Automatic processes are great. They increase productivity, save you time and money, and help you reach your business goals faster - if (and it’s a pretty big if) they’re implemented well. That’s where a little manual effort goes a long way.
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We’re not suggesting you stay away from automation forever. Far from it. In fact, we recently made it a more prominent feature of the solution with the introduction of Flow. This allows you to create customised email sequences to better drive your review collection.

But here’s the thing - automation is a tool, and to put it to best use, you need to build a solid strategy first. 

Less Automation, More Understanding 

If there’s one downside to automation, it’s that it makes things too easy. We set up a process, push the button on it, and walk away. It’s like throwing up a building without laying the foundations first - it’s just not gonna stand up. 

In review marketing, those foundations are your strategy - the blueprint for what you want to achieve, and how best to achieve it. It’s only when you understand that that you’re ready to implement powerful tools like automation. 

When looking at automation differently in order to maximise the results, Marketing & Partner Lead Katie Krische told us:

Ecommerce automation is more than the execution of specific processes. With automation, you have access to a birds-eye-view of all the systems you're using. For example, many ecommerce technologies have individual integrations with other apps. In order to integrate each system with the other, you have to dive into each back-end, enter API keys, and integrate systems individually.

Katie Krische, Marketing & Partnership Lead, Alloy Automation

That’s why we recommend a hands-on approach first - taking the time to experiment with review invites, follow up requests and response emails. It might be time consuming, but you’ll be able to create a far more informed strategy if you put in the effort. 

For example, with Flow, you can send specific requests based on certain product purchases. You’ll need to vary these based on how long a customer needs to experience that product, what type of review is most effective for it (text, photo, video), and what type of content is relevant for that purchase. An prime example of this is Skiddle, who, using Flow, sent out video review invites after gigs which boosted their own content increasing conversion rates by 24%. 

The best way to figure this out? Human experimentation. Automation can help you reach more people with minimal effort, but it’s not so much about maximum contact as it is meaningful contact. 

The Benefits of a Hands On Approach

It helps you focus your objectives - automation is pointless if you don’t know what you want to achieve from it. And whilst you might have initial thoughts on what your goals are, these can often change when you start collecting review data. 

If a task is repetitive and follows a similar process each time, it's likely that it can be automated! What you can't automate is strategy. If you're planning new marketing campaigns, creating new products, or strategising on business goals–you can't automate.

Katie Krische, Marketing & Partnership Lead, Alloy Automation

Taking a manual approach for a while helps you understand what it’s possible to achieve, and what works best for your brand - so when you set the process on autopilot, you know it’s geared in the right direction. 

It helps you get to know your audience - we all like to think we know our target audience, but until we start engaging with them we can never really be sure. Automation can never replace a manual approach here. Yes, it can give you valuable conversion data on certain campaigns, but we tend to look at that data objectively. 

A manual approach forces you into the personal. It helps you really connect with each audience segment, what their needs are, and what they respond to. When you have that level of understanding, you can create more effective automated sequences. 

It helps you spot flaws in the system - just like any process, your review collection strategy should be regularly evaluated, particularly when it’s running automatically. What worked once might not always prove effective, and you’ll likely need to tweak certain parts of your approach. 

Because you put in the manual groundwork initially, you’ll have a better understanding of where potential issues could lie - and how to fix them. 

It helps you become a platform expert - there’s a lot of powerful features to the solution, and if you jump straight into automated flows, you might overlook some of its capabilities. 

Customising review requests to be totally on brand, collecting review attributes, connecting with influencers, and converting UGC into powerful social proof - when you start out manually you’re more likely to explore all these features, so when you switch to automation, you can use them all in conjunction to the greatest effect.

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