Being Human

by Jessica Ramesh Origin

Georgia Marshall-Brown, Digital Strategist at Origin, explains how collaboration between brands and consumers creates more human-centric marketing

Should brands and agencies be adopting a more ‘human’ approach to their digital marketing? Having spent a really informative day at the recent Figaro Digital Transformation conference, there were a number of pertinent takeaways.

All effective marketing puts the customer at the heart of the experience. That end-user is, of course, a human and whilst change may be the new constant in terms of delivery methodology, our human self remains effectively unchanged. The human brain is made up of a ‘creative’ right side and ‘scientific’ left side. As marketers we need to leverage science, insight and data to enable us to deliver creative, emotive and thought-provoking content to the right people, at the right time and in the right place.

A recent study by the BBC explored the reasons why emotive content shares well over social channels, regardless of whether sentiment is positive or negative. Cute cats, epic fails and moving stories resonate with your audience or community because that content says something about you and reflects your personality. Your ‘social friends’ respond to what you share because they view it as trustworthy. You shared it because you liked it, not because you think they will like it. Can brands emulate this?

Paid advertising in social channels like Facebook enables brands to appear in our newsfeeds, right between our friend’s holiday snaps and baby birth announcements. This privileged position should be handled with care. Brand content should not disrupt the user’s experience but enhance it; relevancy in messaging will be key to how positively content is received. Given that we know this individual intimately from the data available, delivery of messaging which is both timely and contextual will enable brands to interact and engage effectively with their audiences.

In the UK we recently reached the tipping point: more users are now browsing from a mobile device than any other platform. On average, users check their phones around 100 times each day and are only disconnected from the network for two hours in any 24 hour period. We are connected even while we sleep! The level of intimacy with our mobile devices combined with the impending boom in wearable tech means the relationship between humans and technology moves ever closer. For marketers and brands alike, this enables a deeper understanding of you and your needs as an individual. However, we need to consider the real person on the other side of the screen – and their emotional nature.

People still respond best to people, which may account for the fact that 93 per cent of purchases still end in-store, even though 88 per cent of these buying journeys started with research online. The high street isn’t dead, it’s just moved some of its services online. Brands need to be present at every touch-point to support, inspire and engage with their audiences to ultimately convert sales.

With the wealth of data available it is easy for brands to fall into the trap of acting like robots, simply processing data and delivering targeted marketing messages accordingly. However, we know from experience that it can be easy to misinterpret the insight, miss the emotional and physical cues and ultimately irritate – or worse – alienate your consumer.

Pushing coffee vouchers to you at Euston station is great, unless you are sprinting to catch a train. Then it’s simply annoying. Face-to-face interaction is personal and satisfying. People’s passion for a product or service is infectious and will support sales conversion. But we can be better with tech: better informed, better connected and free to focus on interaction with the customer.

A great example is the Waitrose wine app; customers can download and use it themselves; in-store wine experts can use the same app when engaging with customers to support and inform the buying journey. In contrast, self-service checkouts are efficient, but they are rude. It is all about providing the customer with choice.

In order to effectively support brands in getting the right balance, agencies will need a host of strategic, creative and digital specialisms in their armory, combined with collaborative working to co-create effective human-centric marketing.