You’d be forgiven for thinking that a concept called ‘No Code’ would have very little in common with ‘Content’ and ‘Content Planning’.
Heck, they’re almost at opposite ends of the spectrum – beautifully crafted content strategies, gorgeously written eBooks, lovingly word smithed articles, versus lines of garbled numbers and letters, randomly scattered symbols, and as for the line breaks, oof!
Ok, that’s the content strategist in me coming out, and the marketer who’s completely ignorant of the complexity and beauty that code can also hold.
That was until a little thing called ‘no code’ came along in the past few years. And my mind was well and truly changed.
Well, let’s take a step back to define what ‘no code’ is…
What is ‘no code’?
According to an article from Zapier (more on them later), no code tools are ones ‘that allow anyone to create interactive things without any coding knowledge.’
The way they do this is usually via highly visual and interactive interfaces that are based on certain structures and frameworks.
Take Zapier for example, a workflow automation solution that doesn’t require any knowledge of coding or API’s. Instead, you just follow workflow steps to select the things you’re trying to connect and the data you want to go from A to B. Yes, it really is that simple! In fact, it’s simpler still, as the interface is like a step-by-step tutorial that holds your hand each step of the way. Don’t believe me? Then go try it out now from here. Even start with a really simple one of sending data from a Google sheet to an email.
Once you’ve got your head around that starter concept, then I strongly advise taking a look at this article as a next step. Now it’s not meant to scare; in fact, quite the opposite! Of course, we all know the Chief Martec author behind this – Scott Brinker. And we also know he’s famous for producing the Martech Landscape Supergraphic every year.
Well, he’s also started one for no code (see below) – oh no!!!
But actually, if you ignore all the logos for the moment, the most useful thing here is how he’s structured the landscape into 3 areas of:
- Design & Content (UI)
- Spreadsheets (Data)
- Automation (Logic)
… which is a really great way to think of no code.
You’ve got the tools that help you with design and UI stuff – the two most important for marketers right now are probably Canva and Typeform.
Then for data, Airtable is a great one to get started with.
And for automation or logic, well, that’s back to Zapier.
How is no code good for content planning?
So, there’s one tool in this graphic that I have a bit of an issue with – and that’s Notion!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m growing to LOVE Notion.
Check out this Content Planning Tool I've recently developed in Notion!
It’s just that I’m not 100% convinced that it sits in the Spreadsheets/Data section of this landscape because, well, it does a lot more than just hold data, and the UI is so clean and clear that it’s fast becoming a tool of choice for hosting websites too.
Where I’ve fallen in love with it though is for content plans. And I mean ‘plan’ in both senses of the word – the strategy part and the timing aspect too.
- You can set up what are called ‘Boards’ in Notion, which are a bit like virtual whiteboards. They’re great for brainstorming, mind-mapping, mood boards… all those things you normally scribble on a whiteboard in the office.
- It’s ‘drag-and-drop’. So if you’ve used any sort of marketing automation tool, or indeed a Trello or Jira at any point in your life, you’ll be completely at home with how Notion works. And even if you haven’t, they’re easy, believe me – no more double clicking, just grab, drag and drop!
- You can set up frameworks really easily on a Notion board, for example, your marketing funnel stages or the customer journey steps you’re trying to design a campaign to. Then, with your ‘drag-and-drop’ you can move stuff around really easily as you map out the activities or goals you need to achieve at each of these stages.
- Each tile or box you add to your board can hold a bunch of other things – like notes you want to remember for when you’re building your marketing campaign, or links to the content assets you’re building too. Tada! It also becomes a content repository too!
- You can then create Calendars to manage both the creation of your content – internal review rounds and approvals, for example – and the distribution of that content too – like which days you’re going to promote it out on social media, etc, etc.
Now, there are a bunch of other features, page types and views I could go into here for Notion, but why complicate things when they started off so simply!? And honestly, you could get away with just the basics in Notion and still be miles ahead in simplifying and improving your content planning process.
If you want to see the potential of Notion for Content Planning...
… then check out this board I created recently. You can even duplicate it to your own Notion account and start customizing it to your own content needs!