·

eCommerce

·

Jan 11, 2024

Empathy in eCommerce: How to use true empathy in the online world

Andrew Hutanu - empathy in ecommerce
Andrew Hutanu - empathy in ecommerce
Andrew Hutanu

Andrew Hutanu

Empathy in eCommerce: How to use true empathy in the online world

"Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place." — Lewis Carroll

There’s a race to stay relevant in the marketplace. The stakes are high, and there’s no alternative showing up at the top of your inbox to pull you out.

You look at competitors, and some have already figured it out. They have the bandwidth to work with that new tool or trend, but you’re lagging behind.

Here’s a way to look at your future decisions with an empathy lens. This article will be your guide to learning how to make better decisions for your e-commerce site by using strategic empathy.

The Red Queen Effect and the imperative for strategic empathy

Remember the Red Queen in “Alice in Wonderland”? To maintain the status quo, they say your efforts should be ever-increasing. This is the mirage of the Online Wonderland.

It may seem unjust, but ask fellow peers in the industry: how is everyone keeping up with these expectations? And even if innovation arrives in - aren’t we lacking something? New products and new features aren't always the answer.

There’s an abundant need for strategic deployment of empathy. We can choose new ways to operate in life and business, but that will park some old techniques.

The upside is this will give a chance to better human connections. It works especially well in spite of our preference for digital experiences.

What is true empathy?

True empathy is not a superficial understanding of your audience. It's a deep dive into their emotions, desires, and pain points.

It's the cornerstone of effective communication that forges genuine connections. Understanding customers through this lens becomes a compass. Empathy can guide all the stakeholders through uncertainty.

Case story: Unveiling business implications through persona creation

The first place to bring in empathy is in customer persona creation. Go beyond demographics. See how their deep-seated aspirations are modeling their decision patterns.

We’ve recently studied an e-commerce business' audience to uncover critical business implications.

The real “why” was now clear: Why do they buy? Why won’t they subscribe? We found out what their personality patterns mean for product promotion. The customers "told us" in the reviews what are their preferences.

The "a-ha" was why a subscription model is not suitable for that audience. So, rather than relying on a hypothesis, you can rely on empathy. Experiments are effective and the messaging is on point, beyond doubt.

True empathy in action

You know them. They’re your customers. You interact with some of them, but usually the most noisy ones.

That noise cuts through your strategies, and you get surprised about those reactions. Should you care? Because that's the question behind the requests, the complaints, the ideas, everything.

The answer is yes, you should care about your people. Brands with a high emotional quotient have consistent strategies to deploy empathy. And now there are means to scale this to audiences you don't meet.

There used to be a time when commerce was offline. You would meet the client and absorb their reactions. But now you have hundreds or tens of thousands of faceless lines in your orders database. Can you empathize with them?

Beyond metrics: The emotional ROI of true empathy

Can we make empathy worth it? Does it reflect in revenue? Here's the short answer: yes. People buy from people. And especially from people who understand them best. The compound effect is priceless for a brand. There's no way to deny that happy clients mean happy business.

But the initial effect is the most surprising: how is it that such simple solutions can work? The secret is in the prompt creation. There's a lot to unpack, but the gist of it is that prompts work above the client's motivation x ability curve.

It's effective to prompt someone with persuasive messages if it's easy for them to take action. But you're competing here with their motivation - why should they act?

It's also effective to prompt someone to do something if they have high motivation. But do they have the ability? This is BJ Fogg's Behavior Model.

Overcoming skepticism: The power of genuine connection

For those skeptical of the tangible outcomes of true empathy, consider the following. A brand that demonstrates true empathy tends to experience lower customer churn rates. They stick with you more, which means higher customer lifetime value.

Over time, successful clients become your ambassadors. These measurable outcomes are a sample of the impact of genuine connection.

Businesses that choose true empathy are resilient in times of crisis. Customers are able and motivated to navigate storms together with the brand.

The enduring future: Navigating with true empathy

We looked into the crystal ball and saw that empathy is here to stay. This is a timeless principle. There will be a time when everyone will embrace it. But the winners will take advantage of the promising results.

The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising in the UK analyzed emotions in advertising. They found double efficacy in emotional ads.

So now's the time to understand and connect deeper with your audience. There's not long before the opportunity window closes.

Experiments that scale empathy to all audiences

This may be new to you or your team. Or you might have considered it, but haven't found the scaling solution. Look at your whole audience as the market space that listens to you.

Listen back and group them by their deep-seated aspirations. Each segment will have different behaviors and emotional triggers. Talk to every segment in their emotional language.

Start with your champions, your biggest fans. See what works and follow on with the next segments. Integrate what works and see the patterns that work in specific geographies. Look at their heart before looking at where they live or what their age is.

You will soon observe how this permeates your strategies. And you'll adjust in no time your north star metrics when you get to know them better.

Conclusion & call to action

True Empathy is the way to go forward. Confirm your strategies with these insights and see what housekeeping you might need.

There are brands already aware of the need for a better human connection. They're asking the right questions about their audience to understand them.

Empathy is a skill. Master it to move beyond transaction. Remember that people don't buy from the best advertiser. They buy from where they feel understood best. There's no race you need to keep up with.

Our complex decision-making patterns cluster into patterns that you can decode. 

Listen more and listen better for a brighter 2024.

About the author

Andrew Hutanu is an expert in strategic empathy and the cofounder of Freya Sense. He enjoys decoding complex decision patterns into actionable insights for innovative companies. At Freya Sense, he helps develop veridical simulations for market forecasts using true empathy.

Subscribe to the Newsflash

Subscribe to the Newsflash

Weekly Shopify tips from our founder in your inbox. Read in 3-mins or less. Start converting like an eCommerce expert.

Start building now

Explore Instant today to start building high-converting landing pages and sections, no-code required.

Start building now

Explore Instant today to start building high-converting landing pages and sections, no-code required.

Pages

Resources

Company

© Instant

Start building now

Explore Instant today to start building high-converting landing pages and sections, no-code required.

Pages

Resources

Company

© Instant