Empathy-Driven Marketing: How Inclusivity Enhances Brand Loyalty

Inclusivity is more important today than ever before. Research shows that inclusive teams are 35% more productive and 25% more likely to outperform their more homogenous peers.

Inclusivity is particularly important for businesses and marketing teams looking to build brand loyalty.

Highly qualified leads who already care about the brand and want to see diverse, inclusive content landing in their mailbox.

Likewise, folks who are new to your brand will only choose your business over competitors if they believe you align with their values.

Embrace empathy-driven, inclusive marketing ensures that you protect your reputation and are primed to secure new leads.

Understanding Empathy

Empathy is a widely misunderstood concept in marketing and beyond. Empathizing with someone does not mean you blindly agree with their thoughts and opinions. Instead, true empathy is about understanding those around you.

The University of California’s Greater Good Research Center defines empathy as “the ability to sense other people’s emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling.”

Researchers also break empathy down into two distinct concepts:

  • Affective Empathy: This involves feeling what another person feels on an emotional level.
  • Cognitive Empathy: This involves imagining someone else’s perspective to understand their thoughts, feelings, and ideas.

Developing empathy can be tough but is not impossible. Like any skill or ability, it can be enhanced with experience and practice.

Taking the time to develop your empathetic decision-making is particularly important if you want to make it as a marketer, as empathy-driven marketing is a great way to boost customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.

Empathy and Marketing

Being able to empathize with your customers is crucial if you want to build a strong brand presence. Understanding the thoughts and feelings of your potential consumers can help you avoid marketing faux pas and make the most of your existing connections.

It’s important to note that empathy usually requires education. While you may feel affective empathy with marginalized communities, you are not in a position to connect with them until you learn more about their interests and priorities.

For example, if you want to connect with the deaf and/or blind community, you should learn more about the causes of vision loss and low hearing first.

For many, vision and hearing loss is caused by genetic mutations. Some folks have inherent retinal degeneration while others may be born with nonsyndromic hearing loss.

Understanding what this means is crucial if you want to produce content that is truly empathetic and inclusive.

You don’t have to learn in isolation, either. Oftentimes, your community will tell you how they want you to improve.

This is particularly important if you work for a growing brand that has been able to overlook its commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion so far.

You can use surveys, feedback forms, and social media CTAs to ask for feedback and identify weaknesses in your marketing plan.

Defining Inclusivity

Empathy and inclusivity go hand-in-hand. As a marketer, you’re far more likely to produce engaging, inclusive marketing materials if you understand the needs of your audience and can connect with them on an empathetic level.

Championing inclusivity means you should strive to ensure that everyone is well represented by your marketing content.

Foregrounding inclusivity in your materials is important if you claim to be a people-first, progressive business.

Folks will spot marketing materials that fail to show an array of people and will turn to competitors if you fail to represent their interests.

Inclusive marketing can have a profound effect on the internal operations of your business, too. Prospective applicants are far more likely to put themselves forward for positions if they see a diverse array of experiences on your social media and website content.

Similarly, other brands may be more likely to engage in partnerships if they believe your interests and values are aligned.

Inclusivity and Brand Loyalty

Inclusive marketing content can forge stronger bonds with your clients and customers. Folks want to align with brands that are tolerant of others and understand the needs of their consumers.

Promoting inclusivity can build your presence among young consumers, too, who tend to be more interested in content that promotes diversity, inclusion, and social equity.

Similarly, failing to address inclusion can have a “push” effect on customers and turn them away.

No one wants to be associated with a brand that promotes prejudice and discrimination, and many prospective customers will look elsewhere if they suspect you aren’t taking your commitment to DEI seriously.

Fortunately, you can win these customers over with authentically inclusive marketing. This is key today, as a Delliote survey of 11,500 consumers found that most people are more loyal to brands that address social inequities.

Rather than making tokenized gestures towards inclusion, commit to making internal changes to your team, suppliers, and partners that represent your commitment to DEI goals.

This shows consumers that you genuinely care about the issue and are taking meaningful steps to improve your firm.

Accessible Content

Changing your internal operations to reflect your commitment to inclusion is an important step toward securing greater brand loyalty. However, you may need to make a few technical changes to ensure that everyone can access your content, too.

Rather than relying on pre-programmed website builders, consider pursuing web accessibility training.

Accessibility training courses can get you up to speed with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and help you understand users’ needs.

You can also use accessibility training to ensure that your site is compliant with the federal government’s Section 508 standards.

Making changes to your content to promote accessibility is important if you use your web presence to drive sales and build brand loyalty.

Folks who land on your website should be able to easily navigate the pages using screen readers. Similarly, you should use color palettes that are easily distinguishable for folks who are color blind.

You may need to rethink your email marketing campaigns, too. Your mailing list is filled with highly qualified leads who already care about your brand.

As such, you need to treat the folks who receive your emails with extra care. You can create and publish more accessible, inclusive email content by:

  • Using alternate text
  • Employing descriptive subject lines for screen readers
  • Using meaningful anchor text for any links
  • Employing large text and a strong color contrast
  • Presenting critical information in text rather than images

These steps ensure that everyone can access and read your content. Consider testing your email campaigns using a screen reader or color-blind simulator of your own.

You may be surprised to find that the content you’ve created is difficult to use and distracts from your overall brand message.

Measuring Success

Striving for greater inclusivity is a noble goal. However, as with all things in marketing, you need to find ways to measure your progress.

That’s because it’s all too easy to overlook your commitment to inclusivity and empathy when you’re under pressure to publish fresh content and connect with your consumers.

Rather than using quotas to measure success, consider leveraging sentiment analysis. Sentiment analysis helps you understand how your brand is perceived by consumers. This gives you a more accurate understanding of the effectiveness of your branded campaigns.

Similarly, emerging AI marketing tools can parse data and help you establish an accurate understanding of your inclusivity.

This is similar to hiring an independent investigator to assess your inclusion, as properly trained AI models are incapable of bias.

They will process unstructured text, evaluate behavioral data, and track your social engagement to deliver an accurate reflection of your current inclusivity.

You can also use qualitative feedback to measure your progress. Reach out to trusted customers and ask them to fill out surveys that focus on your inclusion and brand reputation.

Then, after rolling out more inclusive campaigns, re-survey customers to see if their perception has changed.

This approach may be more time and resource-intensive but will give you an accurate assessment of your brand loyalty and the effectiveness of your inclusive materials.

Case Study

Championing inclusion and diversity can become overwhelming if you’re new to the concept of DEI. Fortunately, your brand isn’t the only business seeking to improve inclusion and create more accessible content.

Take a leaf out of Amazon’s playbook to promote more accessible content. Amazon uses accessibility-boosting e-commerce techniques like:

  • Informative headings and landmarks
  • Optimized controls for all users
  • Convenient processes with a great user interface

These measures ensure that all users can effectively check out independently. This is key if you’re planning on selling any goods online.

Headers and landmarks help folks understand the context of the content they find and navigate quickly.

Similarly, Amazon leverages labeled controls for folks who cannot use a mouse and keyboard to interact with the site. This ensures all users can access the site, promotes profits, and protects Amazon’s brand image.

Conclusion

Empathy-driven marketing helps you understand the needs and challenges that your customers face. This is crucial if you want to promote inclusive content that enhances brand loyalty.

Even simple steps, like surveying consumers to learn about their preferences, show that you care about the customer experience.

Double down on commitments to inclusion by setting aside time to educate yourself. This will improve the relevance of your brand materials and ensure that you’re able to produce authentically inclusive content that consumers connect with.

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