RAAK_Blog-Header_ Don’t let automation lead to dehumanisation

Don’t let automation lead to dehumanisation

Automation in marketing has been prophesied repeatedly over the past few years. And many companies have done a wonderful job setting up the most amazing flows, streams and scenarios. I’ve been astounded quite a bit by how companies have set up tailor-made emails for me, pointing out my exact interests and displaying the products on my wish list. One company in particular even showed me how the handler was carrying my products, in preparation for shipment. Their tireless efforts have convinced me to actually buy from them… and buy again. They are really on to me!

Still, a lot of them have failed epically, triggering a reaction I call ‘auto-trashing’. Most of those emails don’t speak to you. They are bland, clinical and emotionless. You don’t even bother looking at them anymore. They pop-up in your inbox and you automatically hit the delete button... Sounds familiar?

And although that may sound like a marketer’s nightmare, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. True: they wasted a lot of money, time and effort. And yes, in most cases they’ll be gritting their teeth in anger. But it does have a positive side. It opens people’s eyes to what a lot of marketers have lost touch with: the human side of marketing. 

Here’s an example:

The worst scenario for an email marketer is having to send an email to resolve something that’s gone wrong in a previous sending, a.k.a. the infamous ‘technical error email’. But putting things right, does allow you to interact with your recipients. Unlike a billboard or other traditional media, you get the chance to get up close and personal with them. It’s an ideal opportunity to make your subscribers feel that they are dealing with humans rather than robots. And they will appreciate that, even if you did screw up.

Why is that? Because you address a human emotion with personal interaction. With email you get the chance to enter a subscriber’s private space: their computer, their tablet, even their smartphone. A trusted environment where you can reach them wherever they are, whenever you want. 

How do you prevent yourself from becoming a robot?

B2B ≠ B2C
First of all, make a distinction between business email and personal email. In a business environment you need to appeal to the business needs of the recipient/company. When it comes to personal email, speaking to the individual and addressing their personal needs is a better approach. Trigger an emotion or expose those things they are ‘missing’ in their lives. Which can be anything, from products and services to certain feelings. 

Get personal
Using personal data can create trust. Mention the persons’ first name, information specific to their needs, their location or purchase history. Use images that show real humans using the product. It will help them relate to what you’re selling. But be careful not to overdo it. You don’t want to give your contacts the impression that you’re watching every move they make as they browse the web.

You can’t offer highly personalized emails to all of your potential clients at once. And that’s ok. But when your client is close to purchasing, don’t hesitate to get more personal. Let them know you have their best interest at heart and that their business means a great deal to you. If you have the time to create a fully customized and personal message, by all means do so. Both parties will benefit from it in the long run.

If the number of clients makes that impossible, why not use a customizable template which has the feel of a personal email. It makes for a more enjoyable customer experience and saves you time. 

Be reachable/contactable
Frustration is… wanting to get in touch with a company or sales person and not being able to find their contact details. Obnoxious noreply names and addresses make your contacts’ blood boil. Clients or potential clients don’t always expect an answer straight away. But do take the time to assess them. They give your brand a much warmer and human feel and could result in a higher sale rate in the end… 


It’s easy to get sucked into the digital whirlpool of automation. Setting up a working automation process and keep tracking of what’s important to your recipients isn’t a walk in the park. Even more so if you’re interacting with major companies. But no matter how big the company is, always remember that you’re dealing with humans, not robots. It will pay off when you treat them as such.