We often hear about content automation – the ability to share content to set audiences or at set times.
You will also be familiar with marketing automation – a term that can cover any number of solutions, but typically describes automated workflow tools that help you to manage your marketing projects.
As a marketer looking to invest in tools that make your life easier, what should you go for? Which will deliver the biggest benefit?
What is content automation?
This is the term given to automatically sharing content across a number of channels.
It means disseminating relevant information to people based on their interests. This might be via weekly email updates that your clients and contacts sign up to, via a regular blog or on social media.
It might involve lead nurturing activity, where contacts receive a series of communications based on their interaction with previous comms.
However contacts choose to receive content from you, it needs to be topical and appropriate, addressing their key issues in a timely way.
Content automation for regulated firms - potential challenges
There are a number of challenges when following a content automation strategy.
You need a rigorous approach to keeping track of your contacts and their requirements. This demands a robust and flexible CRM system that can deliver the right content at the right time, via the right channel.
It also demands high quality data. If you go to the trouble of producing segmented material, you need to know it’s reaching the right people.
And you need to make sure you’re complying with data rules and regulations. When the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force next May, the rules around contacting prospects and clients become stricter. Make sure you’re up to speed with the new rules.
If you work in a regulated sector, of course, the GDPR isn’t the only regulation you have to contend with.
In the financial services industry, for instance, you also need to make sure your financial promotions meet the FCA’s on suitability, are fair, clear and not misleading and deliver the regulator’s required consumer outcomes.
And from January next year, you’ll need to make sure your promotions comply with the new MiFID II requirements.
All of which makes any marketing a bigger challenge for you than for most sectors. (You can read some tips on producing compliant content here.)
What is marketing automation?
This is distinct from content automation – but can have a number of definitions.
Here we’re talking about automating marketing processes such as briefing, reviewing, proofing and approvals. Carrying out these activities via an automated workflow tool can have significant benefits: recent research from Nucleus Research found that:
- Marketing automation reduces the administrative overhead by, on average, 3.4%
- It increases Marketing teams’ productivity by between 1.5% and 6.9%.
Our own experience identifies similarly impressive benefits. The Nottingham Building Society, for example, saved 1500 hours of Compliance and Marketing team time by automating their processes.
Introducing automated workflow tools to your marketing processes can:
- Ensure that your promotions use correct data and performance figures, via online slide libraries that lock down approved content and automatically update statistics as they change
- Add the correct risk warnings, disclosures and disclaimers as a matter of course, in the right place and at the required size
- Optimise project management, with more efficient production and approvals reducing duplication and saving significant time
- Minimise hard copy edits and manual interventions, increasing efficiency and reducing the chances of errors and omissions
- Mandate Compliance approval, minimising the chances of regulatory breaches
- Automatically create an FCA-compliant audit trail
Marketing automation challenges
Many regulated firms, such as those in the financial services and legal sectors, can be among the slower adopters when it comes to new technology. So your first challenge might be getting buy-in.
If this rings true about your organisation, read our tips on how to build your business case for automation.
Selecting the right solution is your next challenge. You need to make sure the tool you choose is the best one for your firm. Our 10 questions to ask when comparing automation solutions will give you an insight into the things you need to consider.
Once you’ve chosen your solution and adopted it as business as usual, you can start to reap the efficiency, financial and compliance benefits.
So – content automation or marketing automation?
Which automation route will deliver the biggest benefits to your strategy?
We believe that the ideal marketing operation needs both. Although the terms are often used interchangeably, they do quite different things. Automating content is about delivering segmented information to specific audiences. Automating marketing, on the other hand, is about creating efficiencies in the production process for collateral, advertising or promotions, and improving your regulatory compliance.
For optimal marketing that delivers compliant content in a way that engages with your audience, automating both your content strategy and your project management and approvals processes can only deliver positive results.