Automation and Personalization: The Balancing Act September 06, 2019, | Posted by erin

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It’s no secret that email marketing as an industry loves automation. Brands and marketers alike love the ease of being able to “set it and forget it”, so to speak, and more and more sophisticated automated tools make it possible to run campaigns without having to do a lot of legwork--as well as to keep track of how your campaigns are doing. But another, seemingly contrary force is also on the rise in email: personalization. Consumers increasingly want to receive messages that are highly relevant to their history with brands, their buying habits, and even more factors. The result, as any of Site Impact’s experts will tell you, is a balancing act that can--at times--seem daunting. The key to managing that balancing act is to follow a few firm guidelines that go above specific strategies, in order to appeal to your audiences without overwhelming them or coming across as too mechanical.


Value, value, value

The first guideline to maintaining a personal touch while embracing automation is to make value the founding principle of your campaigns. Every campaign should bring some form of value to the people you send it to--whether it’s educational, promotional, or anything else. Not every email needs to have a discount or special offer included in it, but making sure that you’re giving those who open your emails value for their time will also ensure that you’re not emailing too many times for their comfort, and will help you in creating strategies that provide a personal touch.


Use automated emails intelligently

There are some email types that just lend much better to automation than others; cart abandon emails, confirmations, and so on are almost default automated--sent out in response to a prospect or customer taking a specific action, without any human intervention. Of course, you can also automate general campaigns--and Site Impact’s systems allow you to plan and set up multiple campaigns to several audiences at once, as well as being able to track your results at a glance--but there are times when a one-to-one email is more appropriate, and you should definitely keep space and time in your marketing schedule for those. A personal reach-out in response to particular actions, whether it’s a customer service snafu or a personalized thank you for contributing to a campaign is going to have a lot of impact, and cut through the noise of the crowded inbox. Make a point of setting up your email efforts so that you have time for specific people to touch base, personally, with prospects and customers based on specific criteria, and you’ll get a huge benefit from greater engagement.


It’s possible to “cheat” personalization with automation

One of the great things about automated tools that exist today for email is that they’ve become increasingly sophisticated. Automation that incorporates AI, machine learning, and other computer-based decision-making is becoming more and more of a norm in the industry, taking a lot of the legwork out of the process of managing an email campaign. Another aspect of this is that there are ways to incorporate personal touches and recognition into even the most heavily automated campaigns: from tags that include prospect and customer names, to systems that allow you to reach out in the event of specific current events (weather changes that affect delivery times, or that would encourage buying habits for example), automation has grown to become personal, and it only makes sense to embrace these new tricks to give even your automatic emails a personal touch. Consumers expect it, in fact: studies show that consumers of all ages respond favorably to emails that include information specifically tailored to their interests.


Overall, neither the demand for a more personal touch from brands nor the trend of increasing automation is going away from email marketing efforts any time soon. By adhering to a few key principles--making sure to put value as the most important thing you can offer your recipients, saving certain types of emails for a one-on-one approach, and using automated tools to create personal touches--you can strike the balance you need, without having to pull your hair out wondering if you’re going too far in one direction, and without overwhelming your audiences with too many emails to keep their interest. Contact Site Impact to hear how we can help you keep your approach on an even keel at all times.