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Empathy in Email Marketing: In A Crisis, Keep It Simple

Empathy in Email Marketing: In A Crisis, Keep It Simple

Email marketing in a crisis can be tough. When it comes to serious topics or crisis situations, it’s difficult to know what to say — and your brand might be feeling the pressure. How can you focus on empathy in email marketing so your company helps, not hurts? Here are some strategies and examples to keep in mind.

When it comes to serious topics or crisis situations, it’s difficult to know what to say. Focus on empathy in your email marketing so your company helps, not hurts. Click To Tweet

What is empathy marketing?

The idea behind empathy-based marketing is simple: Remember that your customers are humans, not just numbers, and then focus on connecting with them as such. Empathy marketing puts your customers and your community first.

This type of marketing is especially essential in times of crisis. During a worldwide crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic or amid the rise of vital movements such as Black Lives Matter, don’t keep promoting your products or pushing your own agenda. Instead, take a step back. Assess the crisis and think about what your customers need from you.

Empathy in email marketing is a must. And using simple design in serious situations is key. Heavy moments aren’t the time or place for flashy design elements; consider using plain text emails so the message can stand out.

Here are a few examples of how to use your heart as you design your email marketing strategy.

Elle Johnson

Black-owned skincare company Elle Johnson Co. sent a simple yet powerful Black Lives Matter email to its subscribers. The email focuses on one central BLM graphic centered against a pale peach background and then closes with an impactful message from Elle Johnson herself, the company founder.

Subject line: ✊? Black Lives Matter: We stand together

empathy in email marketing

Brooklyn Botanic Garden

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden sent this simple text email to keep its customers and supporters informed of reopening plans. In the body of the email, the Garden expresses gratitude to its supporters and then explains the new hygiene precautions being implemented in light of COVID-19. The email also includes two frequently asked questions as larger subheads so people can easily find the information they want.

Subject line: An update from Brooklyn Botanic Garden

simple email design


Lunya’s plain text Black Lives Matter email focuses on one all-important message: Change starts now. The email is entirely made up of black-and-white text with a simple frame around the words. Thanks to the lack of design elements, the reader’s focus is honed in on the copy and the important information that Lunya shares.

Subject line: Change starts now.

black lives matter email

Juice Press

Juice Press is committed to helping its community, and in a recent COVID-19 email, the company shared what it’s doing to support healthcare workers and other charities. The company also introduced its new matching program in this empathetic email and invited its customers to get involved.

Subject line: Introducing JP Cares matching program

COVID-19 email example

Generation Good

Generation Good, a social media platform for parents, sent a response to COVID-19 that encourages its customers to stay connected as they learn to live with a new normal. The message has an empathetic email subject line that matches the tone of the copy inside. Generation Good also manages to incorporate color without it being overwhelming or inappropriate — the light green used throughout doesn’t detract from the main message of the email.

Subject line: Coming together when it matters most.

empathy in email marketing

Wrap-up: Empathy in email marketing

These empathy marketing examples all have a few key things in common:

  • They use plain text and little design. These messages are either mostly or completely composed of text — few images and no graphics or GIFs are needed.
  • They go light on color. Black, white and other neutral tones are most appropriate for email marketing in times of crisis.
  • They get CEOs and founders involved. A personal note from your CEO is a good way to create a personal connection with customers and demonstrate your commitment as a company.
  • The emails share resources and next steps. Finally, it’s helpful for crisis emails to share educational resources that help readers and to lay out any actionable next steps the company is taking.

Use these strategies to create your own empathetic emails during times of crisis.

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