Is marketing automation killing the quality of marketing?

If video killed the radio star, are marketing automation platforms killing the quality of marketing? There’s a lot of marketing messages circulated in this new digital age, whether it’s email, images, social media snippets, website copy or content pieces – but does that mean they’re any good? And is it giving marketers a bad name?

Where once businesses would have to go through a third party to distribute marketing – for example, a printer/fulfilment house, an email provider, a design house or an agency; the tools are now available, and affordable, so they can do it themselves. Hoorah! I hear you say, but alas, it’s not always a good move.

I love marketing automation platforms. They make putting together a campaign much quicker, the tracking (in most cases) rocks and it’s much easier to manage your data. When managed well, they’re a fantastic tool – as long as you don’t get lazy.

The marketing automation technology vendors are also excellent at educating those that purchase their systems, as long as you do it their way. They’re also telling everyone else that bought their product to do things in exactly the same way – because it works, right? Not always. What it does is make sure you that you keep doing your marketing and you keep on feeding the technology machine. That’s enough, isn’t it?

What can happen is mediocre in, mediocre out and ‘same same’ campaigns put out into the ether every time. Suddenly, we’re awash with dumbed down content, lots of noise and second rate marketing. Why? Because there’s a lean mean marketing machine allowing you to efficiently churn out marketing assets quicker, so you do.

What the marketing automation platforms do is then measure on the amount you produce and your activity, not on the actual results. It’s easy to report on the number of leads that have received your emails, the number of opens and the number of conversions. Or the number Tweets sent and the traffic to your website. But for what? Surely, what’s more important is the quality of interaction and opportunities generated.

When marketing automation platforms become the focus of your marketing, marketers stop thinking and stop trying to do things better. The result is that automated programmes feel like a sausage machine and conversion rates drop. (The last thing you want is a prospect who knows the marketing is being automated).

I’m not going to point fingers or name names. I have my favourite marketing automation vendors and they all have their limitations in one way or another. What’s more important is that you take their principles on board, but don’t follow them to the letter. Make your target audience central and put their needs first focusing on quality not quantity. Then add a dash of spontaneity, take a different tack, delve deeper into reports and map out your content more effectively.

So do you think marketing automation is killing quality marketing? Here’s a reminder of that classic:

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