We’ve all stumbled across content that is a little too transparent with its goal. We’ve read a blog post that feels like an exhausting sales pitch, or a page that is so loaded with SEO-targeted keywords it’s almost unreadable. Maybe you’ve even unknowingly created something like it for your business.
When you have encountered content marketing like this, it’s probably turned you away with a sour taste in your mouth. Why? Because you didn’t get the content you wanted or expected.
The problem is the content lacked empathy. The creator or company didn’t think enough about the customer, didn’t place themselves in the customers’ shoes, and didn’t deliver upon their expectations.
If you really want to engage your customers, you must inject your content with a little bit of empathy.
When people hear the word empathy, they generally think of hugging a grieving friend or supporting someone when something has gone wrong. But empathy is an important feeling that goes far beyond bad events or struggles. You should be showing empathy daily to every person you encounter.
Empathy is simply understanding another person’s feelings and motivations – and it is an essential element of effective marketing. The best content marketing speaks to customers and targets because the creators and marketers have placed themselves in the customers’ shoes. They know what they want and how they want it, and they place their brands in the position to deliver it at that moment.
Customers Are more than a Persona
One of the keys to being more empathetic with your marketing is the simple understanding that every one of your customers is different. For many businesses, it’s easy to segment your customers into markets or personas. Grouping your customers into nice, neat bundles is the only way a marketer can wrap their heads around the countless purchasing motivations. It allows us to draw conclusions and make assumptions about buying behaviors.
The problem is that no customer wants to feel like they are part of a segment. If it is clear to them that your content makes assumptions about their behaviors, they’re likely to turn away.
It’s critical to remember that every time you create a piece of content. Everyone is the hero of their own story. Their behaviors and choices are uniquely theirs – and they hate it when attention is drawn to the fact that similar people to them make similar decisions.
Of course, marketing to every individual is not only impractical, but it is nearly impossible. Marketers have to segment to make assumptions about buying behaviors. It is our job to make those assumptions as accurate and non-intrusive as possible. If you can create content that anticipates the needs of a wide range of customers but also feels designed for them individually, you’ve created a unicorn that will surely stand out.
View Their Journey from Their Side
Most marketers think of the customer journey from the lens of the overseer. You know the behaviors in which you want your customers to engage, and you know the content pieces you have in place to guide them through these behaviors. If you want to inject some empathy into your content marketing, you must occasionally try to view it from their side.
Does your sales funnel feel like a sales funnel when you’re in it? Do those little calls to action at the end of your blog posts begin to feel berating and repetitive if a customer frequents your blog? These are the questions you can answer if you view your content thorough your customers’ eyes. Of course, all answers to these questions may be right, because every customer will think differently. You have to answer and address all of those probabilities.
Listening Shows Empathy
It’s sometimes impossible for a marketer to truly place themselves in their customers’ shoes. We know more about our products than a customer can, and we know more about our marketing goals and everything we have to offer. To truly understand your customers, you have to forget everything you know – which isn’t easy.
The good news is that your customers are more than willing to give you feedback. You just have to be willing to listen. If a customer has a question, it’s likely something is missing from your marketing – a gap that needs to be addressed. No customer question should ever be disregarded as “stupid.” Even if the question is easily answered, is there a reason why the customer couldn’t find the answer on their own?
It’s critical to inject empathy for your customers into every piece of marketing content you create. It isn’t always easy, but just a little bit of empathy can go a long way in creating life-long, personal relationships with your customers.
Need help creating empathetic content? Drop us a line here.