6 Must-Dos To Maintain Human Connection in Digital Marketing

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Digital marketing is one of the fastest changing industries in the world and today’s digital marketing technology is more advanced than ever before. Automation and technology lets marketers do so much more in a fraction of the time. Technology helps us track, analyze and reach target customers.

According to a recent Forbes Insights survey, nearly 62% of brand and agency representatives around the world are satisfied with how well their current marketing technology is meeting their expectation and 57% plan to make new technology investments.

We have technology to help us understand customer behavior and characteristic trends. Growth in smartphone adaption and the popularity of mobile and messaging has exploded since 2005 with 50% of searches done on mobile. Artificial intelligence such as Facebook’s Bot Engine for Messenger, that offer consumer assistance, is one of the biggest trends of 2016. Marketing cloud solutions like Adobe, Salesforce, and HubSpot help us help us automate data across customer lifecycles.

Multi-platform internet usage requires marketers to manage email marketing, social media marketing, content marketing, paid and organic search and more across platforms. And more new technologies are coming!

With such powerful automation at our fingertips, it can be easy to overlook the ‘human connection’ involved in digital marketing. How do you think about your customers? How well do you understand your audience? What do they want?

Digital marketers can, and should, be considering customers and prospects in all aspects of digital marketing. Some ways to do this come right out of the traditional marketing playbook. Knowing your customer is the first step to winning others like them to your brand. Customer demographics like age, gender, income, education and occupation are on nearly every marketer’s radar. But what about customer psychographics? What do you know about a potential customer’s interests, activities and opinions?

Here are six ways to understand your customers and to maintain a human connection.

1. Focus Groups. Focus groups offer a great advantage to marketers. Invite a group of people who meet the demographics of those you want to attract to have a discussion. Ask them questions to get at a better understanding of what they want in a product, how they choose to make a purchase, and what motivates them actually make the purchase. The more people who join in, the better your chances to really understand your customer base.

2. Build Relationships. When promoting your product or service avoid pushing information or advertising at your audience. Instead focus on building an ongoing relationship. Social media is designed to let customers look for help and for you to provide feedback and resolve problems. Can you be empathetic with your audience? When you truly understand them and care about what they want, the better that relationship will become.

3. Create a Customer Persona. Consider creating a marketing persona to represent your customer. Include demographic information, their goals and challenges, their values and fears, as well as their interests, activities and opinions. How do you do this? Review your website analytics to determine additional demographic information about your customers. Use social media listening to find potential customers. What are they saying already?  You could also bring a group of colleagues together—human resources, customer service, accounting, etc—to share their customer perspectives with you. And, a really sound approach is to ask your customers questions directly. Conduct a survey, a focus group or one-on-one interviews. Once you’ve pulled together a customer profile or persona, give her/him a name. Bring them to life for your marketing team so every interaction is personal.

4. Use Emotion in Marketing. People are, after all, human and as humans most of us have emotions and often make purchasing decisions based on emotions. Rather than base marketing strategies on hard data, add emotion to your marketing. Tell a story with humor, excitement, action, adventure…whatever motivates your customer.

5. Show Your Own Humans. Marketers usually promote a company filled with people. Why not show—through photos and videos—those who connect with customers? This helps humanize your company and your marketing efforts. Use testimonials, statements about company philosophy, why customers matter, etc to show that the company cares about customers.

6. Get Personal. Can visitors find a telephone number easily on your website? When they call, do they get an automated answer or does a person pick up? The last thing you want is to lose a prospect because they can’t reach a real person. Ensure that customer service representatives—or anyone who interacts with customers—knows how to be friendly and professional on the phone. And, set up policies and procedures that reflect how you feel about your customers so everyone within the company understands how important this is.

Try not to get mired in digital marketing technology and automation. Learn to listen to your customers. Treat them like people by keeping human relationships at the forefront of your marketing and customer service.

Why Our Word Choices Matter When Talking About Cannabis

I regularly write for Oaksterdam University’s blog Cannabis Industry Today. This post was originally published on that blog on March 17, 2016.  

NOWe all look forward to the day when cannabis is legal across the United States. As advocates, we work to promote change. But have you ever considered the power words hold, especially surrounding cannabis?

I sat down with Oaksterdam University’s Executive Chancellor Dale Sky Jones to talk about this subject; it is one she discusses in lectures and is mindful of every day.

“The truth is that our words carry enormous weight,” said Jones. “Words shape our thoughts, feelings and attitudes, which dictate our actions. That’s why how we talk about cannabis is so important today.”

FMarhuanaLots of words in the English language are used to refer to cannabis: locoweed, weed, grass, dope, pot, marijuana, ganja, maryjane, and others. At one time in America ‘cannabis’ referred to the plant and was used by pharmaceutical companies in medicine to treat insomnia, migraines and rheumatism. Not until the early 1900s—when Mexicans legally immigrated to America to escape the Mexican Revolution—that we learned the word ‘marihuana,’ which in-and-of itself is not a bad word.  However, the stigma associated with ‘marijuana’ took hold in the early 1930s when Harry Anslinger specifically used the term in propaganda and linked its use to minorities in an effort to racialize the plant.

The War on Drugs was declared by former president Nixon in 1971, soon after the Controlled Substances Act became law and classified cannabis as a schedule I controlled substance illegal federally. At this time in history, America was experiencing youthful rebellion, social upheaval, political dissent and an elevated presence of federal drug control agencies. Generations of children learned about the dangers of drugs including marijuana through programs like D.A.R.E., which perpetuated negative information and attitudes related to cannabis.

Today, even as cannabis is more accepted by the general public, Jones maintains that the cannabis industry is still a movement. “No other industry in America produces and trades a product that is federally illegal,” said Jones. “Until this changes the cannabis industry is a movement.”

Dale Sky Jones - Oaksterdam University
Dale Sky Jones

Movement implies work-in-progress and that’s exactly how Jones sees it. “Some of the obstacles still in our way are mental, perceived, and emotional. These are all very real and the words we use must be specific to change perceptions and stigma.”

So, what words do we need to drop from our vocabulary as cannabis advocates? “Stop using the word ‘recreational,’” said Jones. “It’s a dangerous word because it conjures up images of stereotypes or images of children playing, both of which don’t help us move forward.”

Other words to consider include:

  • Adult, Commercial, Retail … instead of Recreational
  • Cannabis, Medicine … instead of Pot, Weed, Marijuana
  • Consume and Consumer … instead of Use and User
  • Overmedicate … instead of Overdose
  • De-schedule … instead of Reschedule

“Advocacy requires education and responsibility,” said Jones. “Choosing our words wisely advances our goal.”

Why Not Take Your Blog To The Next Level This Year — 4 Reasons To Take Action

4 Reasons To Take Your Blog To the next level in 2015Blogging. When done well, it will serve your business well in the long term. In fact, if you give your blog the attention it needs and commit to writing and posting on a consistent basis, your customers will thank you for the valuable information.

Now is a perfect time to step up your blogging efforts. Follow in the footsteps of businesses that have obtained new customers, or patients, or students because of the engagement thru a blog (see first item on graph).

And, while many businesses agree they want to blog, very few continue posting articles. Why? Blogging is hard work. It takes constant attention, interesting topics, and valuable information. Committing to a blog, however, will most likely put you out in front of the competition (see second item on graph).

Sometimes budget can constrain you from blogging as much as 16 to 20 times (see third item on graph), but posting often will attract traffic in greater numbers than posting sporadically. Do what you can and focus on good content.

If some valuable content is good, more is better! Making a big impact takes many blog posts (see fourth item on graph). No one has said content marketing happens overnight and maintaining a good blog will take time. That’s why this is your year to dive in, make a difference in promoting your business online.

Have questions or want help getting a blog started? Contact me 612-822-2320 or elise@misakimarketing.com.