Why automation won’t render humans obsolete

Some worry that automation and robots are taking over. Already they are a part of our lives. We pay our bills through our phones, our cars tell us when we are going to hit something and our social media accounts suggest friends, products and events for us to attend. You can’t even escape it when watching TV. We’d received plenty of automatic recommendations based on different algorithms on our Netflix to watch Bird Box, but finally we gave in because our friends pushed us to give it try. Was it worth? If you have not watched it yet, now it is your turn to consider.

These changes are also happening in marketing. Marketing automation software is becoming increasingly sophisticated and can be a useful communication tool to reach to a wider range of people/colleagues. Sales managers can now tag their customer contacts and select a specific subset for the next campaign.  And rather than manually going through massive Excel spreadsheets, the programs can create reports and help with analysis.

At EMG, we use marketing automation software programs such as SharpSpring to help us target messages and track results.

But, fear not, humans are likely to always play a key role in the marketing process. If you look at factories and their history, automation has focused on the most repetitive and mundane jobs in order to support people to do the best job they can.

So, what balance can we expect between automation and the human interface when it comes to marketing in the near future? We found 5 reasons we will not be replaced:

  1. Human knowledge is needed to make sense of the tsunami of data now available to marketers, to adjust objectives to changing situations and to help target the desired audience. Gathering the data and content is only the beginning of the process.
  2. Humans are needed not only to analyze this data, but also to translate the findings into appropriate C-level language, and assist the people in charge with making well-informed and sound decisions. In other words, marketing automation makes the work more scalable.
  3. Humans are still needed to perform copywriting, a key element of marketing communications. But automation and its related platforms can offer data-driven insights into what and how to write the desired content to have the maximum impact, especially as related to such aspects as search engine optimization (SEO). This assistance can help humans to identify opportunities and approaches in their efforts to “own the space” in which they operate.
  4. Human contact and personal customer relationships still matter greatly. Having face-to-face meetings at a customer’s office, a trade show or a conference, or even just having a phone conversation, remains much more powerful than receiving a well-targeted email. These activities complement, rather than replace, one another.
  5. Human creativity also remains vital to the marketing process. Humans create; automation software executes, based on human-provided parameters.

People can think outside of the (Bird) box , and generate totally new and different ideas, while also providing important oversight to marketing campaigns. We’re all aware of instances where campaigns went completely off the rails, with wrong messages sent to wrong audiences with embarrassing results. Think, for example, of companies that posted badly timed articles on social media that may have become inappropriate by an event, disaster or such.

In such situations, chances are that someone was relying completely on automated processes, with no human interaction. Oversight by humans can help to ensure such damaging actions don’t occur. Conversely, such individuals also can help marketers to identify and quickly exploit new, unforeseen opportunities that arise from a shift in market conditions. Let’s take the example of how automated tweet responses can ruin your Twitter account as the system cannot really differentiate between friendly and unfriendly tweets. You really do not want to look foolish, right?

So, will automation marketing make humans obsolete? We think not.

Marketers today need both components, and must strive to find the right balance. Bottom line:  Marketing automation is useless without some human creativity, and human creativity needs marketing automation to deliver and track the best possible results.


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