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How to Balance Marketing Automation and Personalization For any strategy to be effective, it's important to find a balance.

By Albizu Garcia

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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Brands have embraced automation to help them carry out a spectrum of everyday tasks. According to a recent survey published by Social Media Today, 75 percent of marketing teams use some form of an automation tool. However, with growing popularity, there are growing concerns. The same survey reports that 61 percent of marketers are concerned about the lack of personalization due to automation. Likewise, a global study by PWC found that as technology advances, most consumers want brands to use technology as a tool for increasing personalized support. Put simply, customers want more human interaction, not less.

That's why it's vital that today's businesses find the right balance between automation and personalization. Companies that go overboard on automation can come across as detached and generic. On the other hand, those that get too personal with customers can come off as intrusive and creepy. Brands need to get it right to maintain a trusting relationship with their customers.

Here are ways marketers can successfully balance automation and personalization.

Related: 5 Ways Marketing Automation Helps Startups Succeed

Offer Timely, Valuable Content

Email campaigns are an effective, low-cost way to leverage automation and personalization, but marketers need to be careful not to clog consumer inboxes. Instead, they should focus on offering relevant and valuable content that doesn't involve using intrusive data.

Most consumers are familiar with receiving personalized content based on an action, such as an online purchase, that features a related product or service. Using transactional data to send automated, personalized emails can be less intrusive since it's a natural, and at this point expected, component of the relationship.

Marketers can also use geographical data, such as a customer's zip code or address, to deliver personalized content, like creating a segmented list of customers and offering them discounts to nearby events. Although consumers dislike when brands bombard them with irrelevant, generic messaging, they also don't like overly personal messages that infringe on their privacy.

Respect Consumer Privacy

Research shows that 81 percent of consumers want brands to get to know them and understand when to approach them, but not at the expense of their privacy. There is a fine line between highly relevant content and tactics that take marketing personalization too far.

For example, sending mass emails to consumers with the same promotions or offers isn't an effective strategy. Consumer interests vary significantly. Marketers should pay attention to their target audience and consider whether the interaction will make them feel special or unsettled. Customer data can be used effectively, but content that's too personalized can disturb customers, thus putting them off the brand.

Enhance the Customer Experience

It's crucial that marketers use technology to improve the consumer experience, rather than eliminate the human touch. For instance, British grocery chain Sainsbury's delivered an exceptional customer experience with its "This Time It's Ultra Personalized!" campaign. The store used smartphone location data to provide personalized offers to customers through their mobile devices as they walked around the store. Not only did the campaign promote in-store offers, but it helped the company gain insights about how people navigated the aisles. As a result, Sainsbury's was able to make better merchandising decisions and improve its in-store customer experience. Marketers must remember that relationships are crucial in business and that automation tools provide additional support.

Related: How AI Is Driving Marketing Automation

Combine Automation and Human Touch

There are many ways marketers can mix automation and personalization, such as inserting tags to add customers's names in emails to make them feel like the message addresses them individually. Going a step further, marketers can encourage team members to interact with potential customers by making calls, sending emails or requesting a connection on social media.

For example, if a visitor downloads content from the brand's website, it's a good idea to have someone on the team reach out personally, immediately. According to an oft-cited Lead Response Management Study, waiting more than 10 minutes to follow up decreased the odds of securing a lead by as much as 400 percent.

If automation and personalization are going to be effective, it's important to find a way to balance the two. Overdoing automation can make brand messages seem robotic and irrelevant. Likewise, getting too personal can overwhelm consumers. A successful relationship between consumers and brands ultimately relies on the right blend.

Albizu Garcia

Co-Founder and CEO of Gain

Albizu Garcia is co-founder and CEO of Gain, a marketing technology company that automates the social media and content approval workflow for marketing teams.

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