Telling it straight on the impact marketing automation tools are having on marketing and highlighting a couple of examples that have caught my eye.

There are plenty of marketing tools that promise more than they can deliver. That’s always been the case. But when the tools themselves are marketed effectively and they promise something that seems vitally necessary, it’s hard for some brands to pull themselves away from the promise to see reality. When enough brands adopt a bad idea, it becomes a trend regardless of its true effectiveness. Doubly so if the idea is pitched on increased efficiency and decreased costs.

The fact that a lot of brands are using a particular marketing tool is definitely not a sign that it works flawlessly, or that it will improve the customer experience, or even work at all. Unfortunately, following the crowd is trendy right now. There is such a thing as having (and trying to use) too many marketing tools, which can take your eye off the target, and I think one of the biggest mistakes is too much automation.

How Automation Leads to Sloppy Marketing

Automation is a consistent offender, especially when it comes to customer service and social media. When people are seeking customer service, they want to interact with someone who understands their needs and point of view. They are not interested in a canned message, a fake conversation, or a process that spins aimlessly. Just as importantly, if they don’t have a customer service concern but happen to mention a brand positively on social media, they don’t want an automated message asking them what’s wrong.

Bots fail the basics of customer service/engagement in every respect aside from offering a timely response, and punctuality is only worth something if the response is actually useful. When was the last time a bot did something genuinely useful for you?

Two Brands, Two Platforms, Too Many Bots

Delta:  Delta’s Twitter presence is prominent by the numbers, and as a major airline it is naturally mentioned often on the platform. Some mentions are negative, some positive, and some indifferent. Yet no matter what, when you mention @Delta in a Tweet, you receive a direct message asking for feedback on your experience with the customer service person you have connected with… even if you haven’t connected with a customer service rep at all. Mention Delta in any context, and you get the same message.

1-800-Flowers: On Facebook, 1-800-Flowers has a bot that asks about problems any time you tag the brand in a post. Did you make a post about how much you love the brand, and how strongly you’d recommend it to friends? Expect a message asking about the problems you’ve had with the brand. Sharing an experience about how products from 1-800-Flowers helped you set the perfect scene for a big event? Yep, still getting that message. Big disconnect.

Humanizing Your Brand Means BEING HUMAN

Is it really efficient to put another barrier between the customer and the people who can help them with their needs? If your bot is asking about problems when people post something positive, what does that tell observers about your brand? Some marketing “solutions” create more problems than they solve, yet brands are so frequently unable or unwilling to see the downside when the promise is more production for less cost.

The bottom line is, be careful which and how many marketing tools you employ. If it de-humanizes the experience for your customers, then don’t use it.

Listening to the needs of the customer, empowering employees to solve problems, providing the tools and platforms for real, person-to-person engagement are things that you simply should not automate. Instead, rely on the humans who power your business to use the skills they have worked hard to develop. Learn how to improve the customer experience by speaking with actual customers. Use social media to build relationships, not distribute spam. If you want to humanize your brand, there’s no substitute for rolling up your sleeves and, well, just being human.

#RonR… #NoLetUp!

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