We're All Human: How H2H Marketing Can Transform Your Brand
By: Ilse Van Rensburg
Marketing has stood the test of time, evolving and expanding its reach from posters and pamphlets to all things digital.
And while it portrays a chameleon of emotions, one thing has stayed true when it comes to marketing - it's loud.
Yes, it can be clever, but consumers know when someone is selling them something…
The pandemic and social media have opened the world’s eyes to more and more social issues and injustices, and marketing is starting to change as a result.
Enter human to human marketing - the way of the future.
We spoke to a couple of LinkedIn influencers to get the low down on why H2H™️ marketing works and how it can make your marketing more effective.
Scroll 👇 to start.
What is Human to Human marketing?
Human to human marketing is a conversational way of communicating with other brands and clients. It's recognising that you're selling to humans and conveying this in the way you speak and the topics you choose to speak about.
Often, marketers are too focused on selling their brand and not on the people who support their brand.
This leads to a disconnect that impacts your incoming revenue.
To fix this, you need to focus on putting your customers first and creating an experience that matters to them.
This doesn't mean throwing out your book of industry jargon. It means discovering what they care about and making an effort to care about it too. It means displaying appealing human qualities like loyalty and authenticity.
Mark Kilens, VP of Content and Community at Drift says:
"It's not about brand building anymore. It's about becoming an icon in your industry, just like Nike. It’s about being authentic and genuine, which is why Drift's principles are to put the customer at the centre of everything we do."
Tell a story with content marketing
"Content is essential to building your brand. Drift loves looking at the principles of human psychology and behaviour when implementing content. That means using real people. Not stock images. Not animations. Not graphics. Just real people like you and me." - Mark Kilens
What you say and how you portray it to your buyers is going to make a huge impact on your brand.
In H2H marketing, we need to start asking more questions before pressing post.
And it starts with language.
H2H language should be clear and conversational. You're speaking to a real person; they'll appreciate being treated like one, rather than just another sales number.
That said, we still want to get buyers moving through the funnel; H2H makes it a smoother journey.
Because your customers are being presented information in a way that's not only easy to understand (no matter how complicated your product is), but makes them feel valued by your company too.
Here are a few guidelines on implementing H2H in your content marketing:
Tell a story
Creating content that tells a story and brings out emotions in your audience can improve your B2B sales by 55% long-term.
Storytelling builds an emotional connection with your customers. It's a great way to convey how your product or service can make someone's life easier without coming across as pushy.
After all, people remember how you make them feel, not how fantastic your company is.
Include meaningful links
If you're concerned your customer won't have enough information through a story, you can always provide a link to a more detailed blog, guide or webinar.
Make use of infographics and videos
Infographics can help explain technical terms in a fun, digestible way. Videos are another great method of building a connection with your audience. Use both as part of your content strategy.
Stay informed of current affairs and movements your consumers are invested in on social media, and show your support. This showcases your brand's value system and allows people to see that there are real people making decisions behind the scenes.
Honesty is the best policy
No one wants to invest in a company that's inundated with bad reviews, but at the same time, fake reviews are easy to spot and even worse for your reputation as an organisation.
Your prospects want authenticity, so be honest! Use case studies and real customer stories to show how you've solved problems just like theirs.
Take a step back from selling
You don't always have to push for a sale. Sharing content that speaks to your customers, offers them value or just brightens their day is going to go a long way to building brand loyalty.
For example, we spotted an opportunity to create videos based on our content, but aimed at one of our largest demographics on social media - millennials!
To really connect with this audience, our content is specifically catered to be fun, fresh, engaging and bring across complex subjects in an easy-to-digest way, with a human face 😊 - Cognism’s Video Marketing Executive, the charismatic Emily Liu.
With this approach, we've seen more followers and engagement on YouTube, LinkedIn and Instagram.
Give the first episode a watch:
Get personal with your campaign marketing
Human to human campaign marketing needs to be outcome obsessed, and no, not for you, for your client...
Before planning your next B2B marketing campaign, ask yourself the following questions:
- Who are your customers and what do they need?
- How do you add value and fulfil their needs?
- What is your buyer journey, and does it make sense with the points above?
Then, take action on the insights you've discovered by building an emotive campaign that can solve any challenges your customers have, while also adding value to their company in other ways.
Doing this is going to take some time and a lot of thought, but at the end of the day, you'll have made your customers understand what a great investment your product or service is.
The results, on your end, will be well worth it.
Joshua B. Lee, Founder and CEO of StandOut Authority has this to say about running a successful H2H marketing campaign:
"Social media is one of the most cost-effective and efficient tools marketers can use - especially if a team is short-staffed. Use a scheduling platform, like Hootsuite, Buffer and Agorapulse and pre-schedule posts to stay on top of the game."
"The biggest and most important piece most miss is that once posts are scheduled, (PAY ATTENTION AS THIS IS THE CRITICAL PART) someone must manually monitor and interact with followers and key influencers to make the campaign gain momentum."
As Joshua states above, once your campaign is up and running, it's important to have someone to respond to messages, comments and questions - and they need to make sure they do it the H2H way, by being conversational.
Many marketers make the mistake of assuming that their customers only engage with them for information, and that's not the case. Ensure your responses are approachable by staying on brand, remaining pleasant and keeping it casual.
At Cognism we take a personal approach to our campaigns by connecting with our customers through memes and current trends they might find relatable, like dating…
Seems a bit of a wild subject for a closed lost opps campaign doesn’t it?
Why did it work?
Liam Bartholomew, Cognism’s Global Head of Demand Generation explains:
"Because it’s human. It’s a reminder that the person sat on the other side of the computer receiving the email is a human too. And it’s much better to try to relate to them on that level and with humour than it is being the 1000th email that week turning up in their inbox, blankly saying 'We miss you!'"
Outside of work, dating is a big part of people’s lives - that’s how you get personal with your advertising. Look for themes that everyone can relate to, like dating or issues they might face in today’s society.
You could even simply take popular culture and mould it to fit your message, like a friend request:
"We tried to recreate a personal experience of receiving a friend request on Facebook - to request that they follow Cognism on social media. This has worked really well because it’s an everyday experience that makes our brand more human while removing what’s expected from a B2B company." - Liam
Don’t be afraid to get personal, to dig a little deeper for your own H2H marketing strategies. Follow trends, look at what memes are being shared. Then incorporate your own brand voice into these elements for a great customer experience.
Build trust with performance marketing
H2H performance marketing all comes down to developing a trustworthy brand that can be easily discovered and communicated with.
Mark Kilens advises:
"Your SEO and organic marketing need to be strong growth drivers long-term. This means thinking about customer journeys from the people who are coming in from organic search at different stages of the funnel. What keywords will work in this respect and how will your website perform against this strategy?"
At Cognism, we've been experimenting by using humour to make a connection through our ads.
Augustinas Tarabilda, our Performance Marketer explains:
"When I write copy for ads, I try to write it in a way that would be interesting for myself to read. I experiment with using humour quite a bit as that makes the copy so much more engaging. I also tend not to shy away from making it obvious that this is an ad and that there is an action I’ll be expecting the audience to take. I think this makes it so much more relatable and human since I’m not trying to hide my true intentions under made-up 'professionalism'."
With this in mind, you need to consider several factors when it comes to your H2H demand generation strategies. These include:
- Building an honesty-first outlook - don’t promote anything you can’t actually deliver.
- Use humour as a hook to draw the prospect in.
- Clearly communicate what action you want your prospect to take.
- Seriously considering your customer journey and their experience when interacting with your adverts.
Here's an example of a great H2H PPC ad pioneered by Augustinas:
Not only is humour a great way to build relationships, but it shows that you’re aware of trends and current events outside of your organisation. Utilising pop culture is another great tactic. Just take a look at our spin on finding the best data for sales not featuring Liam Neeson:
"I also believe it makes it so much more human to use real testimonials. Especially if you have some that are written in an open and honest way. Of course, this is more relevant for BOF ads."
Here’s an example of an ad where Cognism used a real testimonial:
Adverts like these create interest and a conversation around your brand. Be quick to respond to queries and outbound leads and be sure to be engaging as possible. Ask questions to gain deeper insights into what your audience is looking for.
Lastly, Augustinas advises:
"If you’re unsure about whether using a more humorous or otherwise different copy would work, it’s always a good idea to A/B test the new kind of copy with the regular variant. See whether it’s increasing your CTRs or at least getting some more positive engagement."
Offer support with product marketing
For the longest time, buyers have had to wade through the pressures of choosing products with little help from the product marketing side.
They've had to find, research and reach out to companies in order to make a purchase. With H2H, the seller is the one communicating the benefits of their products to the consumer - and it makes a huge difference!
But how can product marketers do this effectively?
Through intent data and analytics - when you know your customer's challenges and needs, it's easy to market your product as the perfect solution.
These insights can also create more visibility when it comes to customer mapping, allowing you to be there for your client when they need you at every stage of the buyer journey.
Just remember to keep your messaging casual - especially if you have a bot. With the technology at our disposal today, bots don't need to be obvious automation. Give them a name, a photo and a fun personality and you're doing H2H right.
Jon Williams, owner of Healthy Email Copy by Jon adds:
"Ask yourself: what does "stand out" mean to you? And how do you do this if you're doing the same thing as everyone else? I find being genuine, not automated, is the way to go. You might think it's too risky, but in this "high-tech" world we've got to work smarter, not harder and become more high touch. So think through your messaging and make sure you come across as a brand that cares."
Make a deeper connection with Cognism
Cognism aims to connect our audience with the best of the best in the marketing industry, which is why we’re making a human-to-human connection through our podcast, Revenue Champions.
Take a listen to our interview with Mark Kilens on Spotify or Apple.
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H2H is the registered international trademark of H2H Companies LLC