Why Marketing Automation Isn’t What It’s Cracked Up To Be

I had a guy email me at 2AM the other day (this stuff always happens in the middle of the night…don’t ya know). He was frantic about why his website was sending out thousands of emails to his email list. He was getting stacks of complaints and opt outs, and he wanted to know why for obvious reasons.

Well, I personally looked into it, and the explanation was very simple. Here’s what happened:

  1. He was running a real estate website, and he was having all the new real estate listings in his market area automatically published as blog posts on his blog.
  2. From there, he was having those new listings sent out via email to his list. Of course this was automated too.
  3. He was also automatically syndicating all his blog content to his social media profiles. In this case it was just Facebook and Twitter.
  4. In the middle of the night, the service that was pushing new real estate listings out to his site had a server crash, and they had to reboot. This meant their feed got reset.
  5. After the server rebooted, all the real estate listings were pushed out again. His market area has several thousand homes on the market right now.
  6. This means his website auto-published thousands of blog posts again…all at once.
  7. All those new blog posts went out to his social media profiles, automatically.
  8. All the new blog posts also went out to his email list, automatically.

If you signed up for an email list, and you received thousands of emails (literally) over the course of a single day, wouldn’t you complain and opt out too? I know I would.

So WHY did this happen? Unfortunately, the reason it happened is because his website did exactly what he told it to do. Everything was working perfectly. The problem wasn’t his website. It was the fact that he had every damn thing automated to the point that everything happened…THOUSANDS of emails, blog posts, tweets, etc…all without him even knowing what went down.

What’s even crazier is that I’ve been contacted about similar issues more than once.

A caution about marketing automation

Marketing automation can save you some time, but it can also wreak havoc and cause a lot of problems if it’s not done well. Proper implementation and judicious use are crucial. I am absolutely a fan of automation, but it’s a dangerous proposition simply following the “set it and forget it” approach to running a marketing campaign, especially online.

You could never possibly send out 5,000 direct mail pieces to a single prospect on accident, but you definitely CAN do that with email if stuff isn’t set up properly. If someone is talking with you about the benefits of automating your website, listen to them. Automation can be very awesome. But make sure to address safeguards and checkpoints…automation always sounds good, until it goes very, very wrong.

If you want to take advantage of some marketing automation ninjutsu, hit me up. It’s my pleasure to answer any questions you have. Be good 🙂


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