how-to-build-free-content-marketing-automation-tool-with-google

If your content marketing strategy is not powered by automation, your team is likely wasting too much time on repetitive writing tasks. For many organizations, this hinders productivity, drives risk for error, and increases costs. As so, many firms weigh whether to invest in high-priced automation software or maintain the status quo. However, with a little elbow grease and Google savvy, you can solve your content marketing woes by building a free content automation tool.

Before we begin, think of a written piece of content you want automated. This can be marketing materials, webinar invites, digital ads, you name it. Got an idea – Good! Let’s use this for the demo.

Below are the free web-based tools we will use:

  • Google Sheets
  • Google Docs
  • Document Studio (free Google Sheets add-on)

Step 1: Installing Document Studio

Log into your Google Account, and download the free Google Sheets Add-on, “Document Studio” from the G Suite Marketplace.

We will come back to this later.

Step 2: Creating the Google Doc Template

Open Google Docs, and create a new document.

In this file, we will build our template that can be automated. To demonstrate, I will create two simple examples of time sinks for marketers at professional service firms – a web biography and a social media post.

Here is the content I wrote:

build-free-content-marketing-automation-tool-google-six

The text enclosed in the curly brackets is the variable that will be automated. As long as it fits within a spreadsheet cell, you can create any variable you want and reuse it infinitely. Examples may include simple values such as names, job titles, locations, number values, etc. Variables may also be full chunks of text (i.e. value propositions, specialties, quotes, etc.).

Note: Variables can be used as many times as possible, but they require exact formatting. As so, I prefer to use all lowercase letters and hyphens.

Once completed, save your document.

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Step 3: Creating Google Sheets Document:

Go to Google Sheets.

You can now import a spreadsheet by clicking: File > Import. If you do not have existing data, you can manually create a spreadsheet, and the process will work just fine.

My initial data features attorneys of the Old West:

build-free-content-marketing-automation-tool-google-one

As highlighted, my top row labels match the variables from the Google Doc. Similar to a mail merge, the rows below will be merged with the template.

Now is a good time to clean your data (i.e. missing values, capitalization, periods, etc.). I am missing the “he-she” and “his-her” variables used in the template, so I will add these now. This is an easy fix. I can use an IF function to output these into new columns (i.e. =IF($F2=”Male”,”He”,”She”)). My output is now ready to be merged:

build-free-content-marketing-automation-tool-google-one-two

Save your spreadsheet.

Step 4: Using Document Studio Export

In your Google Sheets menu, click: Add-ons > Document Studio > Open. The Document Studio side panel will appear.

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Set “Enable” to “Yes”

Under “Select a template in Google Drive,” select Google Document. In the pop-up window, select the template you recently created.

The Markers field will show variables that are synced. If variables are missing, check your formatting to ensure variable formatting matches in both documents.

In naming the merged file, I encourage including a bracketed variable that will help distinguish the merged documents. This is essential if you are exporting many documents.

Choose an Export format. I selected Microsoft Word.

Once all options are selected, click the “Finish and Merge” tab. You can choose when you want to merge. I have chosen “Merge Documents Now.” This creates three merged documents immediately.

Step 5: Reviewing Output

Document Studio has created several new columns in the Google Sheet. These are links to the files that have been saved on our Google Drive. To access the individual files, simply click the link.

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My output looks like this:

build-free-content-marketing-automation-tool-google-one-five

Looks good to me! If you have further changes, you can edit accordingly. To create corrected output, delete the links from the columns that Doc Studio created and re-run the export. This will overwrite the old exports.

Takeaways

Once your Google Doc template is created, you can reuse this countless times or repurpose it into new templates. Since variables can be reused, this expedites creating new content for different product lines or value streams. For example, I can build templates for several other standard Tweets that feature Wyatt Earp. If I re-run the Document Studio Export, I can have a complex suite of unique social media content in just several minutes.

Have any questions on how this process can be integrated into your marketing strategy? Questions on troubleshooting? Let’s Connect.

Further Reading: