Today’s marketers are facing two very different issues. On one hand, we’re being told that we need to stay ahead of the curve, adopt technology, and automate whenever possible. On the other hand, we’re being told that, in order to cut through the clutter, we need to be more human, tell better stories, and put in real effort to connect with audiences.
Typically, these two goals would be understood as opposing one another. In many ways, they are.
While technology offers a plethora of options for increasing the efficiency of any business—most of these are centered around automation, which can decrease the more repetitive and less thought-requiring of tasks–it’s also regarded as a way to replace people or decrease the need for human efforts.
While this may help out on the side of efficiency and effectiveness in some areas, it often leaves the customers of a business angered because it can feel disingenuous or may hurt the quality of customer service. For example, the use of chat bots or robots for taking customer concerns can lead to extremely unsatisfied customers if they feel that their issues don’t warrant the attention of an actual person.
The same is true of marketing technology. In fact, it might be even more serious of an issue when it comes to marketing, seeing that the most significant function of marketing is to create relationships and develop trust with audiences. Overuse of technology in relationship building practices can be perceived as insincere. Similarly, issues are likely to arise due to the fact that technology is not, as of yet, sensitive or aware. For example, if an event takes place that somehow makes a pre-written automated message look inappropriate, a brand will still be held accountable, regardless of whether they were aware of the event or possible ways that their message could be misinterpreted.
Without constant monitoring of automation—which kind of defeats the point of automation—or a healthy sprinkling of real-time, human-written messages, brands can face serious concerns with developing the human aspect of their brands.
The dehumanizing aspects of technology and automation can be more than mitigated, though. They can actually be reversed, and technology can be used to emphasize the humanity of a brand.
How Technology Can Make Your Brand More Accessible
Research has shown that marketers are struggling to integrate marketing technology into their daily efforts. In fact, 37.2% of marketers found “Developing creative, innovative campaigns that stand out in the market” to be a top problem, making it one of the most significant marketing issues that marketers are facing today. On the other hand, another 36% of marketers found “lack of an effective strategy” to be an issue while 39% found a lack of internal skills and training to be a barrier when trying to achieve digital marketing success. (Chief Martec)
What this means is that despite all of the great technology out there, the biggest problems marketers are having are ‘human’ problems–essentially, using technology to be creative and create genuine connections. Keeping human needs—that is, the needs of your audience—at the core of your business and technology usage strategies will never lead to failure, though.
In fact, one of the most significant ways to humanize your brand with marketing technology is to use marketing technology behind the scenes, rather than in your customer-facing communications. Identifying where automation is essential and limiting it only to this uses will allow you to use that precious saved time to put even more time and effort into researching your audience. It is with that data, which you can also use marketing technology to gather and analyze, that you can make great strides in humanizing your brand.
It’s a virtuous cycle. By using marketing technology in pointed and strategic ways—rather than in any and every possible way—you can free up much needed time to explore more effective ways of reaching your audiences. The more effectively you reach your audience, and the more you identify the most crucial steps in the buyers’ journey, the more effectively you’ll be able to use technology throughout the buyers’ journey. And so on and so forth.
In the same way that cellphones can be used to either avoid interaction or stay connected with loved ones, the end result of marketing technology depends on how you choose to use it. In fact, the rise of content marketing, which is arguably the most audience-focused marketing philosophy out there, owes part of its current success to marketing technology. Thanks to digital technology and platforms, everyone and anyone is able to act as a publisher and connect with audiences around the globe. That capability alone should speak volumes of marketing technology’s ability to bring brands and their audiences together.
And this applies to technologies such as social media and email as much as it does to content management systems. Overall, the ability of and avenues for brands to communicate with audiences on a one-to-one basis is unprecedented. The key to communicating effectively and, ultimately, humanizing your brand is to not abuse this power.
Did you like this post? Let us know why (or why not) in the comments. In the meantime, check out our blog Blurred Lines: The De-Silo-Ing of Marketing to discover why breaking down organizational silos is key to staying agile and ahead of your competition.