The marketing robots

Jan 27, 2017

Automation can be helpful, save a ton of money, and even cut down on errors, but you have to know how to push the ‘stop’ button.

Not long ago someone at Zweig Group was scheduling posts for the civil + structural ENGINEER magazine Twitter handle when she noticed a company we were following on Twitter was posting “thank you for following us” tweets. The tweets said something along the lines of, “Thank you for following us.” Unfortunately, someone out in the Twitter-universe got wind of this company’s automation and was creating fake Twitter handles and following the company from each of these at a rapid pace. I won’t type them here, but you can guess what some of the names were, and the results weren’t pretty.

This employee has a kind heart, so she immediately called the company to inform them of the issue to see if they could stop it quickly. Their response: “The marketing person who handles this is out to lunch right now.”

Everyone watched in horror as the company’s Twitter feed got progressively more out of hand over the next few hours.

After this story you may feel that marketing automation isn’t worth the trouble, is hard to manage, and bad for your business, but marketing automation can be helpful, save a ton of time, and even cut down on errors. There are definitely some lessons to learn from this experience.

  • Test. Test. Test. Get someone else to test, repeat.
  • Don’t ever leave automations unattended for long periods of time. Following that – have a back-up person or three with access to whatever is being automated, be it follow-up emails, social media, or something else. Everyone at least needs to know how to push the “stop” button.
  • Think about what you are personalizing and why. I like to save personalization on automations for things like follow up emails, not large-scale public formats like social media.
  • Include immediate contact emails/numbers on everything. Do not hide this information from clients who want to reach you directly or may be having difficulty accessing something automated by your firm.

Don’t be scared of marketing automations – embrace them, but do the necessary homework to make sure your company’s message is getting through to the person and in the way you initially intended, and always be available to help promptly!

Christina Zweig is Zweig Group’s director of marketing. Contact her at

This article is from issue 1183 of The Zweig Letter. Interested in more management advice every week from Mark Zweig, the Zweig Group team, and a talented list of other guest writers? Click here to subscribe or get a free trial of The Zweig Letter.

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.