Speeding up production of our agency newsletters
I spent this week’s F*ck Around Friday trying to solve a problem that I’m guessing must face a bunch of newsletter publishers.
Here’s how it goes:
- We write a bunch of great content, and it “lives” on our website.
- Our website is built on WordPress – a Content Management System – because we want to “manage” our content, i.e. get the most out of it.
- The best way to get it out in front of our audience is to use email.
- When we come to send our content by email, we’re stuck with cut & pasting text and moving images around like we’re in the 1990’s
This is dumb, boring, and takes the fun out of creation
Breaking the problem down we have a few pieces of the jigsaw:
- Our content (text, images, video etc)
- The templates that display the content to the reader
- The list of people we want to send it to
Add our content into an email-friendly template and we have our campaign content
Merge it with the list of people and we have our “broadcast”
Send it to those people’s email inboxes and we have a completed campaign
For these emails, the ones you’re reading now, (I don’t like calling them newsletters), I solved this problem a while ago, by building an extra, email-friendly template.
So far so good, I write a blog post, and in a few clicks I can turn it into an email.
But these emails aren’t that complicated, I’m not really saving much time compared to just cut & pasting.
This is an email I pull together each month for another business (disclosure, I own a chunk of this agency).
The insights team at the agency pull the content together, and from there, well, I really don’t do a lot.
The content from the site is the same as the content in the email, so with the right tools, we can just suck it up and send it.
In fact there’s even a (slightly dangerous) option where I can just schedule the email and it will go automatically as long as there’s some content for it to inhale. I haven’t used it yet because when there’s people involved, sometimes deadlines slip and we could end up sending out the same content as last month by accident.
However, I have a couple of tools where the content is created automatically, or pulled from sources that I know are being constantly updated.
So, for an example, next FAF I’ll be expanding my daily writing prompt into an automated daily campaign.
I geek out WAY too much on this infrastructure stuff, but my brain just rebels if I have to do repetitive tasks, so in the long run it’s worth it.
Just make sure you’re not trying to automate things that you should be trying to eliminate.