Don’t Be That Guy: 5 Dating Archetypes and the Etiquette of Marketing Automation

Adapted from ad:tech 2015 speech given by ERGO Interactive CEO John Hendricks, “Avoiding the Technology Trap.”

Here at ERGO Interactive, we’ve been perfecting marketing automation for the past few years. One thing we’ve found is that when it comes to important purchases, the decision-making process is a lot like dating. There are countless brands to choose from, like all those fish in the sea.

Digitization has made targeted marketing more prevalent than ever, shining a light on just how different the consumer journey is for each individual buyer. An integral step in that journey—whether it’s within automotive, enterprise tech, healthcare, luxury travel, or financial services—is the discovery and research stage, the casual dating to find the right fit. The purpose of that first date is not to walk down the aisle, but simply to get to the second date. Then the third, the fourth, and so on.

The power of marketing automation effectively navigates that process, and—just as successful dating can eventually lead to marriage—builds a personalized, cross-channel experience that leads to a purchase. It all starts with that first date, where, as many have learned, one misstep can be fatal. Let’s take a look at 5 first-date archetypes that end the relationship before it’s even begun, and see how brands can use marketing automation to avoid being “that guy” when it comes to the customer journey.

1. The Interviewer

The Interviewer asks questions relentlessly, some of them way too personal. You’re left wondering what that person is ever going to do with all that information.

Marketers often make the mistake of asking too many profile/registration questions right away, but never end up using the data. Although detailed information is valuable when qualifying prospects, the first touch is not the time to request it. Instead, it’s best to ask the absolute bare minimum up front—then as the relationship evolves, develop the profile perpetually with a meaningful two-way value exchange over time.

2. The Over-Sharer

The Over-Sharer boastfully tells you everything on the first date—how much money they make, how they are in bed, how many degrees they have framed on the wall…

Remember, the first interaction with a consumer is to make a visceral connection. When it comes to that “first date,” less is more. Marketers must carefully nurture each prospect, building trust and earning a positive reputation. Knowing not only what to say, but also when to say it is essential when developing a long-term relationship.

3. The Ghoster

You have a couple of amazing dates, but then the Ghoster disappears. You’re left wondering what happened, and eventually forget about them entirely.

Research shows that sales and marketing efforts tend to drop off around touch 3 or 4. In reality, the majority of conversions, purchases, and revenue happen later in the funnel. It’s important to think through the progression beyond those first touches, and sustain the conversation across 7–10 touches.

4. The Creeper

The Creeper stares a little too longingly into your eyes, misinterpreting your politeness for intimacy and opening up with personal details too early on.

Misinterpreting signals can happen easily when it comes to lead scoring models. A single click doesn’t mean the customer is itching to purchase. One danger of scoring is that it can often overgeneralize, creating a false sense of understanding the customer mindset and preventing marketers from accurately measuring fit and interest. A better approach is to pair lead scoring with first-party profile development, which contextualizes each relationship and allows for a more adaptive conversation.

5. The Robot

The Robot shows up with a scripted conversation, and it’s clear this isn’t their first—or last—“performance.” You find your mind wandering to your list of errands.

One big mistake marketers often make is treating every interaction the same way. Sometimes, even after investing money and bandwidth, many marketers are not fully leveraging the capabilities of their platform. The platform is a microphone, amplifying the message and allowing for large-scale reach—but the best microphone on the market will do you no good if you aren’t saying something relevant. Try spending the next six months planning your content and data strategy before choosing a solution.

If you want that second date (and third, fourth…) with your potential customer, learn your marketing automation etiquette. Ask the right questions at the right time, make the effort to get to know your prospects’ behaviors, stick around long enough to create valuable relationships, and tailor each conversation to each individual need.

A successful solution requires detail, technology and a complex vision. Think about what you’re doing now, and what you strive to do. If you were to ask each of your prospects whether they feel your brand genuinely understands each customer and what’s on their mind, what would they say?

The answer is your key to effective engagement and smart marketing automation, and if you’re lucky, maybe even wedding bells.

John Hendricks

John Hendricks


John is the founder and CEO of ERGO Interactive. With broad knowledge drawn from his 15+ years of experience, John is an industry expert on Customer Engagement with deep roots in data science and content architecture.

Brittney Soldano

Brittney Soldano


Brittney Soldano is a content strategist and editor for ERGO Interactive. A Brooklyn-based crossword puzzle enthusiast, she received her BA in English Literature from New York University.

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