Empathy is the quality of being able to put yourself into someone else’s shoes, experience what they may be going through and respond appropriately. This is an essential trait for every member of the human race at a time when the global need for kindness, understanding and decency is at an all-time high. We have enough wars, environmental crises and refugee crises amongst other crises to remind us about the importance of being empathetic towards other human beings.
Empathetic Marketing for your Online Marketing Plan
When it comes to the world of sales pitches and marketing however, empathy is a characteristic that is almost never associated with marketers. The common perception is that marketers are out to get you and your money. They are looking to sell you things you don’t need, distract you from the really important things in life, make you feel inadequate etc, etc.
The truth is that most times, a marketer will describe themselves as a people-person. This means that they are cued in to how people think and act, and are genuinely interested in making the lives of people around them better.
Yet somehow, this process turns exploitative somewhere along the way, and becomes all about the sale. How do we change this? Today, customers depend largely on their emotions to make the decision to buy a product. Empathetic marketing is an essential factor that grounds a marketer and helps them form meaningful customer connections to expand their online marketing plan. Here’s why we broke it down to simplify the factors you need to keep in mind to truly build empathetic marketing campaigns.
Customers have strong emotional needs
Just like you and I, your customers are humans with physical, social and emotional needs. Apart from the basics, food, water and shelter – every human needs to feel a sense of belonging with a group of social peers or an empathetic connection with another human being to feel validated and satisfied with the world.
Imagine a world where you couldn’t call your friend and tell them about how excited you are with your new job or that you got tickets to see a Jay Z concert. Adding empathetic marketing to your online marketing plan means that you are available, not as a friend per see, but as a representative of a brand or company – to build that connection based on listening and understanding. Lending someone a ear is the easiest way to understand their problems, and work together towards a solution.
Forming an Emotional Connection is worth more in the long run
When you respond to a customer without empathy, you are telling them that a) you are better than them b) they don’t deserve your help c) your brand does not care whether they stay loyal or not.
All these are dangerous responses as a marketer who is representing a brand. Your customers want to feel understood and responded to thoughtfully. Research by Gallup has demonstrated that consumers with strong emotional connections to retailers will visit their stores 32% more often and spend 46% more money than those without emotional bonds. The more this happens, the more customers feel a positive, long term connection with your brand and are willing to invest in your products and offerings with little hesitation.
Customers have Values and Beliefs that Machines don’t understand (not yet atleast)
Every customer has their own unique sets of values and beliefs that they stand by. While you may be able to identify these by observing your audience and interacting with them, it will be a while before machines can identify and empathize with these values and beliefs – though scientists would prefer to create this empathy sooner. Empathetic marketing in your online marketing plan isn’t about shaming, scaring or guilting someone into buying something, even though those are strong and powerful emotions too.
While some marketers may say that appealing to customers using factors like fear and guilt are great ways to market, I beg to differ. Enhancing your online marketing plan by understanding a customer, their values, beliefs, and responding positively is a far more sustainable way to earn their long term loyalty and trust.