• Georgia Hatton

Stop Creating Content, Start Creating Empathy

By Paige O’Neill, CMO, Sitecore

During these challenging times, buyers are looking for authenticity. They want sellers to be empathetic and offer real solutions, not slick sales pitches or one-size-fits-all promotions. But contrary to popular belief, striking the right emotional chord with customers doesn’t involve intuition. Even today, when we’re all coping with the same global pandemic, you can’t simply assume what people are feeling or wanting, and hope your hunch was right. Instead, you need to take a step back, look at your marketing strategy in a comprehensive way, and answer these four fundamental questions:

How well do you know your customers?

Your marketing won’t be effective unless it addresses exactly what it is that your buyers want and need. Soon after I came onboard at Sitecore, we launched a project to help us better understand the customer journey from a variety of different perspectives. First, we analysed website behaviours and the questions that were being asked at each stage. Then, we went out and talked directly to buyers, partners, and internal stakeholders so we could more fully comprehend everyone's view about the buying, implementation, and success process. The company had never done something on that scale before, and the insights we gained truly helped us bring the customer’s journey to life. The results of our research created a solid foundation for our work going forward.

How does your content map to your customer assessment?

Once you start gathering and analysing data about how your buyers behave, you’ll be able to map out a strategy that can deliver personalised content to them throughout their journey. The key is to meet your customers where they are. When you do, you have an opportunity to show your empathy and humanity. How? By creating assets that resonate in that moment. As you develop each piece of content, ask questions such as: What story is this content telling? Is this content evoking emotions? What do we want our buyers to do after they read this content?

Which segments can you target for a quick win?

As you’re analysing data and mapping out a content strategy, certain patterns will emerge. Among these, look for key customer segments that can get you a quick win. To help you get started, here are some attributes that can be particularly useful for segmentation:

  • Geographic location of visitor

  • Whether they are a new, repeat, or loyal visitor

  • The marketing campaign(s) visitors respond to

  • What product or service they view the most

  • Whether they did a product search

  • Whether they viewed the product details or looked for variants (size, colour, configuration, etc.)

  • Intent, motivation, behaviour

  • Psychographics, demographics

  • Where they are on the customer journey

How will you prove your success?

Remember to document and validate. Documenting your strategy will not only demonstrate your process; it will also keep you on course and prevent you from continually “ping pong-ing” between priorities. For validation, be sure to either benchmark key metrics and compare results before and after the personalised customer experience or conduct A/B testing with personalised and non-personalised content to prove the impact of your initiative. Tweak, refine, and optimise your approach as you move on to different and larger segments.

Marketing is effective when it connects with buyers on an emotional level. To build those kinds of empathetic bonds, learn what your customers want and need and give them the exact information they're looking for whenever and wherever they're looking for it. That approach will serve you well now and long into our new normal.

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