How can I take a holiday and still stay in the news? Here is how I am using Batch processing and marketing automation tools

By Jim James,

Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of the SPEAK|pr Podcast

For any business owner, taking a vacation is actually one of the most stressful times in the year. Everybody else wants to relax, but part of your mind is on what’s happening with the company, wondering about how to maintain an active social media presence whilst on holiday. The solution lies in automation, batch processing, and campaign and marketing orchestration.

How to get batch processing done

First, get all the content loaded onto your systems and scheduled to be posted, so there is fresh content being posted even while you’re away, and this is done through batch processing. Computer batch processing is defined as running jobs that can run without the end user, but can be scheduled to run as resources permit. In practice, what it means is that people need to get work done in advance in one session and to schedule the release of that information over time using technology platforms. In the SPEAK|pr program, which means to Storify, Personalize, Engage, Amplify and to Know, this falls under the Amplification part of this five-stage methodology. Jason Kort, an editor at the Marketing Automation Times, said, “You would not build a house without a blueprint, and yet many companies rush into marketing automation without a plan. Marketing automation is a tool that requires careful planning for it to be successful.” Sage words indeed from Mr. Kort. On the journey of learning about marketing automation, the first part does seem to be batch processing. 

Batch processing means creating a handful of content and then scheduling them in advance to go out on different days and times. The challenge is finding a platform that will amplify, promote, and distribute the content that’s been batch uploaded and distributed while you’re away. For a podcast, that would involve recording a few episodes all at once, and with the help of Buzzsprout, it can be set up to go out to iTunes, Google, Spotify, and other platforms. Another option is using Repurpose, so when the content goes from Buzzsprout, it will automatically go into Repurpose and be made into audiograms (or videos of the audio), which could then go to platforms like Facebook and YouTube.

To automate the distribution to your other social channels,  Zoho is quite handy in automating the distribution to Facebook, Twitter, Google My Business, and Instagram, although this does have to be done manually. Luckily, there are alternatives to Zoho like HubSpot, Buffer, or Hootsuite. All that automation, which comes off the back of batch production of content, can be in the form of video, audio, articles, etc. The program is, however, that this is still quite a manual process wherein content has to be uploaded and scheduled. It’s not fully automated.

Campaign orchestration with Batch

Campaign orchestration happens when people shift from automation to campaign management. This is the sort of work that people at Virgin do where they are scheduling notices and notifications into systems that are there because of what the audience is doing. Bots are useful for answering low-level queries, and this is something banks, internet service providers, and the like employ, but they may not be of much help if a customer asks something they don’t have an automated reply for, and so there is where Batch comes in. It is a French company that focuses on specialised push notifications. They work both on mobile and web browsers, and this is an aspect of public relations, because the goal of creating content is to give people a reason to reach out to the company, and for public relations to be profitable, it needs to be part of the entire sales process.

Batch has 800 customers from 25 countries, and their platform works with 50 other applications on the cloud, like Salesforce. They have an interface for customers to create, automate, and analyse push notification campaigns. They enable scheduling campaigns which can run now or at a later date, create recurring campaigns which could take place at regular intervals, and sending messages dynamically to an updated user segment. In other words, if a potential customer has expressed an interest in a certain part of the website or signed up for a certain service, you can actually send them scheduled messages in the same way that Virgin does from the minute people think about a holiday, all the way to them getting off the plane at the other end. Batch also has what they call event-based trigger campaigns, which means that if someone takes a particular action on your website, then that could trigger another level of content to be sent to them. For example, if someone expresses an interest in a white paper on your website, that leaves a clue about what that person is interested in. It tells you where they are, and then they’ll give that person’s email address. The next challenge then becomes sending them a message that takes them to the next level of their customer journey.

What’s notable with Batch is they have a live push. This idea of location-based marketing is that if people will be going to an area that they don’t normally live in, that will create a set of requirements for that person. It can give them directions, for example. Live push means that companies can start to optimise proactive communication with target customers, and that’s done as a function of the activities that they’re taking, the expressions that they’re showing to the company. The PR then becomes interesting because if someone is moving to a different location, then you can share information with that potential customer that is context-relevant and will make them more likely to pay attention. From a public relations point of view, if that person is, say, checking out TripAdvisor because they’re going to travel to a new location, you can tell that they might have other services that they are interested in and they’d possibly be looking for that online, giving you a chance to share information that could be of use to them. Understanding the customer journey by location is an increasing part of retail, but also, it can be industrial and other consumer marketing applications as well. Therefore, going back to PR, what people might read about a brand online, whether those are messages or videos of referrals or testimonials, could be a key part of the message companies are saying.

Keeping the business alive and active while you’re away

Batch processing answers the need of having to produce content to have continuity even in someone’s absence. It’s productive, because opening and closing the tools of making audio takes time. In the same way that manufacturing needs a certain volume of articles to be cost-effective, actually, so do public relations activities, and when it comes to batch processing and automation, the final part is campaign orchestration. Batch has a free trial, and if you would like to avail of their paid services, they have a Developer package with basic features that costs €245 per month, a Startup package with powerful features for €495 per month, a Business package with advanced features for €795 euro per month, and an Enterprise package which you would need to contact them for to know the price. One of their clients is the Telegraph Media Group from Holland, and they use Batch mobile to send breaking news to 7 million monthly readers.

As you consider going on holiday and going offline for a while, think about the brand not taking a holiday, because when you come back, you’ll want to have inquiries and leads. You’ll want to have work to come back to as a business owner. One reason holidays are stressful is because whilst people with salaries get paid leave, entrepreneurs don’t, so it requires working hard beforehand and automating everything, so it’s as if the business hasn’t missed a beat. Keeping the momentum going while you’re away is not easy, but it is possible. Marketing automation and campaign orchestration require some content development, some planning, and some self-discipline, but technology is available to help. There are over 100 platforms listed in EASTWEST PR’s Technology Applications Directory, many of which have free trials and could be of service to entrepreneurs who are on their journey to sharing and unlocking the value in their business through effective public relations.

This article is based on a transcript from my Podcast SPEAK|pr, you can listen here.

Cover Photo from Waisso

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