When Makerpad chatted with the team at Stark about their content marketing process, we realized they were overwhelmed with the amount of mental space and time they spent searching for and keeping track of outside content and by the number of tools they were using to handle it all. Turns out the Stark team was ready for an all-around upgrade to their content practice. The goal was to decrease the number of processes and hours they currently use, automate as much as possible, and use as few tools as necessary.
Content is key to continuing to engage with the Stark community, so it was important for the Stark team to create the space needed to focus on giving them the content they want and getting feedback directly from their users. So Makerpad got to work helping them automate gathering outside content so they could focus on their own content and test out new content ideas with their audience.
Lesson 1: Automating Newsletter Content in Mailchimp
Stark’s manual process: The team would search the web for relevant content and create a daily newsletter combined with internal news, events and content.
Makerpad upgrade: Amie shows you how to use Airtable and Zapier to save articles from around the web and auto-populate them into a MailChimp newsletter.
- Set up an Airtable base to keep track of all the articles and information you’ll need to pull into an RSS feed including “title,” “link,” and “excerpt.” We also suggest adding in an “approved” column that has to be checked in order to be included as a way of ensuring that the content going into your feed is relevant.
- Use the Web Clipper Chrome extension by Airtable to quickly fill in all the info you need into your base.
- Create an RSS feed with Zapier from all the articles you’ve pulled with the Chrome extension. You’ll have the option of how many articles you’ll want to have pulled into your newsletter (we chose 3, but you’ll know what your audience wants best!).
- Lastly, use MailChimp to set up an automated campaign that auto-populates an email based on your RSS feed for the exact number of articles you choose and/or on a schedule (daily, weekly, monthly). You’ll also have the option to add in your internal news, events and content whenever you have it.
- Automating this process allowed Stark to spend more time creating content for their blog and newsletter, and less time gathering outside content.
- There are a variety of tools that can create an RSS feed that connects to Mailchimp, but we chose Airtable because it works like a CRM and allows your team to set up an approval process to ensure you’re sticking to your brand and content standards.
Lesson 2: Capture, Approve, and Share Content Ideas
Stark’s manual process: Similar to the above, the team would search the web for relevant content and add their content onto a social media management system to post for them.
Makerpad upgrade: Tom shows you how to use Zapier to save articles from around the web and auto-populate them into Buffer. Optional: add in an additional step to create an approval process using Airtable.
- Use Push by Zapier Chrome Extension as the “Trigger” for your Zap to capture content worthy ideas and inspiration while you’re browsing.
- For an additional layer of approval, use Airtable to keep track of all the articles and info you need like “title,” “link,” and “excerpt.” By adding an “Add to Buffer” column you can ensure your whole team can add content to the Buffer queue, while one member reviews, reads and dissects.
- Buffer lets you set a daily automatic posting schedule so that you’re optimizing for the times that work best for your audience.
- It may not seem like much time is being wasted switching between windows searching for content and adding it to Buffer or Airtable, but it adds up! With this lesson, you’re able to do everything in the same window, allowing you to use that extra time finding interesting and relevant content to engage your audience.
- If you’ve got a larger team, it makes sense for everyone to chip in on content-searching duties. Then your Social Media/Content Manager can go through and review the content on Airtable, then approve it for the Buffer queue.
Lesson 3: Dynamically Create Webinar Pages in Webflow
Stark’s manual process: The team would send out surveys for feedback on potential webinar ideas. Once there’s a winner, they set up a landing registration page to get sign ups.
Makerpad upgrade: Tom combines a variety of useful tools including Webflow CMS, Typeform, Zapier and Airtable to capture people’s choice of webinar(s) and then dynamically create Webinar Registration pages.
- Webflow is one of our favorite tools! We use it here for its game-changing in-built Content Management System (CMS), which allows us to create a CMS Item Template that dynamically creates Webinar Registration pages.
- We use a simple 3 step form on Typeform to survey your audience on your webinar ideas and to learn what landing pages we should create.
- Zapier sends each record to a CRM (we use Airtable).
- Airtable collects all the information from the form and most importantly for our purposes—the vote count using a Count field. This lets us build out a Webflow page once an idea gains enough votes (ie how many people need to be interested for you to do a webinar?). Team members then go in to add all the necessary info (description, header image, time and date, etc) and we use a “Ready to Publish on Webflow” button to denote that the webpage is ready to be built.
- We use Zapier once again to “Create a Live Item” in our Webflow Collection.
- Once this process is established, your team will spend less time manually creating survey and landing pages and more time on thinking of good ideas for webinars!
- Going directly to your audience to ask them what content they’re most interested in is a great way of ensuring participation in your webinars and learning from your customers.
Lesson 4: Create a Welcome Bot in Slack
Stark’s manual process: In order to welcome new users to Slack, the Stark team has to manually trigger the conversation. (Note: workflows are an issue with all free plans!)
Makerpad upgrade: Amie shows you the easiest way to send automatic direct messages to New Users using a Zapier to Slack “Welcome Bot.”
- In Zapier, set up a trigger based on when a new user joins the community.
- The Slack Bot Integration allows you to create welcome messages customized with the info you deem most relevant.
- Make your new users feel welcome as soon as they join by creating a simple and quick (5 minutes to set up!) “Welcome Bot” to deliver customized messages.
- You can use this space to guide your new members to participate in the community spaces you want them in and to be kept in the loop on any recent company content like those webinars from Lesson 3.
As happens with many growing companies, what started out as a way to engage with their audience and customers grew laborious and untenable. While they wanted to continue giving their audience access to Stark, the number of hours spent and tools used, was cutting into the time they could be using to create more creative and customized content. Working with Makerpad, let them see that maybe they didn’t have to compromise! By giving them the power to automate as much as possible, reducing the number of tools they were using, and lowering the number of hours they spent, we were able to give them more time to focus on creating the content they knew their audience wanted: custom Stark content.
Looking forward to the systems you set up at your company! Let us know how they work out. If you’re looking for a good place to start, here’s our Automation at Work Bootcamp.
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