6 | Minute Read

Automation has been a heaven-sent for marketers, but what’s it like on the receiving end? Are the audiences of automated marketing campaigns missing the humanity of it all?

Even in the digital age, customers and audiences still want personable, human experiences when it comes to marketing and sales. 

70% of consumers surveyed by the Sitel Group – for example – said they would rather speak to a human representative rather than a bot. Similarly, 61% of consumers said that receiving personalized communication from businesses was important to them.

Despite all the benefits of tech and automation, people still crave human-to-human interaction. Your marketing and sales, even when automated, have to be personal in order to deliver the best experience to your audience and customer base.

Now, we’re not saying to throw out automation completely. Automating your marketing efforts improves ROI, saves on overhead, and frees up time for your marketing and sales team to focus on the bigger picture. Marketing Automation is an integral tool, and not one you should ever leave behind. However, there are ways to automate your marketing strategies whilst maximising the human, personable feel of them.

We explore 5 different ways of staying human when using Marketing Automation.

1. Use automation to make your emails more personal

Automation can actually improve upon the humanness of your email interactions. By using tools such as Dynamic Content, and Personalisation Fields – your campaign content can get as personal as humanly possible.

Dynamic Content (a tool available on Swift Digital’s Marketing Automation platform) gives you the ability to create multiple variables of content which appear, or hide, dependent on the unique details of each recipient. For example, you might want to showcase events close to your contacts. As they all live in different states/cities, you can use their location to determine which events are showcased in the email.

Personalisation Fields allow you to insert references to the personal details of each recipient straight into your copy. You may see this most commonly used with First Names, but you can insert personalisation fields based off of any data you collect on your contact base. For example you might want to say, “Hope the weather is treating you well in Sydney!” where the location changes based on the location field of each recipient (similar to above).

No matter how you choose to creatively use these two automation tools, you can see how they make for powerfully personable, relevant content.

2. Always make it easy to talk to a live human

When it comes to decision making, people want to talk to… well, other people. 

61% of mobile users call a business when they’re in the decision making part of the buyer’s journey – according to a study by Google. The majority of respondents said they’d rather call instead of communicate online because they want a quick answer, and to talk to an actual human being.

Plenty of businesses end up automating every part of their buyers’ journey, and they purposely avoid person-to-person touchpoints, to save on time and overhead. However, by hiding your business’ phone number, and not giving your audience a way to get in contact with living, breathing staff, you could be cutting your potential buyers’ journey short, and losing their patronage as a result.

When it comes to your automated campaigns that are geared towards conversion, make sure to include a way to get in contact with a real person should any of your recipients be ready to take the plunge and make a purchase.

3. Send your emails from a familiar person

Just because your emails are automated doesn’t mean they have to appear as coming from a robot. If you’re sending all your automated emails from some impersonal sender like “no-reply@yourbusiness.com” or “marketing@yourbusiness.com” you might want to consider using a more human address.

That’s not to say that any human email address is a good replacement – sending from someone that is unfamiliar to all of your recipients can be just as impersonal. For example, if a recipient receives an email from bob@yourbusiness.com – but doesn’t know who Bob is – then you haven’t increased the relevance of the interaction. However, if you use the Personalisation Field tool to insert a sender address that is familiar to each recipient (for example customers’ account managers), then that not only makes your sender more human, but it makes the entire interaction personal, and appear one-on-one. 

Without your account managers having to directly send dozens (if not hundreds) of emails to target recipients, you can send one campaign, and have the sender address and email signature change based on each recipient’s account manager, or main contact at your business

4. Communicate with your contacts on dates that are important to them

What do people who are close to you remember? Your birthday, anniversary, and other important dates. When your friends and family remember these dates and send you well wishes, it improves upon the closeness of your relationship. The same goes for sending automated emails on dates that are special to your customers/audience.

There’s nothing more personal than wishing someone a Happy Birthday directly, and offering them a gift. You can easily automate special date campaigns by setting them up to ‘trigger’ (send) on the day of a specific recipient date field – for example, their birthday.

By making the campaign even more special by offering discounts, free items, and using personalised and dynamic content, your contacts will feel personally acknowledged. This helps your brand avoid appearing cold and calculated, and adds human warmth to your communications strategy.

5. Use a real reply-to sender address, and don’t ignore replies

As stated above, people want to address their questions to real people, not chatbots – or worse, no one at all. Plenty of brands send their marketing communications from a no-reply sender address, which is just about as impersonal as it gets.

To bring some humanity back into your subscribers’ inboxes, refrain from using no-reply sender addresses, and instead vow to reply to email responses from your communications. Allow your contacts to hit reply on a campaign you’ve sent them, and answer their questions earnestly.

If you’re worried about whether your team has time to reply to campaign responses, consider setting up an automated reply which lets the recipient know that you’ve received their reply and have every intention of getting back to them – they might just have to wait a couple days.

Don’t force your contacts into one-way communications with your brand. If you’re looking to humanise your communications, then remember that human communication is a two-way street. Avoid no-reply sender addresses, and be available for open dialogue.

It’s a common fear that by automating everything we’ll lose real human interactions, and the benefits therein. But it doesn’t have to be that way. 

We choose how we automate our communications and interactions, and in so doing, we have the power to stay human. 

Nothing beats human, personal contact; and the proof of that is how many people need real human interactions before making big decisions. Marketing Automation should merely be a tool to better facilitate real, personal relationships between your customers, and your brand – it should never replace that relationship completely.

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