1marketingAutomated marketing is the dream of many companies, as comprehensive data analysis manages to identify what customers really want. As a marketer, however, you should always be firmly in control of your customer communication and NOT be under the false impression to delegate this part completely to algorithms, as you only risk threatening your customers with soulless stalking.

The integrated networking that allows to tap mobile phones and surveillance cameras via a central computer system, that can even shutdown machinery or modern cars, is a bit frightening, isn’t it? Being aware of unscrupulous IT nerds who defy all dangers and moral concerns, just because it’s possible to do so, doesn’t help neither. On top of all that there are more and more movie releases that star intelligent computer systems as protagonists that function independently and know how to hide in the worldwide web. Naturally, it is stroking fears among people of losing control and points out why automation also means responsibility that should never be handed over to machines. Automation and the omnipotence of data conglomerates and powerful algorithms are stirring up people's anxiety that automation is increasingly penetrating their lives, but at the same time reminds them that only a responsible and controlled approach can bring real added value for all.

So, the crucial question for every marketing manager is: "Who will decide in the future in automated processes about the content and the quality of communication with customers?”

Content that is automated and compiled, or individual messages that are automatically generated, will no longer be able to go through the tried and tested channels of approvals. Who is responsible for the success or failure of marketing strategies when there is less and less influence on their implementation and systems take over the control largely independently?

Although, marketing automation can quickly and efficiently do what would take numerous hours to do manually, you shouldn’t make the mistake to count on it too heavily. You may rest assured that consumers know the difference between receiving an automated response and hearing directly from a human being. Where automation operates independently and without empathy, there is the risk of producing frustration instead of positive feelings. Let me give you an example: Probably everyone who once considered buying a product online, but eventually didn’t, is familiar with the situation of receiving obtrusive repetitions of the always same annoying offer. For sure, the creators of these activities will advert to resulting orders, but I’d like to counter that they simply lost sight of the negative effects on annoyed customers– be it consciously or just because it can’t be measured.

Anyway, it becomes increasingly important to seamlessly interlink the offline and online world to harvest all possibilities and be able to combine the best services from both worlds meaningfully. Of course, data and automation play a vital role to achieve it. After all, whoever knows when their customers prefer to shop, what products they prefer, what they like to cook, etc., is able to make life and shopping easier and offer the right products and services at the right time.
Those who patronize their customers, on the other hand, will annoy them or lose the important impulse buying that is influenced by their feelings. Rather, recognize their individual reasons your customer relationship and build on them to win an enduring relationship. Companies that reach customers at their individual emotional level with their offers, and do not become arbitrary in the flood of seemingly personalized messages, generally form a genuine partnership with their customers.

Anyone who understands and uses automation of processes – e.g. data analysis - has the chance to develop from a pure supplier to becoming a kind of friend. Ultimately, the customer will understand that with all the fear of falling prey to data hydras, tailor-made services offer him clear added value and increasing quality of life.

Every job comes with its challenges and marketing professionals clearly turned to technology for help. Now, marketing automation can significantly reduce manual work and its features can help scheduling problems, analytics issues and integration with other business technology. But as we know, there are always two sides to a story. Hence, there are a few issues plaguing marketers using marketing automation, like data quality and management, or just lack of time or budget.

But as Craig Adcock highlighted in his article, “our challenge is realizing the benefits of technology in a time-poor work environment, still we’ll have to work doubly hard on building trust, finding common values and building connections. He is right that “it’s our own personal responsibility to stop and think about the best ways to solve the problem at hand and choose the right balance of human and digital solutions”.  So, automation should help people realize their visions and ideas, but especially fulfill a purpose.

I am convinced, empathic CRM is the perfect solution. It uses the possibilities of technology and progress to raise the care of customer relationships to a new, more personal, relevant and emotional level. Whether online or in a personal conversation with the customer, important information is created as the basis for an optimized marketing automation. Still, such information needs to be recognized, recorded and applied sensibly – so stay empathetic!

By Daniela La Marca