When we talk about marketing these days, we often get caught up in all the new technology and trends out there, and lose sight of the importance of making your brand more human.

Personalization is one of the most powerful business strategies today, and can give you a serious competitive edge. Less than 10% of companies around the world have personalization fully integrated into their business strategy, as it takes time and effort. Yet it’s well worth it.

The latest technology won’t get you very far if you’re not connecting with your customers on a personal level, because nobody wants to buy something from a robot. 

A human-centered approach should be the foundation of your entire marketing strategy, from content to email. And all your data and measurements should lead to real actions that aim to improve customer experience. 

Here are a few ways to make your brand more human: 

1. Make customer experience a core value 

The way your customers view you is made up of every little action and interaction, from the first time they contact you to the moment they make a purchase. Every detail counts. Customers walk away if you don’t offer them good service or don’t answer their questions swiftly. And most of the time they leave without even complaining.

That’s why it’s essential to keep your customers happy while interacting with them across all touchpoints. And whether you’re global or not, retention should remain a priority, as attracting new customers is 6-7 times more expensive than attracting new ones.

There’s always a human being on the other side of the screen, and that’s where the final click will come from. 

Miranda Gray

2. Listen to your customers and get their feedback

Letting your customers have a voice is an important way for you to get to know their needs and preferences. According to Huffington Post, “70 percent of companies that deliver outstanding customer experience rely on customer feedback.”

Getting feedback from your customers—and incorporating it—allows you to improve your products and services. That’s why encouraging customers to engage and interact with your company really is as important as they say it is. 

3. Be easily accessible 

Customers don’t like receiving automated messages or mass emails. We all prefer to speak to a human being and feel that we’re being understood. That said, having a chatbox on your website is a great way to encourage customers to communicate with you. 

Also, the best way to make your brand more human is by having a real person behind your social media accounts—a community manager—who can answer your customers’ questions and comments in their native language. By being human and friendly, it’s a lot easier to earn their trust, which is key to customer retention.

People want to talk to other people—not a logo or a brand name.

Ilia Markov

4. Use social media to inspire engagement and interaction 

Audiences love new things—no wonder exciting interactive technologies like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are gaining lots of popularity. If you aren’t there yet, not to worry; social media can still be your best friend in the global marketing arena. By launching compelling social media campaigns, you can inspire your audiences worldwide to engage with your brand. 

For example, Airbnb launched a brilliant social media campaign in 2015. They asked their online community to do random acts of hospitality for strangers and post them with the hashtag #OneLessStranger. The campaign reached over 3 million people in just three weeks and was a powerful way to help the community overcome one of Airbnb’s greatest challenges: the fear of hosting or staying with strangers.

See also: Encourage engagement through social media – Harriet Drudge, social lead at The Athletic UK

Networking groups online for content creators

5. Create personal connections and communities through storytelling

Storytelling remains one of the most celebrated marketing techniques, and it’s far more engaging than hard data will ever be. In fact, by telling your brand’s story well or using narrative that truly resonates with your audience, you could be increasing the value of your product or service by over 20 times

There are several different techniques. For example, Airbnb uses customer-led storytelling in its platform Community Stories, where members have a place to share their tales and build a community among peers.

See also: Successful storytelling strategies to make your brand stand out

6. Integrate on- and off-line visibility in a relevant context

Companies like Nike and Red Bull sponsor sports events across the globe. This is a clear example of how major brands get their name seen by targeted audiences the world over. Sponsorships and events are effective because they combine on- and off-line visibility, ideally in a context that’s meaningful and relevant to the brand’s audience.

7. Embrace influencer marketing 

Companies are increasingly working with influencers around the globe, with Instagram being the most chosen channel for campaigns (93% to be exact). This is because, similar to the point above, people trust their peers more than traditional advertising methods. In fact, 84% of millennials say they don’t trust traditional advertising. 

What’s more, influencer marketing is still quite affordable: 84% of micro-influencers charge $250 or less for sponsored Instagram posts, and 97% charge no more than $500, according to a Bloglovin Global Influencer Survey.

So, depending on the country you’re marketing in, working with a local Instagrammer may be your most cost-effective option.

See also: 9 influencer marketing strategies used by the pros

8. Use co-creation and collaboration platforms

Co-creation is another effective marketing technique used by major brands like Coca-Cola and Nike. Allowing your customers to participate in the creation or innovation of your products can greatly enhance their experience, while also enabling you to improve. So it’s a win-win. 

One example is LEGOS Ideas, an online community where members get to submit their own LEGO set creations, exchange feedback, and vote on submissions. Depending on the number of votes, LEGO chooses a winner, whose set is actually created and then sold worldwide. 

9. Don’t underestimate the power of personalized email marketing

It’s quite amazing how email has stood the test of time in today’s constantly advancing tech age. In fact, the power of email marketing is at an all-time high. Check out these stats from Campaign Monitor:

  • Email beats social by 40x for customer acquisition
  • Email delivers the highest ROI for marketers 

Yet it’s not as simple as growing your email list to the millions. According to Campaign Monitor, “Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened and marketers have found a 760% increase in email revenue from segmented campaigns.” 

Thus, the more customized the better, which is why your automation tools are very useful. You’ll want to segment your email lists as much as possible—based on language, past purchases, time zones, etc—to make sure your readers are receiving relevant, personalized emails. 

See also: How to write friendly emails that enhance your professional relationships

10. Use video to show the human side of your company

Even if you don’t have the latest video technology, you should still be investing in video content, especially if you’re going international. 72% of businesses say video has improved their conversion rate

Videos are a great way to illustrate how your products work and show the human side of your company. Create videos that are entertaining and creative, and always make sure they’re culturally relevant for the markets you share them in. If your video has words, make sure to either add subtitles or dub if necessary.

See also: Video content is the future – Adam Davis, Israel-based marketing content manager

11. Visually-compelling content that plays on emotions

Never forget that a picture speaks a thousand words… or more! According to Fast Company, “visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text,” and “tweets with images are 94% more likely to be retweeted than tweets.” 

Keep all those beautiful images coming! But again, rather than using solely infographics and numbers, use photos that tell stories and convey emotions.

The best marketing campaigns trigger emotion. It can be joy or laughter or anything that makes a person remember you because you made them feel something.

Amy Kelly

Final thoughts on how to make your brand more human

All in all, if you want to make your brand more human and personal, you’ll have to juggle two almost opposite techniques: integrate cutting-edge technology while being as personal as humanly possible. Advancing marketing technologies and new marketing channels are pivotal to increasing a brand’s reach. Yet if you don’t build a personal connection with your audience, you’ll fail to engage and interact with them… and they may just leave without saying goodbye.