Marketing Automation Artificial Intelligence Automation

In adland, what’s left that can’t be automated?

By Helen Lang, Client Services Lead

No Brainer


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December 14, 2023 | 7 min read

With generative AI’s big moment in 2023 came a fresh wave of automation. But what can never be automated, says No Brainer’s Helen Lang, is the true currency of good marketers: feelings.

A factory's assembly line, featuring large orange machines

No Brainer's Helen Lang asks: is there anything left out there that can't be automated? / Simon Kadula via Unsplash

In the world of agencies, the success of our work has a huge amount to do with creating genuine, meaningful relationships with our clients. We need to know what makes them tick, how they like to receive and interpret information, and what’s important to them and their organizations.

For me, this can’t be achieved solely through AI or automation, no matter how sophisticated the technology is becoming.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t enormous benefits of using automation in agency life. We’ve all been leveraging different software to automate processes for years.

At No Brainer, we’ve invested across our service offerings, from social media scheduling tools to targeted email outreach; Trello boards to enhance our organization and personalize workflows and a dedicated CRM system to speed up our operations processes. We’re already well aware of the efficiencies these tools can drive. More recently, we’ve also been exploring the world of AI, using tools to record and share meeting notes and others to generate imagery and spark ideas.

Automation has allowed agencies to find quick solutions to simple, repetitive tasks that should be completed as quickly as possible. Thanks to recent advancements in this space, automation has also allowed marketers to personalize the customer experience, learning their preferences and putting the right milestones in place to bring it to life. Getting this right creates trust at every customer touchpoint. It’s something that has massively enhanced the integrated services we’re able to deliver.

Generating new business through automation

In an Oracle report on the top marketing statistics of 2022, marketers noted a 451% uplift in qualified leads when using marketing automation software. So, there’s clearly a place for these tools when it comes to new business.

However, for agencies, qualified leads can only take us so far – what happens when it comes to converting ‘leads’ into meaningful relationships?

For me, this is where automation cannot – and probably (hopefully!) will never – replicate the nuances and very essence of genuine human interaction. While ‘Emotional AI’ is on the rise, with robots and chatbots claiming to be able to replicate human emotion, for me, nothing will beat traditional, face-to-face conversations and exchanges.

Human connections help to enhance client relationships and strengthen the bond and trust between an agency and a client immeasurably. Simple things like knowing a client’s football team or remembering their birthday can help demonstrate deeper connections that go beyond transactional, professional encounters.

Of course, automation tools can log and remind you of these details, but how this is conveyed and makes people feel is what matters most. Of course clients want to see good results, but making sure they love working with us is most important of all.

This also applies to navigating trickier, more sensitive conversations, such as handling complaints or difficult questions. Robotic, mundane responses won’t cut it when a client raises questions or concerns, and it’s vital that agencies have teams in place to expertly handle these conversations, empathizing with the client’s point of view and working together to find a mutually beneficial solution.

The importance of human interaction also goes further than just connecting emotionally.

While it has been increasingly impressive to see the creative concepts AI platforms like ChatGPT has been able to develop, human creativity remains unbeaten. As marketers, we can make deeper connections, taking on client feedback, overlaying this with brand tone of voice and key messaging and filtering out potentially sensitive topics to come up with ideas that are unique to our clients. How could anyone expect an online robot to do the same?

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While there is no question that automated solutions can help enhance marketing processes and customer experience, allowing agencies to focus their time and resource into the work that will really make a difference. That’s why genuine human interaction will always remain at the centre of what we do.

Walking away from a quick in-person coffee with a client, a monthly meeting or an agency-wide get together feeling positive, inspired and motivated is an essential element of building mutual trust and respect. It also allows agencies to seamlessly integrate with a clients’ internal team.

As we move toward a world dedicated to finding the best and fastest solutions to daily tasks, we mustn’t lose sight of the value of human interaction to make us feel. This is something that simply cannot be automated.

Marketing Automation Artificial Intelligence Automation

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No Brainer

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