By now we know that marketing automation doesn’t mean you flip a switch and the software does your bidding. We know that there is still work involved, and marketing automation software is there to improve the process. And now that a common thread of best practices is emerging, we further know there are three key ingredients to marketing automation success: process, content and technology.
I’d like to add a fourth ingredient to this sales and marketing cake: people. Marketing automation software won't replace people. Here are six reasons why.
The adage “it takes a village” holds true in the world of marketing. It takes a team of individuals with unique skill sets to create a comprehensive and holistic marketing campaign. It also takes a tribal leader to make sure the village is running smoothly. Marketing automation software is smart but not that smart. It can’t predict what your company goals are, or if your marketing program is staying aligned to those goals. It can’t think of a creative campaign. And it can’t come up with a fantastic new way to go after a hard-to-reach demographic. Without vision, no marketing campaign can succeed.
The software can't create engaging content for your organization—that requires knowledge of the buyer and talent to create the funnel. It takes good writers (if you can find an MA system that can write, please let us know). Your marketing automation program is useless without mass amounts of content. In fact, you may need to hire an extra person solely for the purpose of content development.
Marketing automation software doesn't know who your target demographic is and who they are as PEOPLE, at least not until a human feeds it that information. This goes back to the level of intelligence your software has versus the warm-blooded human being with the capacity to think critically. Your employees can get into the behaviors and minds of the customers and appropriately tell the software how to approach them in an automated way.
In order for any marketing automation program to work, the marketing and sales departments must reach agreement on what defines a lead and how those leads are nurtured and passed along. This is always evolving and takes a human to manage. It’s also extremely difficult in some cases, especially in organizations that have been doing the same thing for a loooong time. Your marketing automation software can’t provide guidance here–it’s looking to you to do that.
Marketing is ever evolving. The latest ideas around social demand generation, the management of those leads over time, and the further monetization of the customer base all come from the initiatives of your team, not your software.
Generating reports and analyzing results are two different competencies. Until a marketer knows what their benchmarks will be, what their target is and how to extrapolate that data into ongoing strategy, those numbers will remain only numbers.
People are the defining factor between success and failure–100 percent of the time. You can build the best marketing automation system in the world, but managing that system is the devil in the details. Marketing will never be 100 percent automated because the world changes at a pace that would have been inconceivable even a decade ago. Technology empowers us to react to that change quickly and with precision, but the ability to see change, and work within it, still begins and ends with the human component.
Photo courtesy of Thomas Cunningham