The concept of "mirroring" in marketing - What it is and how to put it into practice

(Image credit: Image Credit: SFIO CRACHO / Shutterstock)

What constitutes the perfect salesman?

It’s become increasingly important for the ideal salesman to be someone who can adapt to the customer and their manners of communication – whether they be gestures, facial expressions or speech. Those at the top of their careers understand the problems customers face and offer corresponding solutions. Such salespeople are natural empaths who adapt their behaviour to resonate with that of the potential buyer. By mirroring the verbal and non-verbal aspects of communication, the ideal seller establishes a trusting relationship with the buyer. As a result, they increase the chances of both a successful transaction and customer satisfaction.

In general, people possess a natural ability to empathise. It is inherent in us, by nature, to imitate both the verbal and non-verbal aspects of communication of the individuals we like. This behaviour can be explained by the presence of mirror neurons in the human brain. These neurons, or brain cells, are activated when someone performs a particular action, as well as  when they observe the same action executed by another person. Thus, empathy and mirroring are both intuitive and natural processes for human beings. Successful sales people will capitalise on this gift of nature in their work.

Companies that manage to hire this perfect, empathetic sales person see a huge boost to the bottom line. How can we guarantee the same results, while also incorporating communication across digital marketing channels?

Insights to help personalise content

The ideal digital interaction is personalised communication, built separately for each customer. However, it is very difficult to address customers in a personal manner through digital communications. Presently, it is much easier to develop creatives for a wide consumer audience and launch it (or its variations) with A / B testing.

A / B testing and the individual consumer

The A / B testing methodology does not provide a framework for truly personalised communication with each client. While it allows companies to optimise content, making it more attractive and click-worthy for most consumers, individuality is pushed to the background. How can companies change that?

For example, how do we know why an image of a dog resulted in more clicks than an image of a cup of coffee? Why did a red call-to-action increase conversion by 20 per cent, compared to a button in the company’s main brand colour? Such choices by customers are not interpretable under the A/B testing framework. As a result, there is no comprehensive understanding of the individual consumer and their preferences.

In order to build trusting relationships with customers, it is necessary to understand the uniqueness of every customer and accept the need to communicate with the individual, rather than the group. It is essential to find an approach that personalises each user’s experience and considers individual preferences at scale. We at DataSine have developed a way to understand customers and tailor communications in a way that resonates with each individual. We call this ‘mass personalisation of communications’.

Psychology + machine learning =

How do you understand individual customers out of millions? How do you also ensure consideration of their content preferences and tone of voice while communicating to them?  This is where the confluence of psychology and machine learning comes into play. The task of psychology, in this union, is to identify individual preferences. At DataSine we use the Big 5 personality framework, a well-known psychometric framework, to obtain a comprehensive overview of an individual’s personality.

Big 5 - Five-factor model of personality

Big 5 - Five-factor model of personality

With the help of a sufficient amount of data on consumer behaviour and interaction with marketing content, it is possible to determine each client’s personality type and consequently, determine their aesthetic and linguistic preferences. This knowledge empowers companies to identify their customers’ needs and create unique brand experience.

Knowing who their customers are allows businesses to build communication accordingly. As a quick example, if a consumer is an extravert, he will very likely prefer images with bright colours and marketing content that includes the word “exclusive”. Mirroring his extraverted speech style and content preferences in marketing communications will help to achieve significant gains in engagement and sales.

Mirroring in action

This approach to client interaction can be used in the creation of any marketing content, from call centre scripts to email campaigns and web pages. The process begins with using first party data to understand each client’s personality. Then, with the help of machine learning, marketers can alter existing content for each personality type.

With this approach, businesses can achieve significant commercial results. For example, in one such project one of the fastest-growing Eastern European digital banks managed to achieve a 59 per cent increase in credit card sales through a personalised email campaign. In another campaign personalised call centre scripts of a French company led to a 71 per cent increase in sales. It was found that when the performantly of the seller coincided with the personality of the potential buyer, the probability of a successful transaction increased by over 21 per cent - which demonstrates the beneficial effects of mirroring in action.

Here is an example of email personalisation. From left to right: original content, content for extroverts, content for introverts.

Here is an example of email personalisation. From left to right: original content, content for extroverts, content for introverts.

What's next?

In the future, mirroring will become a dominant mode of communication in the digital space. It will enable companies to talk to customers in their language, at the right time, and offer products that are relevant to them. Content will be generated automatically for each person, which will lead to greater understanding, empathy and the establishment of a trusting relationship between the person and the brand. From a marketing perspective, both brands and consumers are set for very interesting times ahead.

Igor Volzhanin, CEO, DataSine
Image Credit: SFIO CRACHO / Shutterstock