In today’s world and, especially during challenging times, global organizations are seeing that empathetic messaging is important for brand development.
These organizations are finding that technology, of all things, is significantly helping them develop empathetic relationships with consumers.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is driving connectivity through smart devices, like watches, home appliances, product labels, and even cars. Technology is producing massive amounts of data that is invaluable to marketing campaigns.
For example, customer service chatbots interact online with customers in a very similar way to the human customer service worker. The chatbot can detect the emotional experience of the customer based on the conversation. These chatbots are considered empathetic. They are able to detect if the customer is frustrated enough to warrant the decision to route them to a live service agent.
Essentially, the ecosystem of those smart devices collects and exchanges information and data points over the internet. Between 2015 and 2025, those data points are expected to experience a five-fold increase.
This access means that marketing teams have more opportunities to collect information about consumers and uncover insights about which marketing strategies and channels are most effective in driving customer engagement.
You’re thinking, wait, but how does this impact me as a writer?
Well if you overlay that same concept to your writing business and your readers, who are your consumers. AI can do the same thing for your author brand.
What Is Author Branding?
Authors are judged by their image, just like companies are.
Companies want to develop solid customer relationships. Authors want to develop empathetic relationships with readers.
Readers will evaluate and interpret not only your work, but the image you project. They begin to empathize with you, not only as their favorite author, but as a real person. That’s where deep connections are formed.
From what you share on your biography and your social media platforms to interviews you sit for and even the design of your new cover, it all contributes to your author brand.
Whether you are strategically building your brand or just going with what feels right at the time, an image is being created in the minds of your readers. There is no way for it not to happen, so you might as well control the outcome.
When readers, influencers, and other key industry leaders know more about you as a person and about your values and beliefs, you can build a better community of readers that makes sense for your particular genre and writing style.
The authors you know and love don’t just create amazing characters in their books. They also create their own character in the minds of their readers by shaping the readers’ perception of the author.
When an author has a strong brand, it’s an indicator of quality—a sign that buying their book is a good idea. Your brand has the power to:
- build reader trust
- attract new readers
- widen your fan base
- sell more books
Your brand contributes to the bigger picture of who you are, what you stand for, and what you represent to your readers.
Do Readers Really Care?
Yes, they do.
Your voice, your content, how often you communicate; readers demand that all of these components of your brand include empathy.
Consumers believe that, now more than ever, brands must be empathetic. Back to our corporate example for a moment. A recent study indicates that:
- 90% of consumers think that brands need to show empathy.
- 86% think that customer loyalty is a direct result of brands demonstrating empathy.
However, the study also shows that 80% of consumers feel brands are not getting the message. Consumers are not feeling the empathy.
How Do Authors Build their Brands?
Before we lay out a few best practices, let’s get a few things straight:
- Brands are unique. This one is obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. Authors are different, so of course, their brands will be too. There is no right answer.
- Brands should be consistent. It is more important to maintain brand consistency across the many avenues by which you reach your audience.
- Brands should be genuine. Your brand must come across as genuine and make sense when considered in tandem with your writing and with whom you are in your personal life.
- Brands should be empathetic. Having a brand is about more than readers knowing you. Brands should help readers feel that you, the author, know them. When a brand is masterfully designed, readers feel like the author knows their pain points, the struggles they have faced, the inspiration they need, and so on.
Is that last point really possible? The answer is yes and, ironically, that deep empathetic connection that involves so many emotions is being powered by something without a heart—AI.
Yep, that kind of AI. Artificial intelligence.
AI encompasses the wide-ranging capabilities of smart machines that can perform tasks that previously required human intelligence. Advancements in AI and machine learning are creating a paradigm shift in virtually every industry.
From Google searches and robotic assistants like Siri and Alexa to image recognition software and self-driving cars, AI is revolutionizing the way we live and work.
Authors are no exception.
Artificial intelligence can help author brands operate with more humanity. This may seem counterintuitive, but it’s true.
How AI Helps Authors Brands Develop Empathetic Reader Relationships
To develop empathetic relationships with readers, author brands need a solid communication plan.
Begin by asking yourself a few questions:
- What is important to my readers?
- How can I provide support and empathy for my readers?
- What additional steps can I take?
By taking the guesswork out of these questions, AI provides data driven answers with detailed analysis.
One of the greatest challenges for any branding or marketing effort is addressing the needs of different groups of customers—or readers in this case.
Different readers have different pain points, needs, and wants.
- AI efficiently and easily gathers the appropriate data.
- It automatically organizes and visualizes information.
- From there, authors or their agents and marketing teams can uncover trends about pain points, needs, and wants of various groups of readers.
This is nothing new.
Marketing professionals have been leveraging data to study and understand how to improve campaign effectiveness. Over time, their efforts have become more sophisticated.
Often, a marketing department will use media mix modeling to understand the impact of various campaigns on sales numbers. They can even analyze user-level transactions. From there, marketing strategies can be optimized for future campaigns.
But those strategies are becoming obsolete. Those methods sound impressive, but they are looking backwards through the rear-view mirror, if you will. Historic data can only tell us so much about yesterday. To leverage data in the most effective way possible, we can’t focus on yesterday.
The real magic with data comes into play when we can leverage AI to begin using that data to learn enough in order to begin predicting the future.
As data analytics evolves, marketing strategies must also evolve.
Consumers have so many choices today. They order what they want when they want it. This shift drives competition and places increased pressure on all kinds of business owners, including authors.
Trying to stay one step ahead of reader trends and desires is how authors remain relevant. Predictive analytics can help understand where consumer and reader wants and needs are heading.
Predictive analytics is like having a crystal ball that predicts future behavior or your audience.
By gathering insights from datasets, algorithms and sophisticated models to predict future behaviors, marketing strategies can be tailored and customized to meet the reader with exactly what they need before they even realize they need it.
Based on past engagements, purchases and demographics, predictive analytics can uncover insights such as:
- What is the likelihood that a reader will buy a book about a certain topic?
- How long between blog posts is the ideal length of time in order to drive engagement?
- Where are additional sales opportunities?
- How can your brand most effectively focus your ad spend?
- Which segments are most likely to respond to a specific ad campaign?
Once you understand what the future could look like, you are able to design more dynamic marketing plans in order to improve engagement and ROI.
And that’s not all.
Automated and Customized Communication
Many automated tools exist to help author brands leverage all of this available data. Imagine how this information can help customize automated messaging efforts.
AI takes the guesswork out of decision making by providing data-driven answers and actionable steps forward.
- The content in newsletters or email outreach campaigns can be personalized.
- AI can even optimize the frequency and timing of delivery.
When marketing efforts tap into such insights, your brand can operate in a more proactive and empathetic manner.
5 Ways to Begin Leveraging AI for Empathy
1. Understand Your Audience
Do you really know who your readers are?
Too many struggling writers do not know the answer, or worse, have not considered this question.
Instead, struggling writers make assumptions about their readers or simply don’t realize how important it is to understand the “buyer persona” as they say in marketing.
The buyer persona is a description of the person buying your product.
- Utilize all of the data you have collected about your readers to create a buyer persona.
- Clarify your target market.
- Then dig deeper to really understand what keeps them up at night. What pain points do they have?
- Identify your most valuable reader segments and place the most significant focus there.
- What motivates buyers in your target market?
- Do a deep dive into what is important to readers in this segment and learn everything you can about those topics.
By knowing exactly who your ideal reader is, you can incorporate that knowledge into your brand messaging and even into your writing when the opportunity presents itself.
Begin creating visuals and graphic elements into your brand with a specific reader in mind.
For readers to become genuinely enthusiastic enough to create real demand, authors must understand their pain points and their wants and needs. There needs to be an emotional connection.
Branding strategies can then be effectively designed to drive readers toward “getting to know” you as an author and, eventually, realizing they can’t live without your books.
2. Optimize Timing and Frequency of Email Campaigns
Information about each of us is being collected every day.
Put aside the fact that this is scary information and use it to your advantage. Learn about Send Time Optimization tools that enable you to reach readers at times where they are most likely to open and read your message.
When you send an email at a convenient time:
- Readers feel less imposed upon by your emails.
- Your emails are positioned favorably at the top of the reader’s inbox.
It is also important to consider the frequency with which you are contacting readers:
- With AI, dashboards can display reader engagement at various times.
- AI can even suggest the right frequency range that can maximize engagement.
With data analytics, you can uncover trends about certain groups of readers and customize send strategies. For example, if you see that a certain group is under-engaged, you can develop remedial strategies
3. Inspire Readers by Utilizing the Right Words
Anything you can measure can be managed. This holds true even for language. When marketers can measure campaign performance, they can be more effective.
Again, it’s ironic, but the computer is going to tell the author the best words to use.
AI has the ability to:
- Uncover trends in reader reaction based on certain messaging strategies and language utilization
- Perform language analysis that extends beyond basic topic detection to extract actionable insights about the influence of various tones, words, and phrases on reader engagement
Understanding the various components of empathetic communication enables you to measure how well that messaging resonates with your readership. From there, you can optimize your content and overall business plan in order to deepen your empathetic relationship with your readers.
4. Customize That Content
Content is one of the most powerful ways to communicate empathy.
Striking just the right balance among timing, language, imagery, and emotion to your audience is important. But making the reader feel as if you are speaking directly to them brings empathy to a whole new level.
AI can help your brand achieve this next-level empathy through machine learning.
Begin by determining the type of content that resonates most with your audience.
- Do you have a blog?
- Do you send a weekly or monthly newsletter to readers?
If so, test your content using blog or email marketing analytics.
Do another deep dive into which particular blog posts or newsletter issues appear to be most popular.
- Your goal is to identify trends.
- Do readers react better to content about specific book releases? Or do they seem to prefer Q&A pieces about a new release?
- Once you understand what interests them, you can tailor content accordingly.
Just understand that once you tailor the content, the work is not over. This process is iterative. Keep experimenting and the effort will pay off.
5. Leverage Social Media Metrics
Your public presence across all of your active social media sites is your author platform. An appropriate social media presence can enable you to engage empathetically with readers as well as other authors, industry professionals, and thought leaders.
But because managing a social media presence can end up becoming a black whole of time consumption, it is important to determine which platforms are working and worth your time.
There are many data analytics tools like the Amazon algorithm that can help identify the most effective channels.
The best author platforms aren’t spread across every social media platform, so really spend time up front determining which direction you will follow. Then steer your target market to the platforms you have deemed most effective. From here, the fun begins as you work to enhance and deepen your relationships with your readers.
Once you’ve established your brand and tapped into the enormous potential that AI has to offer, keep going.
Technology is going to evolve every day from here forward. You must continue learning about new ways to leverage this technological revolution we are experiencing. Your author brand needs constant nurturing if you want to remain relevant and keep selling books.
Keep writing blogs. Keep learning about ways to use AI to dazzle and delight your readers. Keep your eye on the data and pivot when necessary.
Use AI to create brand recognition with your readers and other types of “book people” including other writers, influencers, thought leaders, and industry professionals.
When AI does the heavy lifting to promote your brand, you can spend your valuable time doing more meaningful work like establishing and deepening empathetic relationships with your readers.