The Dangers of Marketing Automation

Iron Man Toon

Iron Man Toon

Recently I was on a panel of “The Future of Marketing.”  I spoke on the importance of:

  • Analyzing your customer data to identify business opportunities
  • Empowering employees to use social media for relationship building
  • Differentiation by providing customer value with a focus on customer experience

Human + Scaling Social

Two main themes came through in the seminar:

  1. A recognition that companies and employees of companies need to connect to consumers on a personal, human level
  2. A desire to scale social interactions through Marketing technology

I agree with the nature of these two trends and they should go together nicely. The problem lies with how many companies might implement their social business. And this isn’t the rant of a purist. Plenty of people are concerned about “The Dangers of Marketing Automation

Back to the seminar I was in… a room full of Marketers, nearly no one was using the hashtag for the event.  Approximately half of those in attendance signified (via show of hands) that they use Twitter, yet the event hashtag had less than 10% audience participation. The only participants were panelists. It seems Marketers want to wield social media in the same manner they use email – ready, aim, BLAST!

Social Marketing is not Email Marketing

What’s troubling is Marketers want to transfer their email marketing skills to social.  You can’t just ‘mail merge in’ the recipients twitter name and blast tweets out.

[notice]Run an automated DM campaign and I’m pulling your Marketing card. You can sit social out.[/notice]

Social is a different beast.  It requires nuance, It requires context.  Social requires knowing your audience and having a conversation. In email marketing you can send emails on behalf of your sales team. You do that on social media and you’ll appear foolish and trite.

Guidance and Freedom

Those that want to scale one-on-one conversation via automation don’t understand social. Marketers who want to scale social should provide Guidance and Freedom to their employees.


Provide employees with everything they need to know to be an important part of your organizational social marketing team:

  • Make sure employees know the firm rules related to using social media
  • Provide training to employees on how to use social media
  • Make sure employees understand your brand messaging
  • Provide social content (tweets, status updates) that employees can use – if they’d like


Once employees have been trained and understand the guidelines, give them the freedom to be creative.  Employees should feel comfortable using the content provided by the company but should have the freedom to write their own status updates and tweets.


Photo Credit: Ironman Toon – DracRoig


    • Peter Byre on November 26, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    Hi John, great post and I completely agree with the sentiment and loads of great points here.

    I personally think that there are plenty of industries where you can apply that thinking to email too. Just referencing the paragraph: “Social is a different beast. It requires nuance, It requires context. Social requires knowing your audience and having a conversation. In email marketing you can send emails on behalf of your sales team. You do that on social media and you’ll appear foolish and trite.”

    In the high value B2B sector, I am thinking Professional Services here you should be aiming to take that approach to email too and not just through outlook. I posted some thing here on that subject:

    Would love to hear your thoughts

  1. Thanks for reading and taking the time to post comment. A highly personalized email makes sense but I haven’t anyone take it to the next level yet. Imagine being able to mass customize the email subject and body and offer based on your knowledge of the individual. Open rates through the roof!

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