By Kyle Johnston
Technology and personalization are huge drivers of marketing success. This will only increase as the technologies see more applications and widespread adoption.
The exciting promise of technology that’s here, in development, or ready to scale is staggering. Advances in technology, data, and analytics will allow marketers to create more personal and human experiences across channels and brand interactions.
As companies realize they need a personalized approach toward reaching and retaining customers – and the power of data in the equation – the human connection is lost. Human insights and creativity can bolster data, identify patterns, and ascertain vital insights that give a personalized approach an edge.
Data Isn’t Enough
The wealth of business data available to organizations is incredible, and it’s only growing with the increase of technology to capture and analyze it. Marketers get more in-depth insights than ever before, knowing the customer well enough to create messaging that resonates with them.
The problem with data, on its own, is that it lacks a fundamental understanding of context. Consumer purchasing decisions are informed by so many different factors, including factors that change day-to-day like mood, environment, sleep patterns, stress, and more. Any of these factors can make a difference in the purchasing decision, even if it’s a mundane necessity like laundry detergent or toilet paper.
Data can gather a lot of information, but it can’t gauge the mood or internal and external factors that impact the consumer at any given time. Raw data only provides the information – it’s up to humans to analyze, process, and use it.
Another problem that’s becoming increasingly relevant with automation and personalization is that algorithms build suspicion in consumers. With many consumers concerned about privacy, trust, and safety, there’s a fine line between ideal personalization and marketing that acts like a digital stalker.
For example, let’s say you’re curious about professional certificate programs. You look some information up quickly on Google, but you don’t take any considerable steps like requesting information from a particular institution or signing up for any email lists.
Then, you go on your social media pages, and every other ad is for a professional certificate. Some are relevant and within your industry, and others are completely unrelated. In the following days, any site you visit has banner ads and pop-ups for certificate programs.
Granted, this information can be helpful to consumers. Sometimes, it makes them keenly aware of the exact product they need. But when it’s a bombardment, especially with only vaguely relevant information, that reads as “creepy” more than personalized.
That’s not all. Data and algorithms take a lot of the guesswork and time-consuming efforts out of the equation, but relying too much on these tools encourages complacency. If you have all the information “spoon-fed” to you, including detailed information about customer behaviors, responses, and preferences, it’s easier to ignore your intuition and rely only on the data.
If you only follow through with marketing efforts that are based on data, measurable, and consistent in performance, you’re not taking any risks to connect with the human aspect of the customer. At worst, you may develop campaigns that entirely miss the mark because the data was flawed, and you didn’t look any deeper.
Connect with Humans Without the Algorithms
Data and algorithms are useful for your marketing insights, but they shouldn’t be the only research you count on. Here are some ways you can bring the human connection back to your marketing efforts.
Customers want information that’s relevant and valuable to them. If you don’t know what kind of information that is, you could push out content that’s based on your own assumption, not listening to the customer. Data gives you some baseline information to provide relevant content and a consistent experience, but it should always come from your human insights.
It’s important to have humans at the key touch points as well. Automation can take on the work for much of the customer journey, but you need to have humans to connect with customers when it counts.
Personalization became a bit of a buzzword in the marketing world. Consumers want personalization, typography brands, companies are focused on personalization, and more and more data is geared toward providing the insights to make that happen.
In the face of high demand in a competitive landscape, marketers need to take personalization a step further with the human touch. Humans can put personalization efforts in context and develop the best messaging for the customer, rather than relying on a complex algorithm to deliver the best guess of what they need.
Automation can help with different aspects of the customer experience, such as chatbots for messaging and autoresponder emails, but humans need to be involved to maintain the connection. Technology should amplify human efforts, not replace them.
Combining technology and human efforts ensures you have an authentic connection with leads and customers on your marketing channels.
Customer feedback is among the best data you can get for your marketing and business insights. Surveys and polls need to be specific and relevant, so avoid general questions that could apply to any business or industry, and you’ll likely get more responses.
In addition, you should show customers that their feedback is valuable and acted upon. If they think they spend their time with a survey without seeing any effort on your part to deliver, they have no incentive to give you feedback in the future. You can also offer incentives like discount codes, exclusive content creation, or early access to product launches in exchange for information.
You could also gather feedback from customers on social media. Sure, some will just be complaining for the sake of it, but you can find valuable insights in the comments and messages on your social pages.
Foster a Human Connection
There’s no question that technology enhances marketing and business, especially amid labor shortages, time constraints, and other challenges. The availability of data can lead to the human getting lost in the shuffle, however. Make sure to keep the human element at the heart of your marketing to drive results.
About the Author
Kyle Johnston is a Founding Partner and President of award winning brand, content creation & creative agency, Gigasavvy. After spending the last 20+ years in Southern California, Kyle recently moved his family to Boise, ID where he continues to lead the agency through their next phase of growth.