Picture yourself writing a blog post, composing an email, or drafting a social media post for your company. To whom are you writing? Who would you like to read what you’ve written?
Odds are, you want living, breathing human beings reading this stuff, right? You want your loyal customers or clients reading that blog post, but you also want to engage and attract new readers.
In the age of competitive digital marketing, it’s easy to get focused on the industry’s tried and true methods for improving engagement like SEO, long-tail keyword targeting, paid content amplification, conversion rate optimization, and more. But how will you improve engagement if your blog posts, landing pages, and website are chock-full of high-volume search terms, but read like one big, jargon-filled sales promotion for your product or service?
It’s time to take a step back and humanize your brand. Let us help you breathe some life back into your stuffy digital marketing strategy.
1. Tell Your Brand’s Story
Everyone loves a good story. There’s a good chance some of your favorite memories come from childhood bedtime stories, and some of your favorite things to read are books filled with detailed, well-written plot lines and resolves.
The same thing goes for branding, but don’t just take it from us. According to OneSpot, 92 percent of consumers want brands to create ads that feel like storytelling.
Studies show the brain reacts positively to storytelling in different ways. For example, when a consumer is listening to a story, a process called neural coupling allows them to see the story as their own experience in their brains. Moreover, if the story creates an emotional response in the listener, the brain releases a chemical called dopamine, which helps create a strong, memorable connection for the listener.
Turn the history of your company into your “brand story” to better connect with your target audience and keep them engaged long after your first interaction.
2. Define (and Name) Your Personas
Understanding your target audience is a crucial part of humanizing your brand. Buyer personas are a great way to segment your audience, understand its online behaviors, and use them to predict future interactions.
If you have not yet built buyers personas, start by conducting some research. Look into who currently interacts with your brand. What causes them stress? What does their typical day look like? How do they find information? These are only some of the questions you’ll want to answer for your existing audience.
Once you know who’s already interacting with your brand, you can also develop personas for audiences you haven’t targeted yet. Maybe you have a lot of entry-level employees interacting with your blog, but you hope to target those in leadership roles as well. Build a persona for both so you can actively plan to create content that targets both groups.
Once you’ve determined your personas, create individualized profiles for each, giving them names and faces. This way, instead of writing a blog post or social media post for the entire internet, you can instead write it for Sarah the Student, or Fiona, the Food Blogger. You can use your understanding of their needs, challenges, and motivations to ensure your content resonates with the audiences you’re targeting. This is what Tony Zambito calls a “human-centered approach” to marketing and branding.
3. Use Genuine Language
Drop the fancy marketing talk. Though fluffy marketing terms are commonplace in conference calls and business meetings, they have no place in your social media messaging or blog posts, and frankly, they make your brand seem stuffy and unapproachable.
What’s this marketing fluff we’re referring to? To put it simply, consider your target audience. Does your persona possess a pro’s understanding of search engine optimization? Do they understand what a customer relationship management system does or how to use one? Odds are, they don’t use these words in everyday conversation, so you shouldn’t either when you’re trying to interact with them.
Customers don’t want to be talked down to or patronized, Media Vision says, and messaging filled with heavy jargon and complicated technical terms can do just that. “They will feel like they are being misled on purpose or that they are being made to feel like fools.”
Your customers are human, so talk to them in a language that makes them comfortable and confident. Your messaging shouldn’t be difficult to read. It should have a conversational tone, and should use casual, approachable language whenever possible. A good rule of thumb? If you wouldn’t use a certain word or phrase over drinks with colleagues, or in a phone call with a buddy, you should rephrase.
Using digestible, understandable language will help you bring life to your messaging. Even better, it’ll establish your brand as a helpful, thoughtful companion to customers and clients.
4. Share Your Company Culture
Most brands understand that posting industry-relevant content on their social media channels is a good way to engage their audience, but when all you’re posting are hashtags and case studies, you’ll be lost in a sea of content curators on social media. Nothing helps improve your social media presence than sharing the fun happenings in your office.
According to Top Rank Marketing, using social media to promote company culture is a great way to show your followers that your company is the bee’s knees without actually tweeting “Our company is the bee’s knees! #blessed *bee emoji*.” It also helps personalize your brand and remind your readers there are humans behind the operation of their favorite companies.
Take Weidert Group, for example. They noticed their inbound marketing assistant always wore creative socks to the office, so they posted a Boomerang to their Instagram of their inbound marketing assistant wearing another pair of his notable socks, and watched as their Instagram followers spiked as a result. Their post had little to do with inbound marketing, but they gained traction because they didn’t try to take themselves too seriously.
When you haven’t humanized your brand, it’s easy for your customers to lose sight of your human-ness, too! People trust people more than they trust companies, so helping them remember who you are as individuals helps promote loyalty and trust in your team, therefore helping drive revenue for your company.
At the end of the day, it’s that simple. Humanizing your brand sounds difficult, but breathing life back into your brand can be a fun, new adventure for your company. Keyword research and on-page optimization are important when you’re trying to reach your target audience, but taking a step back and refocusing on the experience of engaging with your brand can be truly reinvigorating, and just as important.
Nailing the humanizing, but struggling with the strategy? Check out our blog post on how to use both branding and marketing to strengthen your bottom line.