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Beware the Siren Song Of Marketing Automation

Judy Shapiro, CEO and founder of EngageSimply, a social marketing engagement company, and chief brand strategist at CloudLinux, argues in Ad Age that today's marketing automation platforms are supposed to make things easier for marketers but instead they're fraught with complexity. Shapiro says that the limitations of a configurable platform can limit real productivity. She maintains: "All platforms are configurable, allowing users alternate ways to get something done but confined by the options created by the developers who are, most decidedly, not practicing marketers. This limited set of options often doesn't line up with what marketers need to do. So to overcome the functional gap, customers are 'hacking' the platform to do what they need." Unfortunately, she finds that there are often no "hackable" options, "leaving customers with achingly difficult choices -- use another, smaller but more functional platform or stick with mega platform as they evolve."

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1 comment about "Beware the Siren Song Of Marketing Automation".
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  1. David Shor from Prove, May 26, 2016 at 11:22 a.m.

    In general, complexity isn't good. It means that there is risk of misconfiguration, inadvertent messages sent to the wrong people, etc. 

    That said, as marketers we are all trying to move past the era of static single-version eCommunications in favor of mass personalized communications. The return on these layers of sophistication are significant, with fewer hard-won email subscribers dropping out, higher deliverabilty rates and more revenue for senders who personalize.

    Complexity, therefore, is really about poor interfaces that make it hard for the lay person to remember why they have configured their systems the way they have, or which make it hard to program them in the first place. Large and small players across all of marketing tech are trying to improve interfaces so provide visual workflows (our client, j2 Global, owns Campaigner which, despite some clunkiness, was one of the earliest low cost marketing automation platforms that provided a visual way to create messaging work flows and decision trees. 

    Sophisticated capabilities are not the enemy. Poor user interfaces are the enemy. And until marketing technology is taught to children in schools there are agencies like my Prove which provide both the strategy for eCommunications and the smart lever-pullers who knownhowntonleveragr the full capabilities of these great and powerful tools.

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