Welcome to Airtable!
By using our platform, you’re joining a community of world-class marketers at companies like Autodesk, BuzzFeed, and thousands of others. These marketers use Airtable for everything from managing content operations to executing product launches, and monitoring their team’s results.
This guide—and the ones that follow—will teach you how to create and use Airtable for your marketing workflow. We’ll use content operations as an example but you can use it to manage your content calendars, your ad campaigns, or something we haven’t even mentioned. What are content operations? Content ops brings together a few different processes that help you decide who to target, what content to create, and then measure what is driving results. It’s how you can ensure your content is meaningful and effective.
But Airtable can do more than that. In fact, it can create just about any marketing workflow.
Here are the five easy steps you need to get started:
1. Create your first base
The first step is to create your content operations base. A base is where you’ll store all the information you need, whether that’s a single project, a cross-functional project, or a hub for all of your content operations. We’re starting with a content operations base because we know that it’s a common—and complex—workflow.
First things first. You’ll need to name your base. This is actually important! So we’ve made a handy rubric:
Name your base in a way that captures what you’re trying to do. One easy way to do this is to outline a goal:
We want to _______, when we’re _______, so we can _______.
For example, a marketing team may want to track all deliverables when we’re planning campaigns so we can speed up time-to-market. In this case, we’d name the base “Deliverable tracker.” The other parts of your goal will be used later.
If you’ve already been creating something like a “deliverable tracker” in another tool, you don’t have to re-do all your work. Instead, you can quickly import that data. And if you want to build on top of a pre-made foundation, check out our content ops template.
2. Know the base-ics
Maybe it’s cheating to call this a single step, but we promise they’re quite easy!
Tables contain lists of information in the same category. Currently, your first table starts with the generic name, “Table 1.” Since we’re making a content operations base, change the name of the first table to “Content requests & deliverables.” (Bonus points for using emoji.) You can make additional tables as you build out your base.
Records are individual items, or rows, in a table. Enter your first record by typing the name of your first deliverable into the first row. It might be “Marketing whitepaper” or another deliverable your team is currently working on.
Fields, which look similar to column headers in a spreadsheet, define the information that's important for each record. The first field is labelled “Name.” Go ahead and change it to something that accurately describes the information in your first field, maybe “Project description” or “Blog post title,” so your team can easily know what information is here. You can add additional fields with formats like dropdowns, dates, formulas, and more, as you continue to add data to Airtable.
Views let you and your team filter information so you can see what matters, even as priorities change. Let’s go ahead and create your first view: Add a calendar view and name it “Publishing calendar.” Now, you can easily see when your content is set to publish.
3. Power up with a linked record
As a marketer, you’ve almost certainly hit the problem of having to update multiple documents to ensure that everything is aligned: Whether that’s making sure you’ve got the new launch dates, the latest iteration of messaging, or the final product name. By the time you’ve hit your second or third document, you’re struggling to remember which updates have been reflected where. That’s where linked records come in.
Linked records let you, or your team, fill out information one time and then reference it in multiple places, without duplicating the data—or the work. If that information changes, simply update the record once and that information will cascade through every other place it’s linked.
Let’s say you have a list of all the content your team is planning for the quarter. But suddenly, that case study with Wayne Enterprises (and their ever-elusive CEO) falls behind schedule. Instead of updating multiple docs to let your team know, you can update the Wayne Enterprises record in one place and rest assured that everyone will stay in the loop, without having to send up a bat signal.
The power of linked records is easy to see once it’s in action in your base. Follow the below instructions to see one way linked records can work for you.
Add a new field named “Assigned to.” Follow the prompts to create a new table called “Team” and then add a record in the “Assigned to” field with your teammate’s name.
You can now see which content is assigned to which person. When you look at your “Team” table, you can see all the assignments for each teammate. If something changes, it’s easy to update the record in one place and see it reflected everywhere.
4. Invite your teammates
A base is a powerful place to build out your content ops workflow, so make sure everyone is involved. Invite your team so that you can co-create content, campaigns, and anything else you work on.
We know sharing your base can inspire a bit of anxiety. Will someone accidentally delete your campaign timelines? Have you captured what everyone is working on? Does the way you’ve structured your base only make sense to you?
But don’t worry. Airtable gives you ultimate control over how you creators interact with your base: whether that’s a little or a lot. If your close partner in social media needs to be able to update the structure of your channel distribution table, you can give them creator access. If you want to be able to capture the email team’s requests, you can create a form for them. And when you’re ready to invite your CMO, you can ensure she has access to the view you created just for her.
5. Get (and give) better reporting
You’ve set up your first base, added all the necessary tables, records, and fields, created a series of linked records, and invited your co-workers. Congrats! That’s a big step forward in creating your content operations workflow.
There’s one more step we’d like to call out before we let you get back to your actual work. Adding an app lets you expand the functionality of your base, so you can analyze, enrich, and report on your data. A few ways you can use apps in your content operations base:
Add the chart app to visualize your content distribution across channels
Install the Miro app to bring brainstorms and whiteboards into your shared source of truth
Use the Data Fetcher app to track, manage, and share the results of how your content is performing on social
And that’s it! In these five simple steps, you’ve learned how Airtable works and started building your content operations…operation in a base. Cheers!