There are signs that we don’t want our future to be entirely digital.
Vinyl sales are on the increase. So too books – about 5% year on year. Waterstones no longer stock Kindles because they weren’t selling well enough.
More than half of us look at our phone within five minutes of waking, and Ofcom reckons we spend more than twenty hours a week online. That’s almost a day. Think how much human connection we’re missing out on because of that – at home, at work. Technology is starting to feel like a trap, and many would like to press the escape button.
But it’s going to get worse. McKinsey say there are 20% more touch points every year. The choice of marketing technologies is ever more bewildering and used by more departments in every business. Meanwhile, our marketing efforts fail to bridge the human-digital divide. There’s nothing human-centric about a QR code, or the uncanny valley of programmatic advertising.
Yet as technology proliferates, humanity prevails. Brands that can ‘get’ human can unlock a competitive advantage. Because brands aren’t only about messages. They’re built on feelings. Our job is to create our work with those feelings, and to ensure they amplified by the screen, not diluted. And, as long as you start with people rather than technologies, it needn’t be too hard.
First, build organisational empathy for your customer. Capture what makes them tick emotionally as well as rationally. Document their needs, desires, hopes and fears in a persona document and stick it on your office walls.
Next, understand people’s motivation. Are they really trying to self-actualise, or do they just want some money off? Digital experiences work best when they’re aligned with people’s intent. Make sure you know what that is. Research, apply, test and observe. Repeat.
And finally, build emotion into your digital interactions. Did you know, people spend more when they’re happy? Yet most of those who abandon checkouts do so because of hidden charges. Somehow websites manage to alienate customers just when they should be sealing the deal.
Brands should be two-way entities, because communication goes back as well as forth. So start listening. Get that right, and maybe your brand communications will be more human, and more effective, as a result.
By James Caig, head of strategy at True Digital
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