Does the aggressive growth in marketing automation software mean that we'll soon be replaced by robots? While lazy marketers who create formulaic content by reading 3 different articles and a Wikipedia page might be, I am not fearful of losing my job, and here’s why.
As much as I love marketing automation and wholeheartedly believe that it has a place in every marketer’s toolbox, I also believe that in the wrong hands it can go horribly wrong. If you’ve seen any of the Terminator films, you will understand this.
While the Terminator and Skynet were extremely intelligent machines, not all robots are made equal. Late last year Bank of America got in hot water due to their automated social media bot. While it’s always nice to receive a response from a company that you’ve tweeted, you want the response to be helpful and for the company to appear caring. What you don’t want to see is an automated response containing some generic copy that is completely unrelated to your original tweet. You can see Bank of America’s horror exchange here.
Though automation has come a long way, it is not perfect. A robot can’t judge sarcasm or tone in a prospect's tweet and therefore may respond inappropriately. This obviously has a damaging effect on brand image. It takes a person to understand a situation and gauge the best approach in dealing with a prospect or customer. A person also has the ability to go the extra mile, while a robot will only do what it is programmed to do.
Email marketing is one of automation's stronger channels, allowing us to target prospects with relevant content based on data such as the pages they've viewed, and how they've filled in forms. We even have the ability to populate emails with content that is tailored to where the prospect is in the buying process. Nevertheless, as with social media automation, email can go wrong.
Receiving an email with no name is annoying and receiving an email with an incorrect name is infuriating. Especially if this mistake is repeated over a series of lead nurturing emails as seen here. Receiving relevant material through email is great, but not addressing the email correctly and sending emails from a generic address destroys all credibility. For email automation to work you need to be aware of the pitfalls of incorrect personalisation, and make sure automation is appropriate to your prospects' position in the sales funnel.
When it comes to social media, scheduling content to share is great. It allows us to work smarter and focus our energy on responding to customer needs, creating more content and planning world domination. There is a real danger here however, that scheduling too far in advance means you miss real time opportunities. Real time marketing is said to boost conversion rates by 26% so it’s no surprise that 82% of marketer’s believe it helps to provide a better customer experience. An example of this is Oreo’s brilliant tweet. This real time engagement just can’t be automated.
Automation, even if expertly timed and constructed, will never replace the comfort of real human engagement, so your job is safe. What it will do is rescue you from repetitive manual tasks, save you time and allow you to produce more targeted content for leads. It’s also a valuable means of gathering data and learning about your prospects. Marketing automation is a technology, not a strategy, that used correctly can increase conversion rates and speed up the sales cycle. Use it wisely, and be careful not to anger prospects or alienate people.