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Why empathy is still crucial for successful marketing

While data-driving marketing has become important as technology has advanced, Do Supply’s Hanna Marcus cautions that empathetic marketing always "will stand the test of time."

5 min read

Marketing Strategy

Why empathy is still crucial for successful marketing

Josh Calabrese / Unsplash

Marketing has always been essential for successful business. What effective marketing entails, however, has evolved throughout the years as a society, and the people who compose it, have changed.

At the same time, the marketing tools that are available heavily influence the way in which successful marketing is conducted. This has been exceptionally notable in recent decades thanks to the rapid rate at which technology and innovation have been developed and implemented in marketing strategies.

As businesses have scrambled to keep up with the various trends and societal shifts that seemingly occur overnight, a variety of approaches have become the focal point of marketing strategies, all with different degrees of success. However, there has been a noticeable move toward more factual, scientific methods of advertising.

The Effect of technology on marketing

One of the most powerful ways technology has impacted marketing — and the world as a whole — is the sheer amount of data that can now be generated and collected. When used in conjunction with artificial intelligence, these mass quantities of data give businesses unprecedented insights into their customer base, marketing reach and more.

As a result, many businesses have drifted toward a data-driven marketing approach that emphasizes rationality and science. This is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it has led to specialization that allows businesses to target their ideal customers in more effective ways than ever before, while customers are now able to connect with the brands most relevant to them easier than ever.

There are undeniable benefits to this more objective approach to marketing, but there is a surprising consequence. Empathy, while not forgotten, has taken a backseat to the data in many cases. Largely due to the fact that companies have access to more data than ever before, there is a modern tendency to become enamored with objective information and allow emotion — namely, empathy — to fall by the wayside.

However, there is nothing preventing this data-driven approach to marketing to harmoniously incorporate more human connection, especially empathy. Rather than being forced into the role of an afterthought, empathy can costar alongside data to create multifaceted marketing strategies with more diversity and depth.

Why empathy still matters in marketing

Empathy has long been a staple in the world of marketing. After all, what better way is there to comprehend not only what someone wants but also why they want it?

The answer to these two questions often transcends data. It goes beyond numbers and gets at the core of what drives human individuality and decision-making. Empathy is, in its most basic form, taking the time to uncover and understand someone else’s feelings and viewpoints. Doing so can unlock their desires, preferences, and motivations. It allows you to market to more than just their logic; it helps you speak to their hearts.

In other words, empathy is the key to interpersonal connection, which is vital to successful marketing. Data and technological tools may help you stay up-to-date and in contact with your audience, but they cannot create a personal connection without the presence of empathy.

In a world where brand image is hugely important to consumers, establishing your business as empathetic to cultural movements, environmental issues and other relevant hot button issues can inspire your audience to view you as more than a money-driven machine. Instead, you become a personality motivated by interpersonal emotional connection, not just numbers and data.

Establishing a more personal connection with your customer that focuses on understanding their perspectives and feelings then catering to those things is a prime example of why empathy is still important in successful marketing. For example, brands in the outdoor industries often excel when they establish themselves as a voice of conservation and an example of eco-friendly practices. Why? Because they are empathizing with their customers’ concerns in actionable, observable ways.

Today, society places extreme emphasis on socioeconomic factors. These factors include everything from diversity and inclusion to environmental issues. As a business, you must not only familiarize yourself with these matters but also put yourself in the shoes of your customers who share those concerns. Your marketing strategy then has to appeal to the underlying thoughts and emotions that are driving your audience to care so deeply about such topics.

Successful marketing today and in the future

Now, more than ever before, businesses have access to overwhelming amounts of data about their customers, giving them the unique opportunity to know and understand the demographics, interests, and motivators their target audience possess. Thanks to the availability of such data and the ability to interpret that data into usable information, businesses have the chance to create successful marketing campaigns by blending data insights with interpersonal connections established through empathy.

Even as technology continues to evolve at record rates and society ebbs and flows in the ever-changing environment of social change, the tried-and-true use of good old human connection via a genuine effort to know and understand someone’s perspectives and feelings will stand the test of time. Instead of allowing the technological advances of today to compete against these proven marketing techniques, work to use the modern tools to inform your empathic marketing. Both your business and your customers will be glad you did.


Hanna Marcus is a professional writer with a degree in Journalism from the University of Florida. After spending a few years in newsrooms across the state of Florida, she found her niche in freelance writing. She specializes in several niches, but enjoys writing about technology, Artificial Intelligence, the future of the IoT, and more. Hanna is currently a content writer for Do Supply Inc.