Marketing Automation is a major buzzword (or buzz concept, I suppose, since it’s more than one word) in the industry right now. Everything that can be controlled by a computer is likely to get controlled by a computer in this digital age. Of course, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should
Let’s back up a second. Marketing automation describes turning over certain processes like lead acquisition emails and basic customer service responses over to an automated system. Marketers around the world are currently enamored with things like customer facing chat bots, drip email campaigns and lead management and scoring systems. Even though machine learning is improving every year, that’s a dangerous way to run a business, especially something so important as marketing.
Yes, marketing automation can increase productivity and enhance your overall cache. It has value for some clients. For others, though, dedicating your resources to marketing automation can prove costly in the long run, especially if you try and hand over all the reigns to the machines.
Marketing Automation Is Not a Strategy
A lot of times, marketing teams believe that automation is the solution to their problems. They can’t do enough in a day, so outsourcing some of the more time consuming tasks strikes them as a way to spread themselves a little thinner. It doesn’t usually work like that though.
When marketing fails to live up to expectations, it’s usually because of a lack of direction, not time. You need a strategy before executing any sort of marketing campaign. What do you want to accomplish? How are you going to do that? What will you see that determines if you’re successful or not? Marketing automation won’t help you answer those questions.
At best, marketing automation is a means to an end. It’s the way you execute the strategy that you come up with in your human head brain. It can help you monitor and measure and cover things that you may not otherwise be able to cover well. You still can’t turn over everything to the machines without a clear strategy to guide them.
Manage Relationships, Not Tasks
Even when you use robots and algorithms to manage your marketing, you still need to watch them for inconsistencies and outright failures during the process. If you set the machines to run free, you might not like the results, which could have adverse effects on your customer relationships.
There are many tales of marketing fails predicated by overzealous application of marketing automation. While machine learning is improving every year, one thing that eludes so many developers is nuance and subtlety in language. The way we process conversations is completely different from the way an algorithm can. We make quick judgments based on context that machines routinely miss, especially in customer service and lead management. It’s not something that can be comfortably outsourced to computers just yet.
What they are good at doing, though, is telling your own employees to do what they need to do when they need to do it. Knowledge bases are excellent starting points for customer service training. Prompts from CRM systems help people manage relationships without outsourcing the whole account.
When you use marketing automation services, you’ll still need to step in every now and then, especially if you’re a big brand with a lot of visibility. At the end of the day, people buy from people. They want to feel as though they’re taken care of by someone with their best interests in mind. Even though it helps to think like an algorithm sometimes, you still need the human touch to turn people into customers.
A Better Approach Than Marketing Automation
You really can’t automate your marketing strategy. Like I said earlier, marketing automation is at best a way to execute and at worst a distraction that can doom your business. You need a clear plan with human oversight to get the most of any automation service. Know that before getting involved with any marketing automation systems.
Artificial intelligence may continue to improve as time goes by, which would make this entire article obsolete. In fact, some judgement calls may never truly be automated. Right now, even though it can enhance the customer journey, there’s no level of automation that can replace a solid strategy and dedicated human interaction.