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Why Search Marketers Need to Have Empathy for the Customers – Here’s Why #226

Eric Enge and Jim Hertzfeld Search Marketers Need To Have Empathy For The Customers

Customers come into our door with expectations. Do you have everything to meet those expectations?

In this episode of the award-winning Here’s Why digital marketing video series, Jim Hertzfeld, Perficient’s Principal for Digital Strategy and Innovation, joins Eric Enge and explains why search marketers need to have empathy for customers and how it impacts their business.

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Eric: Even search marketers need to have empathy for the customer. Here’s why.

Eric: Hey, everybody. Eric Enge here again. I’m really pleased to have with me today, Jim Hertzfeld, our Principal for Strategy and Innovation here at Perficient Digital. Today, we’re going to take a little different twist from some of our other “Here’s Whys.” We’re going to get into customer expectation and how that impacts everything. Actually, that’s the first question I want to ask you, Jim. So what does it mean that customers come to your site or to your digital property, whatever it is, with expectations?

Jim: Despite all of our efforts at making a great brand and a great experience, we know that customers and clients and prospects come in with expectations that they’ve formed in all kinds of places in their daily lives. Whether they’re shopping, whether they’re finding a doctor, whether they’re shopping for a new car, they come in with certain expectations around what that experience should be–how they should be treated, the ease of use, the accuracy, and quality of what they find. And we’ve got to build empathy around what they’re expecting. It may not have anything to do with your brand. It may not even be informed by your competitors, but it’s informed through everything they do in their daily lives. That’s the reality that we’re dealing with today.

Eric: That’s interesting. One of the things you said to me earlier that I found really interesting is that, when organizations collectively are able to hear the voice of the customers the same way, this is actually one of the best ways to drive organizational alignment.

Jim: Right. Alignment is a big topic for us. In fact, in about six years of benchmarking organizations’ abilities to drive good digital customer experience, or just a great customer experience, we find that the most successful of our clients have great alignment. And one of the currencies, or one of the common languages that organizations and departments can get around, is understanding and hearing the voice of the customer. We may not agree on what should be good for lunch and where to have the company picnic–but we should all agree on what our customers really expect and need from us.

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Eric: One of the things that made me think about when we were talking earlier, to relate this to the world of search, is that this is what Google now expects from websites. They want to really focus on rewarding in their search results, the sites and pages that do the best job of satisfying a large percentage of visitors to their site. If the digital marketing team, for example, isn’t hearing the voice of the customer or thinking from that perspective, they have no chance of doing a good job.

Jim: It’s going be an uphill battle. We’re also finding a change in the nurture and direction of these organizations. For years with technology, it was the business handing the requirements and throwing it over the wall. All kinds of waterfall jokes and water agile jokes aside, what’s changed and made that a little more complex is the addition of the customer’s perspective. So, there’s the voice of the business, there’s the voice of the market, and the voice of the customer. We have to deal with them all.

Eric: And if you’re a search marketer, you’ll get the voice of Google telling you to do the same thing.

Jim: That’s it. I’m hearing voices in my head.

Eric: Yes, exactly. So, let’s expand upon that a little bit more because you just alluded to this. Traditionally the business unit or the business people and the technology people had kind of a segregated or fractured or bifurcated relationship.

Jim: I think adding this layer of needs, of building empathy–it’s really kind of where we started–is understanding that third rail or that additional voice. It helps to resolve some of the conflicts, some of the tension when we can hear that voice consistently. It’s a change in process, it’s a change in philosophy, it’s a change in attitude, and it takes a different organizational capability to do it.

Eric: And now for the really fun question–because this is my favorite part of this discussion–what does this really mean and how complex is this really to deal with?

Jim: It is complicated, and that’s a pushback. We are in a more complicated environment. We are taking advantage of more complex ecosystems of data. We talked about voices, content, channels, partners. Again, these expectations are being driven by areas we don’t have any control over. The reality is with complexity–and we want elegance, we want simplicity–but with complexity and challenges come opportunity. So first movers and fast movers can capitalize on a good insight. If we discover that attitudes are changing, that reactions and expectations are changing, we can then take advantage of that complexity, define those insights, react to them–and be ahead of our competition.

Eric: When we talk to people, and I know both you and I experience this, they want the quick wins. But the quick wins are almost the enemy of strategic success. I know we like the quick wins and we should seek them, but if that’s all you’re doing, are you doing the right thing?

Jim: We have a phrase that we love: “Think big, start small, act fast.” Keep your eye on the big picture. Build that empathy. You have to move quickly, but be prepared to do that in succession. So, it is a marathon, not a sprint. You’ll get there.

Eric: Absolutely. And again, from a search marketer’s perspective, what’s so important in all this line of thinking here is that this is everything we’ve seen with the Google updates since March 2018. It’s really their focus on what better satisfies the customer, at least to the depth and breadth of experience, the customer experience, the quality of the content and how well you satisfy the maximum number of visitors to your site. And the winners these days are people who are really addressing that very well.

All right, awesome. Thanks so much, Jim. And hopefully you enjoyed this episode of “Here’s Why.” Please take a look at the subscribe button below and give that a whack if you’d like to see more of these episodes in the future. Thanks, everybody.

Jim: Thanks.

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About the Author

Eric Enge leads the Digital Marketing practice for Perficient. He designs studies and produces industry-related research to help prove, debunk, or evolve assumptions about digital marketing practices and their value. Eric is a writer, blogger, researcher, teacher, and keynote speaker and panelist at major industry conferences. Partnering with several other experts, Eric served as the lead author of The Art of SEO.

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