One of the biggest challenges our clients face is embracing the idea that people, not computers, are the focus of digital marketing. For example, one of our clients wanted to send the same email to the same audience three times in a row. He was certain it would be more efficient than creating unique messages for each email flight (or blast).
In all fairness, he was right: It would be less expensive to send one email three times. It just wouldn’t garner the results he wanted—and it might actually harm his cause by alienating good prospects.
Why? Successfully engaging consumers in a digital setting is no different than engaging them in person. These aren’t robots or zombies counting the number of times they see the same message and then auto-clicking your links. They’re real people who display intellect, complex emotions and a range of motivators. They deserve our respect and at least an attempt at understanding.
So how can you demonstrate empathy in a device-driven world? Here are a few ways to make a meaningful connection:
- Extend the dialog. There’s a reason most people don’t propose marriage on a first date: It would be premature, even misguided. Relationships build over time—in love and in marketing. You have to deliver communications within the context of the relationship. You’ll earn the love by providing useful information on a consistent basis. Then you can close the deal.
- Educate to engage. Avoid tired come-ons that are only intended to grab attention. Stay away from endless lists of product benefits that glaze the eyeballs. Instead, help your customers satisfy their curiosity and develop their skills. For example, how can you (in the context of your digital marketing strategy) help them become smarter shoppers, healthier patients, savvier pet owners, better cooks or more skilled musicians?
- Be transparent. Few things are more off-putting than struggling to locate a customer support number on a website, decipher impossible terms and conditions or navigate a maze of fees. Putting your customers through these hassles is a good way to lose business. People appreciate honesty and accountability everywhere, but especially online, where they expect interactions to be automated, easy and fast.
- Speak human. Ever notice exactly what words you use with customers? Have you declared yourself a “global leader” delivering “effective initiatives for organizational performance”? You’ll connect with customers if you’re real, and you show them how you can help them. Run your marketing copy through sansbullshitsans and the we-we test to see if you need to adopt a more personal, service-oriented tone.
- Be loyal. Focus on giving people the information and interactions that matter most to them. Help deliver whatever they feel they haven’t received or been able to access anywhere else. Improve their lives. This isn’t about creating a carrot-and-stick relationship where you provide only as much as it takes to trigger a consumer’s immediate action. Don’t go after their attention—give them yours, one tiny interaction at a time. They’ll reward you for it.
If you want to matter to people, you have to do more than win their clicks. You have to help them accomplish their goals. When you do, they just might grant you their lasting respect, enduring trust and undying gratitude. (Along with their hard-earned dollars.)