Digital Marketing Wisdom: When to Go for the Heart or the Data Algorithm

7.4 million NEW digital buyers will go online this year.

At Blended Sense we keep you keen on the digital marketing space so that every small business and creative pro can succeed in the shifting sands of content marketing. As a marketing tech platform, we feel particularly responsible for this educational component of our collaboration with our brands and creatives. With data and interconnectivity making huge impacts on marketing, we’ll explore the question: How do you know when human connection or an algorithm should take precedence in your online marketing endeavors?

For starters, here’s a take-away that just can’t be ignored – a new McKinsey survey shows that over 75% of consumers experimented with new purchasing habits during the pandemic, and most of them aren’t returning to their old ways of buying and interacting with a brand. Perhaps no surprise, 30% of U.S. consumers don’t plan to return to the retail outlets they visited before the pandemic. As a small business owner, what does this mean for you? 

We can no longer look at historical marketing trends and think that they’ll accurately reflect the future. Digital marketing with an Internet of Everything (IoT) strategy will not only help your business survive post-pandemic, but thrive. However, data alone won’t cut it. Human connection still drives purchasing habits, and with an anticipated  7 million- plus new potential customers joining the IoT to engage and make purchases this year, learning how to collect data while staying very human is more important than ever.

The Internet of Everything: IoT

Billions of physical devices (smart phones, iPads, laptops, etc.) are now connected to the internet, all collecting and sharing data. From smart pills to smart houses to airplanes, through the IoT we’re all becoming uber connected. While we’re sharing real-time information via our devices without ever involving a human being, the importance of human connection can never be overlooked. As data makes the world more responsive, we can be mindful users of that data to make our experiences with one another (and potential customers) more meaningful.

"The IoT integrates the interconnectedness of human culture -- our 'things' -- with the interconnectedness of our digital information system -- 'the internet.' That's the IoT," says Kevin Ashton, the man credited with coining the IoT phrase.

Understanding how to best use data can only help your business. Data is making some profound changes in how we’ll “talk” to one another in the very near future. Check out these interesting stats:

  • The total number of IoT connected devices will hit 13 billion by 2020.
  • The global market for IoT will exceed $7 trillion by 2020
  • In the next five years, 40 percent of the population will have a smart refrigerator, and 30 percent will have a smart thermostat.

How Blended Sense Uses Data

Data analysis and collection is essential to the Blended Sense platform. Without it, we can’t scale our business, serve our customers, or empower creative professionals effectively. Not only does data help inform our internal operations, but our Creative Intelligence, ™  a form of data-driven matching allows us to optimize what is normally a painful process for both creatives and small businesses alike. Creative professionals often know little about how to connect with a small businesses’ or the inspiration behind their brand vision, and small businesses categorically struggle to find a creative professional that is:

  1. Locally sourced, with a keen awareness of the ambiance and feel of a city, business, or culture.
  2. Properly equipped, with the tools and resources they need to create.
  3. Aligned with their ideals or personality.
  4. Vetted and eager to work.

As John Cade Griffin, our IT master at Blended Sense explains, our data analysis serves three core stakeholder groups:

  • Customers
  • Operational teams (our producers, for example)
  • Creatives

Each data point gathered gives us important insights about how to make the creative process better for everyone involved. For example: we collect customer metrics that tell us their favorite assets that we create for them. This gives our internal teams and creative network the ability to make more of what a small business owner loves and helps them gain traction on social media, their website, or via word of mouth.

Another example where data helps us to refine our business is the information we collect and analyze for the “sweeps” we conduct. A video “sweep” is our word for video or photo capture, its planning, storyboarding, editing, and final delivery of a digital asset(s). If a creative declines a sweep when offered, we collect reasons why. Was it too far away? Were they hoping to be matched with a fitness company instead of one that sells 5-scoop ice cream cones? These metrics seem unimportant at first, but over time they become increasingly valuable to pinpoint a data algorithm and machine learning that can help take the “busy work” out of providing creative pros with great work and small businesses with great creatives. 

This data also helps us to grow our creative network as we’re able to refine both our internal process and the matching itself to cater to the needs of the entire ecosystem: creative to business and back again. 

Other metrics we look at include the cost of acquiring new customers, customer and creative demographics, customer satisfaction, creative pro engagement, and deliverable utilization, to name a few. Eventually we plan to gamify our creative platform with a rating system, to make it even more motivating and fun for our creative pros and customers alike to use.

The Importance of Emotional Connection in a Data Driven World

With all this talk of data, it’s important not to overlook emotion connection in any marketing endeavor. As Albert Baez, one of our founders often says, “Personal connection before business transaction.”

As the Forbes Agency Council explains, people give their business to brands that they trust, and trust is built on the foundation of emotion. If you create a message that resonates with your audience’s core values, deep, emotional connection and positive association can be built so that people want your brand to succeed. Look no further than Elon Musk’s Tesla brand as proof of this. In its early years, struggling with funding, stakeholders helped to propel Tesla to success based on the value of making cars that are ostensibly better for the environment and help to eliminate petrochemical dependency. 

This idea was one of the key takeaways from Blended Sense’s Walk N’ Talk with Albert Baez and Kathleen Lucente. Kathleen Lucent is a PR pro with over 25 years of experience, who serves on the board of Austin Gives, and a member of the Forbes Agency Council.

Final Thoughts

Utilizing smart data collection and analysis along with a human approach to marketing, everyone wins. At Blended Sense we plan to take our data as far as it can go, but never forget that we’re all people first, longing for connection and relevance. We want to find out “tribes” and do business with people that we align with. Really, it’s the perfect blend of of the algorithm and an emotional rhythm that will drive marketing success in the future. 

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