Bringing High-Touch to Marketing: A Model for Authentic Brand Experiences

By: Laura Marzec  | 02/12/2020

How much guidance do you need to buy a pack of gum?

Probably not a lot. You might be partial to a brand or flavor (or price), but your choice shouldn’t take more than a second or two in the checkout line. What about choosing a new bank, though? Or a healthcare provider?

For more complex products and services, we want more of everything. More time, more guidance and more personalization throughout our buying journey. That’s where high-touch marketing shines — delivering the right content at the right times to a target audience that makes a purchase decision over time.

What Is High-Touch Marketing?

High-touch marketing is an approach that uses a series of strategic, personalized communications with potential customers. Contrast this with the single-touch approaches we see every day: a billboard for a McDonald’s at the next exit or a one-off email about a Labor Day sale. When products or services are more complicated, customized or expensive and infrequently purchased, consumers need to be nurtured toward a decision. Steady, continuous interaction with your brand builds trust and encourages people to choose you when the time arrives.

The aim is to engage and reengage with a well-defined target audience at the most critical points along the buying process. This can use multiple coordinated channels, such as:

  • Email nurture campaigns that feature thought leadership and informative content in the area of your product or service
  • Downloadable assets like e-books or white papers
  • Webinars and interactive content that educates and fosters engagement
  • Traditional media such as magazines and direct mail
  • Brand and customer events

As an approach, high-touch marketing is multifaceted and proactive compared to other types of marketing. Instead of waiting on prospects to conduct their own journey through your sales process — researching your industry, looking at competitors, finding your business and getting in contact with a salesperson — you stay top of mind by providing important information at each step of their extended buying journey.

The Benefits of High-Touch

Today’s consumers want to feel independently empowered and knowledgeable in their purchasing decisions. It’s what they’re used to, whether they’re shopping for a new car online or browsing sales on Amazon. And they absolutely expect it when they’re looking for a diabetes specialist or highly niched business software.

For big decisions like these, people tend to research on their own terms and at their own pace to make an informed decision. Rather than letting your audience do all the work and hoping they come back to choose you, a high-touch approach provides your audience with a path to consume information. This helps them make an empowered and informed decision on their own. All the while, you’re building reputation and trust without having to push them to purchase.

Internally, high-touch marketing can ease the burden on your sales team too. Staying in front of a prospect for these lengthier buying cycles — sometimes a year or longer — can tie up sales staff and take their focus away from critical conversion moments where their personal touch is really needed. Done well, high-touch marketing creates a more qualified, knowledgeable and warmer lead. By the time a prospect reaches a salesperson, half the battle is already won.

Keys to Successful High-Touch Marketing

For successful high-touch marketing, your efforts and campaigns should be:

Authentic. A lot of communication today is automated. If you sound like a real person, your prospects will certainly take note. And that positive first impression is crucial for future interactions along the buying journey, because when messaging is targeted too broadly or crafted without a defined voice, it can be an alienating experience. If your brand is personable and genuine, prospects will want to learn more.

Useful. Helpful content isn’t just a matter of what — it’s a matter of when. In other words, make sure that it’s the right content at the right time. Content about planning a pregnancy doesn’t help a prospect who’s navigating their first trimester. Providing content that speaks to the prospect at a particular moment where they desire information builds the relationship along the buying journey.

Personal. Creating personas based on a defined target audience can help you create well-timed, well-crafted content that feels tailor-made. The more you interact with prospects and customers, the more you learn about your target audience and the more personalized your content can become.

Timely. Throughout any high-touch marketing campaign, timing is key. Of course, an email with thought leadership on the advantages of new software should precede a downloadable guide on a particular feature of that software. But more than that, timing is also about knowing when your audience is going to be using a search engine, when they’re going to be paying attention to their inboxes, and when they’re going to want a quote calculator or assessment tool, so you can deliver the right content and messaging to them when it will offer the most value.

Data-driven. Collecting data and information on the success of your high-touch marketing campaign gives you the tools to improve each factor. You can spot and replace content that isn’t moving prospects toward the next level of interaction and bridge gaps that prospects find too large to cross.

Is This Approach Right for My Business?

Typically, selecting a product or service that’s complicated, pricey, customized, infrequently purchased or, perhaps, a long-term commitment is a highly considered decision. It requires more research by the prospect, often over a longer period of time, before they make a choice to buy.

If this sounds like your business, a high-touch marketing approach is well-suited for you. Industries like health care, technology and B2B firms have a notably longer conversion cycle — and it can’t necessarily be shortcut. In this case, high-touch marketing is an ideal strategy to stay on prospects’ minds throughout a lengthy decision-making process.

That said, any brand can benefit from building relationships with customers over time. A business that’s traditionally more transactional, like e-commerce, can still use high-touch marketing effectively if it’s giving prospects and customers valuable information at multiple points. The difference in this case is that a high-touch approach might nurture customer loyalty or advocacy more than customer acquisition.


It All Comes Back to Understanding Your Audience

Of course, for all of this to work, you have to know your audience well. Really well. This means understanding how and when your audience likes to communicate, where they tend to search for information, and how they like to consume it. All of that allows for personalized, timely and natural-feeling communications. For example:

  • Does your audience live in their inbox, or do they tend to live offline?
  • What content do they already consume? E-letters? Podcasts? Long-form blogs? Or is it the more video, the better?
  • Do they value a human touchpoint in their journey, or would they rather conduct as much of their journey as possible behind a keyboard?

These kinds of questions and more should be part of the research, persona development and content strategy performed up-front. That helps ensure that you’ll have the right content, tools and team in place to conduct high-touch marketing well.

Ultimately, what will speak to every audience is consistency. Your business can lose its luster to customers if high-touch communication stops the moment they buy from you — or they go from feeling personally addressed to feeling like an anonymous subscriber receiving mass batches of emails. Continuing to provide relevant, useful content beyond acquisition shows your customers that the relationship isn’t merely transactional — useful, personalized information builds loyalty and long-term engagement with your brand. When another problem arises and you’re the best solution, customers will already know and trust your expertise. You’ll already be top of mind.

Start Playing the Long Game

High-touch marketing is growing in popularity — and for good reason. Consumers today are seeking out personalized solutions now more than ever. Delivering the right content at the right time and place can foster a trusting relationship with your brand for years to come.

Your business is unique, and your marketing approach should be just as tailored. To discover how Hileman Group can bring your strategy up to full speed, contact us.

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