Human Marketing for a Human Audience
It has become a cliché in marketing to talk about adopting a consumer-centric marketing model, in which the consumer’s interests, business goals and decision-making processes are given highest priority when considering a marketing strategy or planning marketing activities. This concept is now being trumped by another with an equally vague, though perhaps more intriguing name: “human-centric marketing.”
In Marketing 3.0, author Philip Kotler writes that, “human-centric marketing is defined by brands [that] approach engaging their current and prospective customers via advertising and marketing tactics as whole human beings with hearts, minds and spirits” (quoted in this article on the human- vs. customer-centric approach to marketing). It is difficult to see this approach as a novelty. I would hope that designing marketing and advertising strategies with real human beings in mind is the approach that most successful brands choose when thinking about how to influence their clients. I think the novelty of the human-centric model resides in the implications it has for marketers who are becoming increasingly data-driven in their processes.
As a new email marketer, I am interested in understanding these developments and their applications to and implications for my work. I have the tools and resources to be an intelligent and efficient marketer. Based on advanced analytics, I can predict with relative certainty how many registrations a given email campaign will yield. I can test subject lines to find out what information is best given upfront in order to help a recipient make a split-second decision about the potential value of an email. I can refine copy to make sure its message is clear and legible, imagining myself as the reader I am trying to engage. Underlying all that is testable and measurable, however, is the factor that is beyond prediction: human nature.
Email marketing is the process of one human being attempting to reach another across a daunting divide of space, time and technology. The human variables in the equation make me realize that at the end of the day, when all best practices have been learned, tested and applied, I can only hope that the “human beings with hearts, minds and spirits” on the other side will open their inbox at the right time and in the right state of mind, and in that perfect moment my offering will resonate with their need in such a way that they will decide to click and register.
The relationships I work on building as a marketer are like any others: they are strong when based on trust, consistency and reliability, and they flourish when each side is able to see the value of their commitment and investment. Being human and understanding the human focus of my work has been a crucial element of my introduction to email marketing. I have learned that, just like in any other relationship, in email marketing there are some factors I can anticipate, estimate and rationalize, but that understanding people and data has its limitations.
Despite all the ways in which technology helps us gain insight and measure campaign performance, marketing is hardly a hard science. The numbers we rely on—open and click rates, registrations and conversion rates—fluctuate and, when estimating, we are ready to learn when things turn out differently. This is one of the most important lessons I have learned over the past month at BrightTALK. It is my goal to consistently take advantage of advancing research and analytics in order to be the smartest marketer I can be and use effectively the audience insight I have gained through our campaigns. On a foundational level this goal is translated in human terms: to be flexible and open-minded, always prepared and ready to learn from an unusual situation or an unpredictable result.