Welcome back to another episode of The Defiant Business Podcast. We’re in Season 3: The Future of Marketing, and things are getting more interesting by the episode.
Today, the question that I’m going to answer for you is whether marketing automation will replace the marketer. It’s a question that’s been bandied about pretty frequently in my marketing circles, especially as technology continues to develop.
By the time we’re done with this episode, I think you’ll agree with my opinion that no, marketing automation is not going to replace the marketer anytime soon. Let me explain why.
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How Widespread Is Marketing Automation?
So let’s talk about marketing automation. According to Social Media Today, 75% of marketers say that they currently use at least one MarTech (Marketing Technology) automation tool. I would hazard a guess that number would be higher if solo-preneurs or small business owners were included in those numbers.
Now, 9 out of 10 marketers say that they use more than one MarTech tool on a regular basis. That’s pretty significant. So, of the 75%, 9 out of 10 say that they use more than one. And I can tell you that I fall in that category.
What Exactly Is Marketing Automation?
So what is marketing automation? Marketing automation is the use of digital tools to automate various marketing tactics and processes. Sounds pretty fancy, doesn’t it?
What Is It Used for?
So which type of tasks can you automate? Well, anything that’s routine and repetitive, anything that quickly falls into the category of boring. If your company has an SOP (standard operating procedures) for marketing tasks, there’s probably a program out there that can automate it.
Incorporating marketing automation into your business can save you money, time, and effort. It removes bottlenecks in your processes, allowing you and/or your employees to focus on tasks that really require your attention.
At least that’s how it’s supposed to work. In reality, I see far too many small businesses invest in software that they don’t actually need, or that their business wasn’t suited for.
Marketing Automation isn’t Replacing Marketers Just Yet
We’re a long way off from marketing automation replacing the marketer. Now, I’m not saying that marketing automation hasn’t replaced some jobs. I was actually about to hire a contractor to do some marketing work for me, but then I found a tool that did it for me, so I didn’t hire them. Certain things get replaced, but not the marketer. And we’re going to talk about why.
Don’t worry, you might be thinking of artificial intelligence when you think of something that’s going to replace the marketer. I think that may be possible in the future, but I just don’t think that’s the case right now.
Marketing automation replaces easy but rote tasks that take time away from more dynamic problems that deserve your very human and creative attention. So let’s take a look at some examples of marketing automation.
Social Media Automation and Scheduling
The first one that comes to mind is one of the first ones that many small businesses use: social media automation and scheduling tools. They can really take the pressure off, in terms of getting the right content out at the right time.
You Can’t Schedule Engagement
But what’s the biggest social media automation mistake? The one that I see is allowing the scheduled content to be your content marketing strategy. That just doesn’t work anymore. Even if you schedule out content, you can’t schedule out engagement.
You can outsource engagement. That’s a thing. You can hire people to engage on your social media accounts for you, but you cannot schedule it through a tool (at least not yet). If there is a tool out there that says they do it, it’s probably not effective.
If you’ve come across such a tool, please send me the link! I would love to check it out, but I don’t just mean engaging on your own posts either. I mean engaging on other people’s posts.
Visibility and Likeability
You might be thinking, ”Why would I engage on other people’s posts? How would that help me?” It gets you visibility. It also gets you the attention of your ideal clients, your prospects. I make it a point to engage on prospects’ posts.
For example, when they post something interesting on LinkedIn, I engage with them. Staying top of mind, becoming someone that they get used to seeing. I don’t mind that it’s not on my post. That’s fine because it’s serving my greater marketing and business strategy.
Another reason to engage on other people’s posts is that people aren’t going to just buy that you’re incredibly fascinating and they need to hang on your every word. If you take the time to comment and react to other people’s content, then they will take the time to comment on yours.
It’s the law of reciprocity; The more you invest in other people’s content, the more you try to serve others, the more others will try to do things that serve you.
Social is not your megaphone. Do not use it that way. If you do, I guarantee that you’re going to get back a lot of crickets. You’ll see people who have 5000, 10,000, 15,000 connections and probably even more followers, but they don’t get a lot of responses on their posts.
That’s because people can tell that they just schedule the content out, and then don’t actually engage or respond to any comments.
Another type of automation that I’ve seen, but that I struggle with seeing it actually be effective, is lead generation automation. There are some tools out there that will scrape emails off the internet, or compile lists of emails that you can buy. Some of them will provide you with a list that you can then upload into your CRM or your email marketing platform, and BOOM! You can send people emails that they didn’t ask for. Go you!
Generally you’ll even have an email sequence ready and waiting to go. They call this cold email outreach on autopilot, or they’ll say that you just have to respond to the people who are actually interested.
Cold Email Marketing is a Game of Numbers
The thing is, even automated cold email outreach is a game of numbers. You have to send emails to a massive number of people in order to stand a chance of reaping any actual paid work from these efforts. And now you’ve also irritated everybody who doesn’t actually want to work with you.
I purposely go and unsubscribe. I respond and make things uncomfortable. Does this work? I have yet to get a response.
If enough people mark you as spam, then there’s only ONE folder that your email will go into, and that’s the….
The Spam Folder and Trigger Words
In addition to having to contact a vast number of people, you need to make sure that your email copy is on point. Hint: this is where most people fail. Their emails fail to compel your cold prospect to want to take action.
In addition to overcoming their irritation that you emailed them without asking, you also have to make sure that it avoids the spam filter. There’s a list of trigger words. You can Google it. You need to avoid them, or else your emails will languish in the spam folder forever, which is probably where they deserve to be since your recipients did not ask to receive those emails.
We don’t do cold email marketing here at Defy the Status Quo, in case you didn’t catch my abhorrence for the practice. It’s never been my favorite method of finding clients. We rely solely on referrals, online & offline networking, and content marketing. That’s what we do.
The Biggest Mistake with Automation
Generally, what’s the biggest mistake with automation?
Counting on tech to make up for the weaknesses in your marketing strategy.
This is where a great marketer shines. This is why even if you’re a small business owner, you deserve to entrust your marketing strategy with a proven marketer who can at least tell you what to do. You have the time, you have the motivation, you’re ready. You just need someone to point you in the right direction.
Without a great marketing strategy, you may have all the time and energy in the world, but if misdirect these valuable resources, you’re doing everything for nothing.
Great Marketers Aren’t Out Just Yet
A great marketer can take your company’s goals and create an effective marketing strategy that encompasses public relations, content marketing, and paid advertising, and all the associated software to generate results.
Bringing it down to a content marketing perspective, this would involve taking your company’s goals and creating a strategy based on research and competitive analysis to deploy tactics and techniques that align with your company’s goals. In some cases, especially for DTSQ, this may include a bit of online PR.
But it also means that all of your video, blog, white paper, case study, and social media content will line up with your overarching company goals. None of it will be treated as if it’s in a silo. Everything will play together to create effective content campaigns that serve your company’s greater goals. We don’t have automation software that comes up with those plans yet.
Learn more about measuring the value of your content in this blog post.
So no, marketing automation is not replacing the marketer, at least not yet.
All right. I look forward to seeing you in the next episode! Please leave any comments or questions. I’d love to engage with you about this topic. See you next time.