My Marketing Automation Shame…

For over 12 years now, we at Digital Alchemy have built a business on the mantra that Marketing Automation is the saviour of direct marketing.  It saves marketers from being forced to execute broadcast communications and finally enables them to unlock the true value of their customer data by being able to match products, offers and content to customers based on their needs, one customer at a time.  Marketing Automation was the utopian dream that enabled true 1:1 marketing, making sure that every communication was relevant, thus driving customer engagement and customer profitability…

Over the past 5 years, many others have entered the fray espousing the merits of Marketing Automation and organisations have been adopting Marketing Automation at an unprecedented rate.  I should be like a pig in mud. So, why do I sit here in 2016 in the middle of a Marketing Automation boom in dismay?

What we have unwittingly done is unlocked the last gate between the data and a digital avalanche of marketing crap.

In most cases we have not enabled highly targeted relevant marketing communications. We have enabled the easy execution and automation of broadcast emails.  To make matters worse, as technology vendors like Salesforce, Oracle, Marketo, Adobe and IBM/Silverpop fight it out for sales, they have precipitated a race to the bottom on email pricing. It has become virtually free.  There is not even a financial cost to being sloppy or lazy with your targeting.  In fact, it’s probably more economic to blast an email to your entire base than it is to think for even 30 minutes about who you should really be sending it to.

So, I say knock yourself out, and when your open rates descend towards 10%, and you need to send a million emails to get a handful of sales, maybe then the thinking will change and we can get back on track creating highly targeted relevant communications that drive engagement and value.

I was wrong, and as an analyst, should have known better.

Marketing Automation is not the panacea to all ills, it’s a vehicle which needs to be driven…drivers need to make decisions…it’s time we step up from Marketing Automation and start focusing on the Marketing Decisions.  The decision on who to target. The decision on what offer or content to present, and the decision on how to present it.  Driving Marketing Automation without making these decisions well, is like driving down the road at night with the headlights turned off. Thrilling and exhilarating for a while, until the fear sets in and you suddenly realise that you’re driving along a mountain road and there’s a cliff around here somewhere…

The future of Marketing Automation is automated decisioning.

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