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Automation can free humans up to do human things

30-second summary:

  • At its simplest, automation can help marketers accomplish repetitive daily tasks, so creatives can be free to spend time on other areas like strategy. People are good at seeing patterns and gleaning insight, but not at handling data.
  • Automation can play a role in every slice of the digital marketing tech stack. If anything, your most effective way to bring the tech into the stack is to not focus on a particular aspect, but to take a holistic approach and think about where it can help.
  • Automation can also help you identify even a small number of customers who encounter difficulties with your site. For example, if you want to follow up on an abandoned cart campaign, automation can help you isolate which of those customers may represent high value targets.
  • Marketing automation campaigns should rely heavily on testing content to truly take advantage of what the tech can bring. Test the frequency of contacts and the intervals between contacts, different subject lines, the order in which the content is sent out – everything.

There can be a clash of cultures when bringing automation into a creative pursuit like marketing, even on the digital side.

Despite how much we rely on data in this business, there’s often a reluctance to lean on things like AI and machine learning other than a few “safe” areas in the tech stack. But marketers aren’t taking advantage of automation unless they’re taking a careful look at where it can help in every aspect of the business.

Marketing today can be quite overwhelming – there’s a massive number of channels and an almost incalculable amount of data that we can use to slice and dice our audiences. And we can test everything in real time. The simple act of running an email campaign, or trying to understand people coming to your website, can become incredibly complex.

At its simplest, automation can help marketers accomplish repetitive daily tasks, so creatives can be free to spend time on other areas like strategy. People are good at seeing patterns and gleaning insight, but not at handling data.

Automation allows us to streamline and hone in on insights that can create real value. And perhaps more importantly, it can free up marketers to focus on other things that will move their brands and businesses forward.

To put it another way: You’re a busy parent, trying to cook dinner. Would you rather pop something in the oven, knowing you can walk away and come back in an hour to a finished meal? Or would you rather cook something you have to constantly stir on the stovetop, taking your full attention? What could you get done if you got an hour of your time back?

How does automation play in the tech stack?

Automation can play a role in every slice of the digital marketing tech stack. If anything, your most effective way to bring automation into the stack is to not focus on a particular aspect, but to take a holistic approach and think about where it can help.

The data layer is where most people gravitate to initially, but automation can play at every layer all the way up to creative.

Think about how many financial news articles and sports game recaps are already being written by machines. And there are already tools like copy.ai bringing this technology into the marketing realm.

It won’t be long before the next viral brand tweet will be written not by a professional comedian, but an algorithm.

Where to start?

A few key areas to consider when bringing in more automation to your martech stack:

Do everything strategically

You can’t decide where to plug automation into your workflow without having a larger strategy in mind. Start by examining where automation can bring value – and try to define what you’re looking for with automation in as specific terms as possible. Is it domain creation, subject line testing, picture selection? Where do you most want to free up resources?

Data is key

You can’t do digital marketing without large amounts of data. One of the most useful places to bring in more automation to your workflow is in sorting and categorizing all that data – but also in detecting anomalies, edge cases, etc.

Automation can also help you identify even a small number of customers who encounter difficulties with your site. For example, if you want to follow up on an abandoned cart campaign, automation can help you isolate which of those customers may represent high value targets.

Flexibility matters

Flexibility should be built into any automated campaigns. Automation doesn’t mean “set it and forget it,” marketers still need to monitor an ongoing campaign to make changes and adjustments along the way, when breaking news risks making your messages look tone-deaf or when things just aren’t working.

Being able to adapt is critical to the long-term success of a marketing plan, and automation can help implement those changes quickly. But the flexibility needs to be built in from the start.

Multi-channel approaches can capture the most value

Another aspect where automation can help free up time for marketers is in managing multiple channels. Leveraging as many channels as you can in your marketing automation efforts is where campaigns can really show their effectiveness. Coordinating different channels, like email, SMS and social, can be done quickly and effectively through automation.

What are the watchouts?

Leveraging automation tools isn’t without risks. A few things to keep in mind:

Data overload

The massive amount of data that’s involved in digital marketing can be a bit of a double-edged sword. The beauty of marketing today is we can do things at massive scale. The problem is … we can do things at massive scale. That often makes it harder to hone in on the things that really matter.

Relying on old habits

Like in most businesses, inertia is a major enemy. Most marketers simply aren’t aware of the useful automation tools that are available to them and fall back on doing things the way they’ve always been done.

You don’t have to use every tool, and you don’t have bring automation into every aspect of your tech stack, but you should be aware of what’s out there and know what could bring value to your operations.

Don’t forget to test

Marketing automation campaigns should rely heavily on testing content to truly take advantage of what automation can bring. Test the frequency of contacts and the intervals between contacts, different subject lines, the order in which the content is sent out – everything.

To sum up, digital marketers shouldn’t be afraid to fully embrace automation. A strategic approach, that connects automation tools with clear value opportunities, can bring new insights while handling repetitive tasks, freeing up your staff to do the work that really matters.

Norman Guadagno is Chief Marketing Officer at Acoustic, the largest independent marketing cloud, and a member of the ClickZ Advisory Board.

The post Automation can free humans up to do human things appeared first on ClickZ.

Reblogged 1 month ago from www.clickz.com

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