Commentary

Automation Jitters: How Email Can Help Calm Them

For all the hype about marketing automation, companies are wary about it.

While 75% use automation tools, 61% fear they could lead to a lack of personal connection, according to Social Media Today’s State of Marketing Automation, a study by SocialMedia Today, sponsored by SharpSpring.

Given that fear, email marketing is one of the most trusted uses.

The study finds that “social media post scheduling, email marketing (including audience targeting and the use of templated messages) and social media advertising (retargeting) are the top three processes that can be safely automated without reducing overall effectiveness or audience connection.”

But how does one deploy automation for email? Email marketing automation, based on audience segmentation and user behavior triggers are beneficial--when properly implemented, the study notes.

“Without effective audience segmentation you could inadvertently send a follow-up email of offers for new cars to people who’ve just purchased a new vehicle and are not likely to be in the market again for some time,” it adds.

It continues: “The extra step of filtering your email contacts into specific groupings can have a big impact in this regard, ensuring your automated processes generate optimal response. The more focused the better."

Of all the appropriate uses for automation, email marketing ranks second, chosen by 75%. It is topped by social media post scheduling, which is cited by 83%.

Third on this list is social media advertising (58%), followed by messaging chatbots (53%), sales prospecting/alerts (39%) and social media engagement (36%).

Of the executives surveyed, 72% say a level of automation is inevitable specifically for their business. Another 24% say it is not, and another 2% say it’s too early to tell.

Isn’t that a contradiction with the finding that 75% are using automation tools? Not really — the results show that, "although marketers know t’s coming, they’re not willing to go all-in on automated tools just yet.”

Maybe it’s because they’re concerned. In general, they have several fears about their automation, tools, including:

  • Lack of personal connection — 61%
  • Risk of harming brand perception — 44%
  • Lack of control over process — 39%
  • Risk of missing opportunities — 38% 
  • Other — 12% 

That said, the biggest automation challenges are:

  • Content creation — 67%
  • Audience research — 44%
  • Tracking ROI — 42%
  • Developing effective ad approaches — 34%
  • Audience segmentation — 28%
  • Other — 6% 

In the end, there’s one lesson for email marketers: “No one wants to receive generic marketing emails addressed to ‘Dear [insert name here]’, and responses to retargeting will be mixed, especially if your behavioral matching is too broad.”

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