Create Empathy, Not Content, for Personalized Customer Experiences


Perspectives from Sitecore’s CMO, Paige O’Neill on the importance of empathetic content and how to go about delivering it.

ContentOpens a new window is effective when it connects brands with buyers on an emotional level. But is it possible to do that without coming off as melodramatic or gratuitous? These days especially, buyers are looking for authenticity. How can you deliver the kind of content that truly resonates?

The key is to start seeing your content in a new way – not as just a series of sales pitches, but as a series of opportunities to create empathetic bonds with your audiences. To strike that kind of emotional chord you need to:

1. Learn What Buyers Want and Need

How well do you know your customers? Shortly after I came to Sitecore, we embarked on a project to help us think about our technology from the audience’s perspective and discover new ways to engage with them. We wanted to bring the buyer’s journey to life so our customers could easily find what they were looking for. We went through a process of customer journey mapping that included analyzing website behaviors and the questions they were asking at each stage. We also went out and talked directly to buyers, partners, and internal stakeholders so we could more fully understand everyone’s view about the buying, implementation, and success process. We’d never done something on that scale before and working through it was extremely illuminating. The insights we gained set us up for success all the way through.

Learn More: How to Quickly Shift from Traditional Sales to D2COpens a new window

2. Target Segments For Quick Wins

As you gather and analyze data about how your buyers behave, certain patterns will emerge. Focus on identifying key customer segments that can get you a quick win. Here are some attributes that can be helpful for segmentation:

  • The geographic location of visitors
  • Whether they are a new, repeat, or loyal visitors
  • 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, color, configuration, etc.)
  • Intent, motivation, behavior
  • Psychographics, demographics
  • Where they are on the customer journey

3. Develop a Content Strategy That Maps to the Customer Assessment

Once you know what your customers want and need, you’ll be able to map out a strategy that can deliver personalized contentOpens a new window to them throughout the buyer’s journey. By meeting your customer where they are, you have the opportunity to show your empathy and humanity. So, with each asset you create, be sure to ask yourself 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?
Documenting your content strategyOpens a new window is essential to staying on course. It will keep you from being sidetracked by the “one-off” conversations that are bound to happen with buyers every now and then. I have seen firsthand how distracting these conversations can be and how damaging it is for marketing organizations to continually ping pong between priorities. Having a comprehensive content strategy that is supported by research makes it easier to stick to your plan.

4. Prove Your Success

As always, it’s critical that you validate your results, so be sure to either benchmark key metrics and compare results before and after the personalized customer experience or conduct A/B testing with personalized and non-personalized content to prove the impact of your initiative. Chalk up anything that didn’t work quite so well as a lesson learned ahead of your next campaign. You can tweak, refine, and optimize your approach as you move on to different and larger segments.

Learn More: B2B Programmatic Marketing Lessons in the COVID-19 EraOpens a new window

The process of making personalization a reality starts with understanding the buyer’s journey so you can respond to their needs in ways that demonstrate empathy. Find the data points you need to build a picture of your customers and then map your content accordingly. Once you do you’ll be able to give your customers the exact information they’re looking for whenever and wherever they’re looking for it. Your buyers will be grateful for that approach now, and they will continue to appreciate it regardless of what our new normal looks like.