Let’s face it, online marketing takes a lot of time. Keyword research, creating rank-worthy content, getting that content shared through social media, and building links are all tasks that can suck up a huge amount of time. They can easily take up 40 hours/week each. But still, small business owners, bloggers, and marketers consistently leave all these tasks to one person for one reason or another. But how do they do it? One word– automation.
Putting Online Marketing On Autopilot
When I talk about automation, I’m referring to anything you do that’s handled with by software and/or bots. There are tools available to handle almost every aspect of an online marketing campaign. PPC advertising, keyword research, content marketing and other tasks can all be automated in some way.
Automation makes it possible to get more work done in less time. Online marketing naturally lends itself to automation because it requires a lot of small, and somewhat menial tasks that can be extremely boring. Who really wants to go through and manually find hundreds of keywords, sign up for dozens of social bookmarking sites, or post to every individual social media site?
So automation sounds like the perfect solution for marketers. But unfortunately, there is a dark side to it as well.
How NOT to automate
One of the easiest ways to demonstrate how automation can be a bad thing is just by looking at how SEO has changed over the years. Google has been actively working to put an end to automated link building techniques. There’s a long list of reasons why Google is trying to cut out all of the automation involved with SEO, but one of the key reasons is because it started to create a ton of low quality, irrelevant content on the web.
Let’s take an old, and unfortunately still used, technique that Google hates– article spinning. What marketers were doing (and some still are) was writing an article, spinning it a bunch of times to make “unique” articles, and then posting them to Web 2.0’s and as guest posts.
Now as you’re well aware of, spun content generally is extremely low quality and a lot of the times, it’s barely readable. In other words, the content serves no real purpose outside of hopefully getting a backlink using recycled articles.
Google has been systematically targeting websites with a bunch of spun content and devaluing, or even completely removing them from the search results.
The dark side of automation really stems from the fact that it allows you to get results with little effort. Spinning one article 10 times is a lot more convenient than writing 10 unique articles from scratch. But again, Google hates this and it can ruin your search results.
Your entire internet marketing strategy/campaign should not be automated. That’s probably the number one mistake that marketers and bloggers make. It’s so tempting to load up on a bunch of software, click a few buttons and just watch the money come in. But in reality, that’s just not how things work.
How to automate like a pro
I don’t want you to get the impression that all automation is bad, and that you should do everything manually. That’s not what I’m saying at all. If you have unlimited time, then feel free to do everything manually. But for people who enjoy sleeping and don’t want to stare at a computer screen for 20 hours a day, use these tips for internet marketing automation.
- Choose high quality tools: Free tools are great, but if they’re severely restricted in terms of features, it might be best to purchase a tool with all the features you’ll need.
- Don’t set it and forget it: You should constantly monitor any tasks that you’re automating. Just like delegating tasks, automation doesn’t relieve you of your responsibility to get the job done right.
- Be careful what you automate: Some things require a human touch. Try to stay away from automating tasks that require a manual check like retweeting or re-pinning. Your tool could be re-pinning irrelevant images or retweeting links to your competitor.
- Don’t automate important tasks: For something that could completely make or break your marketing campaign, it might not be such as good idea to leave it completely out of your hands (i.e. content creation).
What Tasks to Automate
There are several different IM tasks you can safely automate. Just keep the dos and don’ts of automation I mentioned in mind when you do it:
- Social sharing: You can setup all of the content you publish on your site to automatically be sent out to all of your social media channels. If you’re using WordPress, there are plenty of different plugins available to help you do this for free.
- Generating leads: Start gathering leads by setting up a newsletter to collect emails. Create an autoresponder series to really take your automation to the next level.
- Keyword research: There are several tools like Long Tail Pro and Market Samurai that can help you perform your keyword research. As long as you have some basic ideas and seed keywords, automation can work wonders.
- Social media updates: Similar to social sharing, the regular updates you make on Twitter, Facebook, and even Pinterest can be automated. Tools like Hootsuite and SocialOomph make it possible for you to load up all of your tweets, posts, and pins, and schedule them to be published whenever you’d like.
Those are just a few examples of tasks you can automate. There are plenty of others that you can do as well like market research and tracking your website’s search rankings. Automation can be great. Just realize that it can create issues if done wrong.