Take It Personal: Relationship Marketing In The Age Of Digital

The proliferation of technology has given us communication tools unparalleled by any other time in human existence. We’re now connected to people online, with access to virtually anything we desire right at our fingertips. We can sort through large numbers of services, products and even potential partners — selecting one that is just right, all while staying at arm’s length. The myriad of ways to communicate comes with inherent concern that we’re connecting to each other but not connecting with each other.

A prime example of this dilemma is exhibited in an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, called “The Anti-Social Network.” Character Dennis Reynolds grows increasingly frustrated with the lack of face-to-face interaction. He rants, “I’m saying call me, let’s have a phone conversation. Yeah, don’t tweet. Don’t just tweet me … you know, let’s connect. Let’s have a connection, you know?”

Despite the proliferation of connectivity, one thing that hasn’t changed is the reason we connect in the first place. The allure of digital dialogue is rooted in meeting a fundamental human need — the need for connecting with other humans.

For marketers, this instinctual desire paired with accessibility creates an unprecedented formula for customer engagement. Adding a personal touch can accelerate the growth of authentic relationships that can’t be replicated in computer-generated communications. Mastery in our digital world is well-worth the effort, as a positive experience with a staff member increases customer satisfaction . When companies respond to customers via social media, these same consumers spend than those who do not get a reply.

If your marketing comes off as impersonal, emotionless or strictly business, it’s time to infuse personality into your digital outreach. You have only a few seconds and the size of a smartphone screen to leave a lasting impression. Here’s how to make those five inches count by tapping into basic human needs.

Demystify Your Audience

Knowing who you’re speaking with is central to any communication. In doing so, you’ll be able to tailor your message to resonate effortlessly with your target audience, urging their inclination to act. Here are some things to consider when defining your audience(s):

* Demographics: Know your customer (gender, age, income, marital status, education level, occupation, place of residence, political/religious affiliation).

* Psychographics: Why do they buy (values, opinions, attitudes, interests, lifestyles)?

* Buyer Persona: Who is your ideal customer based on data and market research?

* Insights From Your Client Conversations: Find out about their day-to-day operations, struggles, goals and even off-topic things such as sports or pets. Ask meaningful questions, listen and validate, and get to know the real people behind the metrics. Pick up the phone and talk with them — hear their tone and inflection, which add sentiment to the otherwise flat, typed words.

Talk With Them, Not At Them

Treat social media as more than a one-way conversation. Interact, reply and have real discussions regarding what matters most to your customers. This is critical, yet often overlooked on social media. Eighty percent of social media posts are about one’s own experiences. Researchers have found when talking about themselves, people were in a state of dopamine overdrive and neurochemical bliss. When offered money to change the subject, some even chose to continue talking about themselves.

To consistently deliver value with each interaction, ask your followers what they want to receive. What you consider valuable information may not be the same to them. Use retargeting to show website visitors exactly what they are interested in based on what they viewed on your website. Getting others to like your brand isn’t just how you make them feel, it’s how your brand makes them feel about themselves.

Appeal To Emotions

Keeping your audience emotionally engaged with your content is critical to your bottom line. The average emotionally connected customer generates 52% more annual value than a customer that is just highly satisfied.

According to research from Paul J. Zak, Ph.D ., emotional simulation is the foundation for empathy. For social beings like humans, it allows us to recognize body language that shows if those around us are angry, dangerous or friendly. This enables us to stay safe and to rapidly form relationships. Upon making an emotional connection, the human brain releases oxytocin. When the brain synthesizes oxytocin, it causes people to be more trustworthy and generous and more sensitive to social cues.

Storytelling is a compelling way to impart emotions into your marketing, as they tap into empathy. Fuse emotions into stories in regards to why you started your business, your team, what passions drive you to do what you do. Illustrate your company culture, what you stand for and why it matters to the lives of the audience.

Treat Followers The Way They Want To Be Treated

A powerful way of establishing rapport is isopraxis, or mirroring another’s behavior. This can be exemplified by feeling compelled to stand and clap when other audience members are doing so, wearing the jersey of your favorite athlete or even when two dogs lay in the identical position. According to Robin Dreeke , head of the Behavioral Analysis Program of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, isopraxis increases liking, trust and affiliation. These delicate shifts can deepen bonds and turn strangers into allies. Studies have shown the technique can improve sales and negotiation outcomes .

The voice of your content needs to be human, warm, approachable and relatable — the same way you would talk with your friends and family. Don’t be afraid to mix it up and find your voice. The use of a personal voice leads to greater user-satisfaction ratings than otherwise impersonal communication tactics.

Both technology and humans each have an essential role in marketing. Personalizing your marketing isn’t just retargeting, gathering data and monitoring for mentions. Technology should be used to complement, not replace, human interaction. Empathy, trust and visceral feelings are vital in maintaining your bond with your audience. Despite advancements in technology, the importance of fostering communities and conversations and appealing to the heart will always remain.


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