Oh, the humanity. It makes sense that appealing to your customers as people—and showing your company in a more personal light—can yield positive results. After all, people are the ones making purchasing decisions.

But humans are messy. Mood, impulse, rationalization, and reason all contribute to our buying decisions, even when we’re purchasing in a corporate capacity.

In fact, according to a study from the Corporate Executive Board Company (CEB), emotions have double the influence of logic when buyers make purchasing decisions, whether those purchases are in the B2B or B2C realm. And surprisingly, B2B purchasers tend to feel more of an emotional connection to their purchases than B2C folks, which means that they’re even more attached to the brands they trust.

So, what about prospective customers, those who haven’t yet formed an emotional connection? That’s where engaging on a personal level—all the way through the purchasing process— comes in.

The Human Touch

Some marketers may think, “Hey, I’m human, so this should be easy,” and use the idea of communicating more “humanly” as an excuse to avoid doing their homework. Let’s be clear: putting a personal touch on marketing isn’t about using the latest buzzwords or making slick pop culture references. It’s about good storytelling and careful listening. By getting to know your customers more deeply, you can foster an emotional connection between them and your products and services. Before you reach out, determine what you want people to feel about your products or services and consider what may prompt that emotion.

Connect the Dots

Some pundits refer to this more personal approach as “H2H,” believing that human- to-human marketing should replace both B2B and B2C. But that oversimplifies the situation, such as when a “customer” is actually a purchasing committee. Instead, take what’s most pertinent to that particular individual or group and put this information front and center—with both emotional appeals and rational business benefits. This combined approach will resonate better than sticking to conventional marketing messages and campaign themes.

The best way to achieve that elusive connection is to go beyond simple segmentation and get a deep understanding of your customers and of the group of humans they represent. Ethnographic research methods are required to come up with truer-to-life personas that can drive humanized marketing efforts.

Gut Check

Making small adjustments to your website or enabling your sales team to take a more human approach to follow up isn’t enough, and you’ll be tempted to grip onto incremental changes in response or open rates after re-writing your e-mails or landing pages. Instead, marketers need to start looking for so-called “weak signals” such as social media conversations or data anomalies to identify opportunities for disruptive messages and moments. As today’s buyers rely more on social and online interactions to guide their purchasing decisions, both marketing and sales need to listen, approach, and engage in the same arena if they expect to win.

Being more personal in your marketing requires more in-depth research and greater clarity. To really get through to your customers in 2015, you will need to understand what motivates them personally and professionally.

Ready for more? Check out our guide to creating, using, and updating Buyer Personas for additional guidance on how to connect with your prospects and customers on a personal level.