- Efficiency boost. Marketing automation streamlines workflows and optimizes customer interactions, but demands strategic use.
- Double-edged sword. While automation saves time and resources, misuse can lead to inflated budgets and decreased engagements.
- Risk management. Automation is not a set-it-and-forget-it tool; it requires continuous oversight to avoid long-term pitfalls.
Digital automation is a valuable set of tools that have led companies — big and small — to incorporate into their marketing automation strategies. Using these tools, businesses are now able to further optimize interactions and streamline employee workflow.
Automation for digital marketers and marketing teams can become an increasingly important tool that allows them to improve their engagements, and further maximize their efficiency.
In a time where artificial intelligence (AI) has witnessed widespread adoption, from marketing to digital advertising, to social media management and even customer engagement, automation has relieved teams of monotonous tasks, while further encouraging them to leverage marketing automation tools.
While there is success in the appropriate use of digital marketing automation, it carries significant downsides, which in the long term can lead to decreased interactions and inflating marketing budgets without providing the necessary marketing outcomes.
For businesses, from small-tier startups, to multinational conglomerates, digital marketing automation can pose several dangers, and without the proper execution, or understanding of these tools and systems, companies can be losing customers, while also wasting valuable resources.
What Is Marketing Automation?
There are many explanations of what marketing automation is and can be, however, in the most simplest understanding, it can be considered a network of software tools that improves, optimizes and streamlines a business’s marketing processes.
With marketing automation, companies, and perhaps more so, marketing teams, can use automation tools to further improve and build relationships with their current customers, but also develop strategies that can garner them more leads.
The advancements in technology, more seemingly in the field of AI, have encouraged businesses even more to increase their adoption of marketing automation tools and software.
Globally, companies are increasing their spending on robotic automation tools, whether these may be used in marketing, customer engagement or security, overall there has been a significant increase in how much companies are investing in the future of automation.
Related Article: What Is Marketing Automation and How Does It Help Marketers?
The Dangers of Marketing Automation
Marketing automation can be a powerful addition to any team, assisting to streamline their most basic tasks, while at the same time ensuring consistency across the brand voice and consumer engagement.
However, there is a dangerous side to marketing automation, which is often overlooked and ignored. Understanding the risks that can come with marketing automation can help marketing teams to better evaluate the appropriate implementation of these technical tools effectively.
1. Unnecessary Automation Efforts
While marketing automation can help with improving several integral parts of a team’s marketing strategy, improper automation efforts can lead to bigger near and long-term problems, further driving up costs, and requiring additional resources to resolve.
Throughout the last several years, we’ve witnessed an uptake in the number of companies that have automated their customer engagement efforts. This is often through automated replies on emails, social media messages or through chatbots on websites.
While these features can deliberately help decrease the need for human intervention, too much automation can cause bigger long-term problems if customer engagement is not properly managed.
Having a process through which customers are directed from automated messages to bots and then to service agents ensures that client queries can be resolved more seamlessly, without having a superior dependency on automated replies and instant messaging.
Digital Security Infrastructure
Research by McKinsey & Company has noted that the cost of damage from cyberattacks will amount to more than $10.5 trillion annually by 2025. This figure would represent a 300% increase from its 2015 levels.
Cybercrime in the virtual ecosystem has become increasingly challenging to control, and in turn, software companies have established automated systems that can help companies curb any potential cyber threats.
However, these systems are often still somewhat in their infancy, and require additional improvements, leading to the need for human oversight to ensure proper safety and security measures are in place. While automated systems can track or identify potential threats, human capabilities would assist in deploying appropriate security measures.
Social Media Management
Nowadays, social media has become a powerful contact point through, which businesses can interact with consumers. However, as the business begins to scale, and more time and effort are required to attend to social media management, smaller companies would often rely on automated services that can alleviate the need for immediate attention.
While this can help businesses refocus their attention toward other important business functions, too much social media automation could lead to bigger issues in the near term, affecting a company’s brand and long-term consumer reputation.
It’s possible to use automated services for social media management, but it’s a better consideration to make use of professionals to help manage and track social media performance.
This way, companies can ensure that consumers are being dealt with in a timely manner, but more so, that human interactions remain a crucial part of their customer engagement as they scale.
2. Improperly Automating Systems
Marketing teams are well aware of the wide variety of automation tools that they can use nowadays. While this has helped make their job more efficient, improper application of the wrong tools, or misusing these tools can also cost them their authority and diminish brand reputation.
Using the wrong marketing automation tools will typically affect one of the following:
Cost and Budget
While there may be tools that address immediate problems, and provide excellent solutions at the same time, these can often become costly in the long run, especially if they are only being used to address only a smaller, less critical issue.
Allocating money to marketing automation tools requires careful consideration and investigation to ensure that the tools that are being used can deliver the best value for the company, the marketing campaign, and above all, customers.
Not every automated tool will address the problem faced and would require further attention. This is especially important for cases where automation tools are used to collect and harbor critical metrics, data and customer information.
The inaccurate use of automation tools can affect the efficiency of teams, and the overall trust marketing teams have in other, more complex systems.
As already mentioned, inappropriate automation tools can be a cybersecurity risk for a company, regardless of their size. When marketing automation tools are not used within a secure ecosystem, team members can easily lose trust and confidence in these systems. This often leads to bigger issues, either removing the system and replacing it with something more advanced, or falling behind competitors due to the lack of understanding of how to properly manage and use automated tools.
Marketing teams will need to practice due diligence when deciding on which automation tool is best fit for their company or campaign. Doing proper investigation of these tools would ensure that team members are confident in their decision, and the outcomes these tools can deliver.
3. Losing Brand Voice
Companies are continually looking for innovative methods through which they can deliver a more personalized message to consumers. Through the use of automated tools, including the likes of algorithmic AI tools, marketing teams can now direct tailor-made messaging to the right audience most of the time.
The difficulty, however, is to find the balance between automation and manual brand voice. Using too much automation, such as bots on websites, or tools to help generate content can lead companies to lose their brand voice and image.
Constant use of automation tools to generate content would mean that a marketing team is using a repetitive template that sees minimal adjustment from time to time. Consumers might not notice these efforts right away, but over time they might pick up on the similarities among the messages they receive.
While creating personalized messaging is an important, and often crucial method to win over customers, too much automation could lead to a company sounding like a robot and losing its authenticity within the marketplace of consumers.
4. Wrong Messaging Directive
For small businesses looking to scale, automated messaging tools can equip them with the ability to instantly respond to customer queries, answer important questions, or resolve critical issues throughout the value chain.
Yet, having the wrong messaging directive, whether this be on social media or for email marketing can lead to a business feeling out of touch with what their clients are looking for and the solutions they can provide them with.
Losing touch with what the messaging directive might be — sales, customer retention, data collection — would leave consumers with flooded inboxes, and less valuable information being obtained by the company.
Implementing automation tools to automate messaging ensures that marketing teams can directly target their ideal audience, but in doing so, not leave them feeling overwhelmed, or filling their inboxes with unimportant emails that no longer interest them.
5. Unoptimized Metrics
Solely relying on automated metrics can be a dangerous, and costly mistake marketing teams need to avoid. While it’s possible to digest automated metrics and apply this within the marketing campaign, teams would need to conduct manual inspections of these metrics to ensure their accuracy and optimization.
Using automated metrics can be an encouraging resolution, at first. However, as the business begins to scale, or a campaign grows, further insights will need to be attributed to ensure that data is relevant and accurate.
Doing so would require marketers to optimize their automation tools to ensure that the right metrics are being tracked, and the reports they have access to reveal accurate data that can be applied elsewhere throughout the campaign. Leaving out optimization in the automation process, especially when it comes to data collection and tracking metrics will often create misleading and unjustifiable outcomes.
Marketing teams will need to have the right understanding of how their metrics are being generated, but also whether these outcomes are accurate enough to see forward-looking applications.
Furthermore, ensuring that automation tools are optimized to measure a specific goal would also need human intervention. And in this case, it shows that although machines might be fast and efficient, they often miss the critical component — knowing exactly what the consumer wants and how marketing teams will be using these data sets.
Related Article: How to Craft a Successful Marketing Automation Strategy
Final Thoughts on Marketing Automation
With a lot of power comes a lot of responsibility. This is especially true in scenarios where marketing teams are looking to automate their marketing efforts.
While it’s an encouraging thought, knowing that countless automation tools can be used within the digital marketing environment, a proper understanding of these tools and their intended use would need to be fully investigated beforehand.
Marketing automation can increase sales, and consumer engagement and drive brand authority.
However, it would require marketing teams to equip themselves with the right automation tools that help to connect with their audiences authentically, but also delivers actionable solutions based on their optimization metrics and forward-looking goals.
Learn how you can join our contributor community.