With the advances in technology, especially when it comes to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, marketers have a slew of automation opportunities at their fingertips. Automation of various aspects of a marketing campaign can save marketers time and money, as well as increase efficiency. Two out of three marketers were using some sort of marketing automation in 2017, and experts predict 70 percent of companies will adopt AI in some form by 2030.
Today, the question is not whether marketers require automation. If you are still asking this question, then you’re already behind the curve. Utilizing automation in some manner is an inevitability. Rather, the more pertinent question is how much automation do you require?
Should you automate every aspect of your campaigns just because you can? No, most definitely not.
The practice of rampant automation, while efficient, can lead to a reduction in one key aspect of any marketing campaign: personalization. But it doesn’t have to. Data collection and analytics can be powerful tools for businesses today, but viewing customers in terms of data sets can seem deeply impersonal. However, the insights drawn from them can transformative. A big part of your business planning involves personalization, and despite the apparent contradiction, automation can help.
Automation: Use It to Get Personal
Even though we’d like to believe that AI is a one-stop solution, it would be foolish to think that it can replace the “human touch.” Preserving personalization in an age of automation is crucial to reaching and retaining customers. While potential customers often prefer simple self-service options in many cases, personalization can be a great draw. On the other hand, a survey suggests that 7 percent of customers experience frustration when there
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This is because customized experiences make one feel valued. This results in increased customer retention and brand loyalty. Thus, to be a successful marketer, you need to focus on balancing automation and personalization in such a way that the efficiency granted by automation isn't lost while also striving to preserve personalization.
Data can revolutionize your marketing efforts. One of the most effective ways to use it to segment your audience. Automation can be used to segment your audience far beyond titles and industries. Using data, you’ll be able to notice the subtle but very real differences between audience segments.
In this article on personalization techniques, we write that “demographics such as location, age, and gender are a start — but a more personalized analysis will include qualities such as consumer interests, activity on your company website, social media activity, income, buying habits, and much more.” Once you have this information, you can create personalized messages for various section and audience personas. Martech Advisor provides an example of this strategy in action: “Instead of one message for CEOs, for example, create one for CEOs of 10- to 50-person companies and another for those leading organizations with more than 5,000 employees.”
Other personalization hacks include adding variable tags to prospects’ names to make them feel like the message was intended specifically for them. Additionally, since automatization frees up a lot of time, you can use this extra time to follow-up with your customers after they’ve made a purchase or engaged with your brand. The end goal here is to move away from generic marketing that most people are now numb to. Automation in data collection and analysis is a means to do so.
Automation is especially useful when it comes to tracking metrics. With loads of digital marketing data available, automating tracking processes will allow you to free up some of your time so that you can actually use data-driven insights to implement meaningful changes.
Tracking market acquisition cost (MAC) is a good example of using automation to provide insights that further customization. For instance, platforms like Supermetrics allow you to “connect many advertising platforms in order to programmatically feed your digital data points into a Google spreadsheet, which you can then use to automatically forecast your MAC.” In opposition, manually gathered data from advertising platforms would be highly time-exhausting. Once you have your MAC, you can decide how to divide your budget across various marketing channels, with an accurate representation of what is working and what isn't.
Similarly, automation can be used to track readership patterns for blog posts. Looking at blog and website traffic to understand conversion rates only scratches the surface of possible insight. Experts at Rivalmind suggest looking beyond traffic and using conversion research methodologies like heuristic analysis, technical analysis, user testing and mouse tracking analysis. Automation proves to be valuable in this area since most marketers typically don’t have a lot of hours to track or investigate every factor that affects blog activity.
Automation can also be used to implement change based on data analytics related to customer service. As noted by the University of Maryland in this infographic, “Customer service analytics can help organizations to improve the customer’s experience by offering personalization.” Businesses can then respond to trends in their customer service, curtailing issues and removing pain points wherever possible.
Determining what is wrong through the use of automation enables you to make appropriate changes. For instance, if you find that an older demographic of people don’t mouseover your chat box as much as millennials, you might consider customizing the appearance of your page to suit different audiences. In this way, using automation to track metrics can be extremely valuable to determine how to balance automated and customized marketing efforts.
In general, automation is often seen as the backbone for prediction and data analysis, whereas personalization is essential for customer interaction. Automation can grant insights into what a customer wants. This information enables us to personalize our marketing efforts effectively and efficiently. However, every target audience is unique, and so finding the right balance between automation and personalization that suits your audience will come through trial and error. The key takeaway here is to think of automation and personalization as two valuable parts of one unit, rather than separate, contradictory aspects.
Avery T. Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. Comment or tweet her with any questions or suggestions.