Why Growth Marketing Needs Empathy
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5 mins
Why Growth Marketing Needs Empathy

Growth marketing needs to embrace empathy when building top of funnel products. Companies that leverage AI tools should double down their focus on designing for humans throughout the conversion funnel much the same as they do with any other product.

Growth Marketers Need More Empathy

Behind every great product is a team of experts working diligently to accomplish one goal: make their product more sticky. The best product and design teams constantly challenge assumptions; from UX best practices to the assumptions around why users sign up, feature by feature improvements are made to increase satisfaction, engagement and adoption.

Let’s look at the most popular mobile app categories today: food delivery, transportation, social media and entertainment. The leaders in each vertical constantly roll out new features that increase engagement and guide users do what they need to do…and do it easier. Uber gives you the option to order food ahead of an arrival to a destination. ESPN displays real-time stats without distracting from the game.

Changes that make a product more sticky don’t happen by accident. Constant user feedback is mission critical when building a great experience. More importantly, understanding the emotions behind the people that love a product is just as important as understanding those that download and delete.

The best products are made by combining hard data with constant user feedback, giving a holistic understanding of the humans that interact with them.

Enter Growth Marketers, the ones responsible for acquiring the users that will sign up, become customers and power the product feedback loop that keeps them coming back. To level set, let’s define Growth Marketers. “Growth marketing is the process of using data gained through marketing campaigns and experimentation to drive growth. (MailChimp 2023)”.

The best Growth Marketers pride themselves on a relentlessness to hit and exceed KPIs, and can often be heard mumbling the words “data-driven” as they scroll growth hacking tweets. Growth Marketers are also a little more scrappy than a traditional marketer, being more likely to embrace the latest trends in technology and growth hacking tools to achieve results with most cost effective solutions.

But an admiration for “what’s new” in technology is a major area of concern for Growth Marketers now more than ever, with “artificial intelligence” and tools like ChatGPT entering the equation.

Why be weary of solutions that can make so many things we do every day easier? Isn’t that the goal of it all? Beyond the fact that most of the tools are still painfully underwhelming, and promote mediocre results as trajectory changing advancements, reliance on user data leave marketers susceptible to an over-optimization towards KPIs, and disregard the humans that they need to engage.

At this point I would like to pause, thank you for reading this far, and confirm that this was, in fact, written by a human (Hello!). Okay, back to it…

Specifically, the very top of the conversion funnel is most likely to see an impact from an over-reliance on automated tools. Despite what digital agencies say ad fraud is still very much a thing costing advertisers almost $51M a day, and is expected to top $100B in 2023 (Mediapost, 2022).

The bad actors will always find a new way. And they do so by gaming the KPIs and Metrics Growth Marketers rely on to determine success.

This is where an over reliance on new solutions can threaten the ability to meet and exceed business goals; valuing user data over human wants and needs leave marketers vulnerable to an increase in top-of-funnel performance met with a decrease in bottom-funnel success.

To put it simply, some solutions shift acquisition budgets to a lot more fraudulent click farms than future (human) customers. This is not to say that new solutions can’t add value; in fact, most teams won’t even notice as long as users continue to convert.
But what’s not being discussed enough is the experience. While most Growth Marketers have a thorough understanding of acquisition and conversion optimization tactics, they often overlook the need for continued feedback.

Why did a person take action? What were they feeling at first touchpoint? What were they trying to achieve? How could you improve the experience?

Digging in deeper allows marketers to understand more about what motivates their target audience to take action and gives them the intelligence to optimize their experience accordingly. Leveraging AI for content generation is no different.

Superhuman founder Rahul Vohra believes Product Market Fit is about building around what the people that love your product the most find most beneficial about it (First Round Capital). Similarly, acquired users should be looked at in the same vein and constantly leveraged to inform and strengthen top of funnel tactics.

User Data tells you the what, where and when within your funnel. But it will never tell you the “why”.

Relying too heavily on user data to drive decisions can be problematic and it is not just a problem facing Growth Marketers; it is a problem facing most digital marketers today.

By understanding motivations, marketers will find it much easier to guide potential customers, making converting feel like a natural path forward. It is important to remember that everything is intended to be consumed by humans and to treat the audience as such.

When building conversion funnel products, it is important to employ an empathy-forward approach and design for the humans you’re trying to acquire.

What is design for humans? Two Point One recently broke this down in a blog post titled Designing for Humans. While most apply this to building products such as mobile apps or websites, the same mentality must be applied to every step of the customer journey – top-of-funnel tactics included.

By implementing empathy design best practices to the development of landing pages, call-to-actions, brand messaging and sign up flows, marketers will hedge against and protect from an over optimization caused by a reliance on automated, AI-powered solutions. This is how marketers put themselves continually ahead of the needs of their future customers.

The future of Growth Marketing will look a lot like what the best product teams are doing today.

We must always strive to understand why people convert. The conversion funnel is a living product and must be treated as such. Reducing friction requires continued investment to improve the customer journey and increase conversions.

With a confident understanding of what makes an audience tick in hand, leverage user data to further identify what works best…and double down on it. A|B Testing is the perfect way to balance hard-and-soft metrics to deliver the solutions that resonate and convert. But you’ll never know if you don’t ask the right questions.

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