In the digital universe of marketing, I've found myself locked in an ongoing tug-of-war since stepping into the world of automation. The key question being: For business growth, should we lean toward automating marketing efforts, or is it better to keep the organic, human touch thriving?

As a start; there are an enormous amount of tools out there, each with its own unique features:

  • Tools for sending emails and establishing campaigns.
  • Platforms for blogging.
  • Software for scheduling social media posts.
  • Comprehensive solutions that handle everything, even do some things you never knew existed.

And then there's the fresh kid on the block, AI, here to really stir things up.

In my quest to find the perfect blend of these tools, I sought the wisdom of a diverse panel of business folks, automation enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and managers alike. Their answers? Just as varied as the number of marketing tools out there. And instead of uncovering a one-size-fits-it-all solution (the online world and consumer behaviour changes too much for that anyway), I rather arrived at some intriguing guidelines to help find the marketing sweet spot.

Firstly, I had to go back to the bigger picture... The goal of marketing is fundamentally twofold:

  • One side aims for your brand to resonate far and wide. Ensuring clients and potential clients grasp exactly how you're going to revolutionize their lives and their businesses.
  • The other side emphasizes that these same clients can really connect with you, the person behind the brand, deepening relationships along the way.

If these two objectives are the goal, then instead of letting the tools become your marketing and taking on a life of its own, you should think of the tools being a gateway to doing marketing in an extraordinary way.

Consider email marketing:

  • I, for one, remember when marketing emails were all the rage. But now, we live in a world where consumer satisfaction is the driving force of the day: basically convenience and I-want-what-I-want and don’t bug me with anything else. This doesn't mean you toss your marketing emails in the trash. I’m saying, if you’re sending emails, make sure they add value EVERY TIME. If all you do is add another item to someone's inbox, you'll soon find your mail in the spam folder.
  • Enter AI. With the rise of AI, there are innovative ways to ensure your emails get the attention they need. For instance, AI integrations can now analyze your recipient's behavior and tailor your mails accordingly. Although these AI applications are still in nascent stages, they're likely to transform email marketing, so get ahead of the game. Experiment, automate, and integrate AI wherever you think it can propel your business forward. And then, if it takes away from your authenticity, try something else.

Then we have social media marketing:

Confession time: The landscape of marketing is undergoing a seismic shift. AI has soared in, revolutionizing the ease of crafting posts, generating brand imagery, and even responding to queries or writing reviews. This raises a question for consumers: What's authentic and what's artificial? With a simple click, companies can now generate blogs, construct entire websites, or create fictitious product images, deceiving web crawlers, algorithms, and consumers simultaneously. Then, spam these on social media and somehow fool the algorithm calculators all over again. My prediction? Once enough people have been duped, new mechanisms will overhaul the online networking experience, completely transforming the way we thought we could outsmart algorithms.

That's the AI side, but what about automation?
I've tried automating my posts, but I felt the automation removed me completely from my network. Some of the experts on my panels are even forbidden to automate social media to ensure authenticity. I see social media as a 24/7 networking event! A place where you are able to jump in and out of conversations. Give your opinion on all things important in your industry, shoot up your hand when you’re able to help and make some friends that will do the same for you. You just need to find the right conversations.

Does this mean you need to stay away from all things AI and automation when it comes to social media marketing? Absolutely not. The pure truth about organic reach and the human touch is that it demands significant time and energy. Operating solely as your organic self could AND WILL consume all your time — and who has that kind of spare time?

Both automation and AI holds the power to streamline your tasks remarkably, and trust me, these tools and technologies are here to stay. The trick? Embrace it, play with it, and stay on top of the latest tool trends. Then, be smart about using it. Strategize your social media marketing efforts in a way that leverages AI, automation, and integration to eliminate tedious tasks and the typical cut-and-paste routine that's present in every marketing role across every industry. Just remember, don't take these tools at face value and never let them define you.

I use the following as a guide:

  • Revisiting the two streams of marketing, I found that for posts falling into the first category – making known who you are – automation and AI has its place, especially when the message remains consistent across all platforms. Use the tools to work their magic, take the output as inspiration, tweak it to reflect your authenticity, and then automate to send it into the digital universe.
  • But when it comes to building relationships and being approachable to your clients and potential audience, keep it human! The human touch follow-up after the first stream is crucial — be available and proactive! Dedicate time every day to look for those moments to engage and demonstrate to your audience you are the image you portray in your posts you create and share with the machine. Post directly from your platforms and engage in communities. It's the true human touch that links you to others.

A final word or should I say the crux of the whole story: Use automation and AI as a tool to make your marketing efforts flawless, but ensure you always give more of yourself than what you take from the machine.

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