Marketing automation is one of the most misunderstood elements of the modern marketing world. Partly due to it being such a wide-ranging topic, and partly because it’s quite a difficult topic to explain.

As a result, there is a great deal of misinformation, alongside mass panic that automation spells the end for marketers. Chances are, even if you’ve not really understood the nuances of it, or ever used automations, you have a pretty deep felt opinion on it. After all, the last thing you want is for your job to be automated!

We’re not here to tell you you’re opinion of automation is wrong. Heck, we can’t even say that automations won’t replace you at some point. But we are going to explain what marketing automation really is, and why you won’t need to dust off the old resume anytime soon.

Marketing automation software carries out repetitive tasks that would otherwise be carried out manually. These tasks can be simple, or incredibly complex. From sending a direct message when someone follows you on Twitter, to a multistage email campaign with decision rules, filters, and geotagging.

The lower end of automation consists mainly of “If This Then That” processes. These automations take care of the back end things that marketers might find a burden and frees up time to focus on more important things.

On the other end of the scale is the real purpose of marketing automation: to optimise the lead nurture, and conversion funnel. In a perfect scenario, leads enter the top of a marketing funnel, follow a predefined path that adapts according to lead actions and touch-points, and convert to a sale.

A great example of automation in action is Amazon, who send automated remarketing content based on user actions. For example, if you spend long enough on a page about speakers, chances are the next email you’ll receive will highlight the speakers on offer, including the product you looked at.

The common misconception here is that automation handled the process from lead generation through to conversion. It didn’t. And It’s important to remember that automation does not drive leads, it simply nurtures leads driven by savvy marketers.

Whether it’s through social media, inbound content marketing, promotions, ads or competitions, right now the most successful lead generation campaigns are controlled by people.
Of course, that may not always be the case. In 2, 5 or 10 years time, automated lead generation might be worth the hype. But right now, there’s no need to dust off your resume. Marketing automation won’t replace real-life marketers anytime soon. If anything, marketing automation requires a knowledgeable marketer, who can generate leads to be a worthwhile investment.