The promise of marketing automation is seductive, indeed. It promises prioritized leads from multiple campaigns and more data than you can shake a stick at. The pitch typically goes something like this:

By evaluating and reacting to each of your website’s visitors, RainbowPot’s proprietary platform enables you to establish innumerable digital relationships. You’ll be able to consider each of these ephemeral, anonymous relationships a prospect; score them by whatever arbitrary criteria you like; drill down to find out who really loves you; and be able to inundate them with your sales-ready spam, whenever you want to, at least until they unsubscribe. Then you’ll be able to engage them in meaningful conversations with automated, personalized emails.

Innumerable digital relationships? You’ll be able to consider each of these ephemeral, anonymous relationships a prospect? What? By what criterion has each of those ephemeral, anonymous relationships qualified to be even a suspect? Have I missed the boat?

I’ve never bought anything from a digit. I’m not even sure I have anything I’d consider a digital relationship. Can you have a drink with a digit? Of this I’m sure: I’ve never had a conversation with an email. And I have no idea how an automated email can be personal.

Have you ever had a meaningful conversation with a form letter? Isn’t a form letter the impersonal, snail-mail equivalent of an automated email? The closest I’ve ever come to a meaningful conversation with a form letter was the response I sent to one summoning me to report for jury duty. And I responded only because I would have been arrested, quite personally, if I didn’t.

If you work for Acme Zoogers, it won’t matter if your job is in sales, if it’s in marketing, or if you’re a professional data-driller. RainbowPot may very well help you sell more zoogers than your boss ever dreamed of, especially if you’re selling those zoogers for a buck apiece.

But if you’re selling products or services with six- or seven-figure price tags, the only things you’ll be automating with RainbowPot are stagnation (what’s more stultifying than aggregating numbers of the sake of aggregating numbers?), alienation from your prospects (most automated emails have never heard of Dale Carnegie), and failure.

Relationships can’t be automated. Neither can sales.