Make a New Year's Resolution to Humanize Your Marketing for 2015 Think people first, numbers second, and your content will resonate with your audience.

By Eric Samson

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

People do business with people they like. That adage rings will ring as true as ever in 2015. To improve your ROI on marketing, you will need to humanize your communications.

Humanizing your marketing means you think about people instead of the quantity of likes, fans and followers. Someone reading your branded content for 10 seconds is different than someone doing it for 10 minutes.

How much time are people spending on average? Similarly, how many people get to the end of your article? To answer these types of questions, measure success with quality-centric metrics such as reading impact and read ratios. You could also measure live chat engagement.

It also means shifting the focus from purely volume and quantity into one that inherently involves more quality. Here's how to humanize your marketing for the coming year.

Related: 5 Reasons Why Online Entrepreneurs Need to Look Beyond the Numbers

Balance quality and quantity.

Naturally, you need to have an audience to share your content with. You can measure this through traditional metrics, such as the size of your email list or your Facebook audience, but approaching your audience purely as clicks, likes, or views can quickly alienate them. Worse yet, you won't generate worthwhile results if your content doesn't have a meaningful impact on your audience.

You should shift your mindset to gaging the reaction your audience is having to your content. This can be done by diving into analytics, reading comments and listening to social conversations your audience is having about what content you're producing.

There some great publishers and companies doing this that you can look towards for guidance, like Upworthy and Medium, two publishers that churn out a ton of quality content and are now measuring the success of their content with attention minutes.

Related: Finding Growth by Changing Your Mindset

Publishing higher quality content of interest to your audience increases the likelihood your brand will stay top of mind. For example, Baileigh Industrial, a metalworking and woodworking machinery company, has a visually compelling Instagram account. Ty've taken the time to share images that better reflect the topics that matter to their customer base, while also highlighting customer success stories. Their competitors don't even come close to this level of engagement and therefore, it's much easier for them to come off as a more relatable, humanized business.

Don't automate everything

There are some very useful tools out there to automate aspects of your marketing efforts, like Buffer, Optimizely and HootSuite, but none of them provide the proverbial silver bullet to make your efforts successful. You have to balance your automation efforts with sensibility.

If you try to automate everything, your customer will notice your scripted messaging and the use of templates, which makes it far more likely that you'll be ignored. At the same time, you won't be targeting or segmenting your audience appropriately, which defeats the purpose of using some of these tools to save time, remain productive and reach your marketing goals.

Marketing tools like Marketo and Hubspot can help your business target select groups among your audience, understand their needs and pain points and cater your messaging accordingly.

To start, try better segmenting your email list to begin to see results. Automating a few different templates, each with a unique message to a few segments of your audience. This way you're able to both automate your messaging without overdoing it and coming off as too robotic to your customer base.

Related: 7 Ways to Stop Your Business Blog From Crashing and Burning

Be honest about your intentions.

Lastly, be honest and open with your customers and admit when you mess up. Studio Neat, one of the first companies with a Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $100,000, follows this mantra by consistently updating their customers on their campaigns and blog when there are delays in production or expected problems with shipping.

Blogs like Farnam Street and Ramit Sethi's I Will Teach You To Be Rich frequently tell their readers to unsubscribe if they're not interested in receiving their emails, because they don't want an audience that isn't engaged or isn't actively participating in the community.

Microsoft, on the other hand, asks their customers multiple times to opt-in to their promotional emails during check out, even if you've already said no. This isn't an ideal experience for their customers and potential subscribers, instead it comes off as being too focused on growing an email list for the sake of growing it.

Today's consumers have become much more intelligent with their buying habits, less loyal to the companies they frequent, therefore it's important to be honest about your intentions and cater to the needs of your audience or you're more likely to lose their interest.

With so many different ways to measure the impact of our marketing efforts, it's easy to start perceiving customers as statistics like clicks and open rates, instead of people. In 2015, we should strive to humanize our messaging and marketing as a way of both delighting our audience and differentiating from the competition.

Related: How Not to Send Customer Emails: A Lesson from Comcast

Eric Samson

Founder of Group8A

Eric Samson is the founder of Group8A, a boutique consulting firm focused on developing and executing integrated marketing and digital solutions for companies of all sizes.


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