Digital marketing has become an essential marketing strategy. With 40% of the world's population using the Internet, there is no question that digital marketing reaches customers.

But there might be a problem with the rash of digital marketing.

It runs the risk of losing its personal appeal.

Here's what happens. A business or brand gets excited about online marketing, jumps in, follows the process, and carries out all the right tactics.

They understand "digital." They understand "marketing." But they are missing the warm-and-fuzzy soul of marketing--that person-to-person connection.

If you focus simply on the medley of online marketing tactics, you risk losing online personal appeal. Tactics don't earn respect, garner a viral following, or provide personal appeal. There has to be something deeper, more effective, and more human.

When you go deeper into marketing, you begin to realize that no amount of tactics, money, techniques, or innovation will earn you customers unless you successfully connect on a personal level.

How do you do it? How do you make your digital marketing more personal?

Get to know your customers.

It all starts with knowing your customers. You will not be able to make your marketing personally appealing without understanding the following:

Here are several methods you can use to gain a deeper understanding of your customer:

  • Create a persona--Your marketing persona is a real working model of the typical or target customer.
  • Create surveys for your customers--A good survey will give you reams of personal insights into your customers, allowing you to shape your marketing accordingly.
  • Meet your customers in person--Your customers are your business, but you'll never truly understand them unless you get to meet them. Yes, that means in person and face to face. Customer events and sponsored gatherings allow you to do this.
  • Hire a customer to be part of your marketing team--Some businesses hire talent directly from their customer pool. Buffer, for example, only considers job candidates who use and understand their product. It makes sense from a strategic perspective. You want employees who get it--who innately understand the customer's needs, desires, and daily experiences.

The better you understand your customer, the more personally appealing your marketing will become.

Use personal spokespeople for your brand.

The quickest way to be completely depersonalized is to sound depersonalized.

The voice of your content needs to be human, understandable, approachable, intimate, and down-to-earth.

In other words, your online marketing should be carried out by real people with names and identities, writing, posting, blogging, or emailing other customers.

Whether these are your "spokespeople," "brand managers," "customer happiness engineers," or "content creators" isn't important.

The point is this: Real people connecting with real people is the only way your digital marketing can become truly personal.

Every few days, I get an email from Ramit Sethi. Ramit shares information about psychology, personal finance, and all kinds of other fascinating topics. The email is so personal that I feel like Ramit is talking directly to me.

As the central figure in his brand, it's appropriate and natural for Ramit to carry out his marketing like this. I do the same thing with my personal brand.

If your business doesn't have a central figure, no problem! Your existing customers can participate in personal marketing through guest posting. This technique has worked wonders at Crazy Egg and other companies, such as Hubspot.

Interact on social media. Don't just publish.

93% of businesses use social media in their marketing. But how personal is this social media?

Here's where much of social media goes awry. Businesses use it as a publishing platform rather than an interaction platform.

Take Twitter as an example. What is Twitter for? For publishing a 140-character post four times a day? No. Twitter is for favoriting, retweeting, replying, and asking for feedback.

Studies confirm it. If you ask for retweets, you'll receive retweets. "Please ReTweet" earns a 51% RT rate. "Please RT" earns a 39% RT rate. But using neither earns a 12% RT rate. (Study by Dan Zarrella)

If you're going to use social media for its social purposes, then start interacting. Like, comment, share, post, favorite, plus, and get in touch with your customers personally.

Refer to your customers.

Loyal customers love to be recognized. When you as a business connect individually with your customers, they will love you back.

But don't call them "customers" or "consumers." Referring to them as a "tribe" or "fans" is a bit more appealing.

Use customer-directed methods such as thanking customers for retweets, publicly appreciating fans or followers, and directing your messages at the collective.

A customer connects readily with brands and businesses that acknowledge them, not as a transactional entity, but as a real person.

Use emotion.

Absolutely, yes. Humans are emotional creatures. We make decisions--especially purchasing decisions--using our emotions.

The late Zig Ziglar said,

People don't buy for logical reasons. They buy for emotional reasons.

Marketers, take heed. We often base our strategies on cold, hard data and clear-cut split testing results.

For this reason, infuse emotion into your marketing through storytelling, excitement, action, problem-solving, education, relationships, and adventure.

Conclusion

Digital marketing has given us an enormous advantage. We have the ability to connect with customers on a personal and individual level. This is an unprecedented advantage, and one that we don't want to take for granted.

Personalizing your marketing isn't just about retargeting, gathering data, and monitoring for social mentions.

Instead, it's about your brand acting like a gregarious human being--outgoing, interactive, friendly, open, transparent, and authentic.

The moment you take down the digital facade of your brand, you'll be able to connect with your customers in new and authentic ways.

How do you make your digital marketing personal?

Published on: Dec 31, 2015