The Marketing Automation Debate
Reading Time: 5 minutes
The Daily Life of a Marketer
Marketing Professionals are busy people.
From first thing on a Monday until Friday evening, they are busy with a multitude of complex tasks.
Managers push for results. Clients need projects to be finished.
Every day is different but challenging. Sometimes it seems like 40 hours a week is not enough – sometimes it’s much more than 40 hours.
You need help, and fast, if you are going to submit your work on time and meet KPIs.
That’s where automation can help.
In essence, marketing automation can be used for any task that can be completed by the computer, without human input.
Here’s how we think you can benefit…
Where Automation Helps…
Automation is a fantastic tool for completing those repetitive tasks that humans don’t have time for.
There are a number of benefits that you can reap by using it:
Increase speed of processing
The best part of using automation tools is that you can speed up your data processing meaning that you can increase your output. Automating repetitive tasks such as order confirmations and sign up email series can save a considerable amount of time in the long run.
This is especially beneficial for smaller marketing teams with limited human resources. In brief, using marketing automation means getting more done.
By increasing the amount of work that you can do, you can open the door to new opportunities leading to strong future business growth.
Humans are error prone.
They get bored.
They make mistakes.
By automating repetitive and predictable tasks, you can make sure that these errors are no longer a problem.
Computers don’t get bored. They can carry out hundreds, even thousands of repetitive, algorithm driven tasks in a matter of seconds.
Eliminating errors from marketing data means that marketing teams can make important decisions based on accurate real-life data.
When making strategic decisions, marketing professionals can use accurate data to drive better engagement and increased return on investment from their campaigns.
Data quality is the first piece in this complex puzzle.
Without accurate data, campaigns are likely to be ill-judged and misguided.
Focus team members on more important tasks
Once you have set up your automation tools, you can redeploy your marketing teams onto more creative, human-friendly tasks.
Automation flows are great for reducing the workload of overstretched marketing professionals.
As good as automation tools are, there’s no replacement for the intuition of a human when it comes to generating ideas such as writing website copy.
By automating the repetitive tasks, team members can place their full attention on tasks they are most skilled at.
Trigger responses to customers and leads
You don’t need to man your office 24/7 to get results.
With the right kind of marketing automation in place, you can make money whilst you sleep.
One common use of triggers in business is the delivery of a confirmation or receipt when a customer places an order through the company website.
What’s more, having automation flows in place to respond to key customer behaviours means that you are not going to miss out on any conversion opportunities.
The Downside to Automation
But, there are limits. Marketing Automation is not a cover all response to the problems that marketers have.
Losing the Human Touch
Arguably the biggest downside to automation is the loss of the human connection between company and contact. Correspondence from an automation trigger can seem awkward and generic.
Inflexible Automation Flows
If automation flows are to be successful, they need to capture all the possible actions that a contact might take.
Setting up automation flows can be a long and complicated process as you need to consider how to handle and respond to each possible scenario.
Losing sight of the bigger picture
Setting up an automation flow may seem like a great idea but you need to consider how the automation impacts the business as a whole.
Pepijn van Unen discussed the issue of automation within a hardware business.
The automation process was poorly thought through and resulted in a poorer customer experience.
Testing The Limits With Social Media Automation
Recently, in the Wired Plus office, we decided to use a social media scheduling tool to take the strain off our team.
Our logic was sound.
We knew that by automating our social activity, we would only have to fill the social media calendar once a week. After that, the social scheduling tool would do its magic and we’d still have a great social media presence.
Or so we thought…
After a week, we noticed that we had fewer replies but the retweets were still trickling through.
After a month, retweets of our posts significantly dropped.
After two months we knew we needed to up our game.
The truth is that marketing automation can only do so much.
There is no replacement for the human touch.
Instead of improving our social media presence, our automated posts made our account look automated.
We scheduled our posts for the week ahead then disengaged and let the scheduling tool take over. In hindsight it was a poor decision.
Nobody wants to engage with a robot.
Just a couple of days after we returned to a human approach, we started building meaningful relationships with other social media users again through genuine, real-time interactions.
Automating some of the repetitive tasks that you face on a daily basis is a great way to make the most of your time.
But there comes a time when you need to think whether the time saving is more important than having a human touch.
Automation tools are becoming more powerful and intelligent with each new automation program that is released.
However, there will always be occasions where automation fails.
Humans are intelligent. They can tell, most of the time, when they are dealing with a human and when automation is at play.
We want to know whether you use automation tools in your business. Do you agree that automation is a useful tool for marketers or are some tasks best completed by humans?
Let us know in the comments.