In decades past, the world of marketing was dominated by print advertisements in newspapers and magazines. Then came television and the rise of infomercials. These antiquated marketing tactics had one thing in common: They put the product front and center, with clever presentations intended to entice prospects to become paying customers.
But, the Internet led to a drastic shift in B2B marketing. Not only do prospects have an unprecedented amount of information available to them, but they’re also spread out across innumerable channels and websites– making them much harder to reach. Now, modern customers demand authentic, personalized marketing interactions with the brands they buy from. Consider these statistics (source):
- 71% of B2B buyers who see personal value will purchase a product.
- Personal value has twice the impact as business value on B2B purchasing decisions.
- Customers with strong connections to B2B brands have higher rates of consideration, purchase, and willingness to pay a premium.
The superficial, salesy marketing tactics of the past no longer satisfy the modern customer’s need for authentic connection. As a result, businesses must prioritize the human element of their marketing materials if they want to forge lasting relationships with their buyers.
Today, we offer you several tips to humanize your marketing efforts in the digital era. Let’s get into it!
1. Use natural language.
First and foremost, your B2B marketing materials must sound human. Whether it’s a blog post, paid advertisement, email, or landing page, your copy must read like it was written by a real person rather than churned out by an anonymous machine. Here are a few tips to write copy that sounds human:
- Know your audience: You want your customers to relate to your marketing efforts. Study the way your audience speaks about products and relevant topics. Use language they’ll understand and messaging that will resonate with their unique preferences and challenges.
- Avoid marketing jargon: Confusing or pretentious industry jargon does nothing except alienate your audience and make your marketing efforts appear bland and lifeless. Replace the frivolous buzzwords with concise, personable language and you’ll distinguish your marketing from the rest of the pack.
- Use humor: Don’t underestimate the power of a good joke in an email, advertisement or any other marketing initiative. Of course, stay within the lines of what’s appropriate for your brand and audience– but try to mix in some lighthearted or playful messaging from time-to-time.
2. Evoke emotions through storytelling.
It goes without saying, emotions play a huge role in your efforts to humanize your marketing. And, nothing engages an audience or triggers an emotional response like a good story. When you present your audience with a story, they naturally insert themselves into that narrative and thus feel a stronger emotional investment in your brand.
We’ve talked in the past about brand storytelling as part of content like infographics, blog posts, and testimonials. But here’s what we want you to remember: You can tell a story in any marketing initiative, even in a single image. To illustrate this point, let’s look at two examples of a paid banner advertisement for a hypothetical sales enablement tool:
- Example 1: The ad depicts a smiling salesman on a successful sales call. On either side of this image are several statistics that illustrate the effectiveness of the sales enablement platform.
- Example 2: This ad features a timeline of three images of a sales rep. In the first, he’s sitting at a cluttered desk, visibly frustrated and overwhelmed. The second image shows him logging into the sales enablement platform for the first time, a curious but hopeful look on his face. In the third image, he’s smiling after closing a deal. His desk is no longer a mess, and an email from his manager that reads “Amazing work!” is visible on his computer screen.
Which example seems more human? Yes, they both feature a real human being. But the second example is more gripping because it tells a story. The ad portrays the real-life impact the product has on its users, making it more relatable on a human level.
3. Be transparent and admit to mistakes.
One thing that separates human beings from machines is…we screw up. Mistakes make us human– so if you want your marketing initiatives to appear authentic, you can’t sweep your mistakes under the rug. Instead, we urge you to embrace past failures– and the lessons you learned from them– in your marketing materials.
Here’s an example: Let’s say your company recently changed the interface of its mobile app– and the change was poorly received. Many customers found the new interface confusing and experienced technical issues. Your developers gather customer feedback and make a number of quick improvements to the new app. In an email announcing another update, you include the following message:
“We promise to always listen to our customers. And we hear you- our recent update was a bit of a rocky one. Thanks to your feedback, we’ve made a number of changes so we can provide the seamless, rewarding user experience you deserve. Thanks for bearing with us!”
In this example, your company could have rolled out the improved app and pretended nothing had gone wrong. But, by using a marketing channel to admit your initial failure, you show customers you’re human. They’ll appreciate your transparency and trust that when mistakes happen, you won’t hide them.
4. Feature real employees and customers.
It may sound obvious, but the best way to humanize your marketing is to use real humans as often as possible. Your marketing team, your customer base, and your company as a whole are made up of unique individuals working toward a common goal. So why not feature these individuals in your marketing materials?
We’re not just talking about spotlighting employees on your careers page or posting candid images of your team on social media. Make an effort to highlight the real person behind different campaigns and initiatives.
For example, at the end of each blog post, include a photo and personal bio. Or, when a customer submits a web form, they can receive a brief ‘thank you’ video featuring a member of your team. Instead of using generic voiceover, put a product developer front and center in your latest product demo video.
The more you showcase human beings, the more authentic and unique your marketing efforts will seem. When customers think of the “face” of your brand, they should think of real people– not a logo or clever marketing gimmick.
5. Give your audience a voice.
In the past, the relationship between a marketer and the average customer was relatively one-sided. Marketers promoted their products and customers followed specific steps to make a purchase– or they simply flipped the page, change the channel, etc. Now, successful marketers don’t just cater to their audience– they involve their audience.
Facilitate human connection by letting your customers and prospects take an active role in your marketing strategy. Here are a few ways you can give your audience a voice and increase customer engagement:
- Provide options: Let your customers tell you what marketing materials they want to receive, and how and when they want to receive them. For example, allow them to customize their email preferences, or choose the style of ads they see from your company.
- Crowdsource campaigns: Deciding on a new tagline, slogan, or design for an upcoming campaign? Why not let your customers make the final decision? Through social media or other channels, ask for customer input or allow them to vote on specific campaign elements. It may seem like a simple gesture, but you’ll give customers a sense of ownership and they’ll connect to your marketing on a more personal level.
- Leverage user-generated content: User-generated content (UGC) is proven to appear more authentic and trustworthy than traditional content. UGC doesn’t only give a face to your customers– it also shows your audience you’re actively listening to them and you value their participation.
6. Go behind-the-scenes.
The customer doesn’t always understand the work behind the finished product. You launch campaigns once they’ve been carefully planned and finalized. You unveil products after they’ve been tweaked and tested. But, if you want to add an element of authenticity, consider peeling back the curtain from time-to-time.
When you launch a major campaign or release a new product, let your customers in on your decision-making process. Show them how you came up with an idea or what steps you took to get a campaign off the ground. You can even reveal a particular roadblock your business had to overcome before they could get a project up and running.
Here’s an example– let’s say you’re about to launch a new version of your most popular product. On the product landing page, you include a video featuring a closed-door meeting between members of your executive team. They discuss the general vision for the product, discuss which features to include, and offer feedback they’ve received from customers about the previous version of the product.
By making this conversation public, you give customers a candid look into how your business operates. As a result,they won’t just see the polished end-result– they’ll see a collection of real people who brainstorm new ideas and solve problems like any other human beings.
Final Thoughts on Humanizing Your Marketing Efforts
“People don’t buy from companies, people buy from people.” This commonly-used phrase may be a clichè– but it’s never been truer than it is today. Marketers can no longer win customers with clever advertising ploys or flashy presentation. Modern buyers want to know and trust the companies they’re buying from.
Learn more about ZoomInfo- the leading business information database- by contacting our sales team today. Our suite of marketing solutions is just what you need to win over customers and generate more revenue.