The age of automation has well and truly arrived.
Whether online or at the supermarket checkout, automation technologies have become the standard tool for streamlining workflow and operations. They are undoubtedly one of the greatest business development tools ever invented. But as with the adoption of any new technology, there’s a risk of companies growing too dependent on it. If you’re not savvy with how you implement automation, it could cost you not only your profit but your business, too.
1) Don’t forget to continually optimise
Automation relieves a lot of stress for business owners, but don’t fall into the trap of ‘set and forget’. Optimising your automated systems is a manual process, but digital marketing is a fluid and ever-evolving environment. You can’t turn your back on it for a moment.
Make sure your automated systems are optimised for the current online climate, and that they meet the criteria of the most up-to-date search engine algorithms. If you have a dedicated development team, direct them to build in automated tools and advantages as they construct your systems. Remember, though, that to capitalise on that effort you must then maintain your systems well, and optimise your automation for best results.
Automation will only do what you tell it to, so treat it like an employee who needs observing and managing rather than like a consultant who can be left to their own devices. Pay attention. Automation exists to make you a profit, not cost you exposure.
2) Beware the pitfalls of automated bidding
Automated bidding automatically sets your bids on your ads based on their likelihood of getting clicked and achieving a sales conversion. The system can be customised for a specific sales goal or business objective, and saves hours of effort for business owners.
As we saw above, it’s appealing to just ‘set and forget’, and assume your approach to sales and lead gen is one-size-fits-all. But running automated ad campaigns unsupervised is unwise to say the least, and could cost you profit if you get complacent. Many algorithms aren’t (yet) as smart as humans, so your AI won’t be able to outperform a sales professional in this arena. Don’t shy away from automated bidding, of course, but use it as a tool, not a crutch. Marketing still demands human interaction, albeit online.
3) Keep your brand message front-of-mind
A perennial focus in digital marketing is customising your customer’s experiences. AI and automation can be hugely helpful in making this happen, but there’s a fine line between automation technologies helping you run your business and totally disregarding your customer’s existence. After all, you are your brand. So if you let automated systems do all the talking for you, eventually your customer will feel neither seen nor heard.
This doesn’t apply only to customers. Your brand is an employer, too, and adopting this mindset helps you attract the best talent. Because while automated software is useful for recruitment, when you’re marketing for candidates you need a human touch. So leverage your automation more for behind-the-scenes efficiencies, when candidates are less likely to see it.
4) Be mindful of over-messaging
Automated messaging systems can be a saviour for a business owner trying to optimise their customer service and comms. They help build and maintain rapport with the audience—but you can overdo it. Sending too many automated messages can be disastrous for your business. Over-messaging negatively impacts your recipients, damaging your engagement and client relationships, and it adversely impacts your app or website, too.
It takes years to build a brand. It takes seconds to burn your reputation. With automated messaging, it’s all about quality over quantity. Strike that balance.
5) Never automate what shouldn’t be automated!
There are so many ways automation technologies can improve your sales and branding, but there are certain aspects of your business that just shouldn’t be automated—even if they can be.
- Cybersecurity: Thieves and hackers constantly find new ways to break through cybersecurity systems. Manually ensuring yours are optimised maximises your business’s security and protects your customers’ data.
- Customer engagement: People want to know they’re dealing with a real person. They’re not naive, and will often pick up on when they’re talking to a bot.
- Social posts and messages: There are plenty of automation systems for social media engagement, and they’re a godsend for those who find marketing on these platforms to be tedious. But if you are such a person, it’s worth outsourcing your business’s social media marketing so it can be optimised in a human way. That’s not to say you shouldn’t use systems to automatically post your content at particular times, of course, only that you shouldn’t rely on automation and AI if you want to enhance the impact of your marketing.
- Marketing proposal templates: Digital marketers must ensure their marketing proposal templates come direct from them or one of their team, and include personalised comments relating to the specific prospect. Sending automated proposals may insult your client, and a pitch is far more likely to succeed if it’s customised to their needs.
Moderation is the key to successfully implementing your automation technologies
Marketing automation is a brilliant way to optimise and streamline your business, but it’s still just a tool like any other, and therefore has limitations as to how and when it should be implemented. Automation is no substitute for graft and passion. So use your raft of automation technologies as a complementary utility in growing your business, not as a business model unto itself. Find that balance—hard as it is—and you’ll reap the rewards.
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