Weekly Roundup #95 – H2H, Digital Skills & Customer Experience

Last week we took a look at developments in automated marketing for B2B, how brand building and SEO are intricately linked and how crowdsourced video may be the future of advertising. Once you have caught up on all of that, move onto our roundup of what’s happening in digital marketing in the week just gone…


Digital Skills: Demand Outstrips Supply in the UK

UK business owners believe that they lack the requisite digital skills in their company. A quarter of businesses believe that this lack of digital skills is holding their company back, and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has warned that small firms will be left behind unless they train their staff to boost their digital capacity.

The FSB national chairman, Mike Cherry said,

“Productivity is being hampered by nagging skills shortages, which are making recruitment a nightmare for small firms. As the UK moves towards Brexit, a technical skills black hole threatens the economy… Small firms also tell us that technical skills are crucial to the future growth of their businesses. The clock is ticking to tackle the ever-widening skills gap.”

Post-Brexit, 30% of small UK businesses reported that they have struggled to recruit employees due to an acute skills shortage. Although the majority of small business owners provide some skills training, over 49% do not have training formally planned, or as part of their budget. Now, the FSB is calling for businesses to take a more hands-on approach to digital training of their staff.

As well as improving the digital skills of those already in employment, it is important to look forward, and to ensure that our education system is geared towards the digital revolution. Company Director, Terrye Teverson noted that,

“I think with maths, which a lot of people think they’re no good at, quite often people start something but don’t know why they’re doing it. Sometimes at schools [the purpose is] not made understandable – but lots of people could do it and will have to do it. A lot of things that we do now with technology do use algorithms, whether we like it or not, and somebody has got to set those up. If they can’t then things are going to get harder and harder.”


The Consumer on Personalisation

The 13th annual Accenture Strategy Global Consumer Pulse Research report has been recently released. In it is painted a clear picture of the contemporary consumer.

From the survey of more than 25,000 global consumers, several insights can be found that should influence how businesses communicate with their customers. Here are the highlights:

  • 41% of consumers switched companies last year due to a lack of trust and poor personalisation, which is estimated to cost businesses $756 billion.
  • Personalised experiences are more likely to result in a sale for 43% of US consumers.
  • 31% of consumers find great value in services that automatically learn about their needs, and provide them with personalised and useful recommendations.
  • 48% would use smart reordering services on an in-home sensor
  • 36% said they already use a digital assistant
  • 89% of this group are satisfied with their experience, however, 40% noted that it can feel creepy when the technology correctly interprets and anticipates their needs.
  • 92% feel that privacy of their personal information is important, whilst 79% are frustrated that some companies are not to be trusted with personal information.

From this information, marketers can further understand why and how to personalise their brand experience, being responsive to the consumer whilst avoiding being creepy. Ever evolving technology is making personalisation easier and easier for companies to use in their marketing, but marketers must be vigilant to avoid losing customers due to lack of trust.

Consumers must feel that their privacy is being protected – which can be done with a lengthy, and carefully worded privacy policy that also has a simple bullet point breakdown of the most important elements. Businesses should also be aware that the wrong partnership in digital marketing can affect the consumer’s level of trust, with some platforms being far more trusted than others.


H2H: Human-to-Human

Human to Human Marketing

Long gone are the days of B2B and B2C. Welcome instead, H2H or Human-to-Human. H2H proposes that neither the seller nor the buyer (whether that’s another business, or direct to consumer) is a business or a customer, instead, both parties are simply human, meaning that their communications are simply beneficial conversations.

Sounds a bit odd, right? 

In the past technology has had a distancing, depersonalising feel. However the technology has evolved in order to enable more personalised and human interactions. H2H means conducting your business as if you were simply speaking to a friend or an acquaintance – having a conversation in which you share the information that needs to be shared and you expect some immediate feedback.

Take, for example, the online review pages where consumers can leave messages or complaints for a company, and because the company can see who the customer is through their profile, they are able to respond in a personalised and human way.

In the case of a complaint, the company should respond as though it is a friend that they disappointed.

  • They should ask how they can make it up to them
  • Explain that you’re sorry they had a bad experience
  • Provide them discount on their next purchase, or a refund on their last purchase.

By avoiding ‘pro-forma’ marketing speak, the company has treated the customer like a fellow human.

B2C companies have adopted this more easily, naturally taking to treating their customers as individuals. However, B2B is lagging behind.

Transactional Language

Instead they use transactional language and ignore the data and information provided through customers profiles and accounts. On top of this, there is little attempt to understand who they are talking to within the company, and where they fit into the purchasing process. So as a result, B2B companies treat every person as if they are the decision maker, which means that a lot of their valuable marketing material ends up with the wrong person, or in the wrong place.

Relevant Content

Once you know what each person does on your list, you can stop sending incessant sales pitches, swapping that for relevant content about industry trends or best practices in their particular area, which will build a trusting relationship and a H2H exchange. Consider using the vast amounts of readily available data and information to better understand each individual on your mailing list, and then send them content that appeals to their preferences, likes and personality.

Data Diving

A forward-thinking H2H approach will only become more and more accepted and expected. People are becoming more knowledgeable and aware of how companies use their data to deliver better service, and so they will start to expect a personalised experience and a human approach. Don’t forget that every web comment, email and Tweet about a product is an opportunity to engage with a customer, creating loyalty and sales for your brand.


How to Make Your Brand More Human

Humanise Digital Marketing
Source: econsultancy

With H2H in mind, we look at some ways to increase the personality, emotional intelligence, and overall ‘human touch’ of your copy and communications. How can brands stop speaking like a business and start speaking like a human?

Language and Tone

As higher numbers of people are using voice commands on their mobiles and tablets, they look for increasingly more natural communications. Formal and unnatural language is hard to read, and can frustrate and alienate consumers, so it is important to create copy and content that is as close to natural speech as possible.

Find a balance between formal and totally informal – slang and emoji’s are not necessary, however a relaxed tone with a human voice is. The customer service page can be a good place to start, choosing language that is relatable and friendly to encourage feedback and engagement.

Customer Service

Great customer service will boost a brand’s reputation, creating loyal customers who keep coming back. However, many brands offer only cold, business-like communications which tend to frustrate customers. 83% of US consumers prefer dealing with a human being over digital channels, so it is a wrong move to offer only ‘human-less’ services.

Human communications should not only be kept for complaints and problems, instead, offer friendly, chatty service constantly both in-store and online. An online shop assistant can be a fantastic way to introduce the human element to the digital experience – though it requires technology to pull it off on a big scale.

Introducing AI does not have to negate the ‘humanity’ that people enjoy, in fact, it seems that brands who use AI can generate greater levels of customer trust. So long as the customer is aware that they are talking to a bot rather than a human. To further improve this experience, a brand should sense when a human should step in and take over, to provide the best CX possible.

Be Flawed

Showing your flaws, admitting you were wrong, and openly and genuinely apologizing are all very human characteristics, and so you should employ them for your brand whenever necessary. Companies that have acted honestly, admitted fault, who apologized in a meaningful way and who have done everything possible to remedy the situation can actually see a boost in trust and reputation.

Emotional Data

Data can show demographics and generalised information that can be useful to a brand, however, it can also show ‘emotional data’ which can be used to create stronger relationships between the consumer and the company. By tapping into the emotions of the consumer, a brand can make more relevant, engaging and human experiences. For example, eBay created the first ever ‘emotion powered’ pop-up which used biometric sensors to monitor which items had the strongest emotional reaction in their customers, turning emotion into intelligence.


The Rise of CX in the Travel Industry

CX in hospitality
Source: econsultancy

Customer experience is an important element in every sector, however, for the travel industry it has become the number one priority, replacing customer acquisition as the biggest business priority in travel.

Research by Econsultancy and Adobe has produced the ‘Digital Trends in the Travel and Hospitality Sector’ report, which surveyed over 600 marketing executives from OTA’s, transportation, hospitality and restaurant companies, has produced an overall look at the trends in this industry.

Here are some of the key takeaways:

Go Mobile

Mobile currently represents a third of travel-related sales, with its share growing by 15% year over yea. This means that companies which adapt the customer experience to mobile and personal tech will reap the rewards in years to come. A demand for faster services will be actioned with features such as voice search and location data, as well as pre-ordering and speedy check-in, which reduces the time between the consumer desire and the completed action.


When asked what general area is the greatest barrier for the organisation to deliver personalised experiences, the majority of online travel agencies cite data. Hospitality and restaurant brands cite the human element as their biggest obstacle in delivering personalised experiences.

Interestingly, most travel agencies have the ability to collect sufficient data and information on customer’s cross-device actions, however this data remains separate and unused.

Differentiate through CX

When asked to rank the competitive pressures in terms of impact on the business, the OTa’s responses included search engines (48%) and other online travel agents and meta engines (45%). However, for transportation and restaurant companies, low-cost providers are the single biggest threat.

Rather than competing on price – as this is only possible and beneficial to companies that are large enough to do so – it is important to differentiate by providing an outstanding customer experience (CX). To do so may also require funds, time and energy, but the potential increase in margins, retention and opportunities for upselling will likely make it worth the effort in the long-run.

Consumer Technology

48% of OTA’s see the rise of consumer tech, such as smartphones and cross-device browsing, as a positive for the industry. That’s compared to 22% that feel it has had a negative effect. Transportation, restaurant and hospitality respondents echo this positivity, with at least 60% of each sector believing that consumer tech is a good thing for their industry.

The increase in smartphone usage brings a greater opportunity to engage with customers and to enhance their experience of your brand. Consumer tech has also resulted in general increased interest – with the number of unique visitors to all travel sites increasing by 39% over the last three years…


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Sebastian Paszek

Marketing manager

Controlling the chaos of the digital landscape, Sebastian is a multiplatform executive, project manager and photographer.