In-Person Interactions Are Strongest When Coupled With Digital Strategy

As marketers put a stronger emphasis on humanized experiences

Two people going to shake hands; they each carry a briefcase; there body
After connecting with a consumer in-person, there's a chance to have a strong follow-up with them digitally. Getty Images
Headshot of Kristen Alexander

Humans are social beings by nature. We love to communicate and have figured out more than enough ways to always be in touch.

This year for the first time ever, a majority of the global population will be digitally connected. And let’s face it: The expectation to be available and connected has become a bit daunting. Between email, messaging and social media, people are expected to be on all the time, whether it be with friends, colleagues or brands.

At the same time that digital communication has accelerated, face-to-face interaction has shifted, often making the way we connect less personal than ever before. After all, why go the extra mile (literally) to meet someone in person when you could reach them quickly via text? Well, because we’re social beings, and face-to-face interaction is irreplaceable when it comes to forming connections.

In business, savvy communication technology serves its purpose when people are looking for fast, efficient means of getting in touch and often when a strong relationship has already been established. The value of in-person meetings and events shouldn’t be diminished, though, especially when we are building new relationships and consider that so much of what we communicate comes from nonverbal cues. This all points to the fact that in-person conversations go a long way when it comes to productivity and efficiency, and not to mention, making stronger connections and building trust.

The insights gained from in-person interactions allow for more meaningful follow-up via digital channels.

Digital and in-person communication strategies don’t have to be an either/or scenario for you or today’s brands. Both are actually stronger when used together, and in 2019, companies that can master the balance of the two will win customers’ attention.

Slowing down as tech speeds up

This year, marketers will take a step back, focus less on communicating with people in high volume through every digital channel possibly available and instead start to champion the interactions in each channel that lead to the deepest engagement. Last year focused on the rapid adoption of new digital channels and technologies, and at the height of digital transformation, it was easy for brands to look at quantity over quality in order to keep up with the latest trends and technology.

This year we’ll be pickier about how we communicate: picky about the platform, the volume and the message. And with this will create a deeper appreciation for face-to-face channels. By coupling digital and in-person opportunities, marketers will be able to create the ultimate personalization strategy to reach customers. For example, with events, using a mobile event app can bring event attendees closer together by making it easier to schedule in-person meetings and share interests, photos and experiences throughout the event.

Digital tools and in-person strategies make for stronger data

Today we’re also seeing more examples of companies blending the digital and physical worlds in order to provide the best customer experience. Business-to-consumer retailers like Nike are creating physical locations enhanced by the company’s digital app, which allows customers to checkout in-store from their phones and scan items to look them up online, while b-to-b companies like Sophos are using event technology to capture greater attendee insights and personalize the lead follow-up process.

By coupling in-person and technology-driven strategies, marketers have a wealth of opportunities at their fingertips to collect data that matters and form deeper relationships with their customers. Think when you attend an event, provide positive survey feedback on a session and then receive a customized newsletter with additional content and resources on the topic. In the end, the insights gained from in-person interactions allow for more meaningful follow-up via digital channels.

As digital channels grow in number and possibilities, we as marketers know the opportunities to reach customers are endless. But with an understanding of the value our best channels hold, both digitally and in-person, this year marketers will scale back and leverage data to make communication more human and individualized than ever before.

Kristen Alexander is the CMO of Certain.