How Brands Can Take the Word “Automated” Out of Automated Marketing

In Apple’s famed 1984 commercial, creative vision and the freedom to access a trove of information destroyed a dystopian society on the verge of chaos.

At the time, Apple was making the point that people should feel liberated by technology, not confined to one solution dictated by a single set of rules. Since the introduction of the first personal computer, technology has advanced at a rapid pace. Today, that new tech poses a whole other set of unique threats to humankind—or, at least, marketers’ livelihoods—by way of entirely automated marketing.

Apple Computer 1984

Are we at another point in technology’s history where human innovation may be on the line?

Automated Marketing Possible with New Tech Boom

It hasn’t been long since Gartner analyst Laura McLellan first claimed that CMOs would spend more on IT than CIOs by 2017. Her predictions, which came in January 2012, outlined three core reasons the industry was moving in this direction:

  1. Marketing is becoming increasingly tech based.
  2. “Big Data” creates a significant competitive advantage.
  3. Marketing budgets are growing quicker than IT budgets—and that has been the case for several years now.

While those statements were aggressive in 2012, today we all know them to be fact. New marketing-solution platforms enter the market every day, creating new challenges like integration errors, risk-management issues, lack of digital talent, and compliance.

For creative marketers, mismanaged tech investments come with much bigger consequences. Automated marketing, by way of new technology, aims to abandon all creative process rather than supporting it long term.

For example, marketing departments can forecast buyer behavior through predictive modeling, use site analytics to verify hypotheses with historic trends, turn to a customer relationship management (CRM) platform to find a list of prospects to market toward, automate marketing through Marketo, and personalize each Web experience based on tracking tags, all with the pull of a few technology levers.

This is where marketing begins to look a lot more like science than art—a trend that has already started to affect career development for digital marketers.

The Changing Role of Marketers

With data and technology playing bigger roles in marketing, the way professionals go about their daily responsibilities has changed. In Adobe’s study, Digital Roadblock: Marketers Struggle to Reinvent Themselves, 64 percent said they expect their marketing roles to change in the next year; 81 percent said over the next three years.

Of those surveyed, 30 percent of respondents said that lack of training in new marketing skills has stunted the growth of their careers—perhaps mainly because companies are adopting technologies at an alarming rate without first establishing the appropriate training sessions to help employees adapt. In addition, another 30 percent of marketers said their organizations’ inabilities to adapt to new technologies and trends has prevented them from becoming the professionals they aspire to be.

Digital Roles Changing

Why Are Brands Investing More in Tech but Not Educating Staff on How to Use It?

It’s clear that enterprise brands are pressured to measure and prove return on investment (ROI) from everything they do, a process which is made easier through emerging tech solutions. Having a wealth of data available to act on does open new creative doors, but without the skills to fully pull information from these automated marketing solutions, brands are essentially flipping a switch and activating autopilot. They’re attempting to engage with audiences without really being present.

This not only dilutes the value technology brings to the table, but it also reduces the level of creativity that goes into every digital campaign. It diminishes the brand marketer’s role to one that simply pushes a few buttons and crosses his fingers.

In an era where marketers have the potential to reach consumers across new channels, little is being done at the enterprise level to educate employees on how to leverage new tech for increased business value. Despite that, investments in these services continue to climb, as a way to keep up with the masses and look more integrated in what they do.

It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way

Technology still has the potential to liberate marketers from worn-out practices. However, in order to invest in solutions at scale, a solid framework for training, integration, use, and ROI measurement must also be in place. This is where CMOs can thrive in this new tech-driven, automated-marketing world. By taking processes and systems developed to test communications practices in the past and applying them to tech investments and staff training in the future, enterprise brands can better plan for this new environment, maintaining creative control over what they say (and how they say it) to a connected audience.

Otherwise, marketers are left to work with what they’re given—and innovation becomes harder to come by when everyone has access to, and only uses, the same data sets in communications.