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.