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Dear *|FIRSTNAME|*, I hope you read today’s message if you intend automating your online marketing because although it promises ease and efficiency, it can also set you up for clumsy *|EXPLETIVE|* embarrassment.

My three cases in point this week involve Twitter, spam email and Infusionsoft, and the reason I am covering this topic on WordPress Wednesday is that often people use their websites as the hub for all their automated marketing services.

My key points: consider deeply whether automation is appropriate, then test before sending.

The lure of automation

One of the hallmarks of business, especially during the 1970s to 1990s, has been the surge of telemarketing.

As Seth Godin elaborates in his book, Linchpins, it was the convergence of mass production, widespread telephone usage, and the emergence of credit cards that made this such a lucrative model for many manufacturers, retailers and marketers.

If you could mass produce a product that was good enough and priced right, you could have people pass credit card numbers over the phone and the sound of cash registers would surround you for the rest of your days.

Now we are living in the social era and people are trying to apply the mass marketing approach to the realm of authentic human engagement.

Social robot fatigue

One of the pesky features of some social marketers is the use of automated direct replies on Twitter.

You click to follow someone’s Twitter account and then receive a lightning fast reply about how grateful they are and asking whether you would like to follow them on Facebook too, or have a meeting, or …

These might seem like clever tricks but my experience tells me they are annoying from a user’s perspective.

Every now and then I test them by firing back a quick question either to find no response or a slow response some days later.

That is surely a quick way to show me I am only a number to you – reply to my action with a robotic message and fail to respond when I actually reply back.

My advice is ‘don’t’; don’t succumb to the trick hustlers trying to outclever each other because they are real, live human beings on the other end who demand respect.

The curse of email lingers on

Two quick email examples should bring this article to a close and hopefully instil in all of us the important discipline of checking all automated services, reviewing to see if they are necessary, and putting resources in place to respond to consumers, prospects or clients when they do get motivated to launch an enquiry.

An Adelaide-based advertising agency, which shall remain nameless, sent me this email a couple of Saturday afternoons ago in relation to one of the sites I manage:

G’day, hows it going? C….. here from Adelaide based …….
I was just on your Baristador Coffee website, and thought I would drop you a line.
We’ve just introduced a monthly website plan [Ed. I have deleted the sales pitch]
I’m offering a no obligation free quote to help get you started, all you have to do is call me on the number below or email me back to find out more.
I look forward to setting a time to meet. This is not a spam email. It is a real email and YES this offer is a real.
Let me know?
C…
Sales Manager

I received this at 2.32pm on Saturday, April 26, and at 2.51pm I replied with:

Hi C….
What were you looking at on the website? Do you want to order some coffee?
Steve

To this day, I have had no response from my almost-immediate reply to a ‘real email’ that was supposedly ‘not a spam email’.

The lesson: If you are going to lie about being on someone’s website, have the decency to use their name in the email and respond when your ‘real email’ gets replied to.

My takeaway is that this is a desperate, old-fashioned agency that is all about tricks and coercion. I would not let them near my clients.

automated-socialThe second email of reputation-crippling status came from a supposed Facebook guru who I thought I would check out by opting in to one of her free webinars (aka sales pitches).

She uses the automated software, Infusionsoft, and this is the follow up email I got from her Infusionsoft robot:

Hi Steve!
I’m very excited to share all my Facebook marketing strategies with you.
It’s going to be a great time. Make sure you write the date down so you have it scheduled.
You won’t want to miss it!
Status: CONFIRMED 
Date: 
Time: 
Link:
I’ll send a reminder email an hour before the training starts.
See you soon! 
– Amy

Note the elusive date, time and link that I must somehow have to write down?

The lesson: If you are going to get all tricky on your client base and corral people like cattle, please make sure you send test emails to ensure content is actually being merged.

My takeaway is that this is just the typical web marketer numbers play where the old free webinar is thrown out as bait to draw suckers er people in to be ‘influenced’ into buying a book, manual, course, etc. I won’t be going.

There would be few situations where automated social marketing might be justified, but that would be decided during a process of strategic communication in line with your marketing plan.

*|SIGH|*

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