The events of the past 2 years since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic have shown us just how important empathetic marketing is for businesses both large and small. The world has changed and businesses need to adapt to the new needs of their customers if they want to grow. The best way to do that is through empathy.
What is empathy marketing?
Empathy is the ability to see events and situations from another’s perspective, in other words 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 is important to remember that being empathetic also means being genuine. Empathy is believable when it creates authentic connections between brands and users. You have to build trust and organic relationships throughout the customer journey.
Why is empathy important in marketing?
There are numerous reasons why empathy is important, especially in 2022 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. 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
When the pandemic hit, brands instantly switched their gear and went from promoting their products to sharing helpful resources and motivational messages. In other words, they became more empathetic than ever before.
Many companies are successfully utilising the power of empathy to push their brands to the next level. Here 3 of the many ways to switch to an empathetic marketing mindset.
1. Understand your audience’s pain points
I earlier on 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?
In the real world customers are facing a lot of issues including the effects of the pandemic, although it has eased off a bit. That means your audience is still dealing with uncertainty, health and other social challenges. If your brand can step in to help with these feelings, such as offering virtual classes or providing entertainment, you’ll be able to make a powerful connection with your audience. Some local brands have done a good job of understanding customers’ current pain points and created videos addressing those issues. For example online fitness classes, comedy skits, financial literacy classes and much more.
When it comes to customers’ pain points with regards to your brand, you need to do a bit more digging. Analyze your traffic and conversions each week and note the biggest movers, up and down. This is a great way to find out what aspects of your brand are attracting customers.
2. Adapt to audience needs
When you know what your audience needs from the world and from your brand, you need to adapt your business model. With so many individuals and businesses struggling due to the effects of the pandemic, you can consider scaling back your service fees, make some services free, and offer more support to customers.
Take smaller steps, like adapting how front-facing employees handle customers and remind teams how to display empathetic behavior towards customers. It’s also worth looking into your current customer service process to ensure your wording and tone are more empathetic.
3. Support an Important Cause
Another way to empathise with your audience is by showing your support for a cause they care about. Researchers found that organisations that care about having a social impact resonate more with buyers than those that don’t.
For starters, environmental consciousness is a big thing right now as people start to gain more awareness about the current state of our planet. So its high time brands start making choices and changes that are sustainable and eco-conscious. From your packaging to your production process, look for areas where you can improve with the planet in mind.
Empathetic marketing is now 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.
Including empathy in marketing campaigns is more of a mindset than a technique. And to instill that way of thinking in marketing teams, you need to follow these steps:
• Understand your audience’s current pain points
• Adapt to their needs
• Take an educational approach in your marketing
• Capture everyday life in campaigns
• Add interactive elements
• Utilize user-generated content
Each step is vital because the changes we are 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.
Patricia is a qualified ZimChartered Marketer and a member of the Marketers Association of Zimbabwe. She is the Customer Experience manager for NicozDiamond Insurance and an insurance associate with over 15 years of experience from the insurance industry.