We all have brands we like and maybe even, on some level, feel connected to. But at the end of the day, brands are still brands. It’s a much bigger uphill battle to encourage engagement or connection with a brand than it is with a human being.
While we don’t often say it in these words, one of the biggest challenges all marketers face is figuring out how to make their marketing human enough that it doesn’t feel like something coming from a faceless corporate entity. You want to create marketing campaigns that feel relatable to the people you’re trying to reach.
Data, something that feels about as dry and without personality as you can get, can actually be a powerful tool for helping marketers make a more human connection with prospects.
Data Can Help You Understand Your Customers
There’s a reason “know your audience” is one of the most repeated phrases in marketing. If you can’t understand the people you’re trying to reach, you’ll never produce marketing campaigns that connect with them. And no matter how hard we try, marketers usually don’t know our customers as well as we’d like.
Data isn’t just about tracking clicks and sales, it can drive insights into what your customers are thinking and feeling and what types of marketing activities they respond well to.
Recognize Typical Customer Behavior
While every lead that turns into a sale is unique, there are usually trends to how people behave in the course of the buying process. The more data you have on how your prospects behave on their path to becoming customers, the more reasonable assumptions you can make about how future leads will behave. Data can tell you what actions your prospects typically take and which of the marketing activities they encounter are most likely to lead to their becoming valuable customers.
That information allows you to shape your marketing plan according to what your leads actually respond to. If you know the people in your target audience consistently click on retargeted ads, then you can guess that future leads won’t be annoyed to see your ads following them around – they’ll likely be intrigued and use them to find their way back to your site. If they usually not only sign up for your email list, but also open emails and click through to the links you provide, then you know putting emphasis on your email marketing is worthwhile.
On the other hand, if your typical customer tends to ignore retargeted ads or never bothers opening emails once they’re on your list, your data will tell you that so you can focus your efforts accordingly.
The fact is, different people respond to different types of advertising in different ways. Maybe you prefer to read blog posts, but the people in your target audience usually prefer getting their information through video. Your data will start to paint the picture of what the individuals behind the analytics think and feel.
Know Who Your Prospects Are and Where They Are In Your Buyer’s Journey
Marketing analytics are often valuable because they help us draw conclusions based on volume. If we know that a high percentage of prospects behave a certain way, then that helps us make assumptions about what other, similar prospects will do. Nonetheless, the people making the moves that create those marketing analytics are still individuals. Not all of them need the same information to reach a decision and the more information you can collect on the specific leads behind those marketing analytics, the better a job your team can do of delivering up the information they need at the moment they need it.
A lead who just made their way to your website for the first time via a pay-per-click ad might not be at the point where a product demo makes sense for them (and may even be annoyed if your marketing seems too aggressive too fast). One who clicks through to a blog post that handles a topic relevant to one of the products you offer won’t benefit from emails touting the value of your other product that’s really only good for companies of a different size or type. When your data can show you who your leads are and where they fall in the buyer’s journey, you can be sure to deploy campaigns that are relevant to their needs and interests.
Technology is making personalized marketing that lets you serve up the right marketing at the right moment for your leads possible, but using the technology well requires having the right data to make it work. You have to know who your leads are and where they are in their journey for personalized marketing to pay off.
Use Marketing Analytics to Inform Empathy
Empathy is easy to talk about, but often hard to manage. We’re taught “the golden rule” as kids: do unto others as you’d have done unto you. But it’s not actually a great lesson, because what other people want doesn’t always align to what you want.
Good marketers know this. The type of marketing you personally respond to may be worthless to the people you’re trying to reach. You have to try to figure out what they like. And a lot of marketers aren’t doing a great job of it. 34% of people surveyed have said they “broke up” with a brand because of marketing that was overly disruptive or irrelevant.
Create Data-Based Personas
Personas are the tool we use to try to bridge the gap between our customers and us. Ideally, they help us get inside their heads and tap into what they think, how they might feel, and how they prefer to interact with information (both in general, and specifically as it pertains to marketing from brands).
Many marketing organizations know they should create personas, but don’t really know how to go about it so that they’re accurate. They end up serving more as creative writing exercises based on the things you think you know about your customers, rather than an accurate picture based on the information you actually have.
Data’s really only half of the equation if you want to create useful personas. Part of the process should be actually listening to people – providing surveys, setting up interviews with customers and prospects, and talking to sales about what they’ve learned in their one-on-one interactions with customers. Those conversations are important, but they merely provide the anecdotal half of the equation. Data helps you fill out the bigger picture. The more customer touch point data you have the better, but even with just the information basic Google Analytics fields provide, you can start to use data to craft more accurate buyer personas.
As long as the work you do to understand who your customers are and what they’re interested in is based on something tangible and not pure speculation, your personas can be a powerful resource for empowering your marketing team to better empathize with the people they’re creating content and campaigns for.No matter how significant a role data comes to play in marketing in the years to come, good marketing will always require human creativity and insights as well. Robots won’t be taking over marketing departments in the foreseeable future, but technology will increasingly provide the people that power your team with better support and knowledge that helps them do their jobs better.
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