Marketing Automation Won’t Solve All Your Marketing Problems

Marketers want their jobs to be easy. We don’t expect them to be easy, because other marketers tell us that marketing is hard, but we can hope just the same.

And as the calendar is approaching late December, there is even some thought that we can ask for marketing guidance and simplicity as our collective holiday gift. But, alas, that is not to be.

The proliferation of channels dedicated to interests, specific groups of people, and any other niche way that someone has dreamed up to divide what used to be a mass audience has made it harder to find people.

There is also the declining response rates as people are inundated with marketing messages that do not engage them. The promise of one-to-one marketing through digital channels just has not been realized. And there are some artificial barriers that prevent this. Really?, asks MarketingOps, you want to build four different email campaigns instead of one?

And then there are the ever-present marketing mistakes. Seemingly every week I get some sort of error sent to me. Often it is even followed by an apology. This definitely does not make it easy for marketers.

Recently I received an email apologizing for the non-working link in the previous email. But we wanted to make sure you had access to the awesome thing behind the link, so here’s the correct one. The cynic in me wonders if this was just a chance to send a second email, assuming most people never clicked the link the first time.

I got an email apologizing that the previous email I got should not have been sent to me. This was an offer for someone else. Could this also have been a ruse to get me to look at something I would not normally see?

I even got both parts of an A/B test. It was the exact same email with two different subject lines. I opened both of them because I wondered why I got two emails from the same sender within minutes. And with different subject lines. This could have been another kind of test to see if someone opened either one of these.

While I would like to assume that these are all honest mistakes rather than deliberate attempts to trick us into doing something we wouldn’t otherwise do—like open an email—there is some cleverness in the approach.

Each of these mistakes could have been corrected by paying more attention to the details and incorporating a QA process for all emails that get sent out. Proofread every emails, including clicking on each link. It is very easy to implement a process where two people proof every email, including clicking the links. Yes, every email.

But that adds time, some might say. We need to get this out today. Build it into the process. No email goes out with proofing. This becomes habit after time.

And what about sending a message to the wrong segment or fouling up an A/B test? This is the same process problem. All campaigns need to be double-checked before they are activated.

Marketing automation systems are not an autopilot for connecting with prospects and customers. There are definitely tasks that they make easier, but they won’t solve all your marketing problems.

Marketers still need to develop creative campaigns that engage people. You know that right message, right time, right place thing that every martech vendor says? Well, it really is true. That’s why we all say it. But it is as much the marketer’s responsibility as it is the software’s.

Before you create your next campaign, put yourself in the mind of your prospect or your customer. Take what you know about them and ask yourself, would you click this email, respond to this offer, or otherwise engage? If not, re-think what you are doing.

If you do that, while adding some process to catch those errors, you will be a happy marketer, but one who still doesn’t have an easy job.

This post originally appeared on the Modern Marketing blog.

Jeffrey L Cohen

Jeffrey L Cohen