10 Time-Saving Automations for More Efficient Marketing


As marketers, we constantly focus on what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.

We need to make sure the tasks we undertake (the what) contribute to purposeful goals that make a difference (the why).

While this approach makes sense, we often neglect the process; namely how we do what we do.

Often, the way we go about our day-to-day tasks isn’t the most efficient path to achieving our goals.

If we were to take the time to step back and examine “the how”, then we’d be able to move faster, more competently and free ourselves up to focus on more fruitful endeavors.

Connecting Tools & Automating Workflows

There are now plenty of inexpensive tools available which enable you to streamline tasks and workflows.

The technology is in place but I believe the biggest barrier is breaking our well-worn habits and proactively thinking about ways we can make lives easier for ourselves, our colleagues, and the wider community.

One automation platform I’ve started using more and more is Zapier. If you don’t know already, Zapier allows you to connect inputs and outputs (triggers and actions) from a selection of thousands of commonly used tools.

Areas You Can Automate

I’ve had access to a Zapier account for well over a year, but it wasn’t until recently that I had my lightbulb moment with it.

As soon as I set up my first ‘zap’ (automation), the floodgates opened and I’m now hell-bent on a quest to automate all of the things.

In this post, I’d like to share a selection of some of the zaps I’ve created that can help speed up your marketing.

Productivity Automations

1. New Posts Synced to Mobile

What’s the Problem?

It can be difficult to keep on top of all of the latest news and posts in SEO and digital marketing.

Information comes in from many different sources, so you need a way to compile new posts, ready to consume at a time and place of your choosing.

What’s the Solution?

An automated way to sync posts from a news feed to a social bookmarking platform.

What Tools Do I Need to Connect?

  • News feed tools: Slack, RSS or Gmail
  • Social bookmarking tools: Pocket or Evernote

How Does It Work?

This automation works by setting up a zap with a trigger that extracts the URL of a new post submitted to a channel or feed and an action that syncs this URL to a social bookmarking platform.

Practical Example

We have an internal Slack channel where we submit new updates and interesting posts regarding SEO.

It isn’t an efficient use of my time to read these posts at the time they are posted, so I’ve created a zap that extracts the URL from each post and syncs them to my Pocket account, so I can read them on my journey home.

The Trigger

Start creating the zap by selecting Slack and “New Message Posted to Channel” as the trigger.

When it comes to editing the options, select the channel that you want to extract URLs from and specify whether you want to include bot posts as well.

zapier filter

The Filter

Before syncing new posts with your social bookmarking platform, you will need to add a filter as an intermediate step so that the zap only continues if a URL exists in the trigger.

To do this, add a filter as an additional step and configure it to only continue if an original URL exists.

set up Pocket save

The Action

All that’s left to do now is select Pocket and “Save for Later” as the action. In edit template, select the attachment URL and title from the trigger as the URL and title in the action (as pictured below).

I’ve also specified that all URLs are given an “SEO” tag in to help categorize them in my Pocket account.

post message to Slack channel

How Does It Help?

Once you’ve tested this zap and switched it on, you just need to wait for your Pocket account to automatically sync new posts to your mobile.

This will reduce the chance that you’ll forget to read relevant resources, but also save time that you would previously have spent finding and accessing this content.

2. Rescue Time with RescueTime

What’s the Problem?

Over the course of a working day, our attention can get pulled in any number of directions making it difficult to focus on the tasks we want to prioritize.

Unless you’re ultra-disciplined with a laser-focus, you’ll need to minimize distractions wherever possible.

What’s the Solution?

RescueTime is a time management platform that monitors where you spend time on the web to assess your productivity.

It gives you a productivity score each day and has a feature called Focus Time, which automatically blocks distracting websites, silences your phone and sets your Slack status to “away”.

What Tools Do I Need to Connect?

  • Time management tool: RescueTime
  • Messaging platform: Slack or Gmail

How Does It Work?

On its own, RescueTime is a useful productivity tool, but you can better integrate it into your daily routine by combining it with messaging platforms like Slack.

In Zapier, you can set a trigger in Slack so that a specified word or phrase triggers a set period of focus time from RescueTime.

Practical Example

I write monthly posts for Search Engine Journal and deadlines always come round much more quickly than expected.

When I’m writing my monthly post, I need to zone in on writing and minimize distractions as much as possible, so I start focus time via Slack for an hour or two.

The Trigger

Set up a trigger in Slack when a New Message is Posted to a Private Channel. You can then edit the options to select the channel you want Focus Time to be triggered from.

I’ve created my own dedicated “focus-time” channel in Slack for this purpose. You could also specify a trigger word or phrase for the same purpose.

zapier slack message posted

The Action

You then need to configure the “Start or Stop a FocusTime Session” action in RescueTime, making sure to set the duration of the FocusTime you wish to trigger.

focus time RescueTime Zapier

How Does It Help?

This zap is a convenient way to easily minimize distractions and enhance focus for blocks of time.

With RescueTime’s integration with Zapier, you can also set up zaps that send daily or weekly reports about how productive (or distracted) you’ve been.

3. Automatically Notify Your Team About New Posts

What’s the Problem?

If you publish new content to a site, you may want to notify others in your team, so they can read and share it. Circulating your new content is a manual task and can be another thing on your to-do list.

What’s the Solution?

You can create an automated solution in Zapier that allows you to detect the publishing of a new post in a CMS and trigger a notification in a messaging platform like Slack.

What Tools Do I Need to Connect?

  • CMS: WordPress
  • Messaging platform: Slack or Gmail

How Does It Work?

If you have a WordPress site then you can create a zap that triggers when a new post is published which actions an alert in a messaging platform such as Slack or an email in your inbox.

Practical Example

We regularly publish posts on our blog. Once a post is live, the author used to share it in a Slack channel to notify the rest of the team.

We have now automated this process so that we don’t need to remember to send a Slack message.

The Trigger

Start the zap by selecting WordPress and “New Post”, then in the options, select that the trigger should activate when a post is published.

WordPress New Post Zapier

The Action

In the action step, select Slack and the “Send Channel Message” option. There are a lot of different options you can edit here, but essentially you are specifying a message, how it should be displayed, and what channel it should be posted in.

Slack Channel Message Zapier

How Does It Help?

With this zap in place, authors no longer need to remember to notify the rest of the team. The Slack notification reliably gets sent within a couple of minutes of a post being published.

Social & Video Automations

4. Automated Brand Mention Alerts on Social

What’s the Problem?

The web is a big place and people are talking about brands in a variety of places including social channels.

If you’re responsible for managing a company’s social channels or brand reputation, then you need to be quick to respond to brand mentions.

What’s the Solution?

You can’t rely on manually checking and searching for mentions of your brand; you need an automated alert system so you know as soon as someone is talking about you.

This can be achieved, in part, by hooking up social channels with messaging platforms in Zapier.

What Tools Do I Need to Connect?

  • Social platforms: Twitter or Reddit
  • Messaging platforms: Slack or Gmail

How Does It Work?

To set up automated brand mention alerts, you need to connect your social channels in Zapier and use brand mentions in these as a trigger for alerts in your preferred messaging platform.

Practical Example

We need to be on top of people talking about the company on a platform like Reddit, as this is a forum for conversations about SEO. We’ve set up an automated alert that triggers when our brand is mentioned on Reddit so we can reply promptly where appropriate.

The Trigger

Create a zap with Reddit as the trigger and make sure you’ve selected “New Post Or Comment Matching Search”.

In the options, enter in the search query that you want the trigger to activate for and specify which subreddits you want to monitor.

Set up Reddit post Zapier

The Action

In the action, select where you want to be notified. In this case, I want to be notified directly in Slack, so I can set this up by selecting “Send Direct Message” as the action and edit the options with the message details, including the title, body text and URL.

Set up Slack Message Zapier

How Does It Help?

With this zap in place, we can see when someone is talking about our company, so we can quickly respond to questions about our product or engage with conversations in which we are mentioned.

5. Conveniently Schedule Social Posts from a Spreadsheet

What’s the Problem?

Executing a successful social strategy with consistent and relevant messaging is challenging at the best of times.

Even if you schedule some of your posts with a social media management tool, it can still be a time-consuming and cumbersome task.

What’s the Solution?

Using Zapier, we can set up automations to make scheduling and editing social posts as convenient and pain-free as possible.

What Tools Do I Need to Connect?

  • Spreadsheet tool: Google Sheets
  • Social media management tool: Hootsuite

How Does It Work?

Social media management tools don’t always have easy-to-use interfaces and scheduling posts in bulk can take the patience of a saint.

It might actually be easier to populate your posts in a Google Sheet and map this information to a social media management tool to be scheduled.

Practical Example

When talking to a colleague, I learned that they were getting frustrated with scheduling posts to Hootsuite.

By using Hootsuite’s Zapier integration, I saw that we could bypass their interface and, by completing fields in Google Sheets, we could set these up so that they would schedule posts in Hootsuite.

The Trigger

Before setting up the zap, you’ll need to create a Google Sheet with columns that will specify the information needed to schedule posts in Hootsuite, like date, time, platform and content (see below).

Google Sheets Spreadsheet Row Zapier

You can then begin setting up the zap by connecting Google Sheets and selecting “New or Updated Spreadsheet Row”. This will mean that either a newly edited or created row will trigger the action.

Hootsuite Message Zapier

The Action

For the action, you’re going to want to select Hootsuite (or whichever Zapier-supported social platform you use) and select “Schedule Message”. Then you just need to configure the mappings from the Sheet into Hootsuite in the edit options tab (e.g. text, time, tags and images).

Social scheduling Sheet

How Does It Help?

With this time-saving zap active, you can schedule a social post by simply filling out a few cells in Google Sheets. It doesn’t get much easier than that!

6. Automatically Upload Videos to YouTube

What’s the Problem?

After a recorded event, people who weren’t able to attend will want to watch the recording as soon as possible.

Publishing a video of an event on YouTube often requires editing and it can take time to set it live. You need to streamline this process as much as possible to minimize the time needed to get the video published.

What’s the Solution?

You can set up a zap to automatically upload new video files in Google Drive directly to YouTube, to minimize the time between editing and publishing.

What Tools Do I Need to Connect?

  • Cloud storage platform: Google Drive or Dropbox
  • Video platform: YouTube

How Does It Work?

This automation works by triggering the upload of a video to YouTube when a new file is added to a cloud storage platform.

Practical Example

After our webinars, we want to get the recordings live as soon as possible, so we can embed them in blog posts and share them with our email database.

Once the video has been edited and uploaded to a folder in Google Drive, it automatically uploads the video file to YouTube.

The Trigger

Start a zap by setting up Google Drive as a trigger, making sure to select “New File in Folder”.

In the options, select the Drive and the folder where the video will be uploaded from. Make sure this folder isn’t used for any other purposes than for uploading the final edited versions of videos to be uploaded to YouTube.

Google Drive File Zapier

The Action

To set up the action, you need to connect your YouTube Account and select “Upload Video”.

In the options, you can auto-populate some of the fields for the YouTube video by mapping details of the video file in Google Drive like the title and description.

I’d recommend setting the privacy status of the video to private so you can give it a final check before making it publicly available.

You might also want to add another action in the form of a Slack notification so you know when the video is going to start uploading.

YouTube Upload Video Zapier
How Does It Help?

With this zap in place, you can reduce the time it takes to upload time-sensitive videos to your YouTube channel and provide your audience with valuable content more quickly.

Email & CRM Automations

7. Keep Track of Data Capture Performance

What’s the Problem?

If you’re collecting information from your site’s visitors, it can be difficult to keep track of how these data capture initiatives are performing from month-to-month.

Performance reporting and visualizations are typically poor in outbound marketing platforms.

What’s the Solution?

You need a centralized and automated method by which to monitor the performance of individual and aggregated data capture initiatives on a regular basis.

Doing so will enable you to optimize their delivery and easily see if they have had an impact on performance.

What Tools Do I Need to Connect?

  • Outbound marketing platform: Act-On or Mailchimp
  • Spreadsheet tool: Google Sheets
  • Dashboarding tool: Google Data Studio

How Does It Work?

Using Zapier, you can automate the flow of form submissions from your marketing automation platform into Google Sheets, which then populates a dashboard in a data visualization platform like Google Data Studio.

Practical example

We collect email addresses from our site’s visitors through forms in Act-On so we can send them resources they are interested in.

We need to easily track the number of form submissions received on a monthly basis for each individual form as well as totals across all forms to assess how popular our content has been.

The Trigger

To start this zap, select your outbound marketing platform as the trigger.

For this example, we’ll be using Act-On and the trigger will be “New Form Submission”. Then select the Act-On form submissions you want to track and follow the instructions to set up the webhook.

Act-on form submission
The Action

For this zap to work, you’ll need to create a new spreadsheet with a different worksheet for each form.

You’ll then need to match up the columns with the details of the form, which may include fields like date submitted, email address, and name.

Sheets form submission

Once the sheet is set up, select Google Sheets as an action and “Create Spreadsheet Row”.

Then edit the template so that the form fields from the Act-On form map to those that you have defined in Google Sheets (e.g., date submitted, email and name).

Sheets Spreadsheet Row Zapier
The Dashboard

With the zap pulling form submissions into Google Sheets, you can go into Google Data Studio and configure that same sheet as a data source and create a graph to visualize this data in a variety of different ways.

Below is a graph showing form submissions aggregated on a monthly basis.

Newsletter signups Google Data Studio
How Does It Help?

With form submissions being piped into Data Studio via Google Sheets, our marketing team can simply look at a dashboard that tracks monthly form submission performance rather than wasting time in our outbound marketing platform to gain insights.

8. Sync Event Registrations to a CRM Tool

What’s the Problem?

Transferring the details of people who register for an event through a platform, like Eventbrite, to a CRM tool, like Salesforce, can be a tedious and unnecessarily manual task.

What’s the Solution?

Setting up a simple zap that sends event platform registration details directly to your CRM tool is a no-brainer for saving you a bit of time and removing another task from your to-do list.

What Tools Do I Need to Connect?

  • Event platform: Eventbrite
  • CRM: Salesforce

How Does It Work?

A simple zap is all that’s needed. A trigger in Eventbrite sends each and every registrants’ details and creates or updates a record in Salesforce.

Practical Example

Let’s say you’re hosting an SEO networking event in New York and taking registrations through an Eventbrite page. You can set up the zap described above so that registrations are automatically created or amended in Salesforce.

The Trigger

Set up the trigger for the zap by selecting Eventbrite “New Attendee Registered” and edit the options to include organization, event status, and the name of the event.

Eventbrite Attendee Zapier
The Action

The action will consist of two stages:

  • One to find an existing lead or create a new one.
  • Another to add the lead to a campaign.

For the first part, set up an action with Salesforce “Find or Create Lead” selected.

In the options, specify the field you wish to search by, which is email address in this case, and map all of the fields coming from Eventbrite into Salesforce fields (e.g. first name, last name etc.).

This will amend existing records and create new ones where appropriate.

Search for Salesforce Lead Zapier

Add a second action, again with Salesforce, but this time selecting “Add Lead to a Campaign”. In the options, specify the campaign in Salesforce that you want to assign the new or updated records to and the lead ID.

Set up Salesforce Lead Zapier
How Does It Help?

With this zap in place, you can create events in Eventbrite and automate the flow of data into your CRM tool.

Crawl Automations

9. Crawl Summary Notification

What’s the Problem?

If you have multiple crawls running, it can be easy to forget to go back and check them once they have completed.

What’s the Solution?

Set up automated crawl completion notifications so that you can keep on top of all of the crawls you have running and so you remember to go and check the results.

What Tools Do I Need to Connect?

  • Crawling platform: DeepCrawl
  • Messaging platform: Slack or Gmail

How Does It Work?

With DeepCrawl’s Zapier integration, you can use the completion of a crawl as a trigger for a notification to be sent to a tool of your choosing.

Practical Example

I have a regular crawl set up to monitor the DeepCrawl site but, left to my own devices, I’d probably forget to check the latest crawl if it weren’t for a Slack notification that I’ve set up.

The Trigger

For this zap, you’ll need to select DeepCrawl as the trigger app and select “New Completed Crawl”.

In the options, you will need to find your account, the relevant project and select the reports you want to pull through into the notification (e.g., All Broken Links).

DeepCrawl Crawl Zapier
The Action

To set up a Slack notification, choose it as the action part of the zap and select “Send Direct Message”.

You can configure this in the same way as I wrote about for the fourth automation in this post (Automated brand mention alerts on social) and you might want to include some top level metrics and the URL of the crawl as part of the message content.

How Does It Help?

This zap shouldn’t take long to set up and once it is, all you need to do is wait for that completed crawl notification to come through to know when your crawl has finished.

DeepCrawl Slack notification

10. Crawl Insights in Google Data Studio

What’s the Problem?

Crawling solutions provide excellent insights into a site’s technical health, but it can be more useful to extract their data and combine it with other sources in data visualization platforms.

What’s the Solution?

With Zapier, you can bring crawl data from the DeepCrawl platform into Google Sheets and then visualize this within Google Data Studio.

This allows you to present the data however you want it as well as combining it with other data sources, like Google Search Console.

What tools do I need to connect?

  • Crawling platform: DeepCrawl
  • Spreadsheet tool: Google Sheets
  • Data visualization platform: Google Data Studio

How Does It Work?

Again, by using the trigger of a completed crawl from DeepCrawl, you can pull the metrics you need into Data Studio via Google Sheets.

Practical Example

I need to monitor how the DeepCrawl site is performing on a regular basis, so it is convenient for me to check in on a dashboard that provides insights about site performance, as well as going into the DeepCrawl platform directly.

The Trigger

The trigger for this zap is the same as for the previous one in this post. Select DeepCrawl “New Completed Crawl” and configure the options with all of the crawl metrics you want to pull into sheets.

DeepCrawl Crawl Zapier
The Action

Before you set up the action, create a new Sheet with all of the crawl metrics you want to pull through as column headers, like so:

Crawl Metrics Sheet

Now you’re ready to create the action part of the zap by selecting Google Sheets and “Create Spreadsheet Row”. In the options, select your crawl metrics sheet and map each of the crawl metrics from DeepCrawl to the columns in your Sheet.

Create Spreadsheet Row Zapier

With your Google Sheet being automatically populated with crawl metrics, you can use it as a data source from which you can create a dashboard in Google Data Studio.

DeepCrawl Search Console Data Studio Dashboard
How Does It Help?

Bringing crawl data into a Data Studio dashboard is useful because I can manipulate the data in visualizations, exactly as I want.

I can also combine crawl metrics with XML sitemap data from Search Console to save having to switch between two different tools.

Summary

Hopefully, this post has inspired you to think about some of the day-to-day tasks you can automate to help free up time, even if it’s only in a small way.

The great thing about these automatons is that they don’t usually require technical skills to set up, and a tool like Zapier is relatively inexpensive.

Once you’re up and running with a few zaps and have gained an understanding of Zapier’s possibilities, thinking up new solutions becomes both fun and addictive.

I’ve found that that lightbulb moment happens more and more, and I’ve been able to start helping other members of my team by automating some of the tasks that they encounter.

More Resources:


Image Credits

Featured Image: Pexels
All screenshots taken by author, October 2018

Subscribe to SEJ

Get our weekly newsletter from SEJ’s Founder Loren Baker about the latest news in the industry!

Ebook





Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *