Jennifer Kenyon

Jennifer Kenyon

Organic Search Director

Connect with Consumers through Empathetic Marketing

Catalyst’s Jennifer Kenyon discusses how empathetic marketing can fuel your SEO efforts and drive long-lasting connections with consumers.

I’m renovating my kitchen and bathroom, and I’ll be honest, my head is spinning. This is my first-time remodeling, so I have lots of questions as I navigate through overwhelming product and design decisions.

As I research products and solutions, many brands have targeted me with intimidating expert-level information. Most of this content has gone way over my head, increasing my confusion, clouding my decision-making, and negatively impacting my customer experience.

But then there is the Home Depot. As a renovation newbie, Home Depot was a Godsend. It’s straightforward content answered my most basic questions and helped me make good decisions despite being new to renovations.

This got me thinking about the knowledge curse, and how marketers are highly susceptible to it.

To be successful marketers, we cultivate an in-depth understanding of our products, but this expert knowledge is not without risk. If we’re not careful, it can hinder our ability to acquire and retain customers. We know so much about our products or services that it’s easy to completely forget what it’s like to be new to it and learn about it for the first time.

So, how do you avoid this curse? How do you remain highly educated on your product and intimately in-tune with your customers’ needs, problems, and knowledge level? It all comes down to empathy.

Empathetic marketing channels your advanced knowledge into relevant and helpful content for your customers. Empathetic marketing fuels more impactful customer acquisition and is particularly important for SEO and content creation efforts.

Empathetic Marketing & Impactful Customer Acquisition

Empathy is the ability to recognize, understand, and share the thoughts and feelings of another person1.  And, usually, empathy isn’t something that comes to us naturally, we must invest time developing it.

And when it comes to marketing, empathy is a critical investment. If we don’t understand a customer’s situation or feelings, we won’t be able to make a connection with them. If we can’t create that connection with them, then they won’t become a loyal customer.

Brands also need to focus on creating emotional connections with customers so that their customer acquisition strategy drives more impactful acquisitions. Ultimately, empathetic marketing bring you closer to your consumers, helping you to acquire customers who are more likely to be happy, long-term customers who deliver high life time value.

Take my experience with Home Depot, for example. Given my positive experience with Home Depot, I now routinely visit the site, engage with more content, and make more purchases.

Here are some ideas for how to get started with empathetic marketing for SEO and content creation.

Content Creation Tips for SEO & Empathetic Marketing

  1. Define your target audienceBefore you can create an emotional connection with audiences through content and SEO, you must first define your audience. Who do you want to communicate to – consumers, B2B shoppers, or a mix of both? Do you currently have customers? If so, who are they? We just completed this step with a client I am currently working with. They defined their target audience as consumers broken down into three groups – (1) mom’s with kids (2) the eating out crowd (3) wealthy travelers.
  2. Build out audience personas Now that you have identified who you want to target, take it a step further by building out audience personas. This is an important step because it will foster empathy, and will enable you to create content to better target your customer and nurture your connection with them.

The audience persona, also called a buyer persona is a detailed description of someone who represents your target audience. This is not a real customer, but a fictional person who embodies the characteristics of your best potential customers.

Give this customer persona a name, demographic details, interests, and behavioral traits. You’ll understand their goals, pain points, buying patterns, and if possible emotional triggers. Here’s an example of a buyer persona that my client recently developed.

  • Persona: Sarah, the stay-at-home Mom
  • Personal background: Age 45, married with two children, lives in Sydney
  • Business background: Has a Master’s degree in marketing, is creating an online business for promotional items, husband Rick has a high paying finance job
  • Lifestyle: Home life is hectic for Sarah as she is taking care of the children and is managing all of the home responsibilities. Rick leaves early and comes home late, and financial pressure is relentless as they now live on one salary, they have a great home but it would be nice to take a vacation sometime
  • Challenges/pain points: High mortgage leaves little to no spare cash, need to downsize and reduce mortgage, sell property at a good price in a bad market
  • Where do they go for information: Heavy internet users – Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest
  • Emotional triggers (hopes, fears, personal purchase motivation): Fear of financial ruin – the family came close before when Rick lost his previous job
  1. Find out the types of questions your audience is asking – Start your research for content creation and optimization by finding out the types of questions your target audience is asking. This is a critical step in understanding your audience and the problems they are trying to solve. The content you develop should be something that will genuinely help them and show how your brand product/service can be a solution. Make sure they can engage with this content and that it provides them with the answers they are looking for. Here are a couple of ways for you to find those questions.
  • Check Google’s “People Also Ask” questions – Perform a search for a specific topic and you will be able to find related questions, also called PAAs, directly on Google’s search engine results page.
    • Leverage online marketing tools – You can find questions using online marketing tools, such as SEMRush and Ahrefs. Both of these tools have robust keyword research sections where you can find lists of questions people are searching on related to your topic.
      • SEMRush – go to the “Keyword Research” section then to “Keyword Overview”
      • Ahrefs – go to the “Keyword Explorer” section then to “Questions”

Empathetic Writing & SEO

It’s too easy to get lost in the company mandate in terms of what to communicate about our product or service. But, if our content is not meeting our customers’ needs then it’s unlikely we will acquire them as a customer, let alone a repeat customer.

Writing with customer empathy in mind is also writing for SEO2.  Empathetic writing is aimed at your target audience, shows compassion for the circumstances the customer finds themselves in, and is optimized to make it easy for both search engines to understand and for customers to find.

Empathetic Writing is:

  • Content that is written “from the reader’s perspective”
  • Content that is organized based on the readers’ informational needs
  • Content that responds to issues the reader contends with in daily life
  • Content that is written for a typical readers vocabulary and reading level
  • Content that helps the reader find solutions, even if their original search was imperfect
  • Content that demonstrates expertise, authority, and trust (E-A-T) from your brand which will ultimately help your SEO efforts.

It is important to keep current events in mind too! Much has changed in 2020-2021 due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Think about the new needs and challenges that have arisen as a result. How you can, as a marketer, answer your customers questions, concerns, and meet their needs during this time. Ask yourself: Are current events changing the way my brand needs to relate to customers?

At the end of the day, keeping all of this in mind will not only help you avoid the knowledge curse, but it will help you drive more impactful customer acquisitions. Empathetic marketing can build life-long relationships with happy customers who know you get them and are here to help.  

References:

  1. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/empathy
  2. https://www.buzzmaven.com/seo-content-writing-empathy/
  3. https://www.ama.org/marketing-news/how-does-empathetic-marketing-make-you-feel/

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