The events of 2020 showed us the importance of empathic marketing for businesses big and small. The world has changed and companies must adapt to the new needs of their customers if they are to grow. The best way to do this is through empathy.
What is empathetic marketing?
Empathy is the ability to see events and situations from someone else's perspective – to put yourself in his or her shoes. For brands, empathic marketing is about seeing the world from the user's point of view. It helps you put the customer at the center of your marketing strategy and work outward.
However, it's important to remember that empathy also means authenticity. You can't create emotional marketing campaigns to manipulate customers.
Empathy is credible when it creates authentic connections between brands and users. You need to build trust and organic relationships throughout the customer journey.
Yes, increasing conversion rates is the ultimate goal of any marketing campaign, but brands need to change their mindset to get those conversions.
If your marketing strategy is focused on the hard sell approach, it is time to rethink your campaigns for 2021.
Why is empathy important in marketing?
We've outlined how empathy works in marketing, but there are numerous reasons why this is important, especially in 2021 and beyond.
Emotion and connection are more necessary today than ever before. The way we live and work has changed in ways we couldn't have imagined. Business as usual is a thing of the past because it creates a lot of emotions for the future – and these emotions affect how consumers react to marketing campaigns.
The range of human emotions is enormous, from positive emotions like joy, interest and amazement to more negative ones like fear, anger or sadness (anger can be a particularly strong motivator for content sharing). Campaigns need to be geared towards evoking and connecting with these real-world emotions.
As brands continue to want to sell products and services and generate revenue, the way they move users through the funnel needs to change. And that approach needs to be done from the ground up.
Adjust your content marketing, re-examine the customer journey, and educate your reps about the benefits of evoking emotions across marketing channels.
How to use empathy in marketing (+ examples)
Brand marketing has long been on a path: sell products and strengthen your brand image by highlighting the characteristics of your business.
This mindset is ingrained in us, which makes it difficult to understand how to use empathy in marketing. But the world of marketing had to adapt before, and we can do it again. Here are the best ways to switch to an empathetic marketing mindset.
1. Understand the vulnerabilities of your audience
We mentioned the importance of following in your audience's footsteps to get a feel for what they need right now. This is the time to update your buyer personalities to reflect the new realities of your customers.
How can you do that When you understand that customer empathy works in two ways:
- What are the customer's weak points in the real world?
- What are the customer problems related to your company?
The real world is still affected by the pandemic right now. This means that your audience is missing out on traveling and meeting people and is dealing with loneliness and insecurity.
If your brand can help with these feelings – such as offering virtual classes or providing entertainment – you can create a strong connection with your audience.
JetBlue has well understood the current weaknesses of customers – how to travel safely in an emergency in the pandemic – and created videos on the following topics:
When it comes to customer vulnerabilities with your brand, you need to dig a little more.
Analyze your traffic and conversions every week and note the biggest up and down movements. That way, you can find out what aspects of your brand are attracting customers.
Use social listening to understand the sentiment around your brand. But don't take part in every conversation, even if you are feeling defensive. If customers are not happy with your brand, learn why and how to fix it.
Of course, there is nothing better than speaking directly to your customers. Schedule a call or send them a quick survey and ask them a few questions:
- Are you satisfied with your brand?
- Which product / service helped you the most?
- What would you like to see improved?
Don't make promises, use them as a learning exercise to improve your customer interactions.
Once you have this information compiled, you can create a customer traffic report that you can use to adjust the direction of your marketing.
Another important component that brands need to consider: avoiding confusion.
This goes hand in hand with marketing strategies, but clarity is often lost when you try a new mindset. When you're selling a complex service that ultimately helps customers, you don't want to get them lost in jargon or in multi-step processes.
Provide comprehensive guidance for them to follow during the user onboarding process. Make it as visual as possible by sharing screenshots and video walkthroughs, or using a timeline template.
Onboarding guides are a great way to show customers that you care about them and are ready to walk them through every step of the process. This will help build trust and strengthen the connections between customers and brands.
2. Adapt to the needs of the audience
Now that you know what your audience needs from the world and from your brand, you need to adapt your business model.
EBay's Up & Running program is a good example of this customization:
With so many small businesses struggling during the pandemic, eBay cut fees, made some services free, and provided more support to sellers.
There are lessons here that brands can incorporate into their own campaigns. You may not be able to offer discounts, but how about opening your premium tier to all audiences?
Take smaller steps, e.g. B. adapting the way employees deal with customers at the front. Design job aids like this example to remind teams how to be empathetic towards customers.
It's also worth taking a look at your current customer service process to make sure your wording and tone are more empathetic.
3. Capture everyday life
A key component to using empathy in marketing is capturing the wonders of everyday life. Important moments in life will be put on hold for the foreseeable future. Why aren't more companies incorporating the little moments into their content strategies?
Brands can show their empathy by creating content in simple scenarios: the joy of a video call with a loved one, baking a great cake, or recreating an outdoor experience inside. For example, people aren't going to the movie theaters right now, so a video about restoring the theatrical experience at home would leverage customer empathy.
That's exactly what Verizon did with its short video on responsive lighting:
Educational and fun, the video shows a real person from the company who loves the movie theater experience so much that they want to recreate it at home. Human connection right there.
Brands sometimes believe that content marketing means high definition video quality and rich stories. But you have to consider the world as it is now. Consumers don't live high-end lives, so the brand message needs to reflect that. Customers are at home and will be working remotely for a while. Choose home as the setting when sharing your branding story to create that real connection.
4. Be visually engaging and educational
Your content must be valuable to customers if they are to improve the brand experience. Therefore, an educational approach may be required.
Review your existing content to find parts that are relevant to your audience. You can also update older parts that may have outdated information but bring out the right emotions.
A lot of data-driven content has been shared over the past year. Marketers can use key data to design content to educate audiences. According to Venngage's data marketing study, most marketers are familiar with data design.
This is the time to take advantage of data visualization skills and create data related content to educate the audience. Customers want content that is not only attractive, but also improves their understanding of the world around them.
Another way to educate the audience is to find the sweet spot between your company's expertise and what interests your customers in learning. That's exactly what Lush does with her YouTube series "How It's Made". It takes an educational and empathetic approach to showcase your products:
This series works because customers want to know what's in the products they use. Lush has the experts explain the ingredients to them, and the overlap makes for great content.
As you share educational content, create visuals to help tell your story. As a design solution, we saw that visual storytelling can improve connections and conversions.
5. Add interactivity
Interactive marketing has picked up speed in recent years as rapidly advancing technology (especially on social media) has made it more accessible to brands.
In the current global climate, adding interactivity to marketing content can be a great way to create empathy in business models. As mentioned earlier, consumers have had to give up going out, meeting people and traveling the world. If your brand can offer you solutions to these problems, presenting these solutions in your marketing should be a top priority.
And if you can make it interactive, like this video from BBC Scotland, so much the better:
The video works because of the simple interactivity. Users only need to use their touchpad to click through for more information and to change the direction of the video. With people currently unable to travel and see these sights in person, there is a great chance they will appeal to consumers.
According to recent research on video marketing, YouTube not only attracts billions of monthly users, but is also the number one buying driver among social media channels. So if you have the resources to create interactive YouTube videos, you can show more brand empathy in your marketing efforts.
6. Use user-generated content
User-generated content has been a mainstay of social media marketing for some time. But it's also a powerful tool for building brand connections with consumers.
What sets UGC apart from other marketing strategies is bridging the gap between brands and customers. Users create content either for their channels or for a branded competition. This content is expanded on the social media platform, website or in a company's newsletters.
UGC offers numerous advantages. The most important one is that your brand doesn't have to create this content (although you need to sort the entries to select branded content). The presentation of user content also gives you access to their networks. People will be happy to appear on your brand's platform and share the post or page with their circles.
Marketers should spend some time delving into the type of content users are generating as it will help them develop a competitive strategy that appeals to their demographic, like Petco has done.
Petco gathered content from its customers about the little moments they share with their pets to create this video collage:
Another benefit of UGC is Petco's video: this type of content serves as testimonials for the company. UGC shows that customers believe in a brand enough to send them their content. This shows potential customers that this brand is worth getting in touch with and shopping with.
Conclusion: Use empathetic marketing to connect with customers in 2021 and beyond
The global situation has made empathetic marketing a top priority for companies. It is no longer enough to talk about your product or the benefits of buying from your brand. Brands now need to connect with customers on a deeper, more empathetic level. Show your audience that you understand their needs and are ready to adapt to them.
Incorporating empathy into marketing campaigns is more of a mindset than a technique. To instill this mindset in marketing teams, you need to do the following:
- Understand your audience's current vulnerabilities
- Adapt to your needs
- Take an educational approach in your marketing
- Capture everyday life in campaigns
- Add interactive elements
- Use user generated content
Every step is vital as the changes we see now will have long-term implications. A empathetic approach can take some time to get used to, but it's not impossible.
Do you have any other tips on how to incorporate empathy into marketing? Let me know in the comments.