Researchers at the University of Florida conducted a study. What they found was that the question is not whether people prefer a chatbot or an exchange with a real person, but rather it’s the perceived “humanness” of the interaction that people really care about.
A chatbot or a person was used in the study, but 37 percent of people couldn’t tell if they were talking to a real person or an AI-driven machine. If people thought it was a human, either with very good AI or with a real person, they thought the company was investing in the relationship. People became more trusting of the company because they thought the company was investing in them.
There is a reason why we want to be more human. To build trust, we need our audiences to think that the experience is human, not that it is actually a real-life human exchange. Think of relatable, relevant, and empathetic things when you think about them. This is a big chance for how we make B2B content experiences more human.
We can start by getting rid of the jargon and “scripts” that we think marketing and sales content should sound like. Instead, we can talk to our B2B buyers like the professionals they are and talk to them like people, not like scripts. Help them see how human we are as a group. Yes, some people work on the logo that you see.
PERCEPTION IS THE KEY TO MAKING B2B CONTENT MORE HUMAN
Before we look at the power of perception, let’s look at how people think. This is how we feel about our world and how we’ve been taught to think about it. So, your perception may not be the same as mine. It’s also why 63% of the people who took part in the study could tell whether they were talking to a person or a machine, while 37% couldn’t.
Marketing is all about how people think. Our branding, positioning, messaging, and most importantly, our communications and content all play a role in how we want people to “think” about our business. All of the things we do for the public, our customers, and our buyers all have an effect of some sort.
Getting people to think of you as a person and see your story as their own will make content more relatable to them. Buyers connect with stories because they make them feel and keep them interested. A buyer’s first experience implicitly promises to deliver meaningful interactions that your customers will value enough to make them want to spend their time with you without regret.
If your content sounds like marketing, you give up the ability for people to believe in you. Marketers speak in a way that takes the humanity out of the content they write. It also doesn’t have any realness, which is a big part of how people see us.
THERE IS A TERM FOR THIS: “MESSAGING KARAOKE”
This is a term Ann Handley came up with that sums up too much marketing content. I’m stealing it because it’s drab, repetitive, and blah.
Make your content stand out; come up with a unique point of view. If you don’t, you’re just copying what your customers can hear somewhere else. People don’t think B2B content that you’re reading to build trust is human. Poof.
DON’T MIX PERSONALIZATION WITH HUMANITY
It is becoming more important for B2B marketers to focus on people, not the company, as the search for personalization grows. The people who do this kind of marketing call it H2H or Human-to-Human B2B Marketing. If only it were that easy.
Instead of thinking about personalization as a way to get rid of your customers’ personal data (demographics), think about what they care about in terms of their job and industry. It helps to think about how they might feel when they’re in a situation or have a problem. It might be the best way for B2B marketers to use personalization to pay attention to empathy.
Help your customers care because you know what they’re going through and have a message that fits, and you’ll go a long way. The chatbot study above shows that people think it’s from a real person when a message is relatable.
CREATE EXPERIENCES THAT MAKE PEOPLE WANT TO GET INVOLVED
If so, do you still get emails from a sender with a “do not reply” email? Then I do, too.
What if something goes wrong on a website and there isn’t an easy way to get help? Last week, I went through that. Because it was so hard to do what I was trying to do, I gave up and did something else.
As of today, that’s what people do when they want to rant about their bad experiences and frustration on social media. They wave a red flag in front of the share button and call your company out by name. Not what you want to be a part of.
When you think about participation, think about how you can get your customers to be involved in your content. Not all of them have to do something, like take a test or use an ROI calculator. It could be that you choose a way to learn more about a subject. People might feel like they’re understood and the hero of the story you’re telling.
Buyers want to be a part of their own buying process. If you push or bully them down the fancy funnel you’ve made, they don’t want to do the things they need to do before they can buy something.
There is an art to the “hands-off” B2B content experiences that buyers want as they learn independently. How well you get to know and understand your customers is a big part of getting this done right. People say they only spend 17% of the time they buy things with vendors, but they have up to 27 interactions with vendors during the buying process. To keep them interested in your expertise as they work to solve the problem at hand, you need to get them to participate (think engagement).
IT PAYS TO BE HUMAN WHEN YOU WRITE B2B CONTENT
When people see that you’ve taken the time to get to know them, they start to trust you more, which makes them more likely to buy from you.
People become more confident when they know they can qualify themselves and start a conversation with a contact when they have more trust in you and your company. And that’s one of the best things you can get for the money you spend on content in a B2B complex purchase.