Maybe the shift was inevitable in the race for bigger and better technologies. Little by little, we turned control over to technology, and then, at the moment when it seemed like our lives should be easier and more productive, we suddenly realized that we were living a nightmare in which machines have replaced actual people.

Sounds like something out of a Terminator movie, right?

Unfortunately, it's not. It's a conversation that many marketers are having in the wake of automated marketing technology. Machines have started to replace human beings in the marketing process, and the results aren't as glamorous as many had hoped.

Automation presents important opportunities for marketers. But people still have a critical place in our increasingly automated world—and organizations that ignore the role that living, breathing human beings play in the marketing automation process risk leaving both money and market share on the table.

The Rise of Intuitive Search Intelligence

Machines aren't inherently evil. They're tools that can and should be used to make our lives simpler and to improve our account results. In business, technology has been widely used to automate various aspects of the marketing process, creating a smarter and more responsive approach to search engines and target audiences.

For example, marketing automation allows marketers to execute PPC campaigns by simply selecting a handful of keywords, picking the Conversion Optimizer option in AdWords, and letting the machines handle the rest. Marketing automation has transformed PPC and other marketing activities from high-touch operations to self-managing processes.

But successful self-managing processes don't exist. Algorithms can only do so much. To achieve the kind of results you expect from your marketing investments, you need to reintroduce the human element and allow your marketing team to play a more active role in the process.

That is an approach I call "intuitive search intelligence." It combines human intuition with the technological firepower of advanced algorithms, enabling businesses to achieve the best possible results from marketing automation technology. With intuitive search intelligence, humans and machines stop competing and start working together as partners.

Combining People and Technology

Intuitive search intelligence provides important benefits to marketers and organizations. The key is to strategically reintroduce human beings in ways that emphasize the strengths of both people and marketing automation technologies.

1. Question outcomes

Technology can explain what occurred, but it can't tell you why it occurred. The ability to ask the questions that drive effective marketing is uniquely human. And in many cases, the lack of a human presence causes organizations to repeat the same mistakes, severely limiting the performance of campaigns.

Algorithms excel at identifying the highest-performing words and phrases in search or PPC campaigns. But to understand why those words and phrases perform so well, people need to ask questions and experiment by applying key learnings to other campaigns or initiatives.

2. Eliminate divisions

Organizational silos restrict collaboration between teams and functions, making it extremely difficult to spread the benefits of successful strategies across the organization. In most organizations, there is incredible potential for collaboration around keywords, online content, site architecture, and other dimensions of the digital marketing process. But that potential will be unrealized unless you can transcend silos and encourage collaboration among teams and stakeholders.

Machines can facilitate collaboration, but they can't initiate it. The integration of humans and technology in marketing automation creates new opportunities to break down organizational silos and streamlines the achievement of critical business goals—outcomes that can't be produced by a technology-only system designed to focus on isolated metrics and siloed marketing functions.

3. Encourage cross-channel sharing

In the same way that organizational silos limit collaboration, strict channel divisions reduce the overall impact of marketing initiatives. SEO campaigns and PPC campaigns are natural bedfellows. But too often, the insights gleaned from SEO aren't shared with and implemented for PPC (and vice versa). Additionally, insights from both PPC and SEO can benefit social, email, and other marketing channels.

When human beings participate in marketing automation processes, opportunities for cross-channel sharing become apparent. The cross-channel sharing of insights not only increases the impact of marketing automation but can also promote consistency, ensuring that the brand is represented in the same way across all channels.

* * * 

The purpose of marketing is to create meaningful connections with real people. To create those connections, human beings have to be engaged in the process. Intuitive search intelligence brings added value to marketing automation by putting people back in the driver’s seat of your organization’s online marketing agenda.

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Finding a Place for People in Marketing Automation

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image of Mike Mothner

Mike Mothner is CEO at Wpromote.

LinkedIn: Michael Mothner

Twitter: @mothner