Creative content, personalization, trust even more important for brands in a world of automated marketing.

TECHNOLOGY • BUSINESS 04.22.19

Now that CX and AI have advanced to the front line of business excellence, personalized, creative content for emotional connections with your brand "matter even more," finds Think with Google. Consumers expect curated cx and content is no longer just helpful information, but "part of delivering services," according to Gartner.

Personalization using granular audience signals is critical for relevant, engaging content.

The "real magic happens when you combine" personalization models with content to "create relevant and engaging brand experiences, " Gigabit magazine wrote. "Creativity can be helped, guided, and validated by data and analytics. And the reverse is also true." Finding "clues and patterns" in data to determine "what resonates," and what delivery methods are "most attractive," make it "genuine, immersive and individualized," as well as "portable across multiple screens," according to a MediaPost article .

Personalization is "critical." Brands "must learn how to become story builders," using "granular audience signals" for "relevance and scaled personalization," finds Think with Google.

People are letting marketers know what resonates through "granular audience signals" like clicks and shares that help "build relevance at the individual level." They help determine and understand "which creative images and language are likely to resonate," and when to serve up "the relevant creative" to "the right person and the right time."

Google finds people are asking "increasingly detailed questions" to inform and inspire them, to learn, and "state their curiosity." They expect "tailored" answers. The brands that are "deemed truly helpful...will rise above the competition."

Consumers are using search to curate their own experiences, and "the research process becomes part of the experience itself," building anticipation, working out details to "reduce anxiety" and eliminate "regrets," Think with Google, wrote.

For marketers, that knowledge is a "road map of sorts" for storytelling that gets people "excited, relieves their anxiety, and pulls them into your experience so they don't choose another," Think with Google.

The future is about truthful, accountable, data-driven storytelling focused on trust.

"The future is about data-driven storytelling" and "truth based on facts," Rishad Tobaccowala, Chief Growth Officer of communications company Publicis Groupe told Forbes.

"Today all of us have got to recognize that you can’t talk of authenticity, purpose, environment governance but basically operate as if everything is about manipulating numbers." We’re "all human beings and human beings are variable and choose with their hearts. They use numbers to justify what they just did."

Marketers need to "focus on the citizen" because they are marketing to "people" not "consumers," and "talk accountability language" rather than "brand speak" because people don't "define themselves by a brand."

Earning consumer trust is critical. People are increasingly concerned about privacy. Google has "seen significant shifts in our industry because people have lost trust in how some businesses use their data."

Browser tracking protections "have already had an impact on digital marketing," limiting ads personalization, underreporting conversions and weakening measurement methods.

"Forward-thinking marketers understand that online privacy concerns are real, and they have been preparing all along. These marketers strive for growth, but not at the cost of consumer trust."

Brands can "invest in ways to protect and strengthen their relationships with customers" with "responsible marketing" practices like transparency, fair data collection and privacy safeguards.

The combination of data and story moves audiences deeply .

We are "wired to remember stories," according to Stanford marketing professor, Jennifer Aaker. We remember stories more than "data, facts, and figures. "But when data and stories are used together, audiences can be deeply moved."

Aaker lists four elements that successful stories have in common:

1. They have a goal, and "consider" the audience journey from beginning to end;

2. They grab attention, using "surprising truths, visual effects, or an unusual approach;"

3. They engage, using relatable and compelling storytelling elements, feature a protagonist with a "clear challenge," and show what she has "to go through to reach the goal;"

4. They are memorable, easy to retell and share.

Good storytelling contextualizes data and leads to action.

"It's the context around the data that "provides value and that’s what will make people listen and engage,” finds Gartner. Good storytelling and "'convincing' skills are as important in driving outcomes as the quality of your data and insights," Forbes wrote.

To move an audience from "what is to what could be," the great storytellers crafted stories that reminded "people of the status quo," revealing the "path to a better way," setting up a "conflict that needs to be resolved," according to Harvard Business Review.

Use elements of good storytelling and identify "clear next steps" that lead your audience to act, like a call to action, writes visioncritical.com.

While data helps marketers understand what's resonating with customers, data alone doesn't make consumers care. Only stories can "find the right route to your customers' hearts and minds," EContentmag.com wrote.

The "process" of connecting insights to a story is a combination of art and science. Similar to baking which is "basically chemistry, requiring the right ingredients in the right proportions at the right temperature for the right length of time. But great baking is more than chemistry; it is also creativity and skill—the same is true for finding the story in the data," visioncritical.com.

Elaine Sarduy is a freelance writer and content developer @Listing Debuts