Man Versus Machine: Automation and Technology Don’t Trump Human Expertise

Man Versus Machine

Everywhere I’ve turned in the last few months, marketing tools seem to be there. From client conversations to sales pitches to public relations and Web content, they seem to be everywhere. And they’re multiplying at a dizzying pace. I’ve just returned from the Digital Summit Dallas conference where marketing automation tool companies dominated the exhibition space and sponsored what seemed like every session. Marketing tools are the bright shiny objects of the industry and have captured the attention of marketers everywhere.

The reason for the proliferation seems obvious to me – these tools work. When used thoughtfully, they save man hours, automate routine operations, create efficiencies and deliver powerful information and analytics. At M/C/C, we are constantly evaluating tools that we can leverage for our clients’ benefit. We use technology and tools to help us identify potential issues and new opportunities for Search Engine Optimization programs; automate, compare and improve email programs; programmatically buy targeted advertising in more efficient ways; optimize Pay-Per-Click campaigns; and a slew of other external programs. We are big believers in the value they provide.

There’s no doubt that these technologies and tools have their place in a marketer’s toolbox and we use many of them, but at the end of the day, they are tools. They have limitations – they can’t think; they can’t be creative or use emotions; and they can’t replicate the expertise and decision-making of humans. Without the right craftsman to operate the tool in the best manner, they fall flat.

The influx of automation tools and the attention that they’ve gained in the marketing space can be dangerous for companies looking for a silver bullet to deliver successful programs. There is no silver bullet. Companies will fail if they’re looking to a tool to “set it and forget it,” having it bear the responsibility of connecting with customers. Creating content, scheduling its distribution and iterations won’t magically lead to prospects connecting with your message and falling into lead buckets based on brilliant lead-scoring methods.

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Practicing What We Preach: Leveraging Research To Drive Business Forward

1015-3If you know one thing about M/C/C, it’s probably the value we put on research. Understanding internal and market perspectives and the gaps between them are invaluable to developing a marketing strategy. So, it’s only appropriate – natural, really – that M/C/C performs some research on itself from time to time. Day in and day out, we need to deliver against our clients’ business objectives and their personal expectations of us, their marketing agency.

Over the last couple of months, M/C/C embarked on its own research study to reset its understanding on what marketers – our clients and prospects – find important and value most. Understanding this perspective should help keep our existing relationships healthy and impact our approach to reaching and securing new clients.

M/C/C polled marketers on a variety of subjects, such as:

  • Importance and priority of decision-making attributes
  • Current pain points and marketing issues
  • Qualities of an ideal agency

The results shouldn’t really whip our heads back. Hopefully the results will just help confirm what we already believe to be true and be in sync with our current approach to managing and building new relationships. Let’s take a look.

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To Gate or not to Gate Content? Yes is the Answer.

The demand for high-quality leads continues to be a priority for many marketers. Based on a Corporate Executive Board (CEB) study, 57 percent of research is done online before contact is ever made with a company.

Content Marketing Marketers are increasingly using content to attract prospects, position their company and align their products and services with solutions to industry problems that lead to a sales contact. If 57 percent of the research process is completed before contact is made, it is not a question of question of, “To gate or not to gate?” Rather, the questions we should be asking are:

  1. How much content should be public (ungated)?
  2. What type of content should be ungated?
  3. What kind of content should be gated?

In our experience the most important factor in the decision to gate content is based on the value of the content offered. A well-executed strategy includes mapping the customer journey and providing appropriate content along the way. In the earliest stages of the journey, content should be made available for anyone to access. The ideal scenario is to provide open access to quality content to establish credibility and value with your prospect and then lead them to the next chapter, or the next content level, where they have access to higher value content in exchange for contact information.

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How to Establish Advertising ROI Baselines

what gets measured gets managedOne of my favorite proverbs, which continues to be proven on a daily basis, is “what gets measured gets done.” The quote, or its variation “what gets measured gets managed,” is often attributed to famous management consultant Peter Drucker; but its origin appears to date back to scientist William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, who specifically referenced that a lack of numbers leads to unsatisfactory knowledge during an 1833 lecture.

In an age of digital marketing decades since these quotes were made, the application of science to advertising has never been truer. Measuring your success, as Hannah Woodham covered in a recent blog post, is very important; but knowing what to measure against is critical to determining success. Enter advertising baselines for return on investment (ROI). Continue reading “How to Establish Advertising ROI Baselines” »

Pay No Attention to That man Behind the Curtain! Uncovering the Mysteries of Programmatic Advertising

The digital media world is ever-evolving; and Yellow Brick Road sometimes we as marketers feel like we’re clamoring to keep up with the latest tools and technologies. The current discussions around programmatic media and theories about how it will alter the media landscape are hot topics. We’re on an epic journey down the yellow brick road, but what’s behind that great green curtain of Oz (or in this case, programmatic media)?

In a recent study by eConsultancy, 62 percent of marketers are using programmatic buying for brand objectives with an expectation to increase over the next two years. It seems that programmatic is quickly becoming the norm for digital media buying in display, mobile, video and sometimes TV.

Arming ourselves with the Lion’s courage, the Tin Man’s heart and the Scarecrow’s brain Continue reading “Pay No Attention to That man Behind the Curtain! Uncovering the Mysteries of Programmatic Advertising” »

Now Streaming – Meerkat and Periscope Go Toe-to-Toe

The latest live-streaming apps allow you to record or watch broadcasts from your mobile device. Two apps in particular, Meerkat and Periscope, seem to be capturing the most attention and attracting the most users. The buzz surrounding live-streaming apps really kicked off with the launch of Meerkat at this year’s South by Southwest Interactive. Many labeled it the “sweetheart” of the interactive conference, and not since the launch of Foursquare in 2009 had SXSW produced such an app hit. It didn’t take long for Meerkat to get some serious competition. As the app was gaining steam at SXSW, Twitter purchased Periscope to get in on the action and go toe-to-toe with Meerkat. Twitter even went as far as cutting off Meerkat’s ability to port people’s social connections over from Twitter to its own service. More on that here. General functionality of the apps is fairly similar, but let’s see how their features compare.

Now Streaming

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Snackable Bits from SXSW


This year, I was given the opportunity to attend SXSW Interactive (SXSWi) in Austin, Texas, with a team from M/C/C. There were many great sessions, and this attendee would like to share her key takeaways with you. With the vast number of themes, topics and speakers at SXSWi, I could probably could go on and on. But then this blog would become a novel, and that just won’t do. So here are some bite-size ideas for you to snack on before lunch. Continue reading “Snackable Bits from SXSW” »

Beyond Big Data: The Four Factors for Measuring Success

Big data is everywhere in business, and digital paid media is no exception to the trend. Tracking tools and systems capture everything, from initial product exploration to sales revenue (and all touch-points in between), associated with digital media placements andMeasuring Big Data marketing dollars. But is there value in looking beyond what data has to offer to where
intangible measures can take over?

It is easy to overlook that data is only a tool that is as good as the context that we create out of the numbers. Susan Etlinger says in her TED talk, “Data doesn’t create meaning, we do.” Evaluating the return on investment (ROI) of paid media purely from data and metrics is as crippling to its success as isolating its performance to that of a single metric, like click-through rates. While a click-through rate can tell you about the persuasiveness of the messaging in a banner, it tells you very little else without also considering other metrics. So why then do media budgets and strategy rely so heavily on a few tangible measures of success?

Maybe it’s because the tangibles are clear and definitive, while the intangibles require a leap of faith in aspects that are not directly credited to paid media alone. Paid media is part of a larger marketing mix that, when balanced, leverages all other channels to achieve far greater results than a single channel can produce alone.

Intangibles that can affect the performance of a paid media program can vary from company-to-company and even between campaign launches, but some considerations include:

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M/C/C Tech It Out: What Apple TV Can Add to Your Next Presentation

Apple TV

Presentations are about making an impression; and for centuries, public speakers have used devices to help engage the audience. For turn-of-the-century politicians, it was transforming the caboose of a steam engine into a platform for reform during whistle-stop tours. For comedian Gallagher, he owned the 1980s with a watermelon and an oversized hammer. For the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs, it was an actual device.

At M/C/C, we feed off of devices and presentations. Recently, we had the pleasure of designing a presentation method for one of our clients, Harris CapRock Communications. Harris CapRock was introducing a first-of-its-kind communications service to the energy and maritime markets, Harris CapRock One, and they asked us to concept an innovative way to demonstrate the service at tradeshows and meetings. Instead of throwing together a Powerpoint, handing them a laser pointer and calling it a day, the M/C/C creative team scoured the deepest parts of its collective brain pan to come up with a better, more functional way to present ideas.

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