Marketing Automation Cannot Replace Creativity

November 22, 2021

By Costanza Ghelfi

Marketing will always require a human touch, but the right technology can measure efficacy and optimize creativity to make the biggest and best impact.

From email drip campaigns to a multichannel view of prospect behaviors, marketing automation is a necessary technology that powers lead nurturing and customer conversion campaigns. For growth marketers, marketing automation efficiency is a time-saver and a game-changer. But marketers do get a bit uneasy when talking about the future of technology and predictions that show automation could make their jobs obsolete.

However, almost every marketer can agree on one thing: Automation will never be able to replace creativity and effective marketing still requires a human touch.

Automation Complementing Digital Advertising


Marketers who leaned into technology platforms to enable better performance are now learning that marketing automation is the perfect complement to creativity. Through some platforms and functionalities, creativity can even be optimized, and the results augmented when combined with testing and data.

For example, consider the power of A/B testing:The copy and graphics for any paid advertising campaign must be compelling and targeted for the campaign to produce positive results.

While placement and distribution are key factors and certain tools will identify the best channels and ensure the ads reach the target audience, how the ad is presented and what it says when it is served will determine if a user clicks or ignores it.

As a marketer paying attention to performance metrics, each lever can be adjusted. For automation, measuring the price per click of acquisition, the general performance of each ad placement, and the cadence when ads are served can be adjusted, based on user behaviors, to improve performance.

However, if the images and copy are not enticing, these can only be adjusted using a critical eye and general "human" analysis to draw correlations and suggestions for drafting new copy and/or images to improve performance.

Automation for Improving Customer Experience


Another increasingly important application of automation is optimizing the customer experience. For example, a brand wants to ensure its ecommerce website has a positive user experience. They want a simplified, personalized customer experience so the path to purchase is streamlined and results in a healthy conversion rate.

However, manually creating this personalized experience flow from search to browsing is nearly impossible. But, applying automation and pairing it with creativity can make this possible.

To create an optimal experience, consider using an intelligent technology platform that can create a custom experience for each user who arrives at the website. For example, if a prospect is searching on Google for a vacation destination and uses a location and descriptor within their search intent (e.g., "Family vacation in Aruba"), certain technologies can leverage the information within the search intent to inform the ad campaign.

Using automation and machine learning, the digital advertising campaign can serve up search results with a family-focused ad headline and when clicked, the website can continue that experience and display a family-friendly vacation browsing experience.

What automation cannot do is have a conversation with the user through compelling creative images strategically merged with conversational copy. Creativity is necessary to understand and apply data to change user-specific outcomes. It requires a human to design a compelling experience that really speaks to specific personas and their motivations, challenges, and interests.

Most higher-ticket purchase decisions (such as vacations) are complex and often influenced by a combination of emotions and logical reasoning. Therefore, it takes technology to lead the user to the destination and creativity to design and fuel the conversion.

Three Tips to Combine Automation and Creativity


While understanding that automation and creativity can create a complementary relationship, there are three tips that will keep your focus on track:

  • Know the brand goals and identify the intersection: Clearly identify the high-level brand goals to ensure all involved are on the same page. Since automation and creativity are not always under the same leadership, be sure that both sides are working together to reach the same milestones and understand the primary and secondary KPIs.
  • Understand the capabilities: Be sure to understand the capabilities - and limitations - of all resources required to make everything work together.
  • Implement the right martech stack: Once the goals are identified and clearly communicated, determine the best technology that will support the process. This includes choosing the right tools for managing digital advertising campaigns and a responsive website platform that can handle multiple customer journey paths.

While automation, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and other technologies take time to embrace and understand, marketers should rest assured that technology can never replace the human thought process and creativity will always originate from human conceptualization, but it can be optimized using technology.


The views and opinions expressed in Marketing Maestros are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.


Costanza Ghelfi is a marketing technology leader with more than a decade of experience, spending the past three years devoted to founding and building the growth engine platform Agua3. Costanza spearheaded a wide variety of marketing initiatives across paid, owned, and earned media channels within the travel, education, and investment industries and focused on successful digital transformations. Now, Costanza takes pride in enabling others to do the same through a more efficient natural language generation technology known as ad-machina, which was recently acquired by the international data analytics technology agency, Making Science.


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