Empathy is the ability to understand the feelings and experiences of another person. This is a great skill to have in your personal life to support your friends and family but is also essential to business. Empathy can help you place yourself in the shoes of your customers, coworkers, and even your boss to communicate effectively with them.
Empathy is an essential skill to have in content marketing. Before you can develop engaging messages that win over customers, you need to understand the pain points of these individuals. There are multiple ways to show empathy and build it into your messaging. Use this guide to better understand this soft skill and how to foster it in a way that drives results.
Empathy’s Role in Content Marketing
Some people are naturally empathetic. They are in tune with the emotions of others and frequently wonder how others feel in certain situations. It is normal for them to consider multiple perspectives when learning about a situation. However, other people could stand to develop more empathy and work on their active listening skills, and practice slowing down before making judgments or decisions. It takes time.
Empathy is an increasingly valuable skill when creating content for target audiences and for developing persuasive link outreach strategies. Marketers often start with customer problems and create content that addresses them, which is a great way to focus on searcher intent. If you can’t feel empathetic for these problems, it’s hard to identify them and want to solve them.
Showing empathy in your marketing can be extremely powerful. Studies show that 70% of decisions are based on emotions (including brand preference) while 30% of decisions are based on rational thought. If you can understand the emotions of customers and tap into them, you can guide their decision-making in your brand’s favor.
How To Show Empathy in Content Marketing
Regardless of whether empathy comes naturally or is learned, there are many ways to show empathy in content marketing. Over time, you can develop a list of tactics to use in your content and evaluate which of these tools are most effective. Here are a few ways to build empathy in your content to better connect with your target audience.
Pay Attention to What People Are Saying About Your Brand
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when practicing empathy is to make assumptions. Oftentimes, brands assume they know the paint points and beliefs of customers without actually listening to their target audiences. One way to engage customers in leaving feedback is to collect online reviews.
Reviews can boost your exposure and drive more people to your business, but they can also help your company improve as a whole. If your business is willing to listen to feedback and make changes to improve the customer experience, then online reviews can be invaluable. Here are a few ways to collect reviews.
- Use third-party websites. Reviews on Google and Facebook are seen as less biased than ones you find on company websites. Customers might feel like they can share honest feedback.
- Build calls to action throughout the customer experience. Encourage new and existing customers to share their feedback.
- Send follow-up reminders. Share a gentle reminder with customers about a survey or online review that you would like them to leave.
- Make it anonymous. Allow customers to share their feedback without fear of retribution so they can provide honest answers about their experiences.
Your company also needs to be willing to take the bad with the good. Poor reviews should be learning experiences and shouldn’t be hidden or deleted. Too often, companies try to censor legitimate bad reviews for fear of looking bad rather than actually changing their processes. Remember, 62% of customers won’t buy from brands that censor reviews.
Give Customers a Choice
Marketers often build the customer experience around yes-or-no decisions. The customer either buys your product or they do not. However, one way to incorporate empathy into your content and other marketing materials is by providing choices.
For example, brands can offer free trials or basic access to software instead of requiring customers to give their credit cards immediately to use the tools. This gives customers the choice to upgrade to more advanced levels in the future. In fact, in the world of software, brands often offer three or four different packages so customers can choose the best one.
Choices create better user experiences by allowing customers to give half-yesses instead of saying yes or no. There is less pressure, which is ideal for entry-level employees who aren’t authorized to make choices or managers suffering from decision fatigue. Creating alternative options for someone who might not be able to make an immediate call is a direct application of empathy.
Implement Multimedia in Blog Posts
There’s no better argument for creating multimedia in your blog content than the use of video. Around 85% of customers watch videos with the sound off. They do this when they are watching videos in public places or multitasking (like watching TV as well). While video is still a highly-popular content marketing tool, brands are missing out by not adding subtitles that people can read. This is an accessibility feature that also shows knowledge of user behavior.
Adding multimedia elements is fairly easy on most content platforms. You can add a transcript of a podcast for people who don’t have time to list but want to scan the content. You can pair a blog post with a video for people who prefer to listen to information.
Multimedia elements acknowledge that people consume content differently and prove that your brand is happy to cater to all types of customers.
Curate Relevant and Authoritative Content
Empathy is a secret tool to drive your ideation strategies. By tapping into customer feedback and industry trends, you can see how your customers approach various problems. Search engines look for content that is relevant and provides actionable answers to user problems. If you are aware of these problems you can provide solutions to them. Here are a few ways to keep your content relevant.
- Keep up with the news. Consider how industry trends and macroeconomic issues like inflation will impact your customers.
- Break down complex concepts. Oftentimes, people have questions they are too afraid to ask. Provide clear answers that are hard to find across the web.
- Stay actionable. Don’t get lost in big-picture ideas or word counts to appease search engines. Focus on actionable insights and solutions to problems.
- Understand user intent. If you are targeting question-based keywords like how or why, make sure you address these questions first before providing more information.
When in doubt, follow EAT (currently EEAT), which uses experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness to guide your content creation. This will allow you to position yourself as a knowledgeable figure that can help your customers.
Optimize Existing Content
As you embrace empathy in your content marketing efforts, look back at your old posts and consider how they can be improved. You can breathe new life into your old content to better connect with customers (and drive more traffic to your products or services). Here are a few questions to ask:
- Is the content up-to-date? (Do the links work and is the data still accurate?)
- Does the information thoroughly address the concerns of the customer?
- Is the solution relevant to the problem? (Is the problem something customers actually struggle with?)
- Does the content engage the reader in an approachable way?
- Is this person-first content, rather than posts written for search bots?
Some brands have decades worth of blog posts and articles that are languishing in their archives. Consider working with professional content market services to review and update their pages to maximize their impact. An agency that can scale those efforts can get the job done much faster than a small in-house team working on their own.
Get a Second Opinion
If you are working on building your empathy, bring in a set of fresh eyes to review your work. A consultant or another marketer in your field can make sure the tone makes sense and the problems and solutions correlate in a reasonable manner. These check-ins are a normal part of running any marketing campaign and they allow teams to take a step back to make sure their work is effective.
Examples of Empathy in Content Marketing
One of the best ways to learn about empathy in content marketing is to see it in action. Here are a few brands that are doing it well and winning over customers. Consider following them to see how their campaigns evolve.
- Southwest Airlines made headlines over the holidays for thousands of flight cancellations. However, because the brand has always been empathetic, it still has die-hard fans.
- Grammarly has a great marketing strategy and connects with customers around the idea that we all make mistakes. Its software helps people learn so they can write better.
- Chewy always puts its customers (both furry and human) first. It understands just how much people love their pets and taps into these emotions in its marketing.
Empathy is a powerful skill whether you are talking to your spouse or developing an international marketing campaign. Take a step back and see how being more empathetic can help you.