Being Human

Posted in Talks, Posted in Digital Marketing by Nicola Payne

"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity."

Albert Einstein

Einstein and James from True Digital share a concern: have we reached a point where technology is messing with our humanity? And if so, how can we make digital more human? 

With each of us spending a massive 20 hours a day on average online, we are increasingly locked in a digital world, rather than spending face-to-face time with those we care about. Rather than encouraging this, perhaps our role as digital marketers should be to rethink the user experience as more than simply a digital experience, but rather as a human experience.

It’s always been true that the best advertising taps into our emotions, the same is true of digital. The sweet spot is where technology is applied to problems that are intuitively human. James gave the example of Lark – a personalised weight loss coach that provides motivational messages to help focus on health and weight goals.  Staying motivated to eat well and exercise is a very human problem, tackled with creativity and sensitivity by technology. Bingo.

But this is the exception, not the norm, and James challenged us to make our digital experiences more human through use of human tools, human metrics and human experiences.

Human Tools

Throughout Digital Gaggle personas appeared in a number of guises.  In his talk, James talked about personas in the context of empathy mapping.  At True Digital they use personas to focus on how people think, feel and experience the world so that they can map the emotional journey that people take using a product or service and then can build marketing interventions around those emotions.

In other words, think about how digital products and services can be used as a tool to address a human need, rather than simply to show how clever the technology is.

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Human Metrics

Where most technology is designed to keep us busy, dwell time has become a key metric of success.  However, time on site is not the same as customer satisfaction, and as digital users we know that taking ages to find information or buy something online drives us insane.

Be inspired to use measures that matter by watching this brilliant TED talk by Tristan Harris and his Design for Time Well Spent campaign.

Human Experiences

Without a doubt providing an experience that is tailored to your target audience is important, but micro targeting can be clumsy. Highly targeted programmatic ads are driven by complex algorithms that predict your needs but don’t understand them. Research shows that shared memories and big picture thoughts and feelings are more effective at driving up revenue.

Each and every moment of our lives is an opportunity to feel happy so, how can every interaction with our website or brand provide the user with a happy moment?  

Applying the human factor

James’ talk gave me pause to think.  As a business we’ve been going through a process of revisiting our vision, mission and values to think about what is important to us and how this translates to our target audience.  I am often distracted by the pull to be ‘more corporate’, but James’ talk reminded me of the importance of just being ourselves and interacting with the world in a natural way (with all our flaws!).  We all want our lives to be filled with humour, so why shouldn’t that be true for our working lives, for our customers and indeed our digital presence?  Deciding to take a consciously un-corporate approach is risky, but definitely feels like the human approach to us. 

Other key take away points were:

1. Admit to your flaws. Businesses typically hide (and sometimes lie) when they make mistakes; own them and your customers will thank you

2. Make every transaction with your customers more human. Think about the language you use and the processes that you ask your customers to follow online.  How can these be friendlier and help people save time?

3. It’s not all about digital! Handwritten notes and personal touches can elevate the digital mundane into a more human experience.

So how will you and your business rise to the challenge of being human?  Can you understand the motivation of your customers more deeply to provide a product or service that appeals to them in a very human way? Can you identify meaningful metrics to measure this? And can you do all this in a way that adds to the sum of human happiness?


Nicola Payne
Nicola Payne

Managing Director at Noisy Little Monkey, Nicola posts about Google Analytics and managing marketing teams.

Meet Nicola Payne

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