As many as 800 million jobs could be lost to automation by the year 2030, according to a recent report by McKinsey and Co. In this massive workforce shift, only companies that learn how to blend the mechanized world with the human touch will survive.
That’s especially true for marketers: As long as we’re trying to reach humans, maintaining the human touch will be a vital part of what we do. Increased automation — chatbots, prepackaged social media responses, etc. — can add value to consumer engagement, but only if the marketers behind the mechanization understand how consumers think and feel.
Because consumers can easily search the web for product information and pricing, brands trying to sell themselves on those qualities won’t stand out. Instead, emotion and affinity is what drives today’s consumers. For brands and marketers, using new technology to create better individual experiences that create emotional attachment and drive consumer engagement is paramount.
But reaching individual users means respecting them as individuals: in your messaging, in your interactions, and in the ways you collect and use their data. By understanding the challenges these demands pose, marketers can leverage the right technology to help their brands do what truly matters: connect with audiences.
The Ups and Downs of Riding the Tech Wave
Human engagement is essential to successful marketing, regardless of how sophisticated accompanying technology may be. Brands that automate their online engagement typically fail to maintain consumer interest, but brands like Netflix and Southern Rail that individualize their engagement with spunky, personal responses enjoy almost cultlike adoration.
That connection, however, should extend beyond Twitter quips and should translate to a conversation that increases customer comfort and ease. Many customers are intimidated, for example, by cryptocurrency payment options, so brands that step out first in this space, authentically explaining cryptocurrency and using it with their consumers, will enjoy more brand trust in later adoption phases.
At RAPP, we believe that creative utilization of tech and data leads to happier consumers, but bad application or misuse of that data — which is all too common — leads to missed opportunities and lower revenue. A better approach is to let customers lead the way and to encourage them to consider the increased capabilities that new technology offers.
But, of course, each new tech tool requires thorough consideration for brand and product fit before implementation. Google Glass flopped after just two years because Google failed to align the technology with brand’s purpose and its target audience. The tech’s high price point, privacy implications, and lack of a clear audience killed a product that exemplified invention rather than innovation because it wasn’t predicated on real customer need.
Riding the innovation wave isn’t easy. Implementing tech that provides better customer experiences means first changing the mindset around tech and data. Follow these tips to turn emerging technology into a powerful way to connect to consumers.
Take an Honest Look at Your Data
Re-evalute your data, honestly appraising what you do and don’t know about the consumers you engage with. Do you have enough information to personalize the conversation? If not, explore what data would make your brand more useful to consumers’ daily lives, while remaining cognizant of the evolving data-privacy landscape. Using tech like augmented reality or artificial intelligence won’t resonate if don’t address consumers’ real wants and needs. Utilize information that will make your brand irreplaceable; manifesting it through creative tech is just the icing on the cake.
Embrace the Opt-in World
Consumers today hold more power than marketers and brands, but you can incentivize them to pick your business over the rest. Rather than try to sneak in email subscriptions and user agreements, give consumers the power to opt in to your brands’ offerings, including content, services, and products. Validate customers’ decisions by building a value exchange that excites them by making them feel their opt-in is valuable. By conferring control on users, you show them you’re willing treat their data with respect, as if you were meeting them face to face, listening and growing at their pace.
Unlearn the ‘Always On’ Mindset
Brands must rethink their tactics and move from static to disruptive in a way that grows their business and keeps pace with consumer demands. Brands can no longer simply pick an audience and show them messages about their product. That’s the “always on” mindset, in which your message is static and your audience is fixed; instead, you need to be on-demand, ready to be whatever your audience requires. Unlearn the old way, and embrace the new way.
Technology is not turning back; tools like chatbots, cryptocurrency, and AI continue to become more entrenched in our experiences by the day. Marketers who use these tools to deliver on their brand promises and create meaningful experiences for customers will win more business, while those who fall behind will struggle to survive.