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Continuing from my article published last week about poor old Adobe’s problems, here is another example of computers getting in the way of sales because humans aren’t involved. This time it involves SMS – plus a late addition to the Adobe issues.

The sad part about this error is how easily it could have been avoided, as the perpetrator, Vintage Cellars, has my purchase history on file. Each bottle of vino I buy is linked to a loyalty card/app.

I do like my wine – in fact I enjoy both colours (red and white) in almost equal measures. Over a six year period in the Hunter Valley, I made wine as part of my membership of a wine club (now defunct). One vintage even won a trophy and my team also made a semillon in steel, not barrels, in the true Hunter Valley style.

If you’re a friend of mine, you’ll know I regard sauvignon blanc as a crime against humanity. It tastes like a batch of your neighbour’s lawn clippings, filtered by a garden hose through an old pair of your grandmother’s stockings. But that’s just my palette – others do enjoy it.

So last October, I received a text message from Zoe at Vintage Cellars – trying to flog me some sauvignon blanc:

Why I received this message is beyond comprehension. I’ve never bought sav blanc in my life, let alone from Vintage Cellars. Isn’t marketing automation messaging supposed to be linked to customer purchasing data to ensure the fabled “personalised customer experience/journey?”

I suspected Zoe was a fake customer service person, or possibly a bot, but I replied to her regardless, sharing a couple of my thoughts on sav blanc:

I assumed (wrongly) that the marvels of marketing technology would automatically process my message and stop the computers from trying to flog said sav. But unfortunately, the Vintage Cellars computers aren’t very smart. Even worse, it appears the humans in the marketing team don’t bother to check what their customers say to these computers. I know this to be true because a couple weeks ago, the computers sent me this message:

It would be funny if not so sad – well it’s sad that humans assume marketing automation works all the time, like a set-n-forget TV dinner in the microwave. It has obviously failed this time. But it’s sad for other reasons too:

Firstly, there is no way they could have missed me, given my wine buying in the last six months. I know this because I get my discount vouchers physically mailed to me each month and they are based on my household purchase history. And lately I’ve received a few vouchers – mostly linked to my bride’s champagne drinking I’m sure.

Secondly, because the message that was from Zoe, is now from “we” and is not signed off by anyone except the disclaimer.

And thirdly, it’s just bad marketing. Vintage Cellars has my data. They contacted me on a personal channel. I replied to them in the same personal channel. Yet they lie to me about missing me, are too lazy to check my sales history and are too lazy to write a decent message. It’s a bloody disgrace and enough to drive a man to drink.

But wait, there’s more – and it’s just arrived from Adobe as I type…

It’s an invitation to a webinar on mobile marketing, by the people who brought you “epic fails in marketing automation“. The image is of a human hand writing a WORD CLOUD in reverse on a glass screen. Why anybody would do this to their wrist is beyond me?

It appears the creative idea here, is to make the most prominent words the same as the topic of the webinar – enterprise, mobility, business, technology. Genius stuff. The first two sentences are:

Your customers, your business, your market are mobile-first. But 80% of all workflows today are at least partially paper-based. This is expensive, time-consuming and not very user friendly.

Don’t get left behind! Best-in-class companies leverage digital and mobile-first workflows to eliminate clunky, manual steps, removing inefficiencies, increasing revenue growth and improving customer experiences.

You can imagine dear reader that I may be a tad sceptical. After all, it’s the very fact that Vintage Cellars and Adobe didn’t have manual steps involving humans that caused their marketing technology failures. It was their very investment in digital marketing technology, with complete disregard for the compulsory layer of human intelligence, that cost them dearly.

The copy appears to be written by a typist, not a copywriter. After all, if your business is mobile-first (whatever that means) yet your workflow is 80% paper-based, how can your business be mobile-first? It’s obviously paper-first! The writer is contradicting themselves. This strive for marketing mediocrity is giving me a headache.

I’m off to medicate with a drink. Hmmm, red or white…