Nicholas Scalice
October 18, 2015

Are You Over-Automating Your Marketing Campaigns?

Earlier this year, I traveled to Boston for HubSpot’s INBOUND conference. One thing that struck me was a recurring theme that several of the speakers hit on. They kept saying that marketers need to be careful not to over-automate.

In other words, they said we need to keep the human side of marketing alive. For social media in particular, we need to actually be social.

In a world where we can easily schedule our tweets, and drip out our emails, automation is a big player. In fact, HubSpot pretty much built their entire business around marketing automation.

But at the conference, I could tell that 2015 would be the year marketers started to push back on the automation machine. We’re starting to realize that our audiences are smart enough to figure out when there is a human behind the message or just a script.

The same thing happened with email marketing a few years back. Remember when you’d get an email with your first name in the subject line and open it right away? Personalized emails worked like a charm, even if it was automated.

These days however, most people know these tricks. They can sense when an email is automated with their name and other info in order to look more personalized.

I’m not saying never to use these tricks, because I certainly use them occasionally. All I want to point out is that it’s important to be aware of when and where we’re using marketing automation, so that we don’t over-automate.

This same concept can be applied to retargeting ads, popovers, hyper-targeted social ads, and more. You get the idea. If you’re using marketing automation, be sure that it’s only to enhance the authenticity of your brand, rather than as an attempt to replace it.

So, now that you’ve heard me preach about the perils of over-automating, let me close with three specific ways to avoid it.

1. If you’re scheduling your social updates, be sure to listen and respond promptly

I use Buffer to schedule some of my tweets, so that I’m able to build top-of-mind awareness around the clock. But I can assure you, I am monitoring my Twitter feeds like a hawk.


If someone replies with a question or comment to one of my tweets, I try to respond as quickly as possible. And I’m jumping into other conversations whenever possible.

So, there’s nothing wrong with using automation tools such as Buffer to schedule social content. Just make sure you’re monitoring the process and not “setting it and forgetting it.”

2. If you’re using retargeting ads, consider reducing the ad duration

Retargeting is an amazing tactic that can help you close more leads at a lower cost per click than virtually any other method. But many networks–including Facebook–allow you to set your retargeting ads to show for up to 180 days.


That means that if I visit your site today and you hit me with a retargeting script, technically you could have your ads follow me around for 180 days. Yikes! Think about how the average consumer would perceive this. It’s kinda’ creepy, and nobody likes creepy marketing.

Instead, consider reducing the period of time that the retargeting ad would show, so that it’s not lingering around weeks after I first visited your site.

3. If you’re tracking quantitative website data, don’t ignore qualitative data

You’re probably using Google Analytics or a similar tool to track your website traffic, sources, user behavior, and more. But are you also looking at how users are actually navigating through your site, both on mobile and desktop devices?

If not, a great tool you can use for this type of testing is Hotjar. You’ll be able to set up heatmaps, collect user feedback, and even generate visitor recordings.


It’s ironic that I end an article about over-automation with a tool that can automate the collection process for qualitative website data. But then again, maybe that’s the perfect way to end this article.

Because at the end of the day, I am not advocating against tools or automation. I’m simply reminding all of the smart marketers reading this article to use automation in moderation, with plenty of room for great storytelling to shine through.

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Nicholas Scalice

Founder at Earnworthy
Nicholas is an inbound marketing consultant and the founder of Earnworthy. He focuses on helping brands get attention, gain trust, and generate sales using powerful inbound marketing tools and technology.