Automated marketing is one of the biggest conveniences marketers look for in today’s digital landscape. It can truly do wonders for businesses of all sizes. However, with all the efficacy it offers, it comes with a number of challenges.
When used correctly, it can provide a marketing infrastructure with the perfect degree of consistency to maximize the effects of the channels being used and make a good impression on new and existing customers. In fact, a study by Marketo and Ascend2 found that 91 percent of users agree that marketing automation is “very important” to their overall success.
That being said, there are still plenty of jobs in the marketing mix that require a human touch. So how can you discern what tasks, campaigns, or processes should be automated and which ones are best suited for individual execution?
Tasks that SHOULD be automated
When determining the functions best left to the bots, as a rule of thumb, look for repetitive tasks that eat into the time you need to innovate and push business growth. Here are two tasks that are perfect for automation.
Leads are the life and blood of any marketing effort. Each one is precious and should be dealt with appropriately. Keep in mind, they are not typically sales-ready as soon as they become visible. It would be nearly impossible to track and nurture leads manually.
Marketing automation software enables you to set up tracking systems that identify prospective leads and automatically check in on them while guiding them down the sales funnel. Using tools like Pardot, you can pinpoint the most ideal customers and help them learn everything they need to about your product or service in order to make a purchase. This process consists of the crucial practices of lead generation, lead scoring, lead qualification, lead tracking, and lead nurturing.
Based on the strength, behavior and preferences of the leads, you can segment your lists and build personalized marketing campaigns across all your channels to deliver engaging, relevant content to nurture long-term relationships with your leads.
A/B testing (or split testing) is an integral part of digital marketing. By continuously testing everything from your email blasts to the landing pages on your website, you will get a good sense of what strikes a chord with your audience and what doesn’t. Digital marketing is very much a game of trial and error as you keep improving.
There is practically an endless amount of variables you can split test in your marketing mix. You can experiment with variables like the color and size of your CTA buttons, the copy of your headlines, the layout of your landing page, email subject lines, and much more. Throughout your tests, you will pick up on critical insights on how to improve your messaging and appeal to your audience via effective landing pages. Since there is so much material to test, and the work becomes more or less monotonous at scale, this is a perfect task for automation.
Tools like act-on enable users to set up simple, automated testing modules that measure the success of different email blasts, landing pages, and forms while diving into the small details of each element that plays a role in converting.
Once the results are visible, such platforms can also provide recommendations on how you can optimize the elements you tested for better results.
Every brand should always be testing. With automated solutions, you can ensure that the testing never stops and you are always moving forward.
Tasks that SHOULD NOT be automated
Robots are gaining an increasing amount of roles in marketing strategies across the world. While they are must-have components for seamlessly integrating a number of tasks, there will always be the need for a human brain in other areas. Here are two jobs that should always have a human working the controls.
Automated blogging is the process of scraping content from other blog or news feeds, rehashing it with language processing tools that use machine learning, and reposting it to your own blog. This is based on the idea (and evidence) that churning out immense amounts of content at low cost is the winning formula in content marketing, at least for the media and publishing industry. Then again, every brand is a publisher in the digital world.
While self-generating blog content sounds like a good idea in theory, your blog postings are an opportunity to let your knowledge and personality shine. Sellers of automated blogging tools will say all sorts of things like: “It saves time.” or “AI is the future of content.” At the end of the day, it’s a tool for lazy bloggers.
There are many reasons to shy away from such software.
Most importantly, auto-blogging can result in low quality or duplicate content which can have detrimental effects on your search ranking – the reason why you’re creating content in the first place. Secondly, rehashing content created by other bloggers without their permission is stealing. Doing this can crush your online reputation.
Even The Washington Post, which uses algorithms to create headlines and story structures, has its posts edited by human journalists before they go live.
If you are trying to establish your brand as an expert in the industry, posting other people’s content and calling it your own is not the way to do it. Blogging requires a personal touch with human organization. If you’re looking to start a blog, don’t look for automated solutions to gain traffic. If your writing skills are not up to par, it is well worth it to hire a wordsmith or invite recognized authors and industry experts to create original and authentic content your blog.
Social media is perhaps the biggest phenomenon of the digital age. One of the most important concepts to understand about it is that the 2 billion+ worldwide users do not fire up their apps in anticipation of blatant sales messages interlaced with corporate jargon. Social media for business should be all about adding a humanized voice that people can relate to and trust. How many people do you think would truly relate to a robot coming up with postings?
Social media plays such a vital role these days in how brands distribute content to their target audience. While there are many social media marketing tasks (like scheduling routine updates, monitoring brand mentions, identifying influencers) that can be automated, the message of a post and responses to specific requests should always be vetted by a human being. Facebook and Twitter should act as an extension of your messaging in which you let your brand persona be known and endeared to the masses.
Experts agree that “engagement” and “positive sentiment” are the primary metrics you should be aiming for on social media. And you can’t get either through automation; they come only with personal interaction. See Sainsbury’s excellent response to this troll:
A related and noteworthy recent development is conversational commerce – with the proliferation of chatbots, brands have a never-before opportunity to connect and communicate with shoppers and customers via social messenger apps. With developments in AI and language recognition, the initial levels of conversations about product usage, payments, shipping, and service are increasingly being automated in this space.
The middle ground
A huge caveat here: lack of automation doesn’t mean you don’t need to rely on software or cloud-based tools – in many areas of marketing, SaaS is now critical to successful execution of campaigns. In fact, for agencies, multichannel campaigns need to be streamlined and overseen with a project management tool like WorkZone, so that inter-department communication and collaboration between the marketing, sales, and support functions can take place effectively. WorkZone lets you use schedule team tasks with group calendars, track staff availability with individual workload reports, and develop campaign content assets with real-time document sharing.
Knowing when and when not to automate tasks can be tricky. Finding the right mix of jobs to leave to the machines or keep in the hands of human beings can prove crucial in promoting your products in much simpler and more effective ways. In turn, you will have more time to focus on big picture plans for your business.
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