The most compelling type of marketing does not only market viable products to the consumer world but also delivers a lasting association with customers. When consumers look at a certain product, they won't instantly know that it's effective. Psychology says that the purchasing factor of people depends highly on the emotional variables—how does a product's message make its potential customers feel?
Think of it like talking to a child, a friend, or a stranger. You're not just sharing facts, you're sharing the experience, the mental, emotional content, and connection in order to communicate effectively. The "tin-can-telephone-chat" approach yields failed marketing attempts. Millennials now demand mindful, end-to-end interaction, one that leaves a permanent effect that empathy marketing fulfills.
For a lot of us, the importance of empathizing with others is greatly stressed—it’s a book’s most important takeaway, a cartoon episode’s main lesson, the driving topic for an essay.
But just what is empathy exactly?
To summarize the Merriam-Webster dictionary’s definition of the word, empathy is the action of understanding, being sensitive, and being able to experience through imagination the feelings and thoughts of another person. We mostly know it as putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes.
When looked at from a business standpoint, customer empathy is as simple as connecting with audiences by way of constantly studying their reactions to commercial efforts in order to get a feel for what marketing strategy works best. You want to connect with them, make them feel understood enough that they’re able to make the choice of staying loyal to your brand, or, at the very least, give you a chance to earn their trust.
One of the key points of marketing is to understand your audience’s wants and needs to better connect with them. When you empathize with your customers, basically putting yourself in their shoes and even walking a mile in them if you have to, you’re able to produce content that would speak to them, making them feel understood and more likely to rely on your brand.
Though not readily discernible at first glance, as it turns out, empathy has almost everything to do with an effective marketing strategy.
Empathy in Marketing
If there’s an indisputable fact about marketing and marketers, it’s that the actions we take are all dictated by a universal goal, and that is sales conversion. But while it’s important to keep that end in mind, it’s just as necessary that we take the steps needed to communicate what our consumers want and need to hear. To do otherwise would cause all our efforts to be in vain.
You’ll find it easier to resonate with your customers when you acknowledge their struggles instead of just thinking about the next marketing steps or the best solutions. Empathy marketing, then, requires businesses to recognize and eliminate their biases, thinking more about how they can be beneficial to consumers and less about what they can get in return.
It’s also important to remember that you shouldn’t just employ empathy marketing in your practices for selfish reasons. Again, the main goal is to generate revenue, but you wouldn’t get there without being sincere and being truly invested in your target consumers’ feelings.
Finally, though the urge to announce that you’re empathizing with your audience can be really overwhelming at times, you must be careful not to fall into the ego trap. People are not dense, though they like to appear like they are if that’s what it takes to be able to ignore your marketing advances in a world where impoliteness isn’t very welcome. They can see through underhanded intentions and would rather ignore the brands that they feel aren’t as “for the people” as they like to say and appear they are.
Why Use Empathy in Marketing?
So far, we’ve discussed what empathy is and how empathy marketing can work for your brand, as well as how not truly understanding its significance in your campaign can result in negative impacts to your brand.
Now, let’s talk about why, then, businesses should make use of a seemingly complicated method in marketing approaches. With the risks it poses, wouldn’t it be wiser to just stick to the techniques proven and tested by time? Well, not really, no. Times are changing, and so are people’s openness to certain things.
Consumers are no longer easily swayed by “strong” brand images alone. Many small but empathetic businesses are making waves in their industries because of the positive word-of-mouth recommendations from customers who have felt their genuine intent to serve.
Fortunately, many marketers are seeing how well empathy marketing works, and more brands are jumping on the train towards better marketing, never to return to the backwards, relatively less effective branding games.
One proof of the success of using empathy in marketing is even the biggest brands and names doing it.
Here’s a list of some of the best examples of empathy marketing:
In the #giveextragetextra campaign by Extra, the bubblegum company celebrated intimate moments that often went overlooked in the busy world. Pushing against the overrated, sexy narrative of gum commercials or printed advertisements showing brightly red-tinted half-open lips, Extra brought light into how the gum lowkey blends with our everyday, mundane moments.
Through an interactive site, customers were encouraged to submit photos highlighting little intimate moments. These images were then featured inside the flaps of Extra’s packaging.
Not only did the campaign capture the emotions of the participants, it also evoked a lasting impact as customers saw the special sketch drawings inside the wrapper.
Michael's, a chain of craft stores, shows one of many great marketing using empathy examples. Choosing the perfect tip for specific art techniques and projects is one of the crafter's main pain points.
Michael's made the artistic brainstorming process more convenient by publishing a blog containing helpful suggestions in choosing a marker tip—an ease to their customer's struggles.
Publishing a featured products section, bestselling, and craft tutorials on their website, Michael's paved the way to reach more customers by targeting the important but often overlooked factors that affect their product's saleability.
Coca-Cola has to be the most popular brand to have been mentioned in this blog so far, but their inclusion in this list of examples of empathy marketing only serves as a further testament to the effectiveness of empathy marketing.
Coke’s ‘Share A Coke’ campaign was launched with the goal of creating a more personal relationship with their consumers. It involved changing up their bottle labels, switching out the Coca-Cola logo on one side with that of the phrase “Share a Coke with” followed by a popular name. This greatly tugged at both Coke lovers and not-so-fans, with many of them feeling like a kindergartener being recognized for their adorable, little achievements.
A forecasted downside to the campaign was people with not very common names probably feeling unincluded. This was addressed by Coke stressing that the bottles were for sharing, instead of for personal consumption. They also included generic titles like Mom, Dad, BFF, etc., to diminish that problem as much as they could.
As a result, Coke’s revenue went up to 11% more than the year preceding the campaign launch.
These examples just go to show the power of empathy marketing.
Convinced yet? Good. Because we’re here to teach you how to use empathy in marketing effectively.
Tips for Successful Empathy Marketing
1. Be Your Customers
What does that mean?
Let’s start with the obvious: it’s not to be taken literally—at least not so much.
Being your customers simply means you know their feelings, their thoughts. Know their interests, and what they’re looking to achieve. Position your image so that you can offer exactly what they need. Not only because you’ve done enough research, but also because you truly understand them.
You can enable commenting on your Strikingly website’s blog section so you have a direct well of your customers’ insights.
Image taken from Zizzle’s Strikingly blog
2. Be Human
Consumers are more likely to give your brand a chance if they feel some sort of affinity towards it.
As a business, being human means forgetting—even for a little while—the money involved in everything you do, using the time to focus on how to make the world a better place to be in instead, like an average person would.
You can send out newsletters to your subscribers with Strikingly to send them updates to make them feel like they’re important enough to let them in on what’s going on with your brand.
Image taken from Why Did The Chicken’s Strikingly website
3. Be Sincere
Like we said earlier, people can see through other people’s actions. If you keep feeding them with generic, overused, tricks, they won’t easily buy into it.
Don’t promise your customers solutions to their problems, not because you’re not confident enough to deliver (and you could!), but because most of them will probably need some help to solve their issues, with the larger part of the achievement owing to their own efforts. Be the help they need, and be genuine about it.
Offer to always be around whenever they need your help. With the Live Chat feature on your Strikingly website, your audience will be confident in the fact that there’s a way to reach you for whenever they need to raise concerns or simply want someone to talk to (if your brand image allows it!).
Image taken from Project Punchline’s Strikingly website
4. Be Aware
… of your audience’s reactions to your marketing practices. Keep track of how they receive your marketing efforts, so you know which parts of it worked and which parts need refining.
Your Strikingly website can show you how well your website is doing with the built-in analytics tool. Use the date on your site traffic to gauge which of your approaches drive people to your website the most.
This way, you can build a marketing structure that works every time.
Image taken from Strikingly product
5. Be Flexible
No two people are exactly alike. That’s a no-brainer.
Given the fact, when planning your marketing strategy, always remember to include ideas that would be beneficial to no specific demographic, if possible. You can achieve this by always performing sound research, making it a standard part of your processes so you’re able to produce wide-reaching content.
A Contact Us page is more than just a way for your customers to reach you. It can also be an avenue for people to share what they feel would be great suggestions that your brand could use. Getting enough of these from people of different ages and backgrounds will help you come up with ideas that can speak to anyone.
Image taken from Pet Milestone Cards’ Strikingly website
Empathy marketing isn’t just a trend that businesses are riding. It’s a legitimate marketing technique that can help your brand do better financially. When done right, it can even be your greatest competitive advantage.
In today’s world of virtual relationships and fleeting interests, building a true connection with your audience is the best way to ensure a lasting partnership with them.