Pros and Cons of Marketing Automation

Author

Kevin Urrutia

Category

Marketing

Posted

July 10, 2024

A cursory glance at the history of science and technology will reveal that progress and innovation are often measured by the degree of automation present in the production process. For example, the steam engine is a means of automating the production of kinetic energy necessary to power various machines – machines which are also systems for automating activities such as weaving, digging, sawing, etc.

In the 21st century, the machines we use also encompass those in the digital realm – a computer program is nothing but an abstract machine that can automatically perform specific tasks. And with the transition of marketing to the digital realm, an opportunity arose to utilize software automation for promotional purposes.

That said, marketing automation is not the cure-all some have been proclaiming. Instead, it is an approach to marketing with its advantages and disadvantages. In the rest of this article, we will dive into some pros and cons to provide a more balanced view of this trend, so you can decide whether your business can gain from it.

For: Efficiency

By definition, automation is improving productivity by executing specific actions an arbitrary number of times without requiring direct supervision. In digital marketing, activities such as sending emails, collecting and classifying data, or responding to customer queries can be performed ad infinitum until the desired marketing goals are reached. And the best part is marketing automation software doesn’t care whether you send out a thousand emails or a hundred thousand. Automation also saves a lot of time for people working in marketing, allowing them to concentrate on more creative aspects of the job.

Against: Propagation of Errors

Automation is excellent at producing effects at a large scale, but you have to be extra sure that these effects will benefit your bottom line. Automation is highly dependent on the initial setup of the process. And if you fail to configure things correctly at the outset, problems will start to propagate at a rapid pace. For example, suppose you mistakenly include a link to a malicious website in the email template you plan to send automated emails. In that case, you can potentially jeopardize your entire customer base. And it is tough to regain customer loyalty and trust after such a fiasco.

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For: Amenable To Data Analysis

As most experienced software developers can attest, marketing automation is nothing but an algorithmic treatment of data. Your automation software takes data as input, for example, a list of contacts and advertising copy, and then transforms it into output objects such as emails or ads, which are served to potential customers according to specific parameters. Your input data can then be correlated with the output to discover patterns, i.e., how effective a given copy is at converting a particular customer. This can be accomplished without needing third-party data gathering and analysis services.

Against: Generic Output

For automation to work as intended, the kind of work you want to automate must be amenable to abstraction. In other words, the process you wish to automate has to be generic. This goes against the reigning marketing paradigm, which stresses providing a personalized experience for each potential customer. You can send a generic message to many people or a customized one to each, but not both at the same, at least at the current stage of development. And since many companies tend to use the same kind of automation software, customers are already starting to get accustomed to recognizing automated messages and filtering them out.

For: Consistency

On the upside, while automation is not conducive to creativity, it can do wonders for consistency. This makes it especially suited for achieving branding-related goals. Automation software is, therefore, handy for managing social media marketing campaigns. You can distribute a consistent brand image across multiple channels and platforms, all according to a strict content calendar. This approach will portray your company as one that is serious in its commitment to providing a satisfactory customer experience. And if you ever decide to rebrand, automation can enable you to enact the transition on a large scale without any extra effort.

Against: Workplace Restructuring

Historically speaking, the workplace tends to adapt to the introduction of automation-based technologies, but the transition period can be pretty turbulent, potentially jeopardizing the whole business operation. The introduction of automation into the workplace has frequently been disruptive. After all, automation enables business owners to replace parts of their staff with machines, digital or otherwise, a change that workers whose jobs are getting replaced will not take lightly. Even those not affected by automation directly will experience its effects, for example, losing colleagues they’ve worked with for years. This can cascade impact workplace morale, as employees worry that they might get replaced by an automated tool in the future.

Conclusion

Marketing automation is neither inherently beneficial nor detrimental like any other technological innovation. It is simply a tool that can be used haphazardly or with skill and care, and the results you get will be determined by which of these two approaches you adopt.

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