The Human Signs at the Crossroads of Marketing Data and Technology

We’re seeing a bit of an inflection point where consumers are saying to a degree “enough is enough” when it comes to technology. Many feel machines are taking over. We’re not quite at the Terminator 3 level yet, but…

Unfortunately, there’s an overwhelming lack of humanity in the overall buying process which leaves consumers feeling unsatisfied and disconnected. Recent PwC research showed that a large majority of consumers felt that technology had become more pervasive than they wanted. In fact, 64 percent of consumers said companies had lost touch with the human element of the customer experience.

If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that human interaction matters now more than ever—and 82 percent of consumers want more of it in the future.

While we’ve all been focused on using data and technology to help drive marketing efficiencies, we’ve lost touch with the human connection. We’re at a point where we need to re-prioritize the customer experience by reminding ourselves just how important that is.

The three top corporate assets in any business now are data, people and brands. Currently, we as marketers have dedicated ourselves to the data piece, but not enough to the people and brands.

Clearly, data and analytics are critical for businesses. The discussion is not whether technology will continue to advance or whether data will play an important role. It’s more a question about how that will happen—how to enable those components to better serve customers.

Take for example the direct selling industry, where organizations have cracked the code on the brand and people front (embracing human connection), but have barely scratched the surface on the data front—especially when it comes to leveraging data to better engage their distributed sales force and provide personalized retail-quality experiences for their customers.

Address Both Functional and Emotional Needs for Consumers

There are five general truths behind the consumer decision-making process, but here we’ll focus on two of the most impactful: functional needs and emotional needs

When consumers buy based on functional need, they’re looking to efficiently and effectively make a purchase based on either a long-term or an urgent circumstance. The customer is more apt to research information prior to the purchase and evaluate alternatives. For emotional purchase decisions, many argue that the need does not necessarily have to be present at all. It is rather created by external sources, like influencers or emotions such as love, envy, pride, entertainment and/or vanity. These purchase decisions are strongly based on impulses as well as peer recommendations.

Data has made us incredibly good at delivering the functional need. Perhaps the best example of that is Amazon, where you can quickly go online, find what you need and have it delivered to your door. It’s not exactly an exciting or immersive buying experience, but it sure does work.

However, with the Baymard Instititue showing evidence that overall cart abandonment rates have increased to more than 70 percent during the ongoing pandemic, that is a clear indicator that there is a majority of consumers who go online to find a product to meet their functional need, but quickly find out it doesn’t meet their emotional need—meaning they don’t pull the trigger to make that purchase.

The human piece is really important in the shopping experience because it provides the positivity and the energy by which you’re going to entice the consumer to pull that trigger.

As marketers, we need to find a better way to use data to do more than just serve the right product to the right person at the right time—remembering they need a reason to pull the trigger. We need to make sure that we use everything at our disposal to meet both the functional and emotional needs for consumers.

Unfortunately, if we just rely on data, science and technology, then we won’t achieve that goal.

But, how do we strike that balance?

New Digital Marketing and CRM Tech Enriches Human Dynamic

It starts with an awareness and understanding of the need to integrate and optimize data, people and brands within the marketplace and your specific industry, as well as within your own company. It won’t be the same for any one organization. There is no single cookie-cutter approach here. As a marketer, you should challenge yourself to be thinking about the context of all three when deploying go-to-market strategies.

Once you establish the strategies—around optimizing data, people and brands—then you’ll need to commit and execute on those. Utilizing the latest innovations in digital marketing and CRM technology, like the marGo platform, can help develop a process for seamless execution.  

Using direct sales organizations as an example again, their success depends heavily on the people and brand—and they’re very good at both. However, digital marketing and CRM technology can be an amazing asset to direct sales, by allowing the technology to deliver personalized connections at scale. This type of marketing automation can help direct sellers with event management, timely follow-up, replenishment and cross-selling recommendations—all aimed at making sure that consumers get the right product back in their hands again as quickly as possible and the company is not leaving revenue on the table.  

It’s about leveraging technology to do some of the heavy process lifting for you, not using it to replace your sellers. In fact, if used correctly, it actually buys those independent business owners more time to service their customers and interact with them as humans. They know this is their competitive advantage within the industry.

Innovations such as these are purpose built to enrich and support the direct selling industry by applying data and technology so companies can be bigger, better and grow revenues—and do it in a multi-channel way that is currently lacking. All of this is designed to enrich the existing human dynamic. It’s not meant to threaten or replace it.

H2H Is the Future of Marketing

No doubt, 2020 was a tough year with COVID-19 and social unrest, but it’s made us all understand the importance of the human connection, and the impact when we lack that type of interaction. I think that mindset will continue to evolve and grow in terms of companies looking to deploy successful marketing strategies.

The Precision Marketing Group talks about how humanizing your marketing builds trust. Instead of a B2B, B2C or P2P strategy, it’s one of H2H (human to human). I believe we’ll be seeing that become an increasing part of marketing strategies in the coming years.

Consumer purchasing has to be both functional and emotional in nature, and the human touch plays a big role in that—building trust, credibility and connection. If consumers trust and feel comfortable with your brand, then they’ll be more excited to make that purchase.

However, we must embrace and use marketing automation technology in a way that makes our H2H connections stronger. Only then, will the brand ultimately become stronger as well.

Listen to marGo’s COO Alex Withers talk more on this topic during a recent “Confessions of a Marketer” podcast.

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