Technology can make marketing messaging more relevant, help us use our dollars more efficiently, and automate to save us time. It’s important to remember, though, that marketing is rooted in gut instincts and an intuition on how to relate to people. No doubt, technology can support this process and data can better educate us about each individual, but marketers must not forget the core of marketing: humanity.
So, in these days of mass marketing, automation, and data overload, how do we ensure we remain “human?” How do we marry the best of technology with the best of creative marketing minds?
With the following five strategies in mind, any brand can move from robotic automation to marketing with humanity:
1. Create the best content
Any good marketing pro will tell you the first step to high-quality marketing is high-quality content. Bring humanity into your content! Not only in its messaging but also in its purpose. Every piece of content should have the customer in mind. What do they need? What do they want? Why are they reading this? What’s in it for them?
Ensure that every piece of content that makes its way to a customer or a prospect, from a blog post to an email to a whitepaper, has a clear and identifiable purpose. Strive for that content to be relevant, timely, and personalized towards the recipients’ interests. A consumer tech brand could create a video showing how to use a gadget. An outdoor apparel brand could compile a “Best Hikes in XYZ area” blog. Every piece of content must offer recipients value. Get customer-obsessed when crafting your content plan.
2. Gather the right data
To have the greatest impact, marketing must work hand-in-hand with IT and operations to ensure that internal data sets are gathered in a usable way. Data scattered around an organization can result in siloed insights and potentially lead teams astray. Combine marketing/IT/operations partnership with identifying and licensing external data sets to both augment and enhance databases. This will provide the right foundation on which to build personalized and more meaningful engagements.
Ensure that the relevant team is regularly testing for data hygiene, too. The right names, the right contact information, deliverability, how current the data is, and a plethora of other data hygiene metrics empower you with the knowledge that the data your team is using is good data. Don’t destroy the advantage of being a data-first organization by leveraging bad data.
3. Tailor communication channels
If you know that your friend hates talking on the phone, but loves texting, you would typically opt to text him or her. Customers are the same way! Each individual has his or her own unique preferences for receiving communications. Marketing automation can support brands by identifying channel preferences, empowering marketers to create channel-specific campaigns and content.
Understanding that not every single one of your customers wants to read your email and some may prefer text or mobile push can further focus your tactical approach. The more customer-obsessed you can be with your marketing, the more confident you can be that you’re delivering a customer experience rooted in personalization.
4. Personalize beyond just their first name
Adding a customer’s name to an email and calling that a personal communication is no longer enough. Best-in-class marketers need to be experts on their customers — who they are, what their interests are, what engagement they’ve had — and use those insights to develop more personalized and customized communications.
Accurate customer data and related behavioral, firmographic, and market data allow you to create segments within your audience of similar groups. Once these segmented audiences are defined, personalization is easier to manage and achieve. Send relevant content and messaging to niche audiences to improve your customers’ experiences as well as your KPI metrics.
The data we as marketers have at our disposal can offer specific insights into our customers. We should strive to use this knowledge to personalize unique, curated customer experiences with the support of our marketing automation stack. Use the data that matters and builds a picture of who your customers are in order to implement a greater level of personalization.
5. Test, analyze, and optimize
Knowing what will actually resonate best with customers requires more than a “set it and forget it” mindset. Marketing automation can help marketers test and learn. Through A/B/n testing, marketers can steadily build a knowledge bank of customers’ responses, held in their marketing automation systems and usable to customize approaches for better engagement.
The more marketers understand, the more specific we can get. As we understand what customers and prospects react favorably to, our outreach will inherently become more human-centric and personalized.
Simply put: prioritize making your marketing automation more personal.
For example, I just received an email about an oil change with my car model in the subject line. This specificity got my attention vs. just a generic “Need an oil change?” message. Imagine if they had also included mileage information, time since last oil change, and insights the tech had during my last visit (they could recommended some things I just hadn’t gotten around to yet). Regardless, even that next level of personalization—simple, and easy to accomplish—made me take action.
Customers expect more from marketers these days. You will be rewarded with higher engagement and returns on your efforts the more you’re able to personalize your communications. Create customer-obsessed content based on those insights. Utilize every channel in your portfolio. Test and analyze how every touch point landed.
Reach out to me on LinkedIn to discuss this topic further!