Don’t Lose the Human Touch When Using AI and Big Data for Marketing


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As we make our way through 2021, our Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Business Intelligence (BI) dreams are turning into a reality. Bots, machine learning, predictive models, and big data all impact businesses daily. But are these technological advancements making brands appear less caring? Less real? Less human?

It’s a valid concern, especially when the latest trends in customer experience point to the fact that we need to be more human with our customers.

So, the question remains—how can brands retain the human touch while still using AI and BI?

My solution: Adopt a data-driven marketing strategy—one that ensures you’re applying empathy, so you communicate what your customers need to see and hear from you now. Companies that do are six times more likely to be profitable year over year.

Why Data Science is Important in Marketing

Marketers know that personalization is one of the key tenants of effective marketing. Data science allows marketing teams to customize and individualize messages and formats based on preferences, past behaviors, demographics—any and all collected first-party data often proves useful.

A report by Salesforce found that 52% of people say they’re likely to switch brands if a company doesn’t personalize communications to them. If your company is lacking in this area, it could be hurting your opportunities to grow.

Make AI and BI Work for Customer Experience and Marketing

The DMA reports that 49% of marketers today use data analytics to enhance their customer experience. That’s a low number given the impact data can have to inform the humanization of marketing and the customer experience. Using AI and BI helps us apply both the art and science of marketing to deliver the right experience to the right customer. Here are three examples:

  • Understanding shopping behavior. The right data can let your company know precisely how customers discover, buy and engage with your products or brand. You can then take that information to generate campaigns specifically around their interests.
  • Utilizing website activity. If people have made prior purchases on your site or have signed up for your company’s email list, their saved contact information makes creating individualized marketing messages even easier.
  • Incorporate social media. People who engage regularly with a company on social media are often ideal targets for personalized marketing pieces.

    Test the Waters: Try Life Event Marketing

    Life event marketing can be described as “connecting with a customer on a personal and emotional level—particularly during a unique life moment—in order to trigger a response that results in higher company profits and customer loyalty.” This is the perfect combination of a very humanized marketing strategy and utilizing data.

    Of all the things marketers could do, why life event marketing? As the division of Hallmark that helps businesses utilize Hallmark products and services, Hallmark Business Connections is founded in research that demonstrates life event marketing makes connections with customers in ways that traditional, promotional and product marketing do not. Celebrating birthdays, supporting through hardships, acknowledging annual customer anniversaries and sending congratulations mean much more than a discount to customers.

    Simply put, life event marketing enables your company to apply both data and emotional intelligence to build deeper, stronger customer relationships and gain better marketing performance.

    A Note on Data Privacy and Respecting Customers

    If you found out about the life event in an inauthentic way, don’t act on the information. It not only damages your customer relationships but also erodes trust, so carefully consider where you learned of the life event. Purchasing third-party data can creep people out if used in the wrong way.

    However, if you found out about the life event in an authentic way (i.e., via an application that already contains their birth date or by asking for their birth date on an opt-in form), reaching out to say, “happy birthday” is appropriate.

    Also, always follow appropriate laws and regulations. Although this article does not address this topic, it is worth noting that the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) are a hotbed of requirements that must be taken into consideration when using data.

    Data is Like an Amusement Park

    As marketers and customer experience professionals, thinking about AI, BI and big data is a little like going to an amusement park: We get to imagine our businesses applying the best of humanity through the experiences we create for customers. When we do that, we have the awesome power to change how people feel in a positive, engaging way.
  • Rhonda Basler
    With more than two decades of marketing and operations experience, Rhonda Basler is currently the Head of Operations & Agent Experience for Compass in St. Louis, Kansas City, and Nashville. Throughout her career, Rhonda has held the customer in the highest esteem and intimately understands the relationship between employee satisfaction and customer experience. Rhonda's career has spanned both B2B and B2C companies including Dot Foods, H & R Block, Hallmark, and Compass Realty Group.


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