Empathy Marketing: 4 Ways SMBs Can Master Digital Approaches

Empathy is powerful. The ability to put yourself in another’s shoes to better understand their situation and point of view can build connection and trust.

As your small or medium sized business (SMB) moves into the new normal, it’s vital to connect with your customers in an empathetic way. They already trust your brand, and digital marketing can make it easy to stay connected when routines are disrupted or as your team gets ready to go back to work.

If you want to use the power of digital marketing to engage empathetically with customers, here are four ways:

Email with compassion

You’ve probably received a host of emails from brands you do business with, many of them titled, “Our response to COVID-19.” It does seem like every brand has sent one of those in the first month of the pandemic. But what can you say when moving forward and beyond the initial response?

Some of the best email marketing we’ve seen comes from brands who lead with empathy. Acknowledge this is a trying time we’re all going through and can band together to help each other. Talk about what your brand is doing for your employees and community. Are you donating to healthcare organizations, supporting non-profits, or helping get lunches to kids who need them? This gives customers a sense of connection around what your brand stands for, your company values, and who you are as fellow human beings sharing this experience.

Then focus on how you are there to support your customers. Clarity in communication is vital during this time, so keep your emails clear and concise. Explain what actions you’re taking to help customers, and how they can connect to you and be supported.

A great example of a small business doing exactly this is Fireclay Tile. A couple weeks into shelter-in-place, the company sent its customers a simple email titled: “How’s it going?”

Then, they shared ways for their customers to stay calm and collected. All while enforcing the fact they are always there for them.

A Fireclay Tile email to homebound customers

After checking in, they provided resources to help customers stay positive — including color samples of tiles, coloring books, and zen videos.

Fireclay Tile coloring book and videos

Next up from Fireclay Tile: a coloring book and videos

Ask yourself: is your brand putting some positivity out into the world right now through email? Can you use your product to provide resources that keep people calm and collected?

Use content to stay connected

Many brands had big spring campaigns they suddenly had to press pause on. With digital marketing, you can still offer customers amazing content they can connect with while at home.

To figure out what content to create, take a look around your industry to see what works for customers right now.

For example, Headspace, a meditation app, launched a page to help customers and prospects get through these trying times. In addition to offering a full subscription of its services to 1.2 million healthcare professionals in the NHS, they also curated a library of crisis-management meditations and offer a group guided meditation every morning lead by CEO and Co-founder Andy Puddicombe.

Even if your brand’s product isn’t up the wellbeing alley, a landing page on your website that lists the below can help you stand out and connect with customers. Try jotting down:

  • How you support your customers
  • Resources and information of use to your customers right now and over the next few months
  • Links to external resources and information in your industry or community
  • Contact information, which may be different than usual

Many companies have also changed their ad strategies or even paused ads entirely right now. The key consideration is making sure your content is relevant to what your customers are going through. In other words, avoid coming off as tone-deaf. If you’re creating new content to support your customers, consider switching any ads to direct inbound traffic to that content.

Host a virtual event that builds community

Do you have a physical event that now has to be reimagined as a digital experience? Or maybe you always wanted to host a physical event but limited resources kept you from pulling it off? Connect with your customers through a virtual experience.

PepTalkHer, a small business focused on closing the gender-pay gap, is using virtual events to assure its users and audience of their worth.

Founder and CEO of PepTalkHer Meggie Palmer has curated a series of daily #PowerPepTalks aimed to remind people of their worth and offer quick tips and tricks to skill-up during your downtime. Afterwards, Meggie and her team funnel registrants through Salesforce, logging them as leads in their system.

As you brainstorm virtual events, think about what can help bring more awareness and leads to your brand and offerings. Most virtual platforms — including Google MeetZoom, and on24 — are free right now, or available at a nominal cost.

Here’s a short list of things to consider when planning a digital experience:

  • What do you want your customers to get out of it?
  • What content or experience do you want your customers to have?
  • Length of time: think more bite-sized content than a two hour presentation.
  • How can you leverage social media for activations and live interactions?
  • What or how will you follow up with your attendees after your event?

Leverage our lessons learned from turning our World Tour Sydney conference into a virtual event.

Stay positive on social despite distance

Social media marketing is another great way to connect with your following during this time. Your customers are online even more than usual and they’re spending a great deal of time on social media to stay connected. This is a great time to try new content and strategies to see what works and what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to connect!

Everylwell, a brand that created the first COVID-19 home test kit, uses its platform to not only update their audience on the results of their product, but to also build community. Their Instagram handle provides actionable steps to remain healthy, and also offers up inspirational, uplifting advice to keep people moving forward.

Immune support shopping list

A timely shopping list posted to Instagram

A few tips to bear in mind as you get (safely) social online:

  • Just like with email marketing, acknowledging what’s happening and leading every post with empathy helps connect with your audience in a meaningful way.
  • Many brands — like authorsmusicians, and entertainers of all sorts — are leaning into live video right now. Trying a short livestream on a platform you’re already familiar with can be a quick and easy way to reach directly to customers.

Connecting digitally is one way you can support your customers right now. Brands that get their messaging right will do a lot to build customer loyalty in the long run. Keep empathy and connection foremost in your mind as you support customers and adjust digital marketing strategies, and you’ll be creating a path towards continued success.

Salesforce helps you find more customers, win their business, and keep them happy so you can succeed. Learn more about our small business CRM solutions by following us on TwitterLinkedIn, and Instagram.

For more business and leadership inspiration, check out our entire Leading Through Change series.

Photo via Salesforce

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