It may seem obvious to all, but the consumer is a human being. We are in an emerging time where smartphones and the internet have radically changed the social scene in ways that we could never have predicted. Understanding the great possibilities this new platform presents has perhaps been easier than remembering that we are intelligent people who may appreciate the speed and connectivity of our current world, but still like our privacy and want our feelings – and our information – protected.
In a recent TED Talk, Enthographer Tricia Wang spoke about Big Data and how great it is to be able to access so much information. I share her enthusiasm; when I see a spreadsheet and everything is visible at a glance and the equations all work, it’s very satisfying. Unfortunately, life does not always balance out like this. We can make great strides moving forward, but our progress is destroyed if we neglect the human element.
In the TED talk, Tricia describes something that was a new term for me: Thick Data. Thick Data is the now-precious data from humans, things that help us in understanding the human narrative. I see this used every day with things like the automation of emails. I am always reluctant to do automation in my marketing plan, because I myself don’t like getting robocalls or Constant Contact emails. Personally, I feel that it insults my human intelligence.
Quantification Bias is another new term that Tricia spoke about. It is the unconscious bias towards valuing the measurable over the immeasurable, like valuing measurable site hit results in the short term over keeping customer trust in the long run. I’ll give you a couple of examples of how important this is:
- Have you ever received a holiday text or email from a businessperson and initially thought it was so sweet that they remembered you, until you get the same message from ten other businesspeople that you are associated with?
- Have you been waiting and waiting for a returned call or email from your accountant or mortgage lender, and been frustrated only to get inspirational emails or holiday wishes texts – or even snail mail letters – from them about nonsense? Meanwhile, you are waiting for them to get back to you on an actual matter of great importance. In my opinion, it’s more frustrating than being flat-out ignored.
The term “drip-campaign” comes to mind when I think about missing the human element. Would you like to be dripped on? This is what many businesses do – they sit you under a leaky faucet of emails that have no personal intention behind them, and PRIDE themselves on how they can pull you onto their Landing Page. Then capture your contact information and spend the rest of your life “dripping” on you until you buy. This may work with Big Data and the odds are in the business’ favor that they will get sales this way, but are they winning the battle and losing the war?
I worry that the human element can get lost in the quest to be the smartest and most efficient business entity. Human beings require respect and dignified responses, and they are too smart to be dripped on for long. It is wise to recognize this in making marketing strategy decisions: If you want to be respected, then you must first give respect.