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Empathy Marketing: Connecting With Customers By Providing Value

Shivkumar M 20+ yrs shaping technology Product & GTM strategy. Fintech, healthcare & retail industry expertise. Leads product launches, adoption & GTM as Director, Product Marketing.
Empathy Marketing: Connecting With Customers By Providing Value

If there’s one word that marketers are needing to learn during this global health crisis, it’s empathy.
There’s been a deluge of marketing campaigns of late that appear to be using emotion but are actually little more than opportunistic ways to sell more… which would have been business as usual three months ago. Now however, stuff like that is noticed and blatantly called out, much to the chagrin of these brands.
But what is empathy and how do you use it properly within a mobile marketing setting?

What is Empathy Marketing?

Empathy is defined as the capacity to understand what someone else is going through — being able to see the world from another’s perspective.
So empathy marketing boils down to seeing the world from the perspective of your users and customizing your marketing to fit their experience. The result is that it builds better relationships with your customers because it is a customer-centered outlook instead of a solution-centered one.
Now you may look at me funny and say, “But isn’t this simply about making your marketing more emotional?” Not necessarily.
It’s not using emotion as a tactic, it’s about making an emotional connection first before trying to push someone toward conversion. We are, after all, still in the business of trying to move people from Acknowledgment to Interest and ultimately to Conversion.
I’d hesitate to call empathy a “tool.” At least it isn’t meant to be wielded as an instrument to support your bottom line. Rather, it’s a critical mindset to possess as a marketer because harnessing it allows you to better connect with your target market and build the kind of trust that makes your brand a part of their lives.
Be sensitive to your customers' reality

How to Employ Empathy in Your Marketing

So how do you use empathy in your marketing campaigns, exactly?

1. Be Sensitive to Your Customers’ Reality

Empathy marketing means being sensitive to your customers’ reality. As with all marketing, the goal is to strengthen relationships with your customers. And to do so, you have to engage with them as humans first. You need to understand where your users are emotionally before you can begin to message them.
For example: it won’t work to send emails that say “Since our brick-and-mortar store is temporarily closed, you can now make all your purchases on our online shop!” when large scores of your user base are suddenly jobless.
And how do you know what your users are going through?

  • You can use analytics reports to look through user activity over the past 60 days. The data may give you a clue. For example, are conversions and purchases down across the board? Are users spending less time in the app? Are people uninstalling?
  • You could be direct and ask your users via a mobile app survey or a remote interview. Too few marketers these days take the time to actually meet with customers. And frankly, that’s a shame. Particularly since your work should be talking to them not talking at them.
  • You can try to understand your customers better via their data. And by data, I mean look at your segments. Not just by demographics, but also by psychographics — their lifestyle, attitudes, values, activities, and even motivations. Are most of your users employed parents? Are they teenagers in school?
  • Or you can simply monitor customer feedback via social channels or help desk. Social media has become the easiest way to get the attention of brands, and is now the first place where a customer vents their frustrations. Apart from tracking your brand mentions, take a look at how they’re talking about their daily lives.

Once the data is in, let it inform your campaign choices. Double check your content and imagery carefully before sending messages out. What may have been harmless last quarter could now be considered unsympathetic. Worse, it could potentially stain your brand identity by characterizing your company as one that is purely profit-oriented.
Empathy marketing: Provide valuable content to your users

2. Provide Exceptional Value

Empathy marketing means providing valuable content to your customers. In this climate, that can mean anything from giving them useful resources, to giving people free access to your app, or simply inspiring people to take action for a worthwhile cause. Whatever the content of your marketing is, it can’t be fluff. It has to be something of value to your user base.
You can also demonstrate value via context and timing — that means sending a message at the right time and on the right channel for it to be useful. Think omnichannel campaigns that trigger when a customer abandons a cart. Or a push notification that alerts a customer when a package has arrived or is delayed.
When you do both successfully, your campaigns rise above mere transactional marketing and into the realm of relationship marketing — because you’re actually enhancing their lives instead of just selling them on something.

3. Give Them a Positive Experience

Empathy marketing also means giving users a positive customer experience no matter where they are in the customer lifecycle — because you understand what they’re going through. You can be giving them technical support over social media channels, or sending out a survey asking for feedback, or emailing a newsletter with details on the latest app features you’ve launched.
Whatever the case, the aim should be to provide them with a seamless, idiot-proof experience that won’t crash the app, or lead to a broken link, or even lead to a landing page that has nothing to do with the link they clicked.

How Do You Know If It’s Working?

After all the effort to understand your users and then build campaigns that can “read the room” and provide value, how do you even track the success of these efforts?
Quite simple, actually.
All of this should result in increased engagement and retention.
As users connect with your brand and find themselves getting attached to your app, you will see them reply to your social media posts, click through on your email blasts, and spend more time (hopefully, more money as well) in your app. App launches will go up, churn will go down. Time spent in the app will increase, drop-offs will decrease.

Empathy Marketing: Not for Manipulation, But For Focusing On User Needs

In the end, empathy marketing isn’t just a strategy to use during a crisis. As mentioned earlier, it’s a mindset that is valuable in any season.
Because it all hinges on focusing on the needs of your target audience.
And remember, you’re not to manipulate emotions for your own ends. You’re to make a human connection with your audience and provide something that enhances their lives. And this only works if you know your audience and their situation well enough to walk a mile in their shoes.

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Last updated on March 26, 2024