What is human-to-human marketing?

Referred to as H2H marketing, or human-to-human marketing, this alternative framework offers a new school of thought on customer engagement by unifying B2B and B2C practices and recognising customers as human beings first and consumers second.

Fuelled by the idea of direct and personal communication, H2H marketing aims to build individual relationships with new and existing customers and humanise their online shopping experience by replicating facets of an in-store environment.

While H2H marketing is more time intensive to execute, it does allow businesses to bridge the gap between physical and digital retail and provide a personalised service that encourages repeat purchase and higher customer retention.

Scott Broome MD of BlackSixteen Agency

To help brands apply the principles of human-to-human marketing to their business, I’ve noted some top industry tips below:

Talk like an actual person and use language that resonates with your audience

When it comes to online copywriting, we tend to write more formally than we speak. As a result, this can come across quite robotic and limit our ability to emotionally invest in a brand. The H2H movement encourages businesses to use language that is friendly, casual and conversational, and captures the essence of a face-to-face in-store encounter.

Be transparent about using automation and AI

We live in a highly digitised world where nearly everything can be automated, including customer service. While this is conducive to a 24/7 marketplace, some businesses make the mistake of trying to blur the lines between automation and personal service, fooling customers into thinking they are talking to a live person when, in fact, it’s a bot. Not only does this insult their intelligence, but it distances them further from the brand. Be transparent with your audience and let them know when they’re conversing with AI. This will build trust and mutual respect.  

Personally engage with your audience on social media

Social media was designed to bring people together and create a unified global community. However, in recent times – particularly during the pandemic – it can feel more like a sales platform pushing an incessant catalogue of commercial agendas. H2H marketing heralds a return to personalised and direct communication, encouraging brands to converse with their audience individually and respond to comments with unique, tailored, and unscripted replies. 

Use storytelling to humanise your brand

Storytelling has become a crucial component in modern PR. As a marketing tool, it sits outside the realm of promotional advertisements, sale pitches and corporate ‘about us’ spiels, and instead focuses on honest, transparent and candid interactions with audiences. As a key element to any successful H2H marketing campaign, storytelling can include light-hearted social media posts, such as behind the scenes content, staff profiling and amusing memes, including conversational livestreams, educational features and memorable company highlights.

Incorporate user-generated content and build a community (not just a following)

Consumers are naturally sceptical when it comes to marketing claims and will often look to their peers online for honest, unbiased reviews. By working with influencers and key online personalities, brands can build a repertoire of sharable user-generated content and foster a community of unofficial ambassadors and advocates. Moreover, it positions the brand as an approachable and friendly entity that values the experience of their customers.

The global pandemic has undoubtedly changed the way we do business. For some, it means a stronger emphasis on digital selling and automation. For others, a complete overhaul of their existing business model. Regardless of what camp a brand now subscribes to, the online space has become the primary storefront for many and offers an exciting opportunity for businesses.

Scott Broome is Managing Director of BlackSixteen Agency. Find more useful tips and explainers from BlackSixteen on Instagram @blacksixteenagency.

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