If you’re in the online marketing world, there are literally hundreds of acronyms to remember. SEO, PPC, B2B, B2C, YMYL, and EAT, just to name a few.
One newer acronym, however, is standing out these days: H2H, or human-to-human, used to represent a type of marketing much like B2B, B2C. It’s sometimes also called P2P (person-to-person) marketing. I just heard of H2H a few weeks ago from members of our #ContentWritingChat Twitter chat. (Thanks, @alberMoire and @Renoe!) And I love what H2H represents so much, I had to take it to the blog, research it and write about it.
H2H marketing is a herald term for amazing things. Quite possibly, the future of how marketing is done.
As web marketing changes to focus less on pushy sales strategies and more on providing customers with real, genuine value and relevance, the importance of human-to-human marketing is quickly becoming even more pronounced.
Could H2H soon usurp the more traditional, colder B2B and B2C marketing, and take over the world of marketing forever?
Here’s what you need to know about why and how H2H marketing tactics will affect the future of marketing as we know it.
Why H2H Marketing Is Golden
If you’re the owner of a business, chances are you don’t walk around introducing yourself as your business. There’s likely no, “Hi, I’m Mountain SEO & Marketing, Inc. Nice to meet you!”
While you may claim your business as an entity for which you’re responsible, nobody is their business. At least not literally. While this may sound obvious, it’s actually really important.
While businesses are big, powerful entities, we need to remember that a business is only the public-facing facade of a group of actual people who are doing a specific type of work together. While it’s tempting to regard businesses as entities in and of themselves, we need to remember that behind every business is people, and it’s the people who are actually making the decisions that drive the company.
This, my friends is where H2H marketing enters the picture.
Just like nobody introduces themselves as their companies, companies aren’t ultimately the ones making purchasing or marketing decisions.
While businesses may utilize products, people within the business are the ones who are actually purchasing them. In light of this, H2H seeks to focus on catering to individual people rather than big corporations, and it’s the foundation for much of what’s going on in today’s inbound marketing world.
The Connection Between Inbound Marketing and H2H: 6 Key Similarities
There’s an argument to be made that the rise of H2H came about at the same exact time as the death of outbound marketing.
Because inbound marketing has been designed so deliberately to focus on creating human interactions and relationships, it feeds perfectly into the foundation.
In fact, inbound marketing is one of the main reasons that H2H is currently enjoying the prominence that it is. There are six important places where inbound marketing and H2H intersect. Check them out:
1. Inbound marketing focuses on finding pain points
One of the most effective marketing tactics of all time is to find a person’s pain points. Pain points are real or perceived areas of difficulty that drive customers to purchase a product, good, or service. For example, if a person is sick of constantly looking for important receipts or losing critical paperwork, the pain point is likely a disastrous lack of organization. Once that pain point becomes unbearable for the person in question, they’ll likely head out into the market and search for a problem to help them relieve the pain point. In this case, the makers of a virtual organizational platform like Evernote would have a good chance of making a sale. By identifying pain points, companies succeed not only in making more sales, they also succeed in getting to know their customers on a deeper level.
2. Inbound marketing seeks to build knowledge about customers
Gone are the days when companies just marketed to whoever would listen. Today’s successfully businesses are focused on identifying target personas and creating an increasingly more personalized marketing experience for clients. In order to do this, however, companies must get to know their clients, which forges exactly the type of relationship upon which the H2H philosophy is based.
3. Inbound marketing focuses heavily on optimizing website for people
While search remains an important marketing tactic, the trajectory of inbound marketing has demanded that companies focus first on optimizing their content for people and second on optimizing it for search engine crawlers. This creates more valuable sites and a better user experience. It also places the customer at the front of of the marketing experience, which is critical if a company is to market successfully to its consumers.
4. Inbound marketing wants users to have a good time
In the world of inbound marketing, user experience is a hugely important metric. This means that companies who arrange their web pages in order to provide a positive human experience are likely to draw more users and succeed more at H2H marketing than those who don’t. When users have a great experience with a company either through emotionally evocative advertising or outstanding service, they’re more likely to come back thanks to the human connection that’s just been formed.
5. Inbound marketing drives social media connections
In today’s world, people head to social media to connect with other people and inbound and H2H marketing are right there to meet them. When brands build relationships with customers via various social media outlets, they provide more positive experiences and start more conversations. This, in turn, leads to a deeper relationship between company and consumer and encourages brand loyalty in customers.
6. Inbound marketing focuses on guiding sales decisions
While outbound marketing of days past focused on cold sales and all but forcing people to purchase a product, inbound marketing focuses more on guiding people toward sales decisions in a valuable and informative way. Today, people want to start with information (in the form of valuable content marketing material) and work their way eventually into making purchasing decisions, which is a tenant straight out of the H2H marketing handbook.
5 Companies Nailing H2H Marketing
Right now, I’m seriously impressed by five companies who are nailing H2H marketing across the board:
When you do a Google search for Slack, you’re greeted by their approachable motto, “Be less busy.” “Yeah!” the Google searcher thinks, “I want that.” And that’s exactly what Slack was going for. The company, which offers an innovative messaging app designed to support team collaboration, nails it when it comes to speaking directly to their customers. From their open job postings (“Are you lovely to work with? Great! We’re nice, too!”) to their home screen, which advertises a “Messaging app for teams who are changing the world!!!” Slack is a leader in H2H marketing if I’ve ever seen one. Just check out one of their recent Facebook ads:
I know I talk about them too much, but really. If it never occurred to you that a “spray before you go” bathroom fragrance could be riotous fun, it’s time to reconsider. Poo-Pourri has mastered H2H marketing – from the site’s design (all classy calligraphy and lady-like colors) to its hilarious and blush-worthy marketing videos. Don’t believe me? Check this out:
Airbnb’s popularity exploded when it introduced its “Belong Anywhere” campaign. The company, which specializes in the rental of personal homes around the world, has managed to take accommodations and make them into a symbol of kinship and belonging. One of their most heart-wrenchingly feel-good pieces of marketing content is the “Belong Anywhere” video below, in which one real-life host says, “After hosting hundreds of guests, I realize how I’m connected to these people who belong to a different country, different culture, and different background. There’s a common human bond that connects us.” How’s that for marketing that gives you all of the feels?
4. Red Bull
When you navigate to Red Bull’s website, you might expect to find material touting the power of the energy drink. Think again. What you actually find is human stories about quadriplegics fighting to overcome their injuries for global races or a team of young climbers on a traverse of Patagonia’s Fitz Roy mountain. Meant to inspire, motivate, and move Red Bull’s followers, these stories focus on the human motivation behind a drink meant to enhance performance.
5. Dollar Shave Club
Dollar Shave Club’s motto is, “No commitment. No fees. No B.S.” The idea for the company was hatched when founder, Michael Dublin, became frustrated with the expensive and poor-quality razors found in supermarkets. He decided to start an affordable, relatable razor subscription service and the hilarious and relatable marketing that has become Dollar Shave Club was born. One of the company’s most memorable pieces of H2H content so far is its launch video, which proclaims that the brand’s razor blades are “F**king great.”
While H2H marketing will evolve as it becomes more popular, these five companies are dominating the H2H scene today.
Why H2H Is the Marketing of the Future
While there are many good things about H2H marketing, it’s not enough to simply appreciate H2H as a helpful tactic. Oh no, it’s much larger than one standalone tactic or even “fade:” it’s headed towards becoming the marketing of the future.
- H2H marketing helps companies synthesize and resolve the concerns of their customers.
- H2H marketing builds customer trust in your brand.
- H2H marketing helps companies develop ongoing relationships with customers.
- H2H marketing provides the foundation for powerful WOM advertising that can help your business thrive.
The wonderful thing about H2H marketing is that, unlike certain B2B or B2C marketing tactics, H2H marketing tactics are applicable across the board.
In these ways, H2H marketing can easily replace the cold sales marketing of the past and become the primary mode of marketing as we move into the future.
The Future of Marketing and the Importance of H2H
As it stands now, several companies have already decried the end of B2B and B2C marketing and stated that it all comes down, at this point, to H2H marketing. While B2B and B2B marketing used to be helpful differentiations that allowed companies to target consumers more effectively, the truth is that today’s marketing comes down to one thing and one thing only: the customer. It doesn’t matter one iota if this customer is encased within a company or out there on their own, it matters only that companies succeed in creating authentic relationships with people rather than businesses.
This is the reason that H2H marketing is rising to such prominence.
When companies focus more on marketing for humans, by humans, they succeed in touching on many of the things that the outbound tactics of yesteryear missed: empathy, excitement, compassion, and connection.
This, in turn, creates a larger willingness to purchase a product and makes customers more excited to interact with a brand.
These things were previously unheard-of in the outbound tactics of yesteryear. Instead of fostering genuine connections with customers, companies used sneaky, under-the-table tactics to essentially confuse or bully customers into purchasing products.
While this worked for a bit, today’s customers don’t want to be confused.
They want to understand what they’re purchasing and why.
Because of this, H2H marketing has risen to prominence with both customers and companies.
While companies benefit from the increased connection to their customers, customers benefit from actually seeing the companies they’re purchasing from as humans, too which creates a mutual relationship that’s good for everyone involved.
If you’re not focusing on the human elements that make up what marketing is, at it’s soul and core, then you’re missing out.
I encourage every marketer out there to switch from “cold” and “traditional” to “human.” You’ll see better results–I promise you.
What are your thoughts on the rise of H2H / P2P marketing? Let me know in the comments!
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