Automation Doesn’t Mean Set-and-Forget

Let’s face it – designing, setting up and documenting marketing automations can be tedious work. For some strange reason, I enjoy it. It’s about bringing order to a complex idea. And for me, turning it on is like plugging in Christmas tree lights for the first time. There’s always a small element of… will it work?

Once we know it’s working (it’s technically sound and helps achieve our goal), we also need to make sure it keeps working. Because there are a lot of ways it can go wrong.

Human Errors

If an automation includes steps involving a real person (maybe you?), you’ll really need to commit to undertaking the action items as they’re assigned and completed.

Mike, a business friend, told me a story about getting a phone call about a service, having a conversation with a salesperson, and making a plan to reconnect in the new year. An hour later, he received an email from the same person asking if he could book a phone call to discuss the service. Mike replied asking if this was the same person who he had just spoken to. The sheepish reply said that, oops, the salesperson forgot to turn off the automation. Mike’s no longer interested in hearing from them in the new year.

Also, consider your work schedule and vacations. If you have an automated message that says, “Someone will be in touch within 1 business day,” taking every Friday off may not be a good idea. (Consider using a booking app instead.)

Then there’s the aspect of truly unfortunate timing. We all want to avoid this. “Going viral” has taken on a new meaning in the past year. (Hmm, actually it just got its old meaning back.) You likely don’t want an email going out with a subject line about starting a fire (even if it is an analogy) on the day after there’s been a tragic fire in your city. Likewise, you don’t want to send a clever subject line about guns on the day after there’s been a mass shooting. Both of these are real examples. I did mention we want to avoid this, right?

Information Errors

Automations are impacted by the environment they were set up in. When the environment changes, your automations may need to be adjusted too.

While we always want to be specific in our marketing messages, there’s a trade-off when it comes to automations. For example, do your automated messages mention prices or coupon codes? If yes, you’ll need to remember to update them when your prices change. Here are some other cases where you may need to update/delete/add automations:

  • dates – if you mention specific dates, you’ll always need to maintain them in your messages (put this task in your calendar)
  • hyperlinks – if, for instance, you change your shop URL or your Zoom meeting room
  • you stop or start selling a product/service

Make Your Automations (More) Evergreen

If we can just avoid all of these things above, life would be easier – or at least, our marketing would be. Of course, we can’t always do that. But there’s good news: a few things we can keep in mind…

  • Avoid specifics when possible. For example, if your pricing changes frequently, don’t include the actual price but rather include a link to your pricing page.
  • Avoid subject lines and content that can easily be taken “the wrong way” under certain circumstances.
  • If you make major website changes, keep in mind the links that are used in your automations; preserve them or remember to edit your automations.
  • Put a note in your calendar to check in on your automations, perhaps quarterly.

Think long-term when you create automations. Plan for them to be working for a long time without having to touch them often. That is, after all, the point of automating things.

If you’d like to find out how marketing automations can save you time and chat about possibilities, please book a call.

2 thoughts on “Automation Doesn’t Mean Set-and-Forget”

  1. I’ve had a similar experience to the one you mention. I had set up a 30-minute meeting with a company that approached me by email. The day of the meeting, the salesperson cancelled – 5 minutes before the meeting was to start. And then, the next day, I got an automated message thanking me for the meeting. Needless to say, I didn’t pursue further communication with the company.

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