Preserving the Human Touch in Email Marketing Automation

The robot doesn’t know. It’s just following a set of programmed instructions. That’s why technology may be smart … but we can’t expect it to be wise.

The wisdom is supposed to come from us. You and I. Flesh and blood. Replete with logical flaws, yet the ability to seamlessly navigate a maddeningly complex world that doesn’t always follow a simple algorithm.

Which is why we experience such Schadenfreude when someone drives into a lake because their GPS told them to. That person should know better. Or as a Google spokesperson commented (in a huge understatement) when a woman followed Waze’s navigation into Lake Champlain, users should “use all environmental information available to them to make the best decisions as they drive.”

This is the major challenge with technology — the convergence of human and machine. How well has your brand navigated this intersection? Is your brand using all of your “environmental information,” or driving your customers into the proverbial lake with your marketing automation?

A recent example …

Most Brands Are Marketing Cyborgs in 2019

I recently purchased a car. When I did so, I filled out many lead forms to allow different dealerships to compete for my business. This unleashed a torrent of email, a cyborg combination of human and automated communication. And it highlighted how difficult it is for companies to elegantly intersperse actual human communication with email marketing automation in customer interactions.

The marketing automation emails were signed by the same humans who I got actual one-to-one emails from. But the communication from human and machine was like two ships passing in the night. I’d get an actual email from Luis, and then I’d get an automated email from Luis that had none of the context the actual email had.

As a marketer, I understood I was added to an automated drip campaign the minute my lead came in. The average customer may be aware of technology’s presence, or they may just assume the salesperson they’re dealing with has a Jekyll and Hyde personality and they can’t really trust this person.

This isn’t unique to car dealerships, of course. At MECLABS Institute and MarketingSherpa, we use a combination of one-to-one, one-to-few and one-to-many emails. A combination of triggered, drip, batch, customer service and personal emails. And many B2B and B2C companies — especially when they have a complex sale — do so, as well.

A few mistakes I noticed in the process, so you can avoid them, as well:

  • All of the above were Internet submissions. But before I did any of that, I went into an actual dealership to test drive a car, just to make sure the car I researched in Consumer Reports was the one I really wanted to buy.

Simply because I visited the dealership — instead of just filling out an online form — should have indicated that I had a higher level of motivation and received a drip that acknowledged my visit.

Daniel Burstein is the Senior Director, Content and Marketing at MECLABS Institute. Daniel oversees all content and marketing coming from the MarketingExperiments and MarketingSherpa brands while helping to shape the marketing direction for MECLABS — digging for actionable discoveries while serving as an advocate for the audience.

Publish date: January 21, 2019 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT