The Difference Between Appliance Automation and Marketing Automation.

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 2.14.36 PMSo General Electric just launched the new GE Café Series refrigerator that includes a Keurig K-Cup Brewing System. Now, instead of having a single cup coffee brewer hogging all the space on your counter and a refrigerator dominating an entire wall, they are both operating on a shared platform.

I am sure it was a tricky engineering feat. I mean, do you add the refrigerator to the coffee machine or add the coffee machine to the refrigerator?  And what about the water fill process, do you have to add water or is it dispensed automatically from the refrigerator? And what if I want just a glass of hot or cold water?

And of course this is only the beginning. Eventually your Keurigerator will also have a built-in oven and flat screen LED TV, as well as a washer-dryer combination and a smart phone charger with surround sound.

Marketing automation, on the other hand, is not so easy to explain. Of course some organizations, like HubSpot, pretend like it is really obvious: At its best, marketing automation is software and tactics that allow companies to buy and sell like Amazon — that is, to nurture prospects with highly personalized, useful content that helps convert prospects to customers and turn customers into delighted customers.

See, isn’t that clear and easy?  Just like putting your coffee maker into your refrigerator. But wait, there’s more.

Again, according to HubSpot: the term “marketing automation” has become a buzz-word, where marketers seek out marketing automation software under the impression that all of the digital marketing tools necessary for growth, including those needed to generate new leads, roll up under the hood of marketing automation. This misconception leaves many marketers with sophisticated tools to automate the middle of their funnel, but no solution to generating new leads to nurture in the first place.

Phew, now it all makes sense… or does it?

Let’s look to HubSpot one more time for an explanation of good marketing automation: Good marketing automation takes into account the evolving needs of your leads, and the behaviors and interactions they have with you across all of your marketing channels. not just email. Using behavioral inputs from multiple channels such as social clicks, viewing a pricing page or consuming a particular piece of content gives marketers the context they need to fully understand a lead’s challenges and how to guide them down the funnel. The most effective marketing automation not only collects data from multiple channels, but uses those various channels to send their marketing messages as well. That means the success of your campaign relies less on the email, and fully utilizes the various channels that influence a buyer’s decision.

And there you go. It’s as easy as putting a pod of coffee into your refrigerator door and pushing the brew button. Now if only HubSpot could explain what they mean when they say “content”.

Jim Sweeney


Jim is a veteran of the agency industry and the founder of Sweeney. He is uncommonly passionate about the idea of creating and implementing insanely great marketing campaigns that achieve insanely great results. He pioneered the full-service, full-circle agency model and continues to forge new ideas in an ever-changing industry. And he is accessible to everyone about anything, seemingly all the time, serving as a mentor to all agency personnel and clients.