Faith in Marketing Restored! Connecting to Humans and Consumers; Not Algorithms
Technology is a crucial tool in modern marketing, especially the wealth of data businesses can collect on their audiences. We can use these tools to create personalized experiences that build true connections with customers, brands, and products.
But while data can be helpful for decision-making, identifying trends, and finding more effective solutions for marketing challenges, it shouldn’t be used alone. As marketers, we need to bring creativity, intuition, and humanity back to marketing to get a competitive advantage.
Why Isn’t Data Enough?
With the rise of data collection and processing tools, we have access to more data than ever before. We can capture and analyze data for rapid-fire decisions, adapting to market changes as they come.
The data we collect will only grow, giving us more information for targeted messaging and maximum impact. But data doesn’t discern the context, humans do.
Marketing is, and always has been, a combination of science and creativity. Customers are humans, and our marketing has to include that human element that data simply can’t provide.
Purchasing decisions aren’t a matter of hard numbers. Even the mundane, everyday products involve a range of different determinant factors, including the customer’s current mood, the quality of their sleep, the way they interpret their surroundings, and more. We all interpret these factors, both consciously and unconsciously, to come to a decision. Data can’t capture that.
In addition, customers are becoming wary of their online privacy and the algorithms that provide eerie personalization. Marketing can be too personal, and then it comes across as creepy or invasive rather than an emotional connection.
Marketers are at risk of becoming complacent with too many tools at their disposal. We can get limitless information and customer insights, plug numbers in, and keep customers in a tidy “box.”
But data should be used to test and validate assumptions and ideas, not replace the intuition of the marketing team.
Why Does Intuition Matter in Marketing?
Intuition is the ability to understand, without conscious thought, if something is good or bad, right or wrong. We all have intuition, but some people are more sensitive to it than others.
When decision-making is purely empirical, intuition can get lost in the process. We miss out on the customer experience and storytelling element that builds that emotional connection with customers. The best books on branding cover the storytelling elements that are necessary to a powerful brand.
Some of the most impactful storytelling comes from athletic brands. When Misty Copeland, the first Black woman to be promoted to a principal dancer in the prestigious American Ballet Theatre, became a spokesmodel for Under Armour, the brand launched its most expansive women’s campaign to date.
The initial ad showed Copeland dancing with a voice-over of a young girl reading a rejection letter that Copeland received when she first started in the sport. The resulting campaign’s success exceeded what the brand had imagined, raking in tons of impressions, earned media, traffic, and sales – all on its storytelling and messaging of empowerment.
When customers are shopping for Under Armour products, they feel seen and understood. They believe they, like Copeland, can overcome obstacles and rejections to make their dreams and goals come true.
Could data have provided those types of insights on its own? Probably not. Intuition, lived human experience, and a compelling story are what taps into those emotions. Brands that capture that storytelling with brand strategy consulting understand their customers, their goals, and their expectations, delivering the experience they want.
Adopt a Big-Picture Perspective
Curious how to apply this to your own marketing strategy? Here are some tips for human-focused marketing:
Provide an Exceptional Customer Experience
Personalization means providing a valuable and relevant experience for customers, such as targeted content or personalized product recommendations based on search or purchase history. The key is knowing what your customer truly wants, though, or else you could waste your efforts on personalization that misses the point.
Data should be a baseline to develop your strategy, but be sure to include human insights to ensure that customers have that elevated experience they’re looking for.
Build Valuable Content
Some technology tools can be used to replace humans, but that’s not true of content. AI writing tools are still somewhat unsophisticated, sometimes providing nonsensical writing or factual errors. The technology is impressive in many ways but isn’t completely there yet.
Human creativity needs to stay at the heart of creative processes. Humans want content written by humans, not an algorithm. Leverage data to guide your content strategy, but rely on humans to create it.
Get Customer Feedback
Customer feedback is a necessary component to continually improve your marketing and the customer experience. Though customers can be protective or private with this information, surveys and focus groups are valuable tools to get insightful information. If you offer exclusive gifts, such as discounts or exclusive product access, it provides an incentive.
Social media can also be a treasure trove of information about customers. Most people are happy to share opinions or complaints on social media, and you can track this feedback to improve the customer experience.
Some marketers think that getting data means that everything about the strategy will fall into place. That’s complacent and likely to fail, especially if there’s no context for what the numbers represent and how they should be contextualized.
If you rely too heavily on data, it can negatively affect the decision-making process. You must include human emotions, feedback, and experiences. Once you have data, ask questions and determine how the data fits into your decisions and initiatives. Numbers don’t lie, but a person interpreting them can still display subjectivity.
Offer More Personalization
Personalization is a buzzword. Customers are looking for personalization, brand values, and companies that go above and beyond to provide them with that tailored experience. Data is becoming a key part of providing the in-depth insights that facilitate it.
With high demand in the competitive landscape, marketers need to take personalization a step further with more human elements. It takes a human mind to put personalization in context and fine tune the message for customers, rather than using a “best guess” from a data source.
Bring the Humanity into Your Data for Brand Storytelling and Emotional Connections
Data and technology tools are a virtual necessity for modern marketing, especially as the market becomes more competitive. No human can gather, process, and analyze all this data without the help of tools, but there is a risk of losing the humanity of a brand and forgetting about the customer at the heart of it. No matter how tech-forward your company is, it should be used to enhance the marketing process – not replace it.
Kyle Johnston, Guest Writer
Kyle Johnston is a Founding Partner and President of award-winning brand, content creation & brand strategy consulting firm, 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.