Voice of Your Brand

If you are creating content that is identical to what’s offered on other sites in your industry, then the content glut is a problem for you. But, you can set yourself apart by ensuring that what appears on your site, your social media pages and in your other offerings reflects your brand. Is your voice conversational? Authoritative? Do you deal with a young demographic, or are you more popular with the Baby Boomers? The content materials you create should fit the look and feel of your site.

Your Content Should Be Personalized to Your Audience

So a hundred insurance agencies have published blog posts about life insurance. So what? If you deal with local customers, agencies in the other 49 states are not your competition. Emphasize that by localizing content. Now that you’ve narrowed it down, you can get to work differentiating yourself from those in your market. This can be accomplished, in part, by speaking directly to the audience you want and the audience you have. If you work in an area with high flood risk, for instance, address that on your blog. If your local area has a large elderly population, write with their concerns in mind.

With today’s empowered consumers, content marketing is not going away. To ensure that you continue to reap the benefits, make sure that your content is personalized to your audience and your area, up to date and useful to the customers you want to attract.