It’s rare to find a marketing professional who speaks ill of automation. It has made all of our jobs easier in many ways, and streamlined some of the more tedious aspects of online marketing. What’s more, it’s simply possible to reach more leaders and facilitate more conversions when the process is automated. Who would ever complain about that?
The only real problem with marketing automation comes, of course, when we rely on it too heavily. We explored the issue in our recent webinar, Why Digital Marketing Should Be Half-Man, Half-Machine. Presenters Mike Vannoy of Sales Engine and C.J. Hauptmeier of KPI Analytics noted that a good marketing campaign is split between the automated and the human—and an overreliance on automation can cause more problems than it solves.
If you missed our webinar, don’t worry: The whole thing is available on video, and here’s a recap:
Missing the Point?
The basic premise of the webinar was this: As great as marketing automation is, we have become so concerned with what it can do and where it’s going in the future that we neglect to think about what it can’t do today.
Automation has breathed new life into conventional strategies like telesales, marketing events, and even print, allowing marketing professionals to do these things better and more efficiently than ever before. But we often miss out on the real benefits of the technology because of three basic over-automation errors.
Three Forms of Over-Automation
We tend to over-automate in three ways:
1. Problem: Many marketers automate to personas rather than pain points—the problems their potential customers are facing. There is nothing wrong with using a persona, but it is impossible to predict what an individual who falls into that persona group cares about with accuracy. It’s also tough to choreograph the buying steps that persona might take, because every prospective customer is different.
Solution: Automate to the pain, not the persona. If a prospective customer has made it clear that they struggle with issue X, doesn’t it make more sense to send reach out to them about issue X—rather than assuming that they struggle with issue Y based only on their job title? Your sales and marketing touches should be about offering solutions to different problems—not about blanketed persona-based assumptions.
2. Problem: Other marketers automate based on bad data. If you have outdated database records or incorrect prospect contact information (name, job title, etc.), sending a barrage of automated communications based on that bad information amplifies the problem. To put it bluntly—it makes you look bad.
Solution: Make sure you have good data. You may need human oversight and fact-checking, or even a phone confirmation to confirm certain data points.
3. Problem: Finally, some marketers and sales leaders think that machines can qualify and nurture leads without human intervention—and they simply can’t. There is just no substitute for human relationship in determining how good a fit your product or service is, whether the lead is qualified to make a buying decision, and whether the timing is right.
Solution: Integrate telesales into marketing automation. Here’s an example: Send out webinar invitations via email and promote the webinar on social media. Then set up sales alerts and establish a 1:1 email cadence with prospects.
Marketing automation can be a critical revenue-generating tool—but only when approached with balance, never neglecting the human element.