(or how marketing automation supports content marketing)

Ask any pilot or guy at a bar – having a wingman is vital to the success of any endeavor. Whether it involves planes, pick-ups or anything in between, if you want to be the Top Gun you’ll need a wingman. Content marketing is no different.

We all know content is king, but without the proper support, it’s more like a mime with a degree in French – there is no point, no voice to carry the message across or to convert your leads into sales. So how do you support modern content marketing so that it is not only effective, but sustainable and relevant to your prospective leads?

Fear not, this blog post will show you the way so you can cruise on the highway to the conversion zone.

Content Marketing 101

If you need a refresher, or you’re just getting into digital marketing and have no idea what I was talking about, content marketing is any marketing that involves the creation and sharing of media and publishing content in order to acquire and retain customers. shutterstock_378439201

You can think of it as a way your company offers value through videos, blog articles, infographics and more, so that your prospects engage with your brand and keep coming back, thus generating a loyal client base.

However many companies get content marketing wrong, and it’s usually because their content doesn’t fulfill one of the three basic conditions of good content marketing material.

The 3 content conditions


Good content marketing has to be relevant to your audience and resonate with their needs and what they want. Otherwise you’re just blaring on about something your prospects and leads couldn’t care less about – and you don’t want to be that guy.


There’s no need to kid ourselves – content marketing is there to acquire and retain customers by keeping them educated and informed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun while you do it. Entertaining content tends to get shared more often and keeps your audience engaged until the end. This is particularly useful when you want to generate awareness or educate.


Finally, if your content doesn’t teach your audience or prospective leads anything new, it won’t be of use to them, and will probably have no effect on building trust between your brand and your prospects.

Content marketing shines when it guides prospective leads through the 4 stages of the buyer’s cycle. It checks in at each stage to grease the wheels so that the gravy train keeps your leads onboard and heading towards a sale.

  • Content marketing generates awareness around your product and the perceived challenges of your target market.
  • It educates those interested in your product as to how it can solve those challenges.
  • It provides information on the specific features and unique selling points of your product so that leads can compare your product to similar services.
  • And ultimately, it pushes your leads towards a sale and makes the process easier for them to justify their investment.

But here’s the problem

As a marketer, it’s your job to send the right piece of content at the right time or you’ll risk losing your leads. For example, a person in the education phase of the buyer’s cycle doesn’t want to be pushed and pressured into a sale when he’s not ready, and a lead who is ready to make a purchase doesn’t need to be educated on a product when he’s ready to buy.

This is a major content marketing challenge since the dawn of email marketing. If you blast out generic messages to all leads, you risk isolating a fair chunk of your subscriber base because you’re not tailoring your content. When you isolate leads, you are forced to refill the sales funnel, which creates a vicious cycle.

If you want to optimize your content and get away from constantly refilling your lead-base you need a new plan. You need a new platform. You need… a wingman.

Marketing Automation is the Perfect Wingman to Content Marketing

Marketing automation is really the star of the show, the Tom Cruise before the sofa, if you will.

With a little time and effort, marketing automation can marry the the 3 Content Conditions above (Relevancy, Entertainment and Information) with each unique buyer’s cycle (Awareness, Education, Comparison and Purchase).

In a way, it connects the content with the lead at the right time to move leads through the buyer’s cycle and towards a sale.

Marketing automation allows content marketing materials to educate when it’s informative to the user, entertains leads to keep their awareness and, pushes leads to purchase when they’re ready to buy, all while providing information that’s relevant to the user no matter where they are in the buyer’s cycle.

The magic of marketing automation

If this all sounds like magic, that’s because it is, but I guarantee you that anyone can do it.

Marketing automation enables your emails, website and other marketing collateral to respond to a lead based on a variety of characteristics. If a website visitor is checking out your features on a regular basis, it’s a safe bet that he’s in the education or comparison phase and would be receptive to an email with a link to a blog post explaining more about your product and what makes it unique.

On the other hand, if a website visitor repeatedly visits your pricing page, perhaps clicking through on one particular plan, you have the ability to immediately contact the visitor with a discounted rate on that specific plan, or send an automated email from a salesperson who can close the deal.

When it comes to content for nurturing campaigns and email marketing, marketing automation has got your back as well.
Marketing automation gives you the power to automatically gauge how your subscriber base is reacting to your email marketing campaign, and more importantly, adjust accordingly.

For example, if you send out a blog post link in an email about a new feature or your product, and half of your subscribers click-through and the other half doesn’t, you’re able to segment the list and automatically customize future sends based on these engagement levels. From here, marketing automation allows you to send content appropriate for lower engagement (e.g. an infographic) to those who didn’t click through and content appropriate for higher engagement (e.g. a white paper) to those who did click through.

This way, you’re able to move those who are already down the buyer’s cycle, and ease on the brakes for those who aren’t ready yet, saving you leads, time and content creation.

Content marketing without automation

Without a marketing automation wingman, content marketing is not nearly as effective. It relies on ‘spray and pray’ techniques that lose a percentage of leads and engagement every time they’re used.

We’re talking about shotgun sharing rather than relevant, targeted information that drives users when they’re ready to convert.

Blind SEO keyword ranking rather than accurate engagement with website visitors that you can identify.

Irrelevant email spam that costs time, money and reputation rather than interactive email experiences that work for the lead as well as the company.

In short? It ain’t pretty, and it’s not something that belongs in a modern marketer’s strategy.

Fly Higher

If you’d like to find out more about how marketing automation can help you close the deal, get what you want out of content marketing and start conversations that convert, sign up for a demo.

If finding out about the best marketing automation and content marketing techniques sounds good to you, you’re in the right place – subscribe to our blog for more updates.

Mark Brown
Mark is a content writer for SharpSpring inc. With over 4 years of digital and content marketing experience across film, journalism and travel, he offers insights to marketers around the world so that they can get through the digital static of the 21st century.