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We had a super cool talk with John Huntinghouse about human experience. He’s the VP of marketing at TAB Bank, has presented at multiple digital marketing conferences, and been featured in many publications including Forbes. Safe to say that he’s got good advice.

John likes to focus on the human element of marketing, so we asked him how to avoid a problem we’ve faced.

The problem:

Sometimes we get all caught up in website traffic or sales or bounce rates, and we forget that data is meant to be a signal for human experience.

John’s advice:

John recommends an “old school technique” of diving in and talking one-on-one with key customers.

Here are two reasons John recommends meeting with your customers to talk.


It helps you account for randomness

“People do weird stuff,” John reminds us. And we can’t believe we needed reminding because boy do we know that people are weird. He goes on to explain, “We try to pigeonhole them, but the reality is customers go all over the place as people do. Maybe they’re about to buy and then they decide to go to the bathroom and they never come back. The biggest problem is you don’t account for randomness.”

But thinking about randomness with data can start to feel overwhelming. How are we supposed to account for it? How are we supposed to know when randomness skews our data?

Don’t panic. In your conversations with people just learn about the random experiences that influenced their journey with your brand. Don’t be afraid of how randomness affects the process, embrace it.

Ed Catmull, the Co-founder of Pixar, inspired some of John’s thoughts about randomness. And Ed has said, “Change is going to happen, whether we like it or not. Some people see random, unforeseen events as something to fear. I am not one of those people. To my mind, randomness is not just inevitable, it is part of the beauty of life. Acknowledging it and appreciating it helps us respond constructively when we are surprised.”

It fills in the blanks of your customer’s journey

Data is a great starting point for figuring out what the customer journey looks like but it isn’t the full picture. *Shocker* Talking to a customer about their experience with the site can (a) give context to the data and/or (b) prove or disprove your hypothesis for what data indicates.

Here’s an example John gave us.

You see that a customer purchased from your site and at first you might see that as a signal that everything is perfect. But when you talk to a customer, you realize that they actually ran into problems on the site, got frustrated, but still purchased anyway.

The bottom line

You should occasionally meet with customers in person to observe them interacting with your site, or a campaign, or whatever else you need insight on. You should also talk to customers or your target audience to hear their thoughts. It’s a lot of work to do either of those, so you might not make it happen extremely often. In between those in-person conversations you can do a few other techniques to get feedback from your customers. Like, calling them on the phone, sending out surveys, and applying heat mapping software.

Have it guys. 👊🏼