Will AI or Automation Replace You as a Digital Marketer?

by Sanjay Shenoy on July 10, 2017

“Will my job be replaced by a machine in the near future?” This is something that haunts most of us. To address this, I would like to share a small personal anecdote from my life experience.

Back in 2010-11, I was offering link building services on a popular forum and I was making revenue like there is no tomorrow. I was easily cashing in upwards of 1 lakh INR per month just by selling one particular link building service.

For a 20-year-old something, this kind of money was huge. It was life changing income.

Everything was going absolutely fine. I had everything you needed for great sales. New customers coming in, old customers buying more of your stuff. I was under promising and over delivering. This made my clients really happy and my customers wouldn’t think twice to PayPal me the money.

Fast forward couple of months, I started to see my sales decline rapidly. It declined to a point where it almost hit zero. I was worried, to say the least.

It was a busy marketplace and it was hard to put a finger on what exactly was happening. I finally figured out what was happening. I had a new competitor and he had gone into beast mode.

He had completely automated the service I was offering, right from taking the order up until report delivery. There was no human intervention whatsoever.

I had a confused feeling in my head. I was crazy impressed with what this guy had done and was equally devastated because he had literally stolen all my customers simply because he was giving the same service at half the price and twice as fast.

I had completely given up at this point as there was no point in competing with him.

Keeping this anecdote as a reference, I would like to drive home a few points.

1. You are late to be even worried

Automation, especially in Digital Marketing, has been around for longer than you think. I think since its inception, we digital marketers are trying to automate things as much as we can so that we can focus on bigger things and not waste our time doing menial jobs. There are tons of bots out there that automate pretty much everything.

I can easily say that the guys who were into DM back in the day are pioneers in terms of online automation.

So if you have just arrived for the “Oh-I-might-lose-my-job-to-a-robot-I-am-worried” party, guess what, you are fashionably late. I am talking about something that happened 6 years ago and it still gives me the shivers.

But there is hope.

2. Your biggest asset is your randomness

Lucky for you, a large part of the digital marketing workflow revolves around creativity and evoking emotions through human connections.

At the end of the day artificial intelligence is, after all, artificial.

I am pretty confident that a robot will not be able to write the way I have written this, let alone an amazing copy for your FB Ad.

Of course, it might be able to automate it and churn out multiple “templates” by analyzing copies across the web. But then again, this can turn out to be counter-productive for the bot cause then it is levelling the playing field again since pretty much every copy out there will pretty much have the same essence to it.

And that is when the amazing human copywriter will show his/her prowess through beautifully crafted words thanks to your randomness.

This brings me to my third point.

3.”Handmade” sells

Going back to my anecdote, after probably a year, I saw on the forum that a lot of smaller guys had popped up offering the same service as I was and competing with the guy who had automated. They were doing the exact same thing I was doing.

Except, they called it handmade.

They were making a killing with it. The perceived value of something that is hand made is far more than for something that is automated. This is especially true in DM because automation leaves a stinky footprint and will help the giants sniff you out and bust you.

The biggest advantage you have as a human is that you are inconsistent, sporadic and random. And this is what makes you unique and stand apart.

And you wonder why Bentley still stitches their upholstery with their hands.

4. Career? What Career?

The one thing about digital marketing that sets it apart from the rest of the industry is that more than a job, it’s a skill.

Once you have this skill, you can apply it whenever and wherever and make a living off it.

You can be a travel blogger, a business consultant, a YouTube star, a rock star recruiter and much more. The possibilities are endless.

Even if you do lose your job, it’s safe to say that you can use this skill to fend for yourself and survive. Just like farming.

So if you think you might lose your job to a robot named Watson, then you don’t have to worry because ultimately people are the ones who will be transacting with you. And the thing about people is that they always are looking for solutions to their problems.

You can always set up a personal online brand and go ahead and start selling solutions.

And if it makes you feel any better, a recent study conducted by McKinsey, only 13% of your job can be done by a robot and a marketing job is 85% safer than other jobs.

5. Bonus Point: Always be Innovating

Don’t get too excited now. Just because your job has a lesser risk of losing to a robot doesn’t mean that you should sit back and relax.

Your #1 competitor is still a human. While you are contemplating how to relax, he/she is sharpening his skill. And you should too.

I lost my business to my competitor not because of automation but because I stopped innovating. I stopped investing in how to make my service better. I could have easily outsourced this to a coder and got the whole thing automated and sit back and rake in the money.

But I simply didn’t have that mindset. I did not foresee this coming and I definitely didn’t plan it out.
Considering how dynamic the digital marketing industry is, you don’t have a choice but to keep up with the changing landscape.

Google might wake up tomorrow and change their entire core algorithm which might affect your site(s)/your clients sites. Facebook might decide to completely stop organic reach. How are you going to tackle that?

Continuously invest in yourself and always be innovating.

I hope I have used my anecdote to illustrate the points that I am trying to make here. No need to get all worked up about all of this. If I were you, I would rather focus on how to make myself better at something.

The way I see automation/AI in Digital Marketing, is that it is creative destruction. It is making way for something bigger. New jobs will and are created for which new skills are required.

I still remember my school teachers telling me that computers will take away all your jobs and it will be very difficult to get ourselves a job. And what has happened?

Computers are Internet has helped humanity take a leap into the future. I have a feeling the same will happen with Automation/AI.

Next time someone asks you if you or they are going to lose their Digital Marketing jobs to automation, I hope I have given you enough fodder for your arguments!

Let me know what you think!

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

BANDHU July 10, 2017 at 10:36 pm

i agree with you deepak sir, after all bots are also made humans.

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Sachinreddy July 10, 2017 at 11:52 pm

Thank u sir ……fully clarified with your answer

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Dipankar Dutta July 11, 2017 at 12:06 am

A very good article. Well written. We all look forward to the future with some trepidation. This article will cool some nerves.

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Kiran July 11, 2017 at 12:08 am

That is the reason why I chose Digital Marketing as a career. Thanks for this article Deepak Sir.

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Govt Form July 11, 2017 at 12:09 am

Oh my God!! What did we do wrong with the robots?but finally, I got the answer and also get the fact. Thanks for sharing the very big news.

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Tanmai July 11, 2017 at 7:07 am

As Always, Amazing.

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Chaitanya July 11, 2017 at 9:12 am

I want to learn Digital marketing please send me lessons on daily basis

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Dipanshu July 11, 2017 at 12:39 pm

Exactly what I think. You can stop the change but you can adapt to the changes and changes is only possible when you keep updating yourself. Thanks Deepak Sir for this blog.

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Pushpa July 22, 2017 at 12:21 pm

Amazing article. Such an important news you shared***

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Abhishek Shah July 23, 2017 at 4:23 pm

I was discussing this very same topic last week with the team. And I totally agree with you on Skills Vs Bots. Skills would always triumph. Thank you for validating my views here.

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Akshat Jain July 24, 2017 at 7:39 pm

Very Nice and Informative Article.. Thanks for Share..

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Nishit August 20, 2017 at 2:34 pm

Nice article….with perfectly matching anecdote

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Abhishek Suneri August 21, 2017 at 4:55 pm

Hi deepak, this was a useful post. I especially liked your anecdote and how you presented it. And your analogy of Digital Marketing and Farming was creative.

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