Do We Need An Empathy Reset For Post-Pandemic Communications?

Do We Need An Empathy Reset For Post-Pandemic Communications?

In this guest post, Nick Healy (main photo), client services director at Hotwire Australia, asks as the communications industry has increasingly become data and numbers led, has it lost sight of the potential that empathy has in crafting a message?

As all marketers and communications professionals know, empathy and understanding emotions are critical to meaningfully engaging with audiences. But overwhelmingly, our worlds are often dominated by dashboards, debates about causation and correlation, and efforts to use as much data as possible to understand the habits our target audiences.

In the past two years especially, we have been reminded about the importance that feelings and sentiment have when it comes to reaching audiences. Whether they’re employees, customers, or citizens, understanding feelings and emotions have been key to success and failure for many brands and campaigns. Which begs the question, in our efforts to dive into data and make predictions based purely on numbers (rather than emotions), have we lost sight of the potential that empathy has in crafting communications?

People aren’t data points

While empathy isn’t something we consciously buy a product or service for, it deeply influences the feelings we are left with through a purchasing journey. It’s also glaringly obvious when empathy doesn’t show up in our interactions with people, brands, or products.

With the proliferation of big data, we’re making more data-driven or informed decisions as communications professionals and marketers. Arguably this has been vastly beneficial for brands as it helps us prove or disprove gut feelings or traditional ways of doing things. But we have also witnessed an abundance of data being a mixed blessing that can cloud judgement, intuition and logic when it comes to crafting effective communication that engages on a genuine emotional level.

Tech and data have helped us to listen, understand and appreciate more intimately the way we live and interact with each other. We understand habits and actions like never before. But the real art of connecting with audiences comes with a balance of tech and human interpretation of the feelings that are most relevant to what we communicate.

Perhaps most critically for marketers and communicators, audiences are increasingly switching off from experiences and brands that do not connect with them or appear to impose a message on the audience.

The cost of no empathy

study conducted by PwC found 59 per cent of all consumers feel companies have lost touch with the human element of customer experience. While a 2019 Reach Solutions study found only 30 per cent of marketers were proficient in experiencing the world from someone else’s perspective. Further, across nearly 400 organisations, 80 per cent of firms believed they deliver a superior experience to customers, whilst only eight per cent of their customers agreed. The study also explored bias and whole range of interesting influences on decisions in marketing.

The data highlights the fact that people don’t necessarily feel like they are being treated like humans through brand experiences.

You might be asking yourself: ‘So what?”. The empathy deficit in business costs the average brand over $300m in lost revenue every year according to a 2018 study by M&C Saatchi – and this was before the pandemic. The study found that 18 per cent of consumers stopped using a brand in the last 12 months because of the gap between marketing and experience, and 32 per cent believe the gap is widening.

Fast-forward to the post-pandemic world when people feel even more distant from engaging with brands outside of the home and it could be assumed that, like the pandemic disconnect with friends and families due to social distancing, many brands are playing catch up in the emotional connection department.

Moments that matter

The right strategy is based on relevant insights to guide an appropriate plan and highlight the best opportunities to target a customer through the best channels and stages.

With every new set of data, every revelation we uncover through research, we can often move further away from the bigger objective of empathising with how our audience is feeling. Many of us can tend to get bogged down in information rather than using it to achieve an emotional outcome with their customers – leaning in to a quantitative relationships rather than thinking about the quality of the relationship.

Sure, use tech to scope, measure, develop and optimise, but stepping back and using empathy and considering how people connect is not something a pure number can not necessarily offer (yet).

As we enter another year of a pandemic climate, it’s even more important that effective communications is based on taking the time to listen, empathise and consider what your audience is going through. Right place, right time, right message, and perhaps, right feeling could steer campaigns to build better relationships with target audiences.

We’re Hotwire Australia. A bunch of bright sparks, bound by an irrepressible spirit of mateship. Each business brand we drive is testament to the tech fanaticism that makes us irreplaceable. We hunt for human truths at the heart of tech complexity, and craft them into irregular tales of tech that leave investors, prospects and talent irretrievably drawn to act. From Scaleups to Stalwarts, we make the technical, irresistible. Find out more.

Please login with linkedin to comment

Hotwire Nick Healy

Latest News

Network 10 Axes Gladiators
  • Media

Network 10 Axes Gladiators

the network has dropped its third tentpole show in recent months after cancelling The Bachelor and The Masked Singer. First airing in January this year and hosted by Beau Ryan and Liz Ellis, the reboot features contenders from all walks of life in the ultimate test of speed, strength, stamina, agility and power. It is […]