The rise of the Internet, big data, and social media platforms have drastically altered the marketing landscape. Companies are increasingly able to automate certain aspects of their marketing strategy. The question is, should they?
How important is human-to-human (H2H) marketing in today’s digital era? Is it scalable? And what are some examples of brands that are doing it right? These are some of the questions I asked a panel of experienced CMOs, digital marketers, and agency creatives in the Sprinklr CMO Advisory Board online networking group. If you’re interested in joining this discussion – register here – and check out a few takeaways:
Nearly everyone in Sprinklr’s CMO Advisory Board agreed that authenticity should be a vital element of any marketing strategy. A brand can generate an authentic feel by being transparent, which establishes trust with the consumer, by having a unique brand voice, and by creating engaging stories. At the same time, brands need to respect consumer privacy.
“We have to find balance. We often say that we need to go where our customers are. Our customers are on their phones. Our customers are on social media. Our customers are communicating via text. The trick is to engage them in a way that does not seem like an intrusion or does not feel invasive,” said Don Seaberry, Director of Digital Marketing for MDT Marketing.
When done well, authenticity can become the foundation of a brand’s success. “Being genuine, authentic and behaving like a friend to the audience really works for Netflix in building a human to human interaction that has really helped in shaping a positive brand perception,” said Anvesha Poswalia, Senior Brand Manager at Asian Paints. “Netflix uses wit and humor to engage the audience and keeps a two way conversation going with witty responses to the audience’s comments. Also, they seem to focus on quality over quantity, so you will never see extremely high number of interactions on any of their content, but it will be very high quality of engagement, which really adds back to the brand.”
Wendy Harrington, CMO at fintech company Figure, explained that human-to-human marketing often works best when humans work closely with bots.
“We’re seeing the benefits of combining humans and automation. For example, our customer success teams are available all day Monday through Saturday. After hours and on Sundays, the chatbot fills in. The human interactions actually train the chatbot. And the chatbot reduces the workload for people,” said Wendy. “Customers win with more timely, better interactions and have a choice–wait to speak to someone or connect online with the bot.”
Marketing consultant Sam Araji agrees, saying: “We see this combination today with many brands. HP does a great job of using automated marketing, but leveraging humans in it’s post-sales support, Apple as well. If we define digitally leveraged humans as H2H I think it will be a valuable component to any comm mix for the foreseeable future. Humans tell the best stories and storytelling is still key in marketing.”
While companies are eager to work AI, Sprinklr’s CMO Advisory Board largely agreed that brands should use caution.
“Right now, given the typical savings to businesses, AI is a hot investment when it comes to marketing. However, with the increase in AI results in a greater demand for H2H. The key is to figure out who and when wants what. Based on marketing analytics, companies need to determine the best application for each,” said Alex Dorward, COO at Simple Story. “Some people just don’t like dealing with humans and AI is faster and typically returns better results due to lack of human error. However, others are feeling resistance to this change and miss the good old days of H2H due to a more personable approach, friendliness, and potential for stronger relationships.”
While automation can save costs and improve your short-term ROI, machines won’t solve everything and might actually hurt your brand over time. Again, transparency is key. For example, it might be worth telling the customer when they’re talking to a chatbot. Additionally, give the consumer the option to talk to a live person too. Some problems simply cannot be solved through automation.
Curious to know more about the importance of H2H marketing in today’s digital era? Register here to join the Sprinklr CMO Advisory Board’s online networking group! Our forum is open and we welcome your contributions.
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