Social norms don't disappear when someone goes online. When you are introduced to a new person, there is usually a process of discovery and connection before either person shares their phone number or email. Humans ask one another questions, find out what interests they share, determine if the other is going to provide them any value. Then, if a connection is made and these people want to establish and invest in a relationship, they exchange contact information.
If that's how people operate in real life and marketers are supposed to be so good at understanding and influencing people, why is it that we've established such unnatural experiences for customers and prospects online? We're so over-eager that over the past ten years, with the adoption of inbound marketing, we often skip the getting-to-know-you phase and go straight to "what's your number?" Pummeling people with forms.
But, there's a shift. Recently, I've observed a new awareness. Marketers are moving from form-pushing to engagement. It seems that there's an increased focus on the relationship-building part of the buyer's journey. This has been supported by chat software systems like Drift and the oh-so-hot-right-now Account-Based Marketing approach.
Eighty percent of a buyer's decision is made before they ever fill out a form. No matter how many times you push your form, a buyer isn't going to fill it out until they are ready. They are researching on review sites, asking their friends, finding answers on Quora, looking to current vendors to find out who they recommend. As a result, I've seen more marketers consciously working to educate and connect with prospects in interesting ways across channels—teaching and entertaining them before trying to sell anything.
It takes longer and it's not easy, but it's more fruitful and feels better to everyone. This approach requires consistent messaging and clear segmentation and targeting. A more thoughtful plan is required when you're working to truly make a connection with people across multiple channels and multiple groups.
I think this new direction means that the days of lazy marketing are coming to a close. There's too much competition to stick with old tricks. We must evolve. Luckily, this evolution just requires you to be more human. There is no silver-bullet and there aren't honest quick wins. Put in the work, provide value, and be patient.