Algorithms & Machine Learning May Be the Future of Marketing, But They Are Not The Present

Algorithms & Machine Learning May Be the Future of Marketing, But They Are Not The Present

I am convinced that no industry is more inundated with buzzwords than the world of digital marketing. Pay-per-click, big data, machine learning, blah-blah, yada-yada, etc. etc.

As any good marketer trying to keep tabs on the ever-evolving world of marketing tools in the digital space, I am constantly sifting through buzzwords to find the meat. For the past several months, machine learning has been all the rage. Before that, algorithms - which today seems like a mainstay of any new digital asset. 

It seems every digital product utilizes algorithms and machine learning, but to what end? I am told they are the future of my industry, but I can confidently say they are not the present. 

I am reminded of this every time I scroll through my Facebook newsfeed, seeing the same eight posts on repeat. Or in my Instagram feed, where I see 'last chance' sales promotions from 4 days prior at the top of my feed. Or in my Insta-stories feed, where businesses and "influencers" have succumbed to screenshotting every new Instagram post and adding it to their story, because they have no faith the folks who have voluntarily opted-in to see their posts ever will. 

I'm told marketing is getting smarter. But I am afraid marketing is making us all dumber instead. And if not dumber, certainly more frustrated.

In an effort to annoy prospects into a purchase decision...err...submission, I am afraid we are losing sight of many vital marketing skills - things like empathy, curiosity, asking smart questions, and listening to our target market. Until tools like machine learning and algorithms enable advertisers to be empathetic at scale or conduct more intimate connections with folks who have a problem we can solve, I am just not convinced those tools have a long-term place in marketing. 

Sure, they may help us growth-hack our way through a lead list like a plague of locusts. But consumers are smarter than that. They want empathy, trust, and mission. And as marketers, it is our job to create it for them.

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