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Robomarketer – Homework Robots & the Truth About Marketing Automation

Vintage Robot

Is it wrong of me to think that robots should be much more capable than they currently are? Robotics and automation always seem to have the promise of a higher intelligence – like the witty one-liners of Short Circuit’s Johnny Five or the less-than-stable HAL 9000.

Before you judge me for the invention I’m about to share with you, you have to understand that it was the 90s, I was only in grade school and homework was a very serious problem in need of solving. It’s not on my LinkedIn profile, but I was the proud inventor of a robot that would do my homework for me – it would, that is, if the cardboard and cardstock conglomeration was a functional machine. It was a creative expo day for my grade school’s Odyssey of the Mind program, a creative education program that’s still near and dear to my heart. Knowing the bane that homework was to the community, I was very confident that the tinfoil-clad “Homework Harvey” I had created would earn a ribbon. But as you can guess, I’m not the only one who set out to solve the homework problem, and homework robot helpers turned out to be as prevalent in the room as baking soda volcanos at a science fair. Why? Even to a grade-schooler, there’s something really tempting in the promise of a robot that can take up brain labor in the same way factory robots have been able to take up physical labor. The truth about robotics and automation is that they’re much more like an automated car factory than the insightful C3PO. There isn’t much thought or wit in the machine, but there is an ability to synchronize a thousand steps quickly, accurately and repeatedly. Car factory robots don’t design cars; they just handle the step-by-step instructions for building them. Marketing automation is no different. It’s important to remember that while marketing automation is far from being a magical marketing homework machine, it adds scalability to the efforts of your sales and marketing team.

The (Disappointing) Truth about Marketing Automation

At first glance, many marketers, sales teams and C-level execs start to see marketing automation with the same optimism as a room full of children staring longingly at our tinfoil homework helpers. The central flaw to my homework ‘bot’ was that somebody was going to have to teach it how to do all the homework. The same is true for marketing automation. It’s going to need the content, designs, lead-logic and configuration input so that it can help your team execute on the marketing communications strategy that was built around it. While even the best marketing automation programs can’t build the campaign for you, they can help you manage the complex email sending orders, logic-based contact organization, and performance analysis. With this support, you can make a campaign strategy that is far more complex and personalized. If you were starting a car company, would you start with the design of your car, or by building your factory? If marketing automation is on your long- or near-term marketing outlook, start today by designing your communications with marketing automation in mind. Instead of thinking in terms of “July Newsletter Email Blast,” consider informative paths such as “The first thing you need to know about widgets” being the first in a series of emails.

Marketing Automation > Blasters

Marketing automation is an end to the “blast,” and that’s a good thing. It allows marketers and sales teams to manage stages of the information funnel for many, many people. Your email lists have leads that are one day old and leads that are right on the brink of a buying decision – would you expect the same conversation to be a fit for each? Marketing automation allows each person in your funnel to receive the “first thing they need to know” as the first thing they receive, whether they enroll in your program today, two months or two quarters from now. It then allows you to maintain that lead’s individual path based on your strategy and the data available from numerous systems such as your CRM and website tracking.

The (Awesome) Truth about Marketing Automation

The truth is that marketing automation is a miracle, but not the one many hope it will be. In addition to being a sizable financial investment, it also takes a serious amount of time, strategy and expertise to create and build on a successful implementation. DemandGen recently reported that brands adopting marketing automation for lead nurturing are seeing a 20% increase in sales opportunities, and Annuitas Group adds that there is also a 451% increase in qualified leads from prospects. Surveys from Gleanster show that the top performing marketing executives are moving toward marketing automation to increase revenue (77%) and add measurability to marketing and sales efforts (65%). With stats like that, it’s not much of a surprise that a quarter of B2B Fortune 500 have adopted marketing automation (Pardot), or that 84% of the top performing companies plan to implement marketing automation. The truth about marketing automation is that while it isn’t a helpful marketing droid that can turn a pile of old brochures into marketing gold, it’s an absolute miracle to modern marketing. Homework robots, however, are still a bit of a pipe dream until hover boards starting rolling — or floating — off the assembly line.     [ Image Credit: Swanee]
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