What is empathy in content marketing? Here’s what it’s not:
In our rush to embrace the latest toy that the tech world has dangled in front of us, we content marketers often lose sight of the most critical aspect of content marketing: empathy for our customer. Our drive toward targeting the right content to the right prospects often causes us to see the customer as a quota to hit.
Mea maxima culpa. In our desire to give our customers relevant content, we’ve lost sight of the authentic connections that drive trust.
Don’t get me wrong. Data is absolutely critical for content marketing success. But so is empathy, as Michael Brenner advises.
The Hard Numbers Show That a Soft Approach Is Critical
A recent Ipsos study shows that 90% of Americans believe that brands need to demonstrate their empathy with their actions, not only their words. It’s one thing to brag about how empathetic your brand is and yet another to step into your customers’ shoes and walk around in them.
It’s no surprise that in the same study 86% of those same people believe that showing empathy is a critical ingredient in building loyalty. And we all know what must come before loyalty – trust.
Therefore, empathy is essential for building trust. So, let’s learn how to demonstrate it – not just state it – through our content.
Empathy in Content Marketing Demands That You Think Like Your Customers
You and your employees have an expert’s grasp on what you do and how it can benefit your customers. You might even have your own inside jargon – a sort of shorthand that describes the benefits your products and services provide.
But your expertise and code words won’t help you get inside your customers’ heads and see the world from their eyes. Instead, step outside the box and look at your content as they would.
Define words and concepts, even if you think “everyone knows that word.” Your customers might not.
Design your content in ways that make it easy for your prospects to digest it. In written content, organize it in chunks, with headings, subheadings, bullet points, and numbers to allow your readers to skim. Use visuals to capture and retain their attention, especially in longer pieces.
In how-to articles, use illustrations and videos to demonstrate each step. Remember, your customers and prospects don’t have your knowledge or grasp of the topic. Even better, enlist the help of someone unfamiliar with the topic to run through the process – especially if that person has a similar background to one of your target audience segments.
Dive into Your Customers’ Challenges and Solve Their Problems
Here’s where data and empathy intersect to give you deep insight into what challenges your customers face, their passions, and what drives them to action. Using social media and content analytics, you can get a general picture of their likes, preferences, and pain points.
Then, put your teams’ collective heads together to come up with solutions to some of the problems that keep them up at night. Use language they’ll relate to when you address them.
For example, if the data tells you that half your audience are Star Wars fans, a couple of references to your comprehensive accounting software as the lightsaber that will slay their clunky current accounting system can build rapport.
And, if you act as their “Yoda,” providing them with easy-to-understand instructions on how they can get the most value out of your software, you’ll earn bonus points for your helpfulness. That’s how you build trust – with empathy.
Engage in Conversations with Your Prospects and Customers
No matter how large your company has grown, people still want to put a human face on your brand. Empower your social media teams and subject matter experts to answer your audience’s questions and address their concerns.
During content collaboration, partner with your sales and customer support teams to discover what objections and feedback they hear out in the field and in calls. Turn each of those concerns – and their solution – into content that will assure your prospects that your brand is worth trusting.
Use Emotion to Drive Your Message Home
Research shows that consumers evaluate brands more by their emotional connection to each brand rather than the factual information they provide. In fact, consumers’ emotional responses to a brand’s ad dominate their buying decisions by 2 to 1 if the ad was in print and 3 to 1 if the ad was on television.
So, don’t be afraid of showing emotion in your content. Sure, include plenty of data to support your statements with fact – and use sound deductive logic to drive your points home. But, even for the Mr. Spock types in your audience, emotion sells (even if they’d never admit it).
So, take your audience on what the Content Marketing Institute’s Jodi Harris calls a “shared emotional journey” and watch the revenue roll in.
Use Active Voice
Use language that accents the emotional high points in your content. Active voice drives your content (and your reader) toward the end of the story, while passive voice acts as an emotional flat tire in your story arc.
Use Shorter Sentences and Easy-to-Read Copy
Simple wording and shorter sentences in strategic places bring out the emotional pop in your narrative right where you need it to happen.
For example, a call to action that says, “Don’t wait” has more impact than “Don’t wait to buy our new software solution to get ahead of the curve.” If you haven’t made the point that your software will help users get in front of their competition earlier in the copy, you haven’t succeeded. Revise it.
Substitute Emotional Words for Vanilla Copy
I love vanilla ice cream. But I detest vanilla in my copy.
Sure, you could describe something as “very bad”. But using words like “tragic” or “disastrous” conveys a much stronger emotion. Ditch “happy” for “ecstatic,” and you’ll see your engagement rise.
Using emotional wording will captivate your audience, connecting you with them at an emotional level. Which is what they want.
It’s a lot easier to transform your bland copy into content that shows your brand’s empathy if you have a content marketing platform where you can ideate, collaborate, create, and revise.
That’s what you get with DivvyHQ – and if you get the enterprise version, you’ll also have powerful analytics that can help you refine your content even further. If that sounds interesting, feel free to request a demo today!