Automating repetitive tasks doesn’t just boost the efficiency of your team — it can also lead to more data-driven decision making and prevent tech, performance or communication issues. There are tons of tools out there used by marketers to aid automation, but often these tools aren’t used to their full potential.
Here are some actionable steps to help your team run smoother processes, avoid distractions and detect issues. These automation hacks will help you save time and focus on what’s really important: achieving your goals.
There are many actions you can take when it comes to data automation, but we want to highlight three of the most important actions.
1. Automate reports in Google Spreadsheets: thanks to the Google Analytics plugin for Google Sheets you can run any kind of custom report and choose the frequency at which they should run.
2. Connect your data sources to Google’s Data Studio. Having everything in one place is a great way to avoid checking each tool every single time. Here’s an example of how your marketing dashboard could look. Most data sources can be connected directly to Data Studio, that’s the case for Google Analytics, Search Console, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Twitter, and many others. For tools that do not have a direct integration with Data Studio, a good workaround is to rely on connectors like Funnel or Supermetrics.
3. Take advantage of your existing tool’s APIs. If you use Ahrefs, Sistrix, SearchMetrics or any other major SEO tool, chances are you have access to their API (or it’s available on one of the plans)—this is a great way, for companies of any size, to automate rank tracking, external link acquisition, content discovery and many other tasks.
You should spend some time digging into the data to find valuable insights, not to check that everything is working as it should. Google Analytics makes it very easy to automate performance checks and health status checks of your website or app.
Here are some examples of useful alerts you can set:
- Increase in 404s
- Drop in traffic compared to the same day in the previous week
- Drop in leads or sales compared to the same day in the previous week
- Drop or spike in traffic from a specific location
- Drop or spike in traffic to a specific landing page
- Increase in average page load time
…and the list goes on. It’s important that these checks reflect the structure of your website and what you consider to be crucial to your business. You should also make sure that the right people get the right alerts, and you can consider involving your product or tech team for some of those decisions.
There are several tools you can use to monitor when your website is down, slow or returning a server error. Those are already a great start, but tools like Testomato can help you monitor things at a much deeper level. Here are some examples of HTML checks that you may want to implement:
- Check for changes to the robots.txt file
- Ensure that canonical tags are in place on pages that should have them
- Check for the correct meta robots tags
- Check for the status code of different sets of pages
- Check for tracking codes (e.g.: GTM, Search Console)
There are many things that can go wrong, and when those happen you want to be notified immediately.
Monitoring what your competitors are doing (in order to take actions accordingly) is as important as it is time-consuming. Aside from setting alerts, for changes in rankings or new backlinks acquired, there are two tools that are extremely handy if you want to keep an eye on what the competition is doing.
The first one is Talkwalker, which makes it easy to track brand mentions of your competitors and any kind of news within your industry by tracking specific terms. This ensures that you’re the first one to know what’s happening, whether that’s a new press release, a company’s funding round or some other industry-related news.
The second tool is VisualPing, which allows you to monitor pixel changes on any webpage. Some examples of pages you may want to track are your competitors’ homepage and pricing page but really applies to anything that is strategic for you to keep an eye on.
How can you make sure that everyone within your team is up to date?
Google Analytics allows you to schedule reports via email, so you won’t have to manually send a report every month or check that everyone is on the same page.
Shared dashboards are another great way to provide transparency about your team’s performance. A bookmark might do it, but a screen on the wall is what will actually ensure that everyone will see those stats. While you can use any kind of dashboard for that (including Data Studio), software like GeckoBoard or Klipfolio represent a more advanced solution.
The examples in this post can all be implemented by marketers without any kind of support from their tech teams; however, when certain actions take up a lot of time, it’s always worth looking into how they can be automated—even in those instances where it means developing tech resources to build a custom solution.
**About the Author: Alberto Di Risio is a tech enthusiast and Marketing Manager at Kisi, the Brooklyn-based company that is transforming the way businesses manage physical security.