How Empathy Is One Of Your Most Powerful Conversion Tools

Empathy is a beautiful thing. It’s what allows us to put ourselves in another person’s shoes, to use universal truths, experiences, and feelings to connect us with people from whom we might otherwise be disconnected. We could all use a little more empathy in our lives. And we could all stand to practice a little more empathy, too. It’s the best gap-bridger there is.
What you might not realize, however, is that empathy is also a powerful tool when it comes to increasing your conversion rates. Aside from user experience fixes, aligning your copy, design, and overall message with your audience’s needs and motivations is one of the most effective steps you can take towards improving conversion rates.

Tapping into your audience’s emotions, however, is one of those things that’s easy to say but much harder to do. So what are your options?

Well, there’s a research technique called “empathic design,” and it’s an effective means of unearthing audience motivations, brand perceptions, and other unconscious decision-making factors.

What Empathic Design Means For You“Empathic design is the process of developing an understanding of users, not just their overt needs, but of their constraints, practices, problem-solving approaches, contexts, and the interrelations between people as a whole. The aim of researching users in such a way is to help designers identify their users’ underlying needs (i.e. those that are not instantly apparent or accessible through questioning alone).


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Once we have established these needs we can develop new problem-solving approaches that accommodate the users’ constraints and exploit (in a nice way) their capabilities. The ultimate aim is to improve the user’s or consumer’s experience by tailoring the product to their explicit, implicit, and latent needs.”

Basically, you need to answer this question: What are the unspoken reasons that people seek to use my product or service?

Armed with this information, you can better design and structure your site, copy, and product placement to correspond to your audience’s most pressing needs and motivations.

How To Become More In Tune With Your Audience’s Motivations

Technique 1:

This technique comes from Ben Labay of Conversion XL.

Gather a sizable sample of repeat customers (at least 100) and then ask them these questions:

  1. When you are shopping for [Product Name], pick the top three words that BEST describe what you associate with the product.”
  2. “Considering your experience with [Brand Name], what words do you MOST associate with [Brand Name]?”


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The answers to these questions will help shed light on the emotions and motivations that drive your target audience to do business with you. You can then incorporate this information into your copy, design, branding, and advertising to make it all more user-oriented.

Also, heed the words of Samuel Hulick:

“People don’t buy products; they buy a better version of themselves.”

Technique 2:

Based on the research of Dr. Georg Häusel, psychologists created a limbic map that serves as a “framework for identifying the values and emotions that resonate most strongly with your target audience,” reports Amanda Durepos of Unbounce.

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Select which of the values and motivations you think are most applicable to the avatar of your ideal customer. Then, corroborate your responses using the following methods:

  • “Gut check your designs with user testing. Show volunteers your landing page design and ask them which of the values on the limbic map comes to mind first. Make changes to the design and copy until they point to the one you were aiming for.
  • A/B test different designs with your target audience and let the data speak for itself.”

What are your thoughts on empathic design? Is this something you strive to implement with your own user experience?