Lessons from the Robots: Putting a Human Face to Marketing Automation


ADOTAS – One of the dangers posited regarding artificial intelligence (AI) in pop culture is that it destroys humanity. Either it becomes self-aware and resolves to exterminate humanity (“The Terminator”), or it integrates so seamlessly with humanity that it becomes almost indistinguishable from it (“Her”).

The first example reveals an automation that has gone horribly wrong. Skynet views humans as a threat to its existence and decides to take preemptive action. The second is a bit closer to an automation that remains human, the concern about falling in love with an operating system’s voice notwithstanding.

While marketing automation in its worst state bears no resemblance to Skynet’s malevolence, the point is clear: marketing automation needs a human touch. Without it, the marketing automation attains the stiffness of Agent Smith in “The Matrix.” Smith may look like a human, but he doesn’t quite act like one. Something is always off in his delivery toward humans.

Humanized marketing automation is more like Wall-E or Sonny from “I, Robot.” Sonny perhaps is the better example of marketing automation done right; he is guided by a human intelligence that has wired information and emotions into him. Because of that, he acts and responds appropriately – even humanly – when placed within different situations and environments.

To maintain humanity with marketing automation, businesses need to do the following:

  1. Maintain a human connection with the marketing automation software. Businesses must have actual human beings monitoring and using the marketing automation software. The software can’t be left to itself. While it’s unlikely to become self-aware, it will wreak havoc with ill-timed and irrelevant messages.
  2. Use emotional intelligence when making marketing decisions. Marketing automation produces a lot of data – it’s the artificial intelligence of the marketing department or business. It may be able to make sense of some of that data, but it won’t lead to actionable insights. Emotional intelligence is required because it digs into the “why” behind the numbers. While emotional intelligence views the same exact data as artificial intelligence, it always remembers that the data are real human beings with real needs and desires.
  3. Test everything. To work well, marketing automation has to be monitored and analyzed. When campaign results show that a message or time isn’t working, change is required. Marketing automation makes it easy to test things as simple as the colors on a landing page to something as complex as tone of voice.
  4. Exercise the marketing automation machine. Marketing automation is not email. It’s all the communication channels, and those channels need to be exercised. It’s the only way to decipher which channels are the most relevant to a business’ audience and to start to cut through the noise.
  5. Give marketing automation its due. Marketing automation can do great good if respected and not left to its own devices. It gives marketers the ability to focus on producing more creative and human marketing by automating repetitious tasks, identifying when it’s a good time to send messages to different audience segments, and maintaining up-to-date contact information.

Marketing automation is a robot meant for humans. With it, people can achieve better results with their marketing because they can test messages and remove some of the mundane tasks from their daily to-do lists. They can’t let marketing automation run on its own; they have to exert their own will and use emotional intelligence when observing the data. When they do, they may just find that their automated messages speak in a more relevant, human and creative way.



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