The Truth about Humans and Technology in Marketing, and the Next Generation of Marketers
History’s biggest film franchise has relied on technology throughout its existence. In 1977 Star Wars creator George Lucas pushed its boundaries to make the vision of his space saga a reality. The great leap in technology over the next 20 years then inspired Lucas to make another trilogy for a new generation. Now – in the hands of Disney and J.J. Abrams – the franchise is evolving again for a new audience. The Star Wars story has been built on human intervention, aided by technology.
In day-to-day life, technology is replacing human jobs in many areas of society – at passport control, superstores, and even as surgeons. Machinery that substitutes human jobs is something we’ve readily come to accept. The population is increasing, and technology can help keep budgets down, while reducing human workload.
So, how is this effecting marketing? Semantic algorithms exist to generate and analyse content for marketers. In some instances, solutions have been proven to produce more revenue on their own, rather than with human input. So the idea of completely automating marketing functions is certainly an attractive commercial prospect.
But can the technologies that aid marketers ever match the insight, delicacy, and creativity of the human approach? The modern marketer is now not only ‘tech savvy’, but their ability to understand complex marketing functions to connect with customers is part of their DNA. The history of technology has been shaped by human inspiration, so is it possible for technology to ever become the equivocal solution to a modern marketer’s fusion of artistry and digital mastery?
To stay ahead of the game, it’s paramount to understand the benefits of technology, the importance of human instinct and why automated marketing is designed to help marketers, rather than consign them to extinction. At the scale marketers are expected to operate in today, they cannot live with technology and automation to keep engaging their customers across the customer lifecycle.
Technology built for modern marketing
Consumer use of online services increases, it becomes more challenging for marketers to stay ahead, and to act on their likes, preferences, and behaviours. If you don’t pay enough attention, you’re labelled ignorant to customer needs and interests. Try too hard; you face being called ‘creepy’ by overstepping the mark in terms of what is ‘acceptable communication’.
Technology is available to collect, store, and organise this vital customer data and turn it into an irreplaceable asset to inform marketing decisions. Automated technology is primed to equip the modern marketer with the insight and information they need to drive customer engagement and build loyalty.
The results speak for themselves. Recent figures show that for more than two years, 79 per cent of the top-performing companies in the world have been using marketing automation.[i] On top of this, the financial benefit from using technology becomes even clearer, as a fifth of companies which use it find their revenue increases by at least 75 per cent.[ii]
Adopting technology to improve performance is a no brainer – but it comes with a warning – there shouldn’t be overreliance on it.
No replacement for human instinct
Despite technology becoming a necessity for modern brands, in order to analyse the stream of data customers provide, it is vitally important that they do not lose the ‘human touch’ that creative and strong messaging gives. Modern marketers need to understand statistics and learnings from any given marketing campaign and turn them into pertinent messaging.
This pertinent messaging–which is essential to brands when engaging with customers–cannot be created by artificial intelligence. Instead, through human interpretation of data from all channels that businesses engage with their customers, marketers can create tailored messaging for individual customers. Married with human intelligence, technology can be harnessed as the solution to targeting the right customers, at the right time, through the right channel, via automated delivery.
A marketer’s gut feeling will always hold its place and value, but couple it with data-driven insights; it completes the modern marketing arsenal.
Evolution – not extinction
Human intelligence and intervention has ensured technology is designed to make life easier for marketers - but not to drive them to extinction. Lucas used technology to make his films as visually stunning as they could be. Marketers must harness it to ensure they are connecting with customers in the best ways possible.
Marketers, especially those operating in the digital world, must embrace human artistry and digital creativeness, while being supported by the benefits of technology. Marketers then have tools in place to treat customers as individuals, rather than sets of data and email addresses and keep customers engaged with their business throughout their lifecycle and this will ultimately build customer loyalty and drive revenue.
This results in more effective messaging with technology acting as the modern marketer’s trusted and agile friend, rather than a superior competitor trying to beat them to success. Marketing has evolved to the stage where humans and technology are not outdoing each other. They actually remain mutually reliant to ensure they are working productively. IDC predicts that CMOs will drive $32.3B in marketing technology spending by 2018 and this just shows how important marketing teams are becoming in terms of IT spend. The next generation of marketers should blur technology, science and art. It’s time for marketing personnel to become creative directors, strategists, teachers and leaders of technology.