Automation is growing in all markets and job areas.
Recently, I read the research report entitled ‘The Future of Employment: How susceptible are jobs to computerisation?’ by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael A. Osborne, and according to their research 47 per cent of the US labour market is at risk because of the range of jobs that may be automated in the future.
I’ve been toying with the idea that human marketers might become superfluous and expendable when we learn how to manage marketing automation systems ourselves. These systems help you to manage emails and social media posts and to then track all related activities and data. Automation products are becoming increasingly sophisticated and they can be helpful if used in a customer-focused way.
Will certain marketing jobs no longer exist in the future? Or will new jobs appear? Will automated messages and platforms replace humans? What’s needed, time or brainpower?
Marketers Lack Time And Resources
All of the marketers I’ve met have one problem in common: they lack time and resources. When you are resource and time-poor you welcome automated systems that promise to help you save time. When you are under pressure everything that can help you starts to sound great.
As consumers we expect good service and good communication from the organisations selling us their services and products. Are these automation systems helping us to build and nurture relationships? Or are they too technical to simplify work processes and help us save time?
I believe that it’s natural for us to seek to make processes simpler and smoother. If you are a fan of books on efficiency and getting things done (GTD) such as The 4-Hour Work Week you will have read about simplification and automation. If you need inspiration I recommend that you search for GTD books online.
Before you invest in a marketing automation system you must know your customers’ lifestyles and needs, and you must pick a system that will support your business and that doesn’t make your life too complex.
When you invest in a new automation system you need to make sure that everyone who will use it is properly trained to do so. If you don’t, you might make an investment that will never pay off because the system is too complex to use without acquiring new skills. You also need strong champions who will support and help the people using the system when tasks get tougher.
One of the benefits of investing in training is that you will become more efficient, one of the disadvantages is that it takes time. A bit of endurance and determination to learn now will make life easier later.
The Consumer Perspective
So, let’s talk about automation marketing and reminders from the consumer’s perspective. Have you ever subscribed to a newsletter and then been added to an ongoing automated marketing campaign that in the end is just too much? For me, these messages come across as spam; the voice and tone of the emails are not human. How are these companies going to turn me into a potential customer using this technique? That is a very relevant question to ask. In this case people need to develop their copywriting skills and learn about online engagement.
On the other hand, what I do appreciate is a personal and friendly series of emails that are some-how enlightening. I recently tried out Skillcrush’s 10-day bootcamp. I enjoyed the educational content they sent me. Ten days was the perfect amount of time for me to spend following an automated online course. After that I welcome occasional marketing emails from them.
A big part of marketing automation is the reminder function. We appreciate a little nudge every now and then to let us know that something is about to expire. A month ago it was time for me to renew my business insurance and the automated reminder wasn’t sent out. I had to call my insurance company and ask them to send me the new papers. This was very stressful. Something was set up in the wrong way in their system and I was the one who suffered. Why did this happen? I would guess that the reminder was simply never set up in the first place.
Automated Customer Support
Another big part of automation systems is the automated customer support service that makes you feel as if there is no human being behind the messages. Humans like to communicate with a human voice and not a dead fish. Even if an organisation is using an automated system that, for instance, sends out simple message such as ‘we have received your request/order/question we will be in touch within seven days…’, these messages need to sound friendly and engaging. When the voice of your brand starts to sound monotonous, stop and shake yourself up to make your voice sound human again.
New technology means that we must ask ourselves new questions to move forward. New questions lead to unexpected answers and it’s in these answers that you find your new strategy. The better the questions you ask yourself about your brand and customers, the better the answers you’ll receive.
Back to my title question: will we need more marketers in the future or fewer? When done well, automation marketing can be magic. It can save you time and help you connect with customers. If misused, not set up properly or if you are not following fair digital marketing ethics, it can destroy your brand.
In the future we will find that people with different skills than today are becoming the stars of marketing teams, people who are more focused on both people and customers, and who love technology and automation.