What's your view on automation? While many see it as running counter to the ethos of what social media and digital connection is all about (i.e. facilitating more personal connection), for brands looking to scale their online activity, a level of automation is likely inevitable. And with ongoing developments in AI, and machine-powered systems learning how to undertake certain processes better than humans ever could, it seems inevitable that automation is coming. At some stage, like it or not, your business will need to consider automating certain elements.
But is that a really a foregone conclusion? And even though you can automate certain aspects of your marketing processes, does that mean you should?
To get a better handle on the broader industry sentiment around automation – and what processes are acceptable to automate (versus those that are not) – we put out the call to our SMT community for their thoughts on where they see things headed. More than 300 people responded to our ‘State of Automation’ survey, giving us a range of perspectives and insights for our first major report of 2019 - 'The State of Marketing Automation'.
This week, we'll highlight some of the key findings from the report from SMT, but you can read the full report at any time at this link.
Part II: Marketing Automation Concerns
As outlined in the first part of our report, we wanted to get an understanding of what businesses are currently automating, and what functions and processes are seen as acceptable to be automated.
The flip side of that is what's not acceptable - for those businesses who are holding out on expanding their usage of machine learning and AI-based tools, what are their main concerns, and what, in their view, needs to improve to make such options more viable for their businesses.
The main issue cited in our responses? ‘Lack of personalization’, with ‘Risk of harming brand perception’ coming in second with our audience.
Some interesting responses overall – of course, that lack of connection to your audience makes sense, you need that link to strengthen your audience bonds, and it can be difficult to ensure such if you’re not actively monitoring each step of the process. That then leads to that second biggest noted concern, in harming overall brand perception.
It's interesting, also, to note that losing out on potential opportunities is not a critical issue with automation, which suggests that most accept that such tools would likely pick up on such, and enable them to capitalize where possible.
It’s not finding and connecting with the right people that marketers are most hesitant about, it’s actually capitalizing on those prospects once they’ve been identified that the concerns lie.
Can automation tools be relied on to ‘speak’ with potential customers in an engaging, beneficial way, in order to maximize such opportunities? That seems to be where the key question currently lies - at present, you'd have to say that not all can do this successfully, but advances in chatbots, for example, have moved more in this direction, providing personalized, immediate responses which are relevant to the questions being asked.
They'll never replicate the responsiveness of humans in this respect (probably), but such tools are getting better - and with this being a key concern impeding greater adoption, you can bet that automation providers are working hard to address such issues.
You can download the full SMT 'State of Marketing Automation 2019' survey data and report here.