What is empathetic marketing?
Empathy is the ability to see events and situations from another’s perspective — to put yourself in their shoes. For brands, empathetic marketing is about seeing the world through the user’s point of view. It helps you place the customer at the center of your marketing strategy and work outwards.
But it’s important to remember that being empathetic also means being genuine — you can’t create emotional marketing campaigns for the sole purpose of manipulating customers.
Empathy is believable when it creates authentic connections between brands and users. You have to build trust and organic relationships throughout the customer journey.
Yes, increasing conversion rates is the ultimate goal of every marketing campaign, but brands need to change their mindset about how to achieve those conversions.
If your marketing strategy is focused on the hard-sell approach, it’s 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 it’s important, especially in 2021 and beyond.
Emotion and connection are more necessary now 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 a lot of emotion is being generated about the future — and these emotions impact how consumers react to marketing campaigns.
The range of human emotion is massive, from positive emotions like joy, interest, and amazement, to the more negative, such as fear, anger, or sadness (anger, especially, can be a powerful motivator for sharing content). Campaigns need to be geared towards evoking and connecting with these real emotions.
While brands still want to sell products and services and bring in revenue, the way they move users through the funnel has to change. And this approach needs to be from the ground up.
Adapt your content marketing, re-examine the customer journey, and educate your employees about the benefits of evoking emotion across marketing channels.
How to use empathy in marketing (+examples)
Brand marketing has been on one trajectory for a long time: sell products and amplify your brand image by emphasizing the characteristics of your company.
This mindset is ingrained in us, which makes it difficult to understand how to use empathy in marketing. But the world of marketing has had to adapt before, and we can do it again. Here are the best ways to switch to an empathetic marketing mindset.
1. Understand your audience’s pain points
We’ve mentioned the importance of walking in your audience’s shoes to get a feel for what they need right now. This is the time to update your buyer personas to reflect the new realities your customers are experiencing.
How can you do this? By understanding that customer empathy works in two ways:
- What are the customer pain points in the real world?
- What are the customer pain points regarding your business?
2. Adapt to audience needs
Now that you know what your audience needs from the world and from your brand, you need to adapt your business model.
With so many small businesses struggling during the pandemic, eBay scaled back fees, made some services free, and offered more support to sellers.
There are lessons here that brands can take into their own campaigns. You may not be able to offer discounts, but how about opening up your premium tier to all audiences?
Take smaller steps, like adapting how front-facing employees handle customers. Design job aids, like this example, to remind teams how to display empathetic behavior towards customers.
3. Capture everyday life
A key component of using empathy in marketing is capturing the wonders of everyday life. Major life moments are on hold for the foreseeable future, so why aren’t more businesses incorporating the little moments into their content strategies?
Brands can showcase their empathy by creating content around simple scenarios: the joy of a video call with a loved one, baking a great pie or replicating an outdoor experience inside. For example, people aren’t going to movie theaters right now, so a video about recreating the theater experience at home would successfully tap into customer empathy.
. Take a visually engaging, educational approach
Your content needs to be valuable to customers if it’s going to enhance their brand experience, so an educational approach might be necessary.
Audit your existing content to find pieces that are relevant to your audience. You can also update older pieces that may have outdated information but can evoke the right emotions.
Over the past year, we’ve seen a lot of data-focused content being shared. Marketers can design content around key data to educate audiences. In fact, according to Venngage’s study into data marketing, most marketers are comfortable with data design.
5. Add interactivity
Interactive marketing has been taking off over the past few years since rapidly advancing technology (especially within social media) has made it more attainable for brands.
In the current global climate, adding interactivity in marketing content can be a great way to generate empathy in business models. As we have mentioned, consumers have had to give up on going out, meeting people, and traveling the world. If your brand can offer them solutions to these problems, then showcasing those solutions in your marketing should be a top priority.
6. Utilize user-generated content
User-generated content has been a mainstay of social media marketing for a while now. But it’s also a strong tool for building brand connections with consumers.
What makes UGC stand out from other marketing strategies is how it bridges the gap between brands and customers. Users create content, either for their channels or for a brand contest, and that content is amplified on a company’s social media platform, website, or newsletters.
There are numerous benefits to UGC, the primary one being that your brand doesn’t need to create this content (though you will need to sort through entries to choose brand-appropriate content). Additionally, by showcasing users’ content, you can tap into their networks. People will feel happy about appearing on your brand’s platform and share the post or page with their circles.
Conclusion: Use empathetic marketing to connect with customers in 2021 and beyond
The global situation has made empathetic marketing a top priority for businesses. It isn’t enough to talk about your product or the benefits of buying from your brand anymore. 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.
Each step is vital because the changes we’re seeing now will have long-lasting effects. Taking an empathetic approach can take a bit of time to get used to, but it isn’t impossible.