In early 2020, the world turned on its head. The impact of the Covid-19 crisis forced millions to re-evaluate their lives and what's truly valuable to them.
The Need to Connect
Our customers' values and needs changed. Therefore, successful marketers had to adapt to a new reality and find new ways to connect with their customers.
To understand your customers, you need to create marketing that resonates with them emotionally, and that's why you need to impart empathy into your marketing.
Empathetic marketing is the way forward for marketers that want to deliver a customer-centric approach. But what is empathetic marketing, and how can we use the power of empathy to shape our marketing efforts?
The Difference Between Sympathy and Empathy
Before we delve any further, we must understand the difference between sympathy and empathy.
Sympathy helps us acknowledge someone else's problems.
When you feel sympathy for another person, you're usually concerned or saddened by their situation. An example of sympathy could be that you feel sad for your friend who just lost a family member.
But while sympathy enables you to recognize how someone feels, it doesn't help you understand why.
Empathy allows you to put yourself in someone else's shoes and understand their feelings. Here, the emphasis is on our ability to change perspective.
If you can see the problem from the other person's point of view, you can be empathetic and do this even if you've never had the same experience.
What Is Empathetic Marketing?
Empathetic marketing, therefore, is an emotional approach that should be practised in tangent with your data-driven strategy.
In its simplest form, empathetic marketing is a way of creating customer-centric content which can help your desired customers connect with your brand on an emotional level.
Why Is Empathy Important in Marketing?
Empathy is considered a crucial part of emotional intelligence, as being an empath means seeing potential outcomes from an outside perspective.
An empathetic approach eliminates the possibility of creating marketing campaigns based on your own opinions, which could differ dramatically for your customers.
The emotional reaction your marketing creates could determine whether your customers buy from you or go elsewhere. Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio discovered in a study that emotions are vital for decision-making.
Antonio observed patients who didn't experience emotion because of conditions or surgeries and found that while they still think clearly, they struggled to make finite decisions.
You may lose valuable customers if your marketing does not conjure an emotional response.
Are Marketers Natural Empaths?
Many of us have always been taught to focus on the customer. So, you would think that most marketers are naturally empathetic, as it's ingrained into most of our practices.
However, in reality, many marketers fail at customer empathy.
Dr Johannes Huttula conducted research with 480 experienced marketing managers to see how empathetic marketers are. These marketers were asked to correctly predict how their customers would react in a market test.
The result? Shockingly, the more empathetic the marketers believed they were, the worse they did at predicting their customers' emotional responses.
Huttula noted that the marketing managers relied on their biases and personal preferences instead of empathy to predict the results. He also found that they could correctly predict customer reactions once he told the marketers about their biases.
This shows that if we want to create content that truly resonates with our customers, we need to be aware of our biases and how it impacts our perception of our customers' emotional responses.
What Are the Benefits of Empathetic Marketing?
Empathetic marketing has the power to be an invaluable strategy. But what exactly are the key benefits of empathy in marketing?
1. Your Customers Will Listen
Theodore Roosevelt once said, "people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." And this is something we tend to overlook.
Customers are less invested in your awards or achievements than you are. They are interested in their problems and are searching for information that resolves them.
So, when you demonstrate that you understand their problems, your desired customers will be more inclined to listen to you.
Once you have engaged with your audience, you can show them how your products or services can fix their problems.
You may need empathy to connect with your customers and understand their needs. In other words, without this connection, they won't have any reason to listen to you.
2. Connect With Customers at all Touchpoints
Over the years, the buying process has become longer and more complex, especially for B2B brands. The B2B customer journey usually involves multiple touchpoints and decision-makers.
And while this process may be more complicated, B2B buyers are still human. So, remember that each touchpoint is an opportunity for you to connect with your prospect in a way that explicitly fixes a query they may have and moves them along to the next step.
By taking a step back and producing specific content for the different touchpoints of the buyer journey that coincide with your prospects' problems, you can provide them with the right content, at the right time, at a pace that matches the prospects' progression.
3. Build Brand Trust
Trust has never been more important in the business world. And your commitment to building trust with your customers shouldn't end at the point of sale. This is just the beginning.
Today, your customers expect personalized customer service and support, and empathetic marketing is an excellent strategy for this form of content.
Most buyers like to be reassured they made the right choice to work with you, and it's common for buyers to doubt at some point whether or not this was the best decision.
You will build trust with your clients by empathizing with these concerns quickly. It shows you have their best interests during and after the buying process.
If you fail to show empathy to your clients post-purchase, they may begin to feel like a number to you. And this lack of connection could result in them taking their business elsewhere.
Get Started with Empathetic Marketing
Now we've gone into detail about the importance of empathy in marketing. It's time to look at incorporating empathetic marketing into your existing structures.
Remember that customers will not expect you to create an Oscar-worthy advert that tugs at the heartstrings. Empathetic marketing is here to promote an emotional response to your content that also coincides with your overall brand message.
So here are some helpful tips to help you incorporate empathy into your marketing.
1. Be Aware of Your Preferences
We mentioned this previously, but this is the most crucial step in your empathetic marketing strategy. We all have our own biases, and we need to be aware of these, as they can cloud our judgment.
So, when creating content, make a note of your preferences for this content throughout the entire creative process.
Before you begin creating any content, it's worth asking yourself these questions:
What are your customers' main pain points?
What are their needs, wants, and desires?
What information are they looking for?
Who/what are your customers influenced by?
If you keep these in mind when creating your content, you'll be less inclined to create content based on your own biases.
Once you have created your content, especially if it's a big project like an advert or guide, it's always worth testing to see if your content elicits the desired response.
JetBlue used these responses to the questions above to create a great ad series about flight etiquette. These humorous ads focus on their customers' challenges with flying and provide tips on how not to act to help improve the flying experience for everyone.
2. Provide Authentic Solutions
Now you understand your audiences' needs; it's time to problem-solve. However, singing your praises about how good your product or service is is not the best way forward.
Empathetic marketing goes beyond product marketing. Today, customers are seeking genuine advice when conducting their research. So instead of using a blunt approach, opt for a softer approach demonstrating how your product or service can help your customers improve on a particular pain point.
If your potential customers find your content helpful and valuable and enjoy interacting with you, they will be more likely to buy from you.
A great example of this comes from Headspace. During the pandemic, more people sought ways to stay safe and calm. Headspace recognized this and created a handwashing tutorial encouraging people to turn this mundane task into a daily meditative practice.
Headspace managed to turn a PSA into content that promotes its brand message – Mindfulness in your everyday life.
3. Empower Your Customers
Customers want to feel they are in control of what they buy and want to feel empowered by their decisions. So, you can use empathy to empower your customers by letting them make up their minds about your brand.
So, instead of going with a hard sell and exclaiming why your company is the best, empower them by giving them honest information, data, and resources about your brand. Then, let them come to their conclusion in their own time.
Sephora created an empowering advert, showing the power makeup can have and how their products can impact a person's confidence.
Empathy allows you to connect with your customers on an emotional level. And connecting with them on this level is truly the best way forward.
In a world where personalization reigns supreme, taking the time to develop these emotional connections with your customers, you'll get back what you put in tenfold.