11 stats that show empathy is the new data in marketing

11 reasons why the primary goal of marketing isn't data; it's using that data to make people FEEL something – and how you do that.

September 24, 2021
11 stats that show empathy is the new data in marketing

Welcome. Have a seat on that couch over there. Feeling comfy? Good. Now tell us, how do you feel? No really, please tell us. And you know what? Ask your customers too, find out how you make them feel. Please, we need the data.

Data has (quite rightly) been the focus of marketing for some time. Just google data-driven marketing and you’ll see 617,000,000 results – it’s well established, and for good reason. But data isn’t the end goal; what you do with it is the end goal. Your customers don’t care about it, either. It’s about how you use it to inspire people to becoming long-term customers.

Think of marketing personalization, for instance. Having the data available to personalize your marketing efforts isn’t difficult for the modern marketing team. The goal is using that data to make your audience FEEL something.

It’s about emotional connection. And for that, you need empathy.

There’s a strong case for empathy being the new data for high-performing marketing teams. Somewhat ironically, there’s no shortage of data to back this up. Here are 11 stats to prove that point.

1. 31% of advertisements are emotion-based, not rational

Data is functional – rational. It’s impactful, sure. But telling a story that connects with someone on an emotional level is more impactful.

That’s why advertisements are emotional. Have a think about the recent commercials you’ve seen. The ones that stick in your memory are most likely the ones that made you laugh, smile or even feel sombre. The ones that presented you with just data… well, do those even exist? Data and emotional content have to work together to inspire empathy in the customer.

SUV manufacturers don’t simply list cargo capacity; they show a vehicle with kayaks on the roof and a family dog comfortably seated inside. A couple with their children safely buckled on the backseats on their way to share some quality time. You don’t need to know about the technology that enables it to go off road, you just have to see an aspirational shot as it fords a shallow stream. And that’s why, as the University of Southern California found, more than a third of ads appeal to emotions instead of rationality.

Why the same emotional resonance doesn’t continue down the marketing funnel? Well, that’s another story altogether.

Most effective affective advertising and emotional resonance tactics

2. Positive social posts play best

Look at organic marketing engagement as another example. Emotive is, again, better than rational on social media. And if you’re appealing to emotions, it’s best to keep it positive, as Convert with Content discovered.

The research shows that people on Facebook in particular are looking for “humor, inspiration and positivity”. Not just data points.

So instead of just talking about what your brand is and does, show why it exists with content that targets these moods. Give people something emotive to connect with.

3. “Likeability” is linked with increased sales

You know what salespeople are fantastic at? Being likeable. But greater marketing performance can benefit from it too. The emotion most closely linked to increased sales in advertising is likeability, according to USC.

Have you ever seen a stat and thought “man, that’s such a likeable data point”?

Instead of relying on data alone to create a connection, show your humanity. Make sure your content, your storytelling and your brand personalities are inspiring a likeable emotional response throughout your marketing journey.

Need an easy win to get things going? Check out our article: five simple ways to make your chatbot more human.

4. Your customers say human connection is in seriously short supply

A study conducted by PwC found that “64% of U.S. consumers and 59% of all consumers feel companies have lost touch with the human element of customer experience.”

It’s a worrying stat for any brand hoping to make the most of empathy in their marketing or customer experience strategies. And it’s one reason almost half of brands are prioritizing creating a more “human” experience as a matter of priority in their chatbot strategies.

A solely data-driven marketing strategy would say “give people the facts in the quickest way possible”. Whereas an empathy marketing strategy insists you say it with feeling, too.

5. 95% of purchasing decisions are subconscious

Like our point above, if we’re convinced we make purchases with rational authority, calmly weighing up facts and figures, why are so many ads focused on aspirations and experiences?

According to author and Harvard Professor Gerald Zaltman, our rational minds are not behind the wheel driving us to a purchasing decision; our subconscious is.

Our left-brain thinking (the factual, data-driven side that thinks in words) is perhaps only 5% responsible for buying decisions. It’s our right-brain thinking (in charge of emotions and creativity) that could quite possibly be doing the heavy lifting here.

Which is probably why the use of psychology in advertising is so effective.

6. What customers say and feel can be two very different things

We asked you how you felt earlier, did you tell the truth? Are you sure? Professor Zaltman also explains that consumers’ subconscious urges can often contradict what they consciously believe. The biggest of these subconscious urges is emotion.

Because emotion drives so much of our decision making, it’s responsible for our purchasing behaviours, too.

So inspire an emotional connection at various decision-making moments. Again, marketers are used to doing this with commercials and other advertisements. But can you also create an emotionally engaging experience throughout the journey of being your customer?

7. Trust is an empathy exercise

You know how important it is for your brand to be trusted by the public, we won’t try to lecture you on that. But “building trust” is easy to say and a complex thing to do, right?

Rest assured that your endeavors to market with empathy are ideally also working to build trust with your consumers.

For instance, during the height of the 2020 pandemic, Edelman’s Trust Barometer report found that 83% of people want “compassionate connection … that communicates empathy and support with the struggles they face”.

The more you can connect with people on an emotional, empathetic level, the better they’ll trust you on an ongoing basis.

The value of emotional connection in marketing quote

8. Emotional connection is TWICE as valuable as customer satisfaction

There’s always been an extreme focus on customer satisfaction, with worldwide brands proudly ranked across innumerable surveys. That’s great, but fixating on satisfaction alone doesn’t create the same long-term relationships as emotional connections, according to research reported on by the Harvard Business Review.

“On a lifetime value basis, emotionally connected customers are more than twice as valuable as highly satisfied customers,” authors Alan Zorfas and Daniel Leemon explain.

“These emotionally connected customers buy more of your products and services, visit you more often, exhibit less price sensitivity, pay more attention to your communications, follow your advice, and recommend you more.”

Perhaps this is where data and feelings diverge momentarily. CSAT and other customer satisfaction metrics matter, of course. But you might not know exactly how impactful your empathy marketing strategy is working on an individual basis. You can, however, expect to see the results throughout your performance and success measures – not least of all on your bottom line.

The value of emotional connection in marketing quote 2

9. Building connections across channels works best

The same HBR report talks about how effective omnichannel customer experiences are.

It’s a concept that’s still topping lists of marketing trends in 2021 for a reason. The more a customer engages with you across platforms, the more they feel emotionally invested and the more they spend – generally speaking.

This comes back to injecting a little personality and emotional engagement throughout your customer journey, not just at the top of the funnel where it’s probably easiest to do so.

We can actually measure the value of conversational, personality-driven interactions throughout the funnel. You can see our findings in our free guide: What Einstein teaches us about the fundamentals of marketing.

10. Empathy marketing is on the rise!

Empathy marketing is now an important part of the marketer’s toolkit. If you need a visual guide to make sense of what sounds like an abstract concept, the Empathy Map is one tool marketers use to put themselves in the shoes of their buyers, and understand their needs better.  There’s an example from SEMRush that we think is a fantastic template below.

What is empathy marketing, we hear you ask? It’s about finding out the customers’ why, not necessarily their what, and showing how your brand can help answer that. Focusing on their “why” means empathizing with and understanding what they REALLY want.

Or as HBR editor and economist Theodore Levitt more succinctly puts it: “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole.”

11. Empathy is now a marketer’s job

Research by Salesforce found that 90% of the buyer journey is completed before they even contact a sales rep. Make no mistake about it: if you’re a marketer, creating that all important empathy and emotional connection is now well within your remit.

The question is, do you have the tools to do your job?

If you’re struggling to think of ways to engage people in an emotional, impactful and personable way beyond the top of your funnel, we have an idea we think you’ll love…

Digital humans: Where data and empathy meet

We get it. We get the irony of writing an article about empathy being the new data using 11 pieces of data to make that point. Well, it’s not as contradictory as you might think.

Data and emotionally-resonant empathy marketing tactics work best together. Data is the story; personality tells the story.

When it comes to activating the power of personality in marketing and customer experiences, digital humans have it in spades. They use speech, body language, facial expressions and tone of voice to tell a story. They engage people in a human way. And they use data directly from your database, CRM, NLP platform or virtually any other system so they’re equipped to succeed.

It’s about understanding – empathizing – that your customers want human experiences, but with the convenience and efficiency of bots. It’s about showing empathy in the interactions people have with your brand – excitement, happiness, understanding and concern.

Digital humans combine the best of data and emotional resonance. So, how do you feel about that?