by Sean Hargrave, Staff Writer, July 20, 2016
It doesn’t matter what discipline you are in — marketers must never forget they are reaching out to human beings. It may sound like a very obvious point but it’s one worth bearing in mind when talk in email marketing turns to the rise of automation and even robots writing emails instead of copywriters.
It’s probably the right moment to admit that as any writer in the marketing industry, I have a proverbial dog in the fight. Nobody readily heralds technology that will ultimately replace them, but to be honest, I don’t think humans who know how to reach out to other humans have too much to worry about.
There is a place for technology — particularly automation technology — right through the heart of email marketing, just like any other digital niche. In fact, I was recently at a demonstration of some fancy software used by Adobe to recommend subject headers. It uses data to see which type of subjects lead to the greater interaction and highlighted words and phrases that might be better swapped out. I also read recently about a high-ranking digital marketer who swears by a tool that underlines words that look weak and a little apologetic so he can appear more forthright. Again, it’s a great use of technology to better align the writer’s intention with the words on the screen.
So by all means use every piece of technology available to get some suggested words out there, visible to anyone writing an email. But honestly, can you think of a single brand that would let a robot write its copy right now? You only have to look at the recent case of customers getting “how did we do” automated emails from a low-cost holiday company popular in the UK, but not registered there, that has gone bust without any protection for its customers. No human would have the indignity to follow up a call or email from a tearful person who has paid for a holiday they will never get with an email request for feedback.
We are human and we are social. It’s for this reason that chat bots, which are just disguised search engine query boxes, are widely despised — and it’s why we are better reached and influenced by those who know our motivations, fears and concerns. Sure, automation plays a vital role, but surely not in crafting the copy we hope will turn lookers into bookers?
When a robot comedian, speaker or singer sells out a large venue, then the game may have changed. As for now and the years immediately ahead, humans will remain touched and influenced by the words of fellow humans, not a supercomputer loaded with a dictionary and thesaurus working overnight to search databases for the best sentence that a person would craft naturally at the drop of a hat.