Marketing Automation Is a Cost-Effective Paradigm Shift | Industry Insights | All MKC Content | ANA

Marketing Automation Is a Cost-Effective Paradigm Shift


Marketing automation has all too often been looked at as a "nice to have" for companies. Yet, those exact same companies often find reasons to complain about organizational inefficiency and its pressures on their balance sheets. In stating the obvious that protecting margins is truly paramount for brand marketers, while improving performance and service levels, then automation would seem to be a "must have" that is central to resource allocations.

Walking the walk of marketing automation means investing with dollars and making it central to company resource allocations in a way that fundamentally transforms processes and labor allocation, which ultimately fattens the bottom line. Tinkering at the edges won't get it done and is just magical thinking.

By not fully committing to automation, your problems and challenges will, in fact, only compound. Being pennywise while pound foolish has both short-term and long-term implications. And with uncertainty about the economy amping up pressure, efficiency and performance have become even more mission critical.

You Can't Hire Your Way Out of This

The ad industry's demands on talent is relentless — and if you aren't providing your team with the tools they need to meet those demands, your staffing churn will not abate. This turnover creates a knowledge and talent vacuum that makes it difficult to develop consistency to generate momentum in meeting client objectives. With the current economic turbulence, staffing problems are likely to grow. Headcount in 2023 has frozen in most cases, and in many instances, it's shrinking.

If you're reading this and thinking maybe it's about better talent headcount management and not about systems, I would like to offer a contrary view. Let's say you might regret not having been more aggressive in Q1 hiring before your CFO put the gates down.

I would suggest that regret is misplaced because bringing in a few extra bodies earlier would only act as a temporary band aid. Until marketers take the leap, they and their agencies will not be able to achieve optimal operational efficiency on complex digital ad campaigns at scale. With organizations managing many campaigns, a brand's agency partner could easily need 200 or more staff to properly execute.

With cost pressures exacerbated by economic and revenue uncertainty, agencies may not necessarily be able to afford best-in-class technical talent. To make matters worse, this less-than-ideal team will also be stuck working with sub-optimal tools, which eventually leads to unhappiness and burnout.

By applying due diligence in selecting the right marketing automation platform, your brand will be able to achieve that peak operational efficiency to deliver on its key performance and revenue goals. These tools can automate 80 percent of a strategist's data entry and issue mitigation demands, which live in the realm of the mundane. This will allow each strategist to enhance impact in both a quantitative and a qualitative sense.

Not only will they be able to assume responsibility for a larger number of campaigns, but the actual work will be much more strategic and high touch. With this optimization of resources, strategists actually get to be strategists and not button-pushers.

Much of this is fueled by the advances in AI, whose transformative potential is now starting to be realized famously with the overwhelming adoption of Generative AI like ChatGPT. The integration of these AI functionalities in modern marketing automation platforms will truly usher in the era of "advertising architects" who are freed up to focus on building your business in a more effective way and not bogged down in monotony.

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

Eric Mayhew is president of Fluency.