Oct 18, 2018

The Impact of Automation on Digital Marketing Jobs

by Digital Marketing Institute

If you’re in the field of digital marketing, you may be wondering what kind of effect automation could have on your future career.

It's true that automated technology is taking over almost every facet of the digital world and will continue to affect certain jobs and roles. But what areas will it affect and how?

Here’s an overview discussing the way automation is changing customer experience and engagement.

Automation Has Been Replacing Jobs for a While

With the addition of computers to offices in the 1970s, the increasing use of this tech through the 1990s, and then the widespread use of the internet around the year 2000, digital marketing has already seen plenty of shifts.

And with today's self-serve kiosks and chatbots popping up all over the place, there's plenty of reasons for people in certain sectors to wonder whether or not their current job will even exist in the next couple of years.

For marketers, the worry is much the same. Automated outreach services are quickly becoming more and more advanced as are AI-based programs like Siri, which rely on voice-recognition.

In the past and currently, there has been some debate as to whether computers really stole jobs or the jobs just changed in nature, allowing existing employees to move into similar but perhaps more engaging positions as they step away from monotonous work.

For marketers, there have been several shifts towards automation, shifts that don't necessarily see extensive job losses as part of the aftermath.

How AI Will Change Marketing Jobs

How AI Will Change Marketing Jobs

Today AI and machine learning truly are leading technologies in marketing, and they can be used for all kinds of activities. Marketers can leverage them to:

  • Understand their audiences
  • Personalize offerings
  • Streamline content production
  • Research more deeply
  • Collect and analyze more massive amounts of data
  • Apply data quickly to business decisions

Just like most technological changes in the past, AI will create a demand for new skills rather than take jobs outright. We will still require people behind the marketing machine, no matter what. For instance, we need people to write AI conversation programs and monitor chatbot conversations.

Perhaps more importantly, we need people who can understand and communicate about large amounts of data being analyzed – that is, they will clarify, communicate, and apply the data to a business strategy. That is where predictive analysis might take over some statistics or math-related jobs in some ways, but mostly just via calculation. These types of AI applications need people to guide them and interpret them.

According to Salesforce, about half of the 3500 marketers surveyed are using AI now, and this number should make a big jump even in the next year.

AI can be useful for predictive analysis like lead scoring, which saves sales and marketing teams time, allowing for more accurate targeting efforts on both of their parts.

For data gathering and analysis, AI is just going to give people time to do other things as it measures and assesses various aspects of the sales and conversion processes.

How Will AI and Automation Change the Customer Experience?

AI is already changing customer experience in many ways. Messenger applications like WhatsApp are now being used for customer service more extensively than ever. Chatbots can be employed 24/7 and globally to help answer basic questions or even customize experiences for purchasers. They can help customers look for products and also recommend them. While they are not yet advanced enough to offer highly detailed answers or handle conflict, they can take care of simple customer service inquiries that can eat up a lot of time for staff.

Even personal shopping with robots in-store and via chatbots. Walmart has robots to choose products and add to shopping carts, and this robotic “picking” is at big warehouses like Amazon.

Which Jobs Are Most at Stake?

Which Jobs Are Most at Stake?

According to CB Insights, there are some 10 million U.S. jobs at risk with automation, and the most at risk categories are service, warehouse, and retail workers. Factories have already experienced some after effects, and just a couple of years ago, 60,000 workers at Foxconn, the manufacturer of iPhone, were replaced with robots.

Certainly, robots are taking over many facets of retail, as is E-commerce, so those who are already in retail but not adept at digital marketing or ready to find alternative solutions have jobs that are more at stake than those of digital marketers when it comes to jobs. In finance, AI is increasingly being used to make investment decisions, as is the case with Wealthsimple, a Canadian AI-based investment platform.

Content Generation

AI is already taking over some content creation and curation jobs, with programs like Wordsmith able to generate automated content.


AI is being used to direct and manage large-scale email campaigns as well as personalize them more directly using data collected from contacts. There are many automated email programs out there, and a few of them use AI to help direct potential customers in the right direction.

Automated Ads

Automated ads are quickly becoming the norm as platforms like Facebook and Google Ads increasingly turn to AI power for data collection, analytics, and targeting. Even at a small scale, this could save a company thousands of dollars a year in manpower, so it’s certainly worth noting that this type of software could replace jobs.

But it also takes people to learn how to write, design, and monitor ads. Furthermore, people are still needed to help a given organization understand how a particular ad or campaign is impacting their bottom line. Training may be another reason why companies will want people who are well versed in specific types of software.

A new Audience Management as a Service (AMaaS) software called Adext, for instance, optimizes Google and Facebook ads according to the audience and can choose the most appropriate channel. It uses massive amounts of data to optimize and target ads for conversions and has done a lot for increasing performance.

What’s Your Approach?

If you see automation as a threat and you're not ready to learn how to use this kind of software, then, yes, your job may be threatened. But if you're on the ball and continually learning, as most digital professionals should be, you will be able to use automation to your advantage, learning new skills to become more competitive in the marketplace.

Technology is always evolving, and companies need to pay attention to ongoing learning opportunities to avoid laying off those who don't appear as adept at tech and applying new levels of technology.

Those who can adapt and train their teams efficiently as well as understand how to leverage new tools like AI will be more competitive. But we do have to be prepared for such changes, and this requires careful planning.

Training and Hiring

With automation taking over, it's harder to hire those with digital marketing skills because people simply aren't being trained at traditional universities. Traditional marketing degrees aren't placing the type of emphasis on technology that they need to so that marketers can be competitive in the field.

According to Burning Glass, about 40% of marketing job openings now require digital skills. There are more and more digital jobs every year, and they are generally higher paying over marketing jobs, as well as taking 16% longer to fill.

Marketing agencies want people who can handle analytics, statistics, and other types of big data. They need to be able to manipulate big data but also know how to use the right tools to do so, in marketing and other areas as well. Moreover, they have to be ready to learn to use these types of tools, even if they aren't proficient in math or data analysis themselves.

Upskilling is Never a Bad Idea

Upskilling is Never a Bad Idea

We may not have too much to worry about with regards to the number of jobs being “lost” in digital marketing for two key reasons:

  1. Digital marketers are already heavily reliant on technological knowledge and need to adjust their strategies and upskill to stay on top of changes and trends to keep themselves competitive as well as their clients.
  2. Most digital marketers are already versatile, with a fairly broad range of skills, which means that they can easily pivot should one skill become automated.

Job descriptions aren’t as static or compartmentalized as they may have been in the past, and this is something that works to a marketer’s benefit. While you may not have all the skills or experience listed, you probably have many of them and a demonstrable willingness to learn.

What’s a bit more frightening and something that all marketers need to stay aware of is the speed at which technological trends are developing and changing. You need to be proactive about staying updated on trends that harness automation in order to enhance a customer's journey, multitask, and generate high-quality leads, and this is the case no matter what their speciality or background.

Actively staying on top of trends and updating your skills not only makes you stand out in your field, but it will impress the people you work with as well. So regardless of whether or not automation is “taking over” a particular job or skill set, the best digital marketers make ongoing learning and training a priority.

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