Lee Odden

The Power of Empathy for More Customer Focused Content Marketing

Lee Odden     Content Marketing

Customer Empathy

Marketers are really jumping on the content bandwagon while the definition of what “content marketing” really means varies greatly between the SEO, PR, advertising and custom publishing industries.

For example, I recently read a very clever post about content marketing on a popular SEO website providing an impressive array of content types, tactics, tips and shortcuts for content to be created and used as a marketing asset. But not once were “customer journey”, “buying cycle”, “customer insight” or related concepts mentioned.

The focus on tactical execution without insight into a targeted audience that the content is intended to reach, engage and inspire – seems pointless. At best, it’s a speculative exercise in “seeing what sticks”.  The same thing often happens with social media marketers curating content from influential publishers in the hopes of sticky engagement.

While online marketers are admiring the awesome of their clever content sourcing for SEO and social media purposes, savvy content marketers are focused on one of the most powerful perspectives to be successful (read: revenue, engagement, brand preference). That perspective is empathy towards customers and the customer journey.

We’re long time advocates on the role of empathy for more meaningful digital marketing, so here  are 6 articles on the topic of customer empathy in content marketing, SEO, blogging and social media. You will find insight and actionable advice to elevate your SEO and social media focused content efforts from mechanical to meaningful that in turn, will improve marketing performance.

Content Marketing Fail
Don’t Let Your Content Marketing Fail Because of This One Thing
– You develop an elegant content marketing mix to see your product across platforms and channels. You really have it covered! Or do you? Learn to shift from an egocentric to empathetic approach to content and digital marketing.

Online Marketing Empathy
Making the Leap: Egocentric to Empathy in Content Marketing
– Investment in content, social and SEO have finally come together for your company and you’ve experienced an increase with this approach in the past. Yet KPIs are beginning to flatten: organic search visibility isn’t on the rise, link attraction, social shares and on-page engagement as well as online leads are beginning to falter. The content team is running out of ideas, what to do? Here is a 5 step approach towards opening up a goldmine of content marketing and social media opportunity to improve marketing performance.

Blog Marketing Strategy
Blog Marketing Strategy: 7 Steps to Social SEO Success
– Short attention spans and the gravity of “path of least resistance” has created competition in many marketing organizations between social media content and blogging. Yet blogging can be one of the most powerful marketing and PR assets a company can have. Here are 7 practical steps online marketers can take for social media and SEO success with a blog.

Customer Empathy
Customer Empathy Plus Brand Leadership For the Win
– Tapping into our community to choose the presentation title for a social media conference serves as a metaphor for the importance of empathy with your target audience for more effective social media marketing. But it’s not all about listening to customers and giving them what they want. Brands also need to take leadership position in their messaging to show customers what they stand for. The combination of brand leadership and customer empathy equals a win for everyone.

Customer Journey
In Search of Voodoo: Empathize to Optimize Your Customer’s Journey on the Search & Social Web
– There’s a saying that goes something like, “Walk a mile in a man’s shoes to really understand where he’s been” that reflects what a lot of companies don’t consider when creating their digital marketing plans. If you’re not sure about the power of empathy for customer experience as buyers discover, consume and act on brand content, then this personal example provides some compelling insight. This post provides a framework for customer empathy in ways marketers can use to better attract, engage and convert more business.\

Most Important Content Marketing Skill
What’s the One Most Important Skill for a Content Marketer?
– I was recently asked a very compelling question in an interview, “What’s the one thing that has been instrumental for you to be successful at content marketing?” There are so many choices for that answer since I’ve been using content for marketing for well over 10 years. Ours is the only blog named the #1 content marketing blog three times and our agency is providing content marketing solutions to some of the top brands and most renowned content marketers in the world. But despite the variety of new marketing technologies and best practices, the one skill that continues to stand out is: empathy. Here’s why.

Think about how you approach content ideation and sourcing. How much are you considering the customers you’re after? What data sources are you using to make informed decisions about what content sources are most relevant for your customers to discover information? What are their preferences for topics, formats, media and devices used to consume that content? What calls to action are most appropriate and compelling to inspire your readers to become customers and for customers to become advocates?


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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Hi Lee,

    Interesting article – it’s definitely a huge oversight to not be focusing on your customers when trying to drive marketing.

    Dave at NinjaOutreach

  2. Avatar Dan Bischoff says

    Lee, very refreshing to read this today. A lot of SEOs and various agencies are starting to get into the content game now. And like you say, none of them talk, “customer journey”, “buying cycle”, “customer insight” or related concepts.

    • Thanks Dan, it’s true. Having worked on the SEO world since 1997, I’ve seen some transform into the kinds of marketers that think beyond the SERPs, but many (I mean A LOT) are still focused on tactical execution and the same old same old organic KPIs.

  3. Hi Lee,
    I completely agree with the previous comments and with your opinion about customer centered attention we should all prioritize.

  4. That’s the most basic form of marketing, isn’t it? Find out what customers want and give it to them. The difference is, today it’s far more competitive, so marketers need to do more to stand out.

  5. Indeed. Been doing it for many years.

  6. Empathy is not a word normally associated with business. The danger of “content” becoming a formula instead of providing possible solutions for the ones served is very real. Thanks for highlighting the prospects’ journey, Lee, which does not end at the point of sales.

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  8. Avatar Ruchi saiyom says

    Grate article.Our content is most important thing to attract customers. thanks for grate tips