May 19, 2020

How to humanize algorithm marketing for success

Tomás H. Lucero
4 min
How to humanize algorithm marketing for success

When it comes to algorithm-based marketing, companies seem unable to consider it from the consumer’s point of view. According to the Harvard Business Review (HBR), instead of deploying algorithms as marketing tools, organizations should be looking to inject humanity. In other words, humans, into their efforts to reach out to customers.

Related: New trends in marketing: a dispatch from this year’s Marketing Nation Summit

Essentially, algorithms are sets of “if-then” rules. However, factors such as the widespread use of mobile devices, predictive analytics and others, have assisted organizations in finding many ways to use algorithms especially in marketing.

Related: 4 essential marketing tenets from the giants

Algorithms use customer-specific knowledge to craft customized offers and deliver them, often in real-time. Other industries, including online entertainment and banks also use them in various ways. Despite the growing popularity and ubiquity of algorithm marketing, companies should be careful about using them. So says the HBR.  Following are the main reasons why.

  1. Algorithms are not sensitive enough to context
  2. They arouse suspicion and easily backfire
  3. They encourage complacency
  4. They stifle customers’ emotional responses to marketing offers

The HBR does not recommend getting rid of algorithm marketing; not by any stretch of the imagination. Instead it suggests complementing it with human interaction. Marketers can do this by bringing in an actual human to interact with customers or creating algorithms that work in more human-like ways.

Related: [Infographic] The state of B2B product marketing

The HBR suggests three steps to making a more human use of algorithm marketing.

1. Understand the context and make it part of the tailored offer. Effective marketing is a constant study of what drives a positive customer response. “Constantly testing the impact of different contextual factors through field experimentation and observational research is part of the solution,” says the HBR. In practice, this may mean creating more complex algorithms with more rules and flexibility to apply those rules.

Related: Marketing is not about the marketer

More importantly, though, it entails “the creation of processes and activities” where the marketer can respond to a customer without using algorithms. It’s a waiter empowered to offer a free cocktail to an upset customer; a salesperson who takes the time to educate a customer on a software package so he understands how he will use it at home. “These activities produce a value for the customer that algorithms simply can’t.”

2.Introduce unpredictability into marketing. Once a customer catches on to the fact that he’s being targeted by a weekly email or a daily tweet—regimented activities algorithms perform—it’s only logical to tune it out, or unfollow. You want to make your brand more authentic and human—not less.

Related: [Video] Finding social media metrics that CMOs understand

You also want customers creating emotional relationships to your product or service. Introduce randomness and surprise into your marketing activity. A Canadian bank transformed its ATMs into “Automated Thinking Machines” surprising customers with $20 bills and other gifts. The move created excitement on social media, bolstering the bank’s brand in the public eye.

3.Encourage interaction with humans at key customer decision and experience points. Luxury brands overwhelmingly prefer human sales and service staff over technological methods because, as of yet, there exist no adequate technological substitutes for empathetic, competent, and empowered humans.

Related: Building on a foundation: Why marketing to existing customers is crucial

Without disregarding your budget, every marketer needs to consider how to put a human being in front of a customer at key interaction points. “Hybrid approaches utilizing a combination of humans supported by expert algorithms for services such as financial planning, product recommendations and building security are an effective way to 'inject the human' into algorithm-based marketing activities,” says the HBR. 

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Jun 14, 2021

Giving efficiency the full throttle at NASCAR

3 min
CDW is a leading provider of information technology solutions, optimized business workflow and data capture systems for the auto racing company.

The NASCAR organization has long been synonymous with speed, agility and innovation. And so by extension, partnerships at NASCAR hold a similar reputation. One such partner for the organization has been CDW – a leading multi-brand provider of information technology solutions to businesses, government, education and healthcare customers in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. CDW provides a broad array of products and services ranging from hardware and software to integrated IT solutions such as security cloud hybrid infrastructure and digital experience. Customer need is the driving force at CDW, and the company helps clients by delivering integrated services solutions that maximize their technology investment. So how does CDW help their customers achieve their business goals? Troy Okerberg, Field Sales Manager - North Florida at CDW adds “We strive to provide our customers with full stack expertise, helping them design, orchestrate and manage technologies that drive their business outcomes.” 

NASCAR acquired International Speedway Corporation (ISC) in 2019, merging its operations into one, new company moving forward. The merger represents an important step forward for NASCAR as the sport creates a unified vision to embrace its long history of exciting, family-oriented racing experiences while developing strategic growth initiatives that will drive the passion of core fans and attract the next generation of race fans. CDW has been instrumental in bringing the two technology environments together to enable collaboration and efficiency as one organization. Starting with a comprehensive analysis of all of NASCAR’s vendors, CDW created a uniform data platform for the data center environment across the NASCAR-ISC organization. The IT partner has also successfully merged the two native infrastructure systems together, while analyzing, consulting and providing an opportunity to merge Microsoft software licenses as well. 

2020 turned into a tactical year for both organizations with the onset of the pandemic and CDW has had to react quickly to the changing scenario. Most of the initial change included building efficiencies around logistics, like equipment needing to be delivered into the hands of end users who switched to a virtual working environment almost overnight. CDW’s distribution team worked tirelessly to ensure that all customers could still access the products that they were purchasing and needed for their organizations throughout the COVID timeframe. Okerberg adds that today, CDW continues to optimize their offering by hyper-localizing resources as well as providing need-based support based on the size and complexity of their accounts. Although CDW still operates remotely, the company commits to adapting to the changing needs of their clients, NASCAR in particular. Apart from the challenges that COVID-19 brought to the organization, another task that CDW had been handed was to identify gaps and duplicates in vendor agreements that the two former single-entity organizations had in place and align them based on services offered. CDW further helps identify and provide the best solution from a consolidation standpoint of both hardware and software clients so that the new merged organization is equipped with the best of what the industry has to offer. 

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