Impressions, reach, engagement rate, ROAs, MQLs, and this list goes on — in today’s marketing world, there’s no shortage of data points to track. In fact, according to the IDC Global Datasphere, more than 59 zettabytes of data was consumed and created in the world in 2020 and that is projected to increase to 180 zettabytes by 2025. 

At the core of our marketing strategies, these numbers and statistics are researched and recited with pristine confidence that defines the decisions made for organizations and marketing teams alike.

With the abundance of information at our fingertips, we’re constantly immersed in a sea of analytics, metrics, and algorithms. Though data-driven approaches offer valuable insights, it’s essential to maintain sight of the most critical element in marketing – the human factor. 

If you want to make an impact, a human-centric approach needs to be at the core of your marketing strategy.

Developing a successful marketing strategy requires a deep understanding of your target audience and their unique needs, desires, and emotions. It’s not about simply reaching a KPI, but connecting with people on a personal level, creating memorable experiences, and building long-lasting relationships. 

Put your audience first

In 2021 alone, people created 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. With more numbers coming at us than ever, we have a never-ending list of KPIs to measure success against. 

The problem? By doing so, we overlook human behavior entirely. And at the end of the day, these complex emotions encourage consumers to make decisions. 

For example, a wedding dress shop can analyze all the numbers and do everything correctly to drive a bride into its shop, but the final decision for the bride to purchase a wedding dress simply comes down to if they feel that this is their dream dress or not.

If you want to see long-term success in your marketing campaigns, companies need to approach these numbers from the lens of exactly what they’re measuring: human behavior. This means conducting market research and identifying demographics, preferences, and behaviors. It also means talking to your customers and using their feedback to adjust. By doing so, you can tailor your marketing messages to resonate with them.

Balance data and human insights

I’m not here to convince you that data isn’t essential, and you should trash your spreadsheets. In fact, I’m here to encourage you to combine your data with your customers’ emotions to create powerful marketing campaigns. When you analyze the numbers while keeping tabs on how your audience feels, you can use this combined knowledge to create campaigns that make people stop scrolling and pay attention. 

Yes, digital innovation has come a long way but it doesn’t mean we can use it to replace the need for our businesses to relate to people as they are.

To make a lasting impression, try supplementing your data with qualitative research. This way, you look at things from multiple angles instead of a one-sided approach. 

Move beyond the numbers

One of the best ways to avoid over-reliance on data is by tapping into human emotions and recognizing the power they play in consumer decision-making. By using storytelling in your marketing efforts, you can create emotional connections with your audience. Incorporate empathy and personalization to stand out in a saturated market. Address their unique pain points and become a brand they can trust. 

When it comes to connecting with humans, we move to emotion – fear, hope, happiness, trust, inspiration, etc. Data can tell us a need or give us a glimpse into an opportunity to tap into this emotion, and the rest is in the brand’s ability to connect with humans by tapping into this heart-centered feeling that drives behavior.  

Ring camera and Apple Watch took a similar approach when marketing their products to consumers – tapping into a sense of fear and then providing a solution. There’s a recent Apple Watch commercial where someone gets into a car accident, a terrifying and angst-ridden event in which the Apple Watch automatically called 911 for help. In this instance, Apple Watch not only tapped into this negative emotion, but it also came to the rescue as the solution. Ring is similar – tapping into the fear of intrusion and selling security & safety. 

Not all selling comes out of negative emotions, Nike is a brand that has long been driven by inspiration, aspiration, and hope. The brand taps into the cultural zeitgeist of the moment in all its marketing to inspire entire generations to move. Nike moves by capitalizing on human emotions of hope, leadership and a profound connection with their consumers that not only are they culturally “on-brand” but can be like the greats of their time.

Take a cue from content creators

Content creators have been on the rise and there’s an underlying element to why – people want to connect with people. Brands can learn from this and not just by paying influencers to promote your brand. 

We are humans. We want to learn from, be entertained by, and feel connected to other people.

What brands are really doing when they partner with content creators is tapping into the built-in trust (human emotion) that influencers have with their audiences and using that to connect with their audience. What content creators do well in this situation is understand their audience and use that to cultivate a true, emotional human connection. And when they’re starting out, often, they’re not thinking about their followers and views as data but how many people are viewing their content and what they’re gravitating toward. 

They listen, and then respond just as you would in real-life. This cultivates a relationship built on trust, where brands often fall short because humans feel like they’re being sold to. Not sold yet. Look at the numbers (that data we’re talking about) – brands don’t crack the top 500 most followed accounts on YouTube!

What can brands do about this? They can start to look at data for what it is really talking about – humans.

Change how you measure success

To combine data and human emotion means doing things differently than you may have in the past. Expand your metrics beyond ROI and instead consider customer satisfaction and loyalty. Find ways to evaluate your long-term brand perception and reputation. 

Start tracking qualitative indicators by monitoring social media comments and online conversations. Use this customer feedback to gauge the effectiveness of your campaigns — rather than simply relying on reach or impressions. Adopting a more inclusive approach allows you to understand your customers on a new level. 

Prioritize the human element

As marketers, it’s easy to get caught up in the allure of data-driven strategies and the promises of technology. However, developing a new marketing strategy should always be centered around humans, not just data. Remembering the human element is crucial to creating authentic connections, building trust, and driving meaningful engagement with your target audience. 

Balancing data with human insights allows you to make informed decisions while embracing creativity and intuition. Authenticity and trust are key drivers in building lasting customer relationships and fostering loyalty and advocacy. By placing humans at the center of your marketing strategy, you can create experiences that resonate and differentiate your brand from the competition.

In a world where technology continues to advance rapidly, it’s important to remember that the heart of marketing lies in human connections.

As you embark on developing your new marketing strategy, remember that it’s not just about data and algorithms — it’s about understanding, connecting with, and serving the real people behind the numbers. Striking the right balance between data and human insights can lead to more meaningful and effective campaigns, ensuring your brand leaves a lasting mark.

Cover image source: sebastiancaptures