How to Use Asana To Automate Your Interdepartmental Content Calendar

If you haven’t joined the party yet, it’s time you realize that in the SaaS marketing world, organic content can go much farther than you think. It might be shocking to tell you this, but that bookish looking, glasses-wearing, coffee-chugging content marketer burning the midnight hours in the back corner of your office might be due for a promotion. 

Because trust me, if you know how to use it, your content calendar can become an automated machine of organic traffic generation that skyrockets your organic revenue along with your rankings. 

Why Scale Organic Content Marketing? 

Strategies like customer-led content marketing aren’t necessarily the speediest campaigns to generate ROI. However, they often end up generating the highest quality leads. Why do you think that is? It’s because the leads that convert on content are those who are most interested in your actual opinion and expertise (as opposed to quick execution and easy pricing), which often leads to longer lasting client relationships. AKA – more renewal payments.

This is where the value of scaling your content marketing efforts steps into the limelight. Once you start to see the returns that customer-led content marketing can drive for your business, it’s only a matter of time before you want to double down. 

“The sad fact of the matter is that most people struggle to generate enough ROI from their organic strategies because they use the word ‘organic’ as an excuse not to invest enough in the first place. You can absolutely generate a rapid and significant ROI from organic content marketing, you just need to scale it at a pace that expedites the slow returns of SEO.” 

Sean Martin | Marketing Manager @Directive 

Industry Trusted Task Management Software

Now, if you’ve somehow gotten this far in the SaaS marketing world without using task management software, I must applaud you. But for something like a scaled content initiative – something that requires a shared content calendar with multiple departments accessing and editing the same documents – it’s time you joined the rest of us. 

In order to efficiently scale your content calendar, you’ll need task management software that allows you to automate your assignments based on certain tags, statuses, and completion status of dependent subtasks. It’s going to get tricky, so you’re going to need a tool that is your friend, not your foe. 

And here enters: Asana. 

The Next Level: Asana Automations

For this example we’ll stick to using the Asana task management platform because, well, that’s where I initially built this process I’ll be walking you through. And, being honest, having used quite a bit of task management software and conditional automations, I haven’t seen anything that Asana’s workflow builder can’t do (sometimes with a little bit of help). 

Now, after that not so humble plug, let’s dive into the actual automation build. 

The Board Workflow For Interdepartmental Collaboration 

The first thing you’ll have to do is lay out all the different team members who are going to need access to this board. The more information you clarify ahead of time the better you’ll be able to build out your automation. Below are just a few things you’ll need to think about: 

  • What are their roles? 
  • What part of each content piece are they responsible for? 
  • And who will they be reporting to for approvals, edits, and revisions? 

On top of that, you’ll need to think of how you’re going to be delegating the individual projects between these respective team members. For example, in our own content calendar we wanted each department (PPC, SEO, Design, Video, Strategy, and RevOps) to be able to individually approve blog topics of their respective focus. So, we had to include a tag of which business unit the specific Asana task was focused on in order to delegate to the appropriate director when it was time for approval. 

After you’ve identified all the players – you can get into establishing how you want the actual workflow to function. This will be the way in which you categorize your different sections in your Asana board. 

PRO TIP: make sure when you first create your Asana project you choose “board” as your primary option, not “list” – this will help with automations later on when creating conditional automations based-on status. 

For our workflow, we wanted content briefs to be created, then approved by directors, then assigned to writers, then approved and finalized by directors again. But that’s not where the workflow stops. 

You have a lot more to consider when building out a scalable content calendar:

  • Initial approvals and feedback
  • External editing
  • Final copy approvals 
  • Content marketing design asset creation 
  • Design approvals 
  • Backlinking and QC
  • CMS uploading

This all needs to be incorporated into the workflow board segmentation in order for you to set up the conditional dating of each stage that will tell you the total turnaround time of any individual project. 

This number will come in handy later when you’re telling your superiors the content turnaround time for taking something from idea to publication and you have a tangible number to share.

Conditional Automations And Delegation 

After you have your workflow setup and all the players accounted for, you can start adding in your conditional rules and automations. The “rules” feature in Asana is truly overlooked, and has some great customizable functions that can help speed up task delegation and collaboration. 

It even allows you to create multiple rules for each of your different workflow segments. What does this mean? It means you can create two different levels of automations for any given task – 1) for the changing of a status of the primary task, and 2) for handling the actual delegation of the task itself. 

This is where those tags come back into play. We leveraged this layered multi-rule feature in Asana to create dependencies within the task itself that allowed us to automate our task delegation. 

  1. If the original parent task status is moved changed, move to new section
  2. If a task enters new section, assign parent task and subtasks to tagged info 
  3. If the original tagged info includes name: X, assign to X, if name Y: assign to Y

With this basic formula we were able to automate all of the delegations in our content calendar simply based on the original info provided in the task submission and the task’s completion status. 

The Bird’s Eye View: Master Reporting 

Now, being able to ease the task management and delegation of your marketing manager or editor-in-chief may be nice. But it’s not really worth it if they’re simply telling you they’re lives are easier now. What are the further implications of such an automated and reliably tracked system? Exactly that – tracking. 

Because you originally set up your Asana project using the “board” format and set your automations based on the completion status that would move tasks through board segments correlated to completion status, you now have an automatically generating live report of what your content calendar’s production pipeline actually looks like. 

All you need to do is click “dashboard” in your Asana project to view the basic bird’s eye view of where your content is in its current completion status and where any bottlenecks may need to be addressed. 

Next Steps & Optimizations 

Now that you have the bare bones of how to use Asana to automate your interdepartmental content calendar, it’s time for you to iterate and improve on the process. Trust me when I tell you this is far from the first version of this monster. And we genuinely hope it isn’t the last! Let’s see what you can do to improve upon this automation machine! It could be additions, it could be simplifications. 

You never know what optimization will open the window to a whole new world of internal operations improvements. So, to my fellow content marketers – go forth, be prosperous, and automate! 

Author Bio

Sean Thomas Martin is the Organic Marketing Manager for Directive.

With 5+ years of experience crafting content strategies, writing for industry-leading blogs, and running his own small-scale digital marketing agency, Sean prides himself on his ability to leverage his philosophy background to break down complex marketing concepts into easily digested, engaging content.