How I long to be more like you Marketing Automation bot – I think

is your boss a bit botty?

Funny toy robot. Innovation technology and creative concept

In my early career the thought of coming to work to knock out yet another knockout brand ad campaign for a client… made sleeping over in the agency seem worth it.

Now, at the age of 59, hardly a day goes by when I feel there is more to working life than great ads and insomnia. The truth is, sorry creative comrades, I have always been conflicted by the over-inflated emphasis on art placed on much of what we do compared to the need to just get product shifted in the most cost-effective manner.

The problem, it seems to me, is the superordinate drive for transcendent meaning in all that we do. Fact: the client needs us to help them sell in order to stay in business. Fact: we often use the client’s budget to suit our own ego-driven ends that have little to do with commercial reality.

How cool it would be to be just a tad more like an efficient but emotionally disconnected marketing automation bot. All day long, devoid of the need for constant critical reflection on past performance and debilitating anxiety about the future in the awards department, I would simply get the job done with optimal efficiency that eliminated the need for all-nighters in the agency.

Be honest with yourself… so much of what we do in marketing simply does not require a billion synaptic connections firing simultaneously in search of aesthetic utopia. In the age of big data, mobile broadband and contextual marketing triggers, it is all about developing systems that cash in on the billions of micro-moment opportunities rather than the big idea stuff of yesteryear.

Maybe that is a big idea? Maybe I am still working all hours on cracking the same problem… what to do with a short attention span and an overactive desire for transforming the exceptional into the everyday.

It is the everyday things that fascinate me the most in life. Look at Nest’s thermostat. What a great place to start with AI in the Home: not with an all singing and dancing omnipotent control centre, but a functional piece of core kit to herald in the new concept and consumer mindset.

How different this is to life in the martech market where automation systems still seem only to add greater layers of complexity to mission already impossible. As Donald A Norman writes in The Design of Everyday Things, “The human mind is exquisitely tailored to make sense of the world.” So where in the world of marketing is the simplicity and utility we all need to make attributional sense of all our acquisition, conversion and retention activities?

Even the most expensive and expansive automation systems cannot get close to the mould-breaking insights and outputs that come with human experience and creativity. What they can do, however, is get a good enough job done faster. The question is, can we marketers as a breed live with good enough rather than extraordinary? The truth is, we already do. 99% of work out there is so mundane you would think that a computer did it without the help of squadrons of highly paid humans.

We need to recognise that the small moments of everyday interaction with customers are far more significant that the big idea stuff. This is the stuff of automated order confirmation emails, retargeting display ads, query response PPC and contextual mobile messages that are triggered by consumers and responded to by cybernetic systems.  More pull than push. Less spend more ROI. When we become a little more, dare I say it, robot like, we might just be able to make real-time customer engagement a reality. That’s when we will see the constantly optimising RISE agenda achieve lift off:

  • Reduced spend
  • Increased ROI
  • Streamlined processes
  • Real time engagement

Cyborg robot taking off

Marketer and martech working together. 10… 9… 8… 7…