Marketing Automation and Human Interaction

Marketing Automation is all the rage now, especially for the young startups coming out of the various incubators across the country. Simply, the term Marketing Automation refers to software platforms and related technologies designed to allow a company to market on multiple online channels and automate many of the repetitive tasks.

There are countless platforms and software in the market that are designed for automation across multiple digital channels, the most well-known including: Hubspot, Salesforce, Infusionsoft (now Keap) to name a few. These platforms allow the marketing manager to create automated digital content, from click funnels to emails and integration into CRM. They are highly effective and if set up correctly can have a huge impact on your conversion rates and therefore overall sales. It’s no wonder these tools are growing so rapidly and gaining in popularity. They work.

But are they missing something? Is having a full marketing automation plan all you need in order to get the most out of your business? Perhaps not.

Automation is efficient, yes, but it is also impersonal. A critique of modern society is that we are becoming too dependent on technology and losing interpersonal relationships. Not sure it’s true? Ride the Red Line L in Chicago at rush hour and count how many people are talking to each other and how many are glued to their phones. This phenomenon is why marketing automation works so well- we are constantly using technology and we expect it to anticipate our needs and communicate with us in a way that is user friendly and intuitive.

The problem, however, is that it’s not actually personal. You are not actually creating a real relationship with a customer. You aren’t forming a loyal, personal connection, but instead only a basic communication. The content you add to your automation platform makes a huge difference in this arena- being more friendly and sounding more like a person will help you, but don’t underestimate your customer base- at some point, one of those automated messages isn’t going to be quite right and they will know they aren’t communicating with a real human. In most customer service situations, there is always a point where a real human needs to be involved. Just think about the last time you needed to change something on your utility bills- bet you got to the point where you are screaming “representative” into the phone more than once in your life.

Several larger companies have been using automated marketing tactics for a while and have started to swing back to incorporating a real live human earlier in the process. Take Comcast for example. They recently launched a new campaign that allows their customers to use automated technology (scheduling appointments and sales emails) but they announced their focus on customer service- now their automated messages lead you to a real human faster. They put a face and a voice to the message and their customers are handled by a real live person earlier in the process, which makes their customers feel better understood and taken care of.

And that seems to be the key- utilizing both forms of customer service in your marketing. Yes, use helpful technology tools to keep your audience engaged, but do so with a human connection early on in the process. Afterall, connection is what we all crave- right?