Content Without Empathy Is Just Noise


Brands need to genuinely show interest in helping a prospect solve their problem without expecting anything in return.

In a conversation with Elena Melnikova, Chief Marketing Officer at Talkwalker, Martechvibe explores how brands can build an empathetic connection with consumers. “By making the shift from ‘pushing an agenda’ towards value creation, marketers become the human voice of the organisation,” she says.

Is the marketing community ready to go beyond leads and focus on building value through treating people like people?

Read the full interview.

What metrics can best capture customer experience and its impact on brand value?

Customers have multiple touchpoints with a brand, often on multiple channels, with different end goals. The abundance of quantifiable customer metrics combined with a highly dynamic digital customer experience indicates that it’s more efficient to analyse the customer journey as a whole.

Observing the overall customer journey does have its variables and inaccuracies. However, having this macro view allows you to have context around your metrics and to understand the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ qualitatively. A recent McKinsey survey found that measuring satisfaction on the customer journey is 30 per cent more predictive of overall customer satisfaction than measuring happiness for each individual interaction.

Some of the popular indexes that brands leverage to track the customer journey include the Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Effort Score (CES), Customer Satisfaction (CSAT), as well as the overall brand sentiment.

One of my favourite quotes by Dr. Maya Angelou is, ‘People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This precisely encapsulates the idea that consumers will often remember the whole experience with your brand based on two key pivotal moments: the best/worst part (wherever that may be in the journey) and the end.

Once you establish feedback cycles, your brand value will intrinsically increase financially and sentimentally.

What are the forces driving customer loyalty?

Customer loyalty is largely shaped by how much they genuinely like you on a human level and for the long term. This differs from customer satisfaction which is often short-lived and dynamic.

The main tactic to drive forward customer loyalty is to become a customer-centric organisation. To listen to your customers’ needs and address them quickly and efficiently. To create a holistic experience that is effortless and seamless.

We recently held our client event DARE in Paris, where we engaged with some of our clients in the EMEAR region and heard how they have adjusted their strategies to increase customer loyalty. Bruce Hoang, Director Communication, Channels and Data at ORANGE France, said that they’ve had to shift towards ‘day-to-day KPI’ that are real-time and include multiple types of data.

Customer loyalty is a key asset in today’s hyper-competitive market.

How can marketers use tech to deliver messaging with greater empathy?

In every team meeting, I underline the importance of empathy in better understanding customer motivation and establishing long-term emotional connections. Consumer intelligence is imperative to strategise and plan ahead, however, it is also critical to remember that we’re communicating with humans who have feelings and complex social dimensions.

For example, our industry-recognised Customer Intelligence product enables marketers to not only create more relevant messaging, but also deliver it at the right moment and in the right place. Marketing teams’ strength lies in their ability to realise unseen opportunities and swiftly act upon them.

Our marketing, sales, and customer success teams work together to fully understand and listen to our customers’ needs. By always putting the customer first, you are in a better position to deliver messaging that solves a problem, highlights genuine interest, and ultimately creates a narrative that not only resonates with their emotions but also provides value.

There are immense benefits in engaging prospects through conversation rather than solely focusing on a short-lived marketing campaign. Genuinely show interest in helping a prospect solve their problem without expecting anything in return. By making the shift from ‘pushing an agenda’ towards value creation, marketers become the human voice of the organisation.

It’s not only about leads converting down the funnel. It’s about the fundamental idea of treating people like people.

Now that we’ve established that content without empathy is just noise, marketers must leverage technology to create and deliver meaningful content that lays the foundation of value-based relationships.

Can you help brands build trust with their customers?

As with any relationship, customer trust is built through a cognitive process that starts with an empathetic connection and ultimately ends in a strongly-held belief that your brand is reliable, relevant and consistent.

One of the key ways we help brands build trust is by enabling them to provide a stellar customer experience. Our AI-enabled consumer intelligence platform ingests billions of customer signals every second to form a complete picture of the customer. Speeding up the time it takes to identify any change and adapt to it. Giving brands precious time and feedback to fine-tune strategies and make valuable business decisions.

You have the solutions you need to communicate empathetically with your customers and to build trust.

How can companies use competitive intelligence?

Competitive intelligence is an increasingly important element that keeps brands ahead of the curve. By monitoring, gathering and analysing data around the competition, brands are able to ask better questions and make data-driven decisions.

We see brands leveraging competitive intelligence to identify gaps in their strategies and discover growth opportunities in areas that the competition has already explored. This ultimately saves research money as well as reducing risk exposure.

What advice would you give women in marketing and tech to prepare them for the role and the landscape?

I realise that the industry has experienced tremendous growth in recent years, but there’s always room for improvement. It’s crucial to create new opportunities and to proactively encourage women to enter marketing and tech, as well as support those who are already adding their talent and voice to the ecosystem.

My advice is, don’t be afraid to embrace your uniqueness. Your expertise and knowledge are what got you here, you have a right to be in the room, so make the best of it. Voice what you’re thinking, take the initiative, innovate, and never give up.

One thing that helped me as I was starting my career is the realisation that I’m not alone. Being part of a larger community and leveraging a network of experts has enabled me to accelerate my career growth. If you need help, never be afraid to ask.

What consumer intelligence trends do you foresee for 2022?

The year 2022 will be marked as the year of the consumer. There already has been momentum towards customer-centricity since 2019. However, the pandemic accelerated this revolution on all fronts.

With growing power and agency over brands, consumers are a developing social force that is capable of causing global changes and upsetting the status quo — especially for brands.

This new dynamic will create a new reality for brands who will need to be much more vocal on issues that consumers care about and to take a stance, rather than remain on the sidelines.

According to our latest Social Media Trends 2022 report, brands will be an integral part of global change in the future. Being inclusive and diverse will be the determining factor for the success of many brands out there. It’s simple, consumers expect brands to be more than just about making profit. They want a customer experience that goes beyond the transactional element of buying and selling.

Consumers are aware of this shift and will leverage their newly acquired bargaining power in helping brands create the products they want. What this means is that consumer intelligence has become an integral part of every brand’s strategy, not just marketing.

Brands must be prepared to listen to their community and act quickly upon their needs or risk being irrelevant.

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