Marketing Automation: The Rise Of The Machines?

Rise of the machines: Are robots after your job?

‘Automation’ is a word that could strike fear into the minds of the average cinema-goer, back in the golden age of science fiction last century. It conjured up images of soulless robots, marching relentlessly to subjugate us under their tyrannous regime and enslave or kill us… It’s a theme that starts with Metropolis and runs right through to The Terminator and The Matrix – more recently revived by David Tennant in Doctor Who.

So when we add the word ‘automation’ to marketing, should we be fearful? Are marketers about to be replaced by a wave of sinister robots hell-bent on driving response rates up and costs down? Are the days of human beings in charge of the marketing function numbered?

Unfortunately, the reality is rather more prosaic … big sighs of relief all round then. For the uninitiated, instead of replacing marketers, marketing automation is a form of technology designed to allow marketers to be more efficient in terms of time and effective in terms of outcomes. It’s about removing some of the more mind-numbing tasks and giving them the ability to be responsive to their audience in a way that would be impossible otherwise. And ultimately, it allows them to deliver more of what the organization needs: good sales-ready leads.

However, that’s not to say that automation won’t demand some form of adaptation. Although the fundamentals will stay the same, practitioners will have to master a new skill set and become more technologically proficient. In short, marketing must continue to evolve.

Embracing marketing automation will undoubtedly be a challenge that most marketers will have to face in the next two years. While clearly, the concept is being driven by a lot of vendor hype, the underlying aims and objectives are sound and potentially have real value for brands and marketers.

This is both good and bad news for marketers. The good news is that you’re not going to be sacked and replaced with a titanium-skeletoned Shwarzenegger look-alike next week. The bad news is that the changes that will ensue from marketing technology are more subtle but potentially no less profound. Essentially, if you’re not able to embrace and work with this new technology, in the long run, you may still find yourself terminated.

Posted by on February 5, 2010