Today it seems like everywhere we go and everything we do is tracked.

Data is nothing new, yet the insurmountable amount of info that exists on each and every one of us has revolutionized how companies operate and has transformed the way brands reach customers. Facebook alone has admitted to collecting everything from our income and net worth to our relationship status and exact location.

Data's role in the digital landscape is what got me excited about marketing. Not only did it provide validity for efforts, but it allowed marketers to reach, track and connect with customers with exceptional precision.

Yet, with all these advancements that digital data has brought, it has also spurred some new setbacks.

People still matter

Many companies have become so programmatic in their efforts to reach customers that they have forgotten a crucial point: You are marketing to people not numbers.

Ad creation became less and less creative as digital display grew. Creativity somehow translated to click bait. More time was spent thinking of how to lure customers in or how to 'trick for the click' than how to build brand equity.

Simply put, brands lost touch with the relationship-building aspects of marketing.

The fallout can be seen most vividly with Millennials who have become known for craving authenticity. The generation stereotypically known for a lack of brand loyalty shakes a fist at click bait and easily disconnects from a brand for their lack of genuine effort to connect.

The truth is that it isn't that Millennials can't be loyal, it is just that they expect value from a brand and they can see through the marketing trickery. Opportunities for connection are lost when brands only focus on the short game.

How to reach them

So what is the solution for brands that want to cultivate a relationship with their customers as opposed to getting a quick hit?

The key lies in providing value. No matter what channel you are using to connect, focusing on providing value and giving vs just taking.

It seems simple, yet with demanding deliverables, companies often seek short term wins over long term relationship investments.

This is the very reason that content marketing has exploded in last few years, especially with Millennials. It provides an opportunity for a brand to attract and acquire new customers by providing value. It lays the foundation for a relationship with users that goes far beyond the click.

With value at the forefront, this new marketing strategy now relies on data in a whole new way. Using information to provide storylines for content that connects and refining segments for distribution that actually want to consume your message.

Data is not the enemy; it is the catalyst to effective customer connection, but as marketers we need to remember that data alone can't build the lasting relationship your brand needs.

Published on: Aug 30, 2016