I may be biased, but I don’t consider most marketers to be inherently “shady.” There’s a difference between educating someone on your products and services and bombarding them with thoughtless advertising. The downfall of advertising might be part of marketing evolution, but let’s not make it the underlying narrative. Let’s refocus on marketing for people, not at them. Why haven’t we embraced marketing automation as a true opportunity to market with a conscience?
I believe most people aren’t seeing marketing automation as similar to other types of automation. How we educate prospects and help customers has changed, and will continue to change and improve, through adopting automation.
Let’s use an everyday (albeit a little extreme) example: the battle over minimum wage. As wages go up, so organizations like McDonald’s automate with kiosks. It’s a simple concept. A customer places their own order and the automation system spits out their food to them. Politics aside, this was the solution that McDonald’s came to in order to still give the customer what they want, without having to raise prices to pay human workers more money in wages. The customer was in the driver’s seat and placed their order. It’s that control people forget about when thinking about marketing automation.
Another example is home automation. Google sells the popular Nest thermostat. You can control it remotely, but essentially the cool part of the automation is it learns your behavior and starts to control the environment of your home based on what it knows you like (cool in the mornings, warm in the evenings – a precise temperature depending on the day, time, or weather).
Self-service kiosks, smart homes – this automated approach is exactly what marketing is and should be doing! A tailored experience is just that: an experience, not a cacophony of messages.
Based on automation rules established by the marketer, you can tell a kiosk/thermostat/marketing platform what kind of behavior to look for so that it tailors and personalizes the messaging to the target audience. This gives them what they might react best to, based on what that behavior tells us they prefer.
A lot of weary marketers think of features like automated campaigns as an automatic send button. To an extent, it is. But they are only picturing themselves as being saved the work of hitting the send button, when they should be focusing on the fact that through their target audience’s behavior, that audience member now has the chance to be the one to hit the send button, even if they don’t know that’s what they are doing.
The target hits a button on the web site to “read more,” but that also triggers a campaign to them to send more communications about related topics in the future.
Let’s return to our original goal: marketing with a conscience. This applies to marketers who aren’t going beyond the automatic send concept.
Maybe they see the advantage of the personalization concept, which allows them to make sure people get specific messaging based on demographic information, but they are not seeing it as the ability to be an automated vetting process.
Yes, send people tailored content. But if they don’t interact with that content in the desired way, there’s no shame in having an automation rule removing them from this type of communication. Maybe there will be more opportunities to communicate with them in the future, but right now they are not happily picking up what you (the marketer) is putting down, so vet them out and don’t tire them out.
It doesn’t matter if you are force-feeding them content that is personalized and customized automatically. You are still force-feeding them and they are not going to like it. Dispel the misguided notion of it being what’s good for them – they will tell you through interactions what is useful, educational, and good for them.