Will Marketing Be Automated?

Automation and artificial intelligence (AI) have disrupted countless industries over the years. From assembly lines to fast-food restaurants, employees are struggling with the idea that machines might be coming to take their jobs. One of the industries currently feeling this impact is marketing — digital marketing in particular. 

Digital marketers already reap the benefits of marketing automation while delivering personalized content quickly. Many rely on cloud-based solutions to manage minute details on a day-to-day basis, leaving marketers free to handle client satisfaction and feedback. In fact, as digital marketing continues to grow in complexity, global marketing automation spending will increase

Though automation has been looked at as a tool in digital marketing, the advancement of technology begs the question — will marketing eventually become entirely automated?

What Is Marketing Automation?

Automation in marketing isn’t necessarily new — in fact, businesses have been using this practice for years. Marketing automation is characterized by software applications that can automate repetitive activities, replacing the need for human involvement. It also allows teams to track, measure, and optimize their marketing efforts. 

Marketing automation comes in many forms, often found in customer relationship management (CRM) systems and social media schedulers. These platforms help relieve pressure by performing small, repetitive tasks (like email reminders and social media posts) and help companies stay relevant and on schedule with new product launches and updates.

Often, marketing automation is looked at as a new form of marketing, or a fancy name for email marketing. Contrary to popular belief, automation has been used in marketing since the early 2000’s. As social media began to evolve, so did mobile commerce and landing pages. Marketers began to rely on marketing automation tools to help monitor these everyday activities.

Marketing Automation Examples

Automation is seen in many different aspects of marketing. Some of the most common examples include:

  • Product updates or launches;
  • A/B split testing;
  • Reminder emails;
  • Chatbots;
  • Onboarding campaigns;
  • Lead management;
  • And social media posts.

Perhaps the most associated term with marketing automation is “email marketing.” This is because many marketers turn to email automation to help guide clients down the marketing funnel to converting sales pages. Email marketing is tedious; marketers must ensure customers receive the correct emails at the correct times to guide them to their next purchase. This could result in an error — humans are prone to it.

Automation takes human error out of the equation by allowing marketers to set up scenarios for their customers. For example, if a customer leaves a product in a shopping cart, automation software can send the customer a reminder email within a few hours.

Similarly to email marketing, chatbots represent a new, automated way to interact with customers on websites and social media. Today, customers expect responses within 30 minutes — an act that most humans can’t be held accountable for. Instead of risking customer satisfaction, automated messages can help customers with their inquiries instantly. 

How Will Marketing Automation Affect Jobs?

Many people have concerns about how AI and automation will affect jobs. Some reports claim that as many as 25% of jobs will be lost to automated alternatives. While this may seem like a cause for panic, there are many factors to examine — from how automation develops to individual employers. However, some jobs are at greater risk than others, and the same holds true for marketers. 

At-Risk Positions

Most at-risk positions are related to tasks that include daily inspection and activity, like:

  • Content generation;
  • Email marketing;
  • Automated ad campaigns;

Keep in mind, however, that these are more along the lines of tasks that are being replaced. According to Brookings, it is unlikely machines will be able to automate all tasks in any one occupation. For example, while email campaigns may be automated, there is still a need for humans to write original content. Likewise, AI needs humans to guide and interpret the data it collects. 

Secure Positions

There are some roles that are likely safe from elimination, most likely because they are more difficult to automate. Positions include:

  • Marketing managers;
  • Writers;
  • And graphic designers.

These positions thrive on interpretation and original ideation, something that machine learning can not yet do. Although, depending on how the technology develops, these positions could be altered significantly or adapted to work even better with automation. 

The Value of Marketing Automation

Though many people see it as one, marketing automation isn’t a threat to businesses. In fact, it can have huge benefits for marketing departments and businesses as a whole, including:

  • Increased employee efficiency;
  • More tailored content to audiences;
  • Increased lead generation;
  • Bottom-line savings;
  • And an increased amount of organized data.

Specifically, marketing automation is capable of processing ample amounts of data for market research, campaign success, and lead generation — tasks humans lack speed or efficiency in. Rather than look at these platforms as competition, marketers should look at them as tools to use and apply them to marketing strategies. Using and adapting to automation can make marketing teams stronger and more competitive. 

Instead of taking jobs, it’s more likely that automation will create a demand for new skills; skills that focus on data analysis, interpretation, and digital marketing. Marketers will continue to remain relevant as long as businesses need new ideas to push ahead of the competition.