The recent emergence of high-quality generative AI technologies has software developers and other technologists imagining an increasingly automated future, one that allows them to do much more with much less.
Digital marketers have inhabited this future for years. Automation and, more generally, automation technology have become critical tools — for digital marketers looking to remain competitive in a rapidly changing and ever more cutthroat industry.
We’re seeing digital marketers leverage more automation capabilities than ever these days. Plus, we know new tools and use cases are right around the corner. Let’s take a look at some examples of digital marketing automation in action. Then let’s review the benefits of leaning into this trend.
Digital Marketers Are Leveraging Automation Technology — Here’s How
Every digital marketing discipline is more automated today than five years ago. As we’ll see, this is a positive development for human marketers, even if it has some unintended consequences.
Automation is particularly advanced in three branches of digital marketing: PPC, social media, and email. Here’s how marketers are leveraging automation right now in each.
1. PPC (Pay-Per-Click) Marketing
The PPC space is dominated by a few massive entities, including Google, Amazon, Meta, and Microsoft. Each has invested millions in iterative automation improvements that streamline key aspects of PPC campaigns and, if used correctly, save marketers copious amounts of time.
For example, since 2020, Google has deprecated several less-automated PPC tools and rolled out new or expanded versions of more-automated alternatives, such as Broad Match and Performance Max. Likewise, the Google Ads bidding process is heavily automated, with built-in guardrails designed to return responsive content and prevent budget overruns.
The downside of built-in PPC automation is its opacity. While not quite a black box, Performance Max provides limited data for users looking to improve or even understand its outputs. This is particularly frustrating for seasoned digital marketers, who are used to more control and insight.
Fortunately, third-party automation and data analysis tools from PPC leader, Optmyzr, including Optmyzr Core and Optmyzr Campaign Automator can fill these knowledge gaps while helping marketers manage multiple complex, fast-moving campaigns across multiple platforms. That capability, known as PPC automation layering, restores control over the PPC process without sacrificing the superhuman efficiency of automation. It also acts as a built-in failsafe that protects against the occasional budget-busting or off-target campaign.
2. Social Media Marketing
Automation came earlier to social media marketing than other disciplines. So, it’s no surprise SMM automation tools are particularly far along. The space is dominated by comprehensive solutions like SocialPilot, which offers flexible bulk scheduling options, multi-format content calendars, and a “social inbox” that facilitates real-time posts and conversations across multiple platforms from a single dashboard.
These solutions generally have built-in performance analysis capabilities as well. Users can track impressions, shares, clicks, conversions, and more from a centralized dashboard, which saves time and intellectual energy over platform-specific control panels.
3. Email Marketing
Email automation is also ancient by digital marketing standards, and the leading solutions are even more comprehensive and capable than the top social media marketing tools. Platforms like MailChimp, for example, enable granular customization of “customer journeys” (basically, semi-personalized sales funnels) to leverage reams of available data about each customer and nurture prospects past common friction points.
Some solutions go beyond email to cover other customer touchpoints. This further boosts conversions and thwarts ever more sophisticated email filters.
Why Automate? Benefits of Digital Marketing Automation
It’s natural for marketers who are comfortable doing things in certain ways to have concerns about adopting new tools or integrating automation into existing solutions.
But these three examples make a compelling case for digital marketing automation in the PPC, social media, and email spaces. The same three benefits appear in each case:
- Increased Efficiency at Scale: The best marketing automation tools enable individual marketers to do more with the same amount of time and money.
- Better Accuracy and Personalization: Marketing automation improves targeting accuracy and ad personalization. These improvements directly correlate with higher marketing ROI, though ROI doesn’t always increase in a straight line.
- Lower Marketing Costs: Automation allows for better marketing cost control. This is particularly important in the current environment, where many firms are freezing or reducing marketing spend and digital marketers feel more pressure to perform amid resource constraints.
Digital Marketing Automation Isn’t a Silver Bullet (Yet)
We’re optimistic about the future of human-led digital marketing largely because of further expected gains from automation technology. Digital marketing in 2033 will be even more efficient than today, and digital marketers then will be able to accomplish things we can scarcely imagine right now.
But we need to have perspective, too. Digital marketing automation is not a silver bullet right now. It may never be. Human marketers are still in control, which means they (and nonmarketers working alongside them) must take care to ensure automation technology supports high-quality outcomes rather than encouraging sloppy work. Marketing personalization and authenticity — the “human touch” that separates great marketing from merely good marketing — are more important than ever.