Combating the threat of marketing automation.
Marketing Marketing Technology

In Praise of the Automaton: How Humans Can Stay Relevant in the Face of Marketing Automation

5 Minute Read

The arrival of a new piece of marketing technology can feel as reinvigorating as your 2:00 p.m. coffee, because these solutions often address and simplify tedious marketing tasks. Case in point: programmatic ad buying, which automates the cumbersome-yet-critical process of bidding for ad space and maximizing value.

But if your job responsibilities are being changed through the advent of marketing automation, you may have some ambivalence toward these new methods. The short-term benefits are great: your work gets easier and less frustrating. But the long-term implications are more unnerving, because you begin to realize that continued automation might be making you obsolete in your position.

Last month, your company invested in email marketing automation software in the hopes of revolutionizing the way your team operates. And it did. Suddenly, your tight-knit team is more agile than ever. Because the software syncs with your team’s CRM, you can personalize emails in seconds. Gone are the days of tedium.

But this morning, as you were crafting your latest email, it hit you. You’ve seen this kind of thing before. It happened to the auto industry, when robots and other machinery automated steps in the car manufacturing process, thereby allowing those companies to cut their workforces and bolster their own profits. Now, automation threatens a similar fate for you—and soon.

Your fate isn’t sealed. If you’re a marketer whose work is being changed by automation, you don’t have to wave the white flag and start looking for a different career. Instead, consider taking a proactive approach that increases your value and builds a future for yourself among these automation solutions.

Image attribution: WoCinTech Chat

Image attribution: WoCinTech Chat

Educate Yourself

Want to stay relevant? Step one is staying educated. You may have a college degree and ample experience under your belt, but the future of marketing looks a lot different from the past, and your credentials may not age as well as you would hope. This is where certifications and training come in. Certification programs are one of the best way to build skills and credentials that relate to marketing strategies still on the horizon. Caltech, for example, offers a Technology Marketing Certificate Program that provides innovative training on a range of current digital marketing issues.

You should also be on the lookout for certification programs on marketing technology that your company is interested in. And seek out ways to build credentials in other marketing areas: even if you’re only a fringe user of your company’s social media accounts, certifications from reputable sources like Hootsuite can make you better at your job, and can increase your value to your employer.

Many of these certification programs are free. But, in cases where these training programs come with a cost, see if your employer will pay for some or all of the tuition. It’s an investment into you as an employee, and even if you’re forced to find another job in the future, you’ll still have this education under your belt.

If you aren’t in formal training, you should continue to read widely on emerging trends in marketing technology. This industry knowledge will be valuable as new changes reach your company.

Image attribution: Townsville Chamber

Image attribution: Townsville Chamber

Build Industry Connections

Networking is always a valuable professional tool, even when you aren’t on the job hunt. Through regular networking opportunities, you can learn about emerging trends, track changes at other companies, increase your visibility as a marketing professional, and start building a parachute if your company eliminates your position—even if that happens, as a well-trained marketer with strong professional connections, you’re likely to land somewhere.

As MarketingProfs pointed out, conferences and other networking events also provide informal education opportunities. Likewise, connecting with other professionals via social media can be invaluable as a daily source of information and commentary. Seek out influencers who have a grasp on the latest trends affecting your industry, sign up for relevant newsletters, and seek out social groups that comprise people in your same specialty.

By learning from your peers in other corners of the profession, you can bring innovative ideas back to your employer and flex your value through your influence on the overall marketing strategy. Meanwhile, you can stay alert to possible trends and get a head start on any work you need to do to stay relevant and valuable in your current position.

Have the Right Attitude

In the panic of worrying about marketing automation’s effect on your career, it could be easy to lose sight of your own professional demeanor and its effect on your career. Negativity or resistance might be your natural inclination, but it can have an adverse impact on your standing within the company, particularly regarding how you are perceived by your supervisors.

Don’t resist the adoption of marketing technology—this will only cement your reputation as someone resistant to progress. These changes are inevitable, so the best thing you can do is lean into them. Instead of trying to ignore impending change, take an active role in its adoption and position yourself as a forward-thinking leader in your workplace. With so much change taking place throughout marketing and, to a larger extent, every way in which enterprise companies operate, agility and adaptability are key assets for any employee, regardless of their position. You need to project as a marketer who can roll with the changes and oversee the innovations necessary for long-term success.

The threat of automation is real, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Marketers can’t rest on their laurels in this day and age: they need to keep their eyes on the road ahead.

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Featured image attribution: Dan Ruscoe

Jonathan Crowl specializes in digital marketing and content creation for both B2B and B2C brands, with an emphasis on startups and technology. His past and current clients include B2B brands IBM, LinkedIn, Mad Mobile, Oktopost, BrightSpot, and Waze, as well as B2C brands Porsche, Epson, and PayPal. He lives in Minneapolis.

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