email subscribers

Walk a Mile in Your Subscriber’s Shoes

You know the saying about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes? It’s meant to help you develop empathy for another person. You will understand where they are coming from if you walk a mile in their shoes, or “climb into his skin and walk around in it” to quote To Kill a Mockingbird.

Developing empathy for your subscribers might go much farther than a mile.

As I write this, I have just had a visit from a neighbor with cerebral palsy. It was a typical day for me, busy and crammed full. Suddenly I was forced to slow down, put off my to-do list, and pay attention.

It would be easy to avoid this neighbor rather than struggle to understand his speech and actions, communicating with him the best I can despite the hurdles. But instead it was hot cocoa and toast and me reading through his scrapbook and looking at his pictures. I put the neighbor first today, not the to-do list. My tasks still wait, but I was able to bring at least a little pleasure to someone by having some empathy for his need for company, his need to share and feel appreciated and welcomed.

Can you see your subscribers in this same way? Your to-do list consists of metrics you must meet and stuff you must sell. That can get in the way of having empathy for subscribers who might be tired or busy, or feeling unappreciated even.

Consider the single mom who works all day, parents into the evening, then tackles laundry after the kids are in bed. Can your email campaign show some empathy for her?

Or how about the busy executive with the weight of the world on his shoulders, with employees to watch over and a bottom line to maintain in a tough economy? How can your email marketing program take into account his plight and show him you care, understand and relate?

Showing empathy for subscribers might be as basic as offering a preference center to give them some control, or doing a survey to find out what topics they want to hear about. It could be testing to see if greater or lesser frequency of email is well received.

Empathy. It’s stopping to make hot cocoa and toast, taking time to look at some photos, so your subscribers feel appreciated. So they can feel like they mean more to you than a number that might convert to a dollar.

How do those shoes fit?

Published On: February 3rd, 2012Categories: Miscellaneous email marketing topics

About the Author: Sharon

Sharon Ernst from is on a mission to improve the business and marketing writing skills of today’s workforce with her blog, newsletter and online classes. Her newest class on intermediate email copywriting covers 19 tips and techniques non-copywriters can put to use right away for better results. The class has real-life examples and before/after comparisons to make the lessons stick. Find her class at When she’s not busy helping employees, managers and marketers master their writing skills, she and her husband are busy raising pigs, cows, chickens and vegetables on their 20-acre farm.

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