Marketing News: Are you getting personalised marketing right?
A human touch can give your technology-led marketing the edge it needs
Technology plays an increasingly prevalent role in virtually every aspect of modern life. From how we travel to how we work, it’s easy to spot the heavy influence of technology and that extends to how we market our business too.

You’ll find no shortage of lists online highlighting how technology can help promote your company, such as pay-per-click advertising, good practice on LinkedIn and enhancing customer service.

However, the boss of one Detroit-based luxury lifestyle brand has warned businesses not to get carried away on this technological wave and be mindful of how effective the human touch can be.

Yes, in an age where almost everyone is worried that a robot will steal their job, it’s good old human interaction that’ll give your business the marketing edge.

‘Nothing should replace personal interaction’
Tom Lewand, Chief Executive of Shinola – which sells various high-end watches and accessories – took to the stage at a conference held by cloud computing company Salesforce to highlight how technology and humans make a marketing team to be reckoned with.

Mr Lewand insisted that technology simply enhances human interaction, not replaces it.

“Nothing, including technology, should replace personal interaction. Not only is technology not a sales driver, technology follows everything else.”

He went on to tell the industry website that the physical touch plays a huge role in the success of the business, adding that tech simply supports other aspects of an organisation.

Increasingly personalised marketing emails are an example of this, where a seller can use what a customer has bought or viewed in the past to identify and suggest future purchases.

In the same vein, potential buyers are much more likely to click through to a product page from a social post that is reacting to the here and now with current trending hashtags, rather than an update written and scheduled days or even weeks in advance.

Similarly, customers don’t feel particularly valued when their initial complaint is met by an automated response. They’re much more likely to feel like their grievance matters if an active human has picked it up and responds with at least a hint of what comes next.

Use both approaches to complement each other
This belief was echoed by the head of Marriott International, which operates around 6,500 hotels worldwide.

Its Global Chief Commercial Officer Stephanie Linnartz supported Lewand’s sentiment, saying: “Technology coupled with a warm smile is a double win”, adding that human interaction will always be a core part of the business.

That’s not to say that she didn’t believe that technology can enhance the customer experience. It’s not uncommon for hotel guests to arrive in their room to be greeted by a personalised welcome screen bearing their name on the room’s TV. This is a classic example of technology complementing human interaction; present and available but not overbearing or intrusive.

On a similar thread, a hotel receptionist offers a much warmer welcome than an emotionless automated self-check-in system. In addition, guests are more likely to feel that a special request is in good hands if they’ve spoken to a person rather than typing a request into an unaccountable machine.

Ms Linnartz believes that the biggest marketing challenges start at the customer acquisition stage. She insisted that the human experience would always be the heart of hospitality, but technology has the undeniable ability to enhance it.