We don’t like unattended automated marketing — especially for small businesses. Why? When left unattended (and even if you setup marketing automation incorrectly) automated marketing is very impersonal and can even cause more harm than good…

The potential benefits of automated marketing cannot be ignored. The most prominent benefit being how much time it saves, which in turn saves money.

However, the drawbacks to using marketing automation also cannot be ignored. These drawbacks have an even greater impact on small businesses, because small businesses tend to have a much more intimate relationship with their customers.

Example: Small business owners engage with their customers on a personal level and small businesses know their customers by name.

When a small business (or any business for that matter) sets up marketing automation incorrectly (we’ll explain in a moment) and/or leaves their marketing automation unattended, the outcome can have a negative impact on their relationships with customers.

We want you to avoid the common problems with automated marketing, so here are 5 reasons we don’t like unattended automated marketing:

  1. Automation lacks compassion and your customers can sense it.

Even with the rapid adoption of marketing automation, most customers still prefer to speak to a human — not your automated email or invitation to “chat” when no one is around.

Customers often associate automated marketing with the barrage of emails they receive in their junk inbox, so receiving yet another automated email can be a huge turnoff — especially for small business customers. Instead of an automated email, think of creative ways to engage and interact with your customers (we use hand-written postcards).

  1. Automated marketing makes it difficult to address specific questions and concerns from customers.

This is especially true when customers reach out to the business on evenings or weekends. After the customer has been dropped into your marketing automation system, they’re going to receive several automatic emails in a row, instead of truly personalized communications. In many cases, your automated response does not address the inquiry, nor does it do anything to help the situation — especially if your customer just wants to be left alone (remember, you probably didn’t let them know they were going to receive X automated emails as soon as they “requested more info” from your website.

Plus, if you’re sending these automatic marketing messages after-hours and the customer needs help, all they’re going to get is “please sit tight” while we find a human to answer your question. Because of this, the business misses out on opportunities to engage with customers, and learn about what questions or concerns customers may actually have about your business.

  1. Automation treats customers like numbers, not like human beings.

A huge mistake many businesses make is underestimating the customer. (Hint: Your customers know what you’re up to!) Marketing automation and personal communication are very different and most customers can distinguish between real and automated. Plus, trying to personalize your message can be a huge task for any business with a wide, diverse customer base.

We firmly believe that one personal, sincere email has more impact on a customer than a hundred automated emails, and creating a meaningful relationship with people can be as easy as personally reaching out to ask what you can do to help them.

  1. Marketing automation limits your creative ability to build a personal connection.

Creativity is as important in business as it is in the arts! And, being creative in your communications can build long-lasting customer relationships. Automated marketing tools like email and message templates confine your creativity to a few variables. Plus, when your marketing message arrives immediately after someone taking an action on your website, it’s clearly not a personal message.

  1. The best marketing is done via human communication (aka, word-of-mouth marketing).

B2C (business-to-consumer) and B2B (business-to-business) are popular buzzwords that you’ll see in almost any conversation about marketing. However, we have a slightly different approach. We are firm believers in H2H (human-to-human) communication. Every conversation we start begins with a “Hello” and “How may we help you?”

Our H2H mentality reminds us to always be honest, respectful, and friendly whenever we communicate — and focus on making a friend, rather than a sale.

For these reasons, we rely more on sincere, organic communications and less on automated marketing. Marketing automation is a powerful tool when used correctly, but it can also cause more harm than good when it overshadows your ability to connect with your customers. Selling is all about relationships, and if your business-customer relationship is based on automated marketing, then what’s the point of having a human doing your job?