September 20, 2021
Case Study

Empathy Marketing: 3 examples of empathetic marketing in action (with results)


I try to do it every time I write an article.

Try to figure out what it’s like to be you.

So I can serve you better with our content.

It’s no easy task. And it’s the same struggle you have as a marketer. So, to help you put yourself in your customers’ shoes, in this article we bring you quick case studies from Bank of America, an NGO, and a travel website.

by Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute

Empathy Marketing: 3 examples of empathetic marketing in action (with results)

This article was originally published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

“Before you can produce powerful conversions in others you have to experience one in yourself,” said Flint McGlaughlin, CEO, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute in the following podcast excerpt…

If you want to improve your company’s conversion rate, marketing results, or other business results, a key conversion to make in yourself is empathizing with the customer. The better you serve people with your marketing and your products, the more successful you will be.

To help you do that, in this article we bring you three great examples of empathetic marketing in action. First, how Bank of America quickly adapted to the pandemic to improve customer service. Then, how an NGO used influencers who were close to the customer for a content marketing campaign about gender-based violence. And finally, a travel website that tries out all the products it recommends.

Quick Case Study #1: Bank of America quickly adapts to enhance client care throughout pandemic, increases client satisfaction to 85.6%

Bank of America (BofA) had to respond quickly to clients’ financial needs during the pandemic, anticipating the type of service they would require as in-person interactions were becoming limited. Holly O’Neill, who oversees Client Care for the bank’s consumer and small business clients, knew leading with empathy would be critical to helping clients during this challenging time.

According to O’Neill, Chief Client Care Executive, Bank of America, “My favorite experience is when somebody calls me by name and shows me I’m more than just a number. They confirm that they already know what I need, and then they anticipate what I need next before I ever have to ask.” This personalized approach is something she has instilled across her teammates at the financial services company.

In early 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic, O’Neill anticipated an increase in call volume as many clients opted to call instead of visiting in person. She knew this would be a time when many would face unprecedented financial hardship and turn to the bank for support and guidance, which meant client satisfaction levels needed to not only be maintained, but exceeded. Within days, O’Neill mobilized several employees to test the pivot from the office to work from home.

By mid-March, she moved the entire call center team to a work-from-home posture with full capability to assist clients. Her teams worked around the clock to reroute call volume and stand up new controls. And, to meet client demands, O’Neill worked to redeploy 3,000 financial center employees to help support call volume so clients would not feel a change in the service they had come to expect from Bank of America.

At a result, internal measures of consumer client satisfaction hit an all-time high (85.6%) for the company’s 66 million consumer and small business clients.

Since then, O’Neill and BofA leaders have continued to listen closely to client feedback, allowing them to quickly improve the client experience to deliver the tools and resources clients want most. That meant a double down on Bank of America’s strategy to deliver a world-class digital experience for clients, making every interaction seamless and easy so they have as much as possible at the tip of their fingers while also providing the option for an in-person, guided experience through one of the bank’s 4,300 financial centers.

Throughout the pandemic, BofA had more clients using the mobile app and online banking tools than ever before. The bank has been focused on maximizing the level of personalization for each client based on their unique needs and financial goals, to make ever experience easy whether online or in-person.

“Advances in technology have allowed us to deliver in a much more powerful way for our clients,” says O’Neill. “We always start by putting ourselves in the customers’ shoes and leverage our data to make every interaction easy for clients in a way that makes sense to them. We are committed to leading with empathy and helping each client navigate their goals.”

Quick Case Study #2: NGO raises awareness about gender-based violence amidst Covid-19, gets 2 million impressions by using influencers

When you can’t put yourself directly in customers’ shoes, it can help to have a proxy who can. Enter, successful influencers. You can think of them as mini-celebrities who tend to have a close relationship to the customer due to constant interaction on social media.

Here’s an example campaign that leveraged influencers – Amref’s "No More Violence" campaign.

The campaign’s goal was to bring awareness to and speak out against gender-based violence. This violence increased, especially in African nations, during COVID-19 because social and protective networks like schools were heavily disrupted and distancing measures encouraged people to stay at home.

Amref Health Africa (known as Amref Flying Doctors in The Netherlands) wanted to spread and create awareness for this important cause. They wanted influencers to reach a wide, engaged audience. The plan was for influencers to convey the message of the non-governmental organization (NGO) through original and striking content for their audience.

“Influencers are increasingly looking to influence for good. Finding causes to contribute to with your voice, not your money. We started small,” said Dirkje Jansen, Head of Programs, Amref Flying Doctors. "Would people join in? We started simple – just a basic slogan ‘no more pain’ written on people’s hands. To our excitement they did join in and we decided to go even bigger together. We moved the audience and the participation to a global level. Our African offices all contributed. It did bring us together, as it connected us to the world.”

When the campaign was moved to a global level, the wording was slightly tweaked to “No More Violence.” Influencers understood how to convey the key message Amref wanted to get out there through a series of original photos and videos showing, for example, an influencer holding up her hand strongly with the message written on it.

Creative Sample #1: Influencer posts on Instagram

Creative Sample #1: Influencer posts on Instagram

This campaign achieved two million impressions that were not paid for since creators supported the organization’s cause. Amref received more than 25,000 responses from their audience, further spreading the message.

“The topics we address are not always easy, but the way influencers engage and make it theirs makes it reach audiences in a more meaningful way. What I loved most about this joint campaign? It was truly global, with a strong commitment from African influencers as well,” Jansen said.

Here is a look at the campaign reach and impact by the numbers:

  • 39 influencers
  • 2,000,000 impressions
  • 1,668,000 reach
  • 54,618 total engagement
  • 7% engagement rate
  • 225,000% return on investment

"Impactful campaigns don't just happen, they are carefully curated. Influencers are evaluated with a discerning eye, messaging is crafted and reviewed with the utmost attention to detail, and paid media is strategically optimized to reach the ears that matter most to your cause/business,” said Steven Lammertink, Founder and CEO, The Cirqle (Amref’s influencer marketing platform).

“It truly takes a marriage of art and science to produce a best-in-class campaign about a delicate topic. The result? Success stories like this one from Amref – two million impressions, 39 influencers, seven percent engagement, compelling yet simple content – and all with influencers who were willing to partner with Amref free of charge."

Quick Case Study #3: Travel website tries products before writing about them, earns 47,000 backlinks

MilePro is a website that helps readers travel smarter. The travel website makes money from affiliate marketing for hotel promotions. 

“As a business that recommends hotels and points programs to others, we try most of them first ourselves. We imagine that if we were a customer, we'd want to read a recommendation from someone who had tried the product themselves. So, we promote hotels and travel credit cards that we've tried firsthand,” said Tim White, Founder, MilePro.

As a result, the team has earned organic monthly traffic of more than 27,000 visitors as well as more than 47,000 backlinks to the site.

“Our most popular post, ‘Go Hilton Team Member Friends and Family Rate,’ has over 870 sites linking to it. We try to be as authentic and real as possible and see great results because of it,” White said.

Creative Sample #2: Blog post on travel website

Creative Sample #2: Blog post on travel website

Related Resources

Improve your Marketing Collateral with a Proven Methodology – the MECLABS Conversion Sequence Heuristic

The Conversion Heuristic Analysis: Overcoming the prospect’s perception gap

Conversion Rate Optimization: 7 tips to improve your ecommerce conversion rates

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