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Cloud Marketing and the Future of Automation

Dakshen Ram

Why is cloud marketing essential for today’s businesses to be more competitive?

Let’s start with the “cloud” itself. For marketers, the cloud serves as a centralized web-based source for a constantly expanding wealth of customer and marketplace data and other information that marketers can access immediately at any time.  Because this data is captured in real-time, it can be interpreted and applied at any point in the marketing process from strategic planning and identifying market opportunities to creating highly personalized user experiences, ensuring seamless omnichannel customer journeys, and driving brand loyalty.

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As marketers are increasingly stretched thin in their roles, how does automation benefit an organization?

Just as technology has evolved to help simplify our everyday lives, automation continues to evolve and to help marketers and strategists alike use their time and skills more efficiently and effectively. The cloud, as just described, is a good example of how technology enables marketers to work smarter, do more, and achieve better results.

The challenge of managing data provides another good example. Marketers today must deal not only with an overwhelming amount of data, but also with data gathered from a wide variety of sources. With the right automation solution, teams can gain extraordinary insight into their individual audience members—where they are in the user journey, what they like or dislike, where they’re going, and what the likely outcome will be.

While automation greatly enhances certain processes, it’s extremely important that organizations do not forget the human component. In the past, with legacy systems, customers were blanketed with generic messages full of information they didn’t need or that was irrelevant to their behaviors. With automation, marketers are equipped with an extraordinary array of data points enabling them to map a personalized marketing strategy based on each customers’ specific interests.

Take, for example, a bank customer looking to purchase a pre-owned SUV and inquiring about car loans. Obviously, it wouldn’t make sense to target that individual with offers for a brand new sports cars.  With data points gleaned through intelligent, real-time automation, the prospect can be targeted with contextual communication relevant to his or her specific interests.

What are the pain points you hear most often from companies trying to break away from using traditional marketing tactics?

Managing a major change in any area of business is rarely easy. Some brands may experience growing pains when breaking away from traditional marketing tactics, much of which can be attributed to barriers caused by the organizational silos embedded in the brand’s DNA. The banking and financial industry is a prime example of industries with traditional silos. They have investment arms, insurance practices, lending, consumer banking, and the list goes on.

While such silos grew up naturally, they prevent organizations from taking a unified view of and approach to communicating with individual customers – not to mention communicating and coordinating with each other internally. Once the silos are broken down, however, each part of the business will have a holistic view of the customer including access to data sets that span verticals, positioning them to more effectively target and engage with their key audience in seamless, coordinated ways. Breaking through silos is absolutely essential to any organization’s intent on digital transformation.

With are the risks of automation in general and for marketers in particular?

Tremendous gain and tremendous risk are both inherent in marketing automation. To provide a personalized user experience, marketers rely on automation to interpret and apply data that they then can leverage to orchestrate campaigns and deliver customer experiences. However, marketers must keep in mind that computers lack human sensibility and emotion. Because of this, the risk of alienation or miscommunication with customers can escalate quickly. Chatbots and automated response systems primarily focus on the “if this, then that,” method. While this may work in many scenarios, there are times when it fails dismally.

For example, a frustrated passenger recently tweeted ironically about his airline experience, “Thank you for sending me to location A and my luggage to location B. Brilliant.” The automated system, which responds across several social channels for the airline responded, “Thank you for your kind words, keep it up and keep flying with us.” Certainly an inappropriate response to the message the customer was trying to communicate.  In this situation, the machine learning and AI overlooked the customer’s sarcasm, and within a matter of seconds, social media was buzzing about the incident, commenting and retweeting about it.

While that is one example, and the likelihood of such an occurrence completely destroying a brand is low, there are instances where inaccurate information or a poorly timed response could have much more serious consequences. The truth is, chatbots like so many other business tools are still works-in-progress and carry a degree of risk.

One thing remains certain: Customers still require the human touch. Marketers must continue to diligently oversee day-to-day processing and interactions. In doing so, they can spot what’s working throughout the customer experience automation process and what isn’t, and then capitalize on the wins and fix the glitches.

In the world of automation and AI, where is there a need for marketers to keep the human element intact?

Technologies of all sorts have played an instrumental role in helping shape the marketing industry into what it is today. While artificial intelligence can power and enable many conversations, it differs from human interaction— and customers can tell.

Chatbots generally can answer standard customer service inquiries. However, just as with the airline passenger who shared the inappropriate message he received across social media, certain communications need to be reviewed and responded to on a one-off basis. 

One key attribute that we human beings bring to our conversations and interactions—one that AI lacks— is emotion. Even though in AI the communication is stitched to stay in context with the program, a human being should always take responsibility for its appropriate implementation. When something goes wrong, customers often don’t care or have no interest in knowing that a machine is recording their message or complaint. They want another human being to take charge and making things right.

This concept continues to evolve rapidly and improve remarkably over time. We as an industry need to continue to work together to find the proper balance and strategy to incorporate AI into our marketing arsenal to ensure that it improves—not diminishes—our ability to deliver exceptional experiences.

As roles are shifting and tasks and roles that can be automated come about, how do skills and career paths change for marketers?

We’ve heard it before, and it’s nothing new. Rather than running from the new technology and AI, we must learn to adapt to its evolution.

Years ago, marketing consisted of sending emails and calling it a day. Today the landscape is entirely different, and marketing plays a significant role in a business’s overall strategy and ROI. Modern demands imply that marketing can’t just be following data or trends; It has to be much more contextual, much more meaningful and very analytics-driven.

First and foremost, marketers of today and the professionals of tomorrow should embrace tech and take time to truly learn their industry domain inside and out. Knowledge is power in marketing.

Second, they need to do the same regarding their customers. Marketers need to evaluate the different roles and channels, learn which are most relevant to their customers, and understand how automation can integrate into each one. Once marketers gain that understanding they’ll be able to effectively apply technology throughout their ongoing marketing initiatives and reap the benefits.

Last but not least, marketers are constantly asked to account for their role by showing a value add and return for the business. If marketers can switch their perception of AI from being an obstacle and challenge to being a tool and an additional level of support, they can deliver documented proof to demonstrates just how key marketing is to business growth.

For more information, please visit our website at www.resulticks.com.

Head of Product & Strategies at Resulticks