Simple Hacks For Making Marketing Automation Seem Less... Automated

Posted by Abi Davies 9 Aug 16

Question: How much interaction do you actually have with your customers these days?

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According to Emailmonday, on average, 49% of companies are already using marketing automation.

As a business that provides customer insight and marketing automation for retailers, we see this as a good thing. But are the connotations of the phrase “marketing automation” always positive?

Unfortunately (but understandably) not.

When you look up synonyms for the word “automation”, lifeless words such as “mechanical” and “robotic” appear.

And yet - when it comes to ecommerce marketing, at least - this should not be the case. Whilst automating your marketing messages is a somewhat methodological process, the main ingredients that go into that process are plainly personal.

As HubSpotpointed out in 2014, humans provide the intelligence for marketing automation. That was written two years ago and robots haven’t taken over yet.

What we’re saying is, marketing automation - good marketing automation - needs the human touch.  So why do so many automated messages sound like they’ve been written by the protagonist of a terrible sci-fi novel?

Here are a few simple hacks to make your automated emails seem more personal. 

1) Remember, using a subscriber's full name is not cool

Imagine every time you saw your colleagues in the morning, they greeted you with your first and last name.

“Morning Abi Davies!”

It would be a bit bewildering, right?

So why would you start every email you send to your subscribers with their full name?

By just using a recipient’s first name, you are not only breaking down formalities and keeping the tone nice and chill, but also disguising the fact their name is actually just dynamic content for you.

2) Be Discreet 

Using customers’ data to send tailored, automated messages is awesome, but watch out for being too transparent about what it is you're doing.

You want to be subtle with your personalisation. For example, if someone adds an item to their cart but doesn’t make it to the check-out, wait an hour before sending a triggered email. They may have just left their laptop to get a cup of coffee, and you don't want your brand to appear too aggressive. 

(NB: There will be some triggered emails, such as welcome emails and receipts, that will be deliberately sent automatically. More about timing later.)

Equally, be cautious with your wording. It would be a mistake to show your subscriber the exact purpose of your email in the subject line; for example: “We can see you did not buy this item.” This is something a robot would do. You can, however, use a more democratic and personable approach, such as: “Hey, did you leave something behind?”.

Ideally, you want to avoid reminding your subscribers that you're using automation to send triggered message, so try to emulate human qualities - such as content, tone and timing - when setting up your brand’s marketing automation.

3) Watch your words

Linking to the above point is the importance of composing well-written content in your automated messages.

If you just spend five minutes dashing off a bit of content for your browse abandonment email, customers will 100% know.

Take the time to think about what you want to say and how you want to say it. After all, this message is coming from you and not a machine.

4) Never assume

Let’s say, one evening, a generous friend offers to cook you dinner. She asks what you’d like to eat, and you reply “courgetti”, just because you are really craving courgetti that day. (Could happen.)

How would you then feel if, every time that friend cooked for you, she served you courgetti - without even checking that was still what you wanted?


It's the same with marketing automation. Just because a customer purchases a couple of items that point towards a specific taste, don’t take this information as gospel. How many times have you bought a relative a present for their birthday online? We’ll guess many times. Does that mean you, as an individual, have a penchant for books about quantum physics? No!

We're not going to lie, there is no easy way around this. However, what does help is having the all-important single customer view. By keeping track of each subscriber's data in a holistic way - looking at their buying habits over a period of time, what they tend to browse, their personal details - you should be able to recognise behaviour that does not correlate with their individual profile.

In other words, context is key.

5) Time it right

Good marketing automation isn't just about what you say to your customers, but when you say it.

In order to successfully time your automated messages in a way that shows you understand all of your recipients' wants and needs, we recommend Customer Lifecycle Marketing.

An approach to customer communication that focuses on maximising the value for each customer throughout their customer journey, CLM involves using a customer's transactional and demographic data to create campaigns that are not only relevant, but delivered at the right time in order to encourage a purchase.

Timing is particularly important when it comes to replenishment brands. For example, if you are a coffee company, you can use the three main principles of CLM - insight, relevancy and timing - as a way to accurately predict when each of your customer's will be running low on beans. 

If you don't send an automated message on time - or send too many at the wrong time - recipients are more likely to feel disenchanted with your brand and question how well you know them. 

End of Blog Post 

This is the end of the blog post. Thank you. 

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See what we did there? 

Receiving a message that sounds as if it's been written by Wednesday Addams isn't fun. If you want your marketing automation to work, invest time in making it sound more personal. We hope this helps, but if you have any queries feel free to get in touch @OmetriaData or leave us a comment below. 

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