Should empathy marketing be a part of your strategy?

It’s 2022 and instead of having flying cars or getting served by bots, as expected, here we are wearing masks and protesting wars… Everyday the news hits us with something new to process and we are all expected to just continue with life. So, with all of this going on why should your audience care about your brand? Well, the truth is, in a world where going out puts you in danger and spending time online is one of your only outlets, you have the opportunity to offer your audience a lot of comfort. Having an empathetic approach to marketing allows you to be a place of comfort amongst the chaos. 

What is empathetic marketing?

Empathetic marketing is building the foundation of your brand from the perspective of your consumers. Of course, you might not have a deep understanding of them immediately, but like all relationships, you need to be open to learn from each other on an ongoing basis. Creating a 50/50 relationship with your audience where you are prepared to listen as much, if not more than you speak allows you to build a deep connection with your audience. 

For example, you’re having a terrible day. You aren’t feeling yourself and you don’t feel like being around other people. So, you start scrolling through your IG and see a story sticker asking how your day is going. You respond honestly and soon after you get one of the following two replies:

  1. Hope your day gets better! Or, 
  2. I’m so sorry to hear you’re having a rough day. We’ve all been there. Wanna talk about it? 

Which of those two responses would make you feel more heard, supported and understood? That is the basis of empathy marketing. 

How can you make your brand more empathetic?

Empathy marketing has become more and more important, especially in a digital sphere. Since the pandemic, people have been riddled with anxiety and a severe sense of loneliness, feeling like they are heard and understood by you will encourage a deep connection with your brand. So, how can you make sure that your audience feels understood? Let’s take a look at five ways to incorporate a empathetic approach to your digital marketing. 

1. Understand your audience

Have you ever dug yourself a hole in a conversation by accidentally saying something that offended someone you didn’t know very well? Like how you hate it when people make you wait to start your food at a restaurant so that they can get the perfect foodie shot meanwhile you’re talking to a food blogger? That is exactly how buyer personas can help you from digging your brand a digital hole. 

Before you can empathise with an audience, you need to grow your understanding of who they truly are. We like to do this by researching and developing buyer personas. A buyer persona will include: 

  1. General demographics 
  2. Information about their existing spending habits and what influences their decisions
  3. Brands that they already love and have loyalty too
  4. Their personal goals 
  5. Challenges or frustrations that they face in their life

Not every point in the buyer persona will directly affect your brand, however, knowing your audience on this level will allow you to add value in a meaningful way. Why? Because, you are considering THEIR perspective of YOUR offerings and identifying areas where you can make their lives even a little better. In other words, you are able to communicate from a point of understanding. 

Bonus Tip: 
If you would like to implement some form of practical research to define your buyer personas, consider running a couple of ads on social media and use the analytics to guide you.  

A breakdown of demographics, interests, goals and frustrations as an example of a buyer persona.
An example of the first step you can take to include empathy marketing in your strategy.

2. Never stop learning

We mentioned early on in this blog that you should create a 50/50 relationship with your audience. To be clear, you can ask your audience how they feel about your product/service ten thousand times but if you aren’t prepared to listen to the good and bad, you’re not in a 50/50 relationship. To learn, you have to listen, understand and act on that information. That is the very least that you can do for your audience if you want to build loyalty. Think about it like a romantic relationship… If you’re dating someone who never listens when you build the courage to express your feelings even though it might hurt them, you’re not going to feel valued or considered? The same goes for your audience. 

Bonus Tip: 
If you ask your audience for feedback on a your product/service, show them that you acted on that feedback. For example, if your audience voted on a design feature through a poll on your IG stories and you took their advice, screenshot the results and create a post displaying the update and the poll results. There is nothing people love more than having a say in a product/service that they love. 

3. Be Vulnerable

Show your audience the people/person behind your brand. Being a little vulnerable can go a long way when you’re trying to engage your audience and build honest, loyal relationships. According to Sprout Social, “While some brands turn to influencers to boost awareness, others look inward for new spokespeople. Consumers enjoy seeing the real people who bring a brand to life, and they report feeling more connected to brands whose employees act as advocates on social.” 

This doesn’t always mean that you need your team to speak about their deepest secrets. Take a look at how OLIPOP shows their support for working moms by showing one of their own employees who is a mother. The post and caption shows that they have an understanding of the strength that is required for moms to maintain a full time career. When your audience sees themselves seen represented in your social media, it makes them feel seen and understood. 

Create one social media post that expresses an area of your life that helps your audience relate to you/your brand. 

4. Share user-generated content

On the topic of feeling seen, can you think of a better way to make your audience feel seen than showing their posts on your feed? Sharing user-generated content is a great way to make your audience feel like a part of your brand. Not only do they feel seen but they feel welcomed in. We would suggest going through your tagged posts and sharing UGC on a regular basis. An added bonus is that this will encourage more of your audience to share content and tag you in it. 

5. Create space for communication

Remember, it is your responsibility to listen to your audience and create a space for them to speak openly. They are not obliged to listen to anything that you have to say. You have to earn their attention. Ask questions and always engage if they are answered. Creating content that includes questions will provide a space for your audience to speak before being spoken to. After all, to grow an understanding of your audience, you need to get to know them. Ask as many questions as you can and prove to your audience that you are listening. 

In Conclusion

As a team, empathy is not only a part of our strategy, it is also a pat of who we are. We believe that taking an empathetic approach to marketing creates space for meaningful connections with deep value as opposed to simply making sales. 

Are you ready to start implementing empathetic marketing in your strategy? Let us know in the comments. If you are looking for a partner to support your growth and strategy, fill out our special request form and we’ll get back to you asap.