Lynda Dell
Lynda Dell 4 February 2022
Categories Content, Email & eCRM

3 Insanely Easy Email Engagement Boosts

Your email response rates will stop trickling in and start flowing again, if you master this one thing. But if you lay it on thick, your subscriber will dismiss it as hollow and fake. Your emails ignored… And not enough, your readers will wince, roll their eyes, and click delete. Use my three EASY steps to master the art of empathy and boost email engagement with every email.

It nearly poked my eye out… but I ducked in the knick of time.

My vision obstructed by things flying everywhere. My instinct was to pry every Lego and other small object away from my pre-K student Nancy’s death-grip thumbs. But that was unrealistic because my classroom had too many loose parts.

I felt a wave of panic just under the surface as many children began to scatter, while others braced for impact. I knew I had seconds before mass hysteria and chaos overtook my class.

I felt like the character Danny, the underdog champion detective, from Blue Bloods disarming a criminal, as I inched closer to the eye of the storm.

As protector, defender, and guardian of all the children--including the one who was most fearful and out of control, with hands up to block incoming hurled objects, I approached her. I kept my eyes locked on hers, not on the wooden block that she was ready to hurl across the room. My voice barely audible...

The Secret to Increase Email Opens and Reads is Not to Make Promises you Can’t Keep

Your customers may not be in a state of frenzy like Nancy was. However, they are pulled into their own daily drama. They are flooded with endless data points. They zip through their overflowing email inbox.

But the same thing that helped this five-year-old to stand down is the same thing that will compel your subscribers to stop and read every email.

If you use just the right amount, your email response rates will stop trickling in and start flowing again—like when your subscribers first fell in love with your company.

There is one key ingredient that always moves the needle.

But if you lay it on thick, your B2B customer will dismiss it outright as hollow and fake. That means your emails will be ignored. After your team poured their heart and soul into this campaign, you’ll hear nothing.


Not enough of this secret sauce means your email isn’t client-driven. It’s too company focused. In  The Art of Email Empathy: How to Be an Empathetic Marketer - Business 2 Community,  author Mary Dolan says “when we smell a sales pitch too often, we end up wincing, rolling our eyes, and clicking delete.”

If you haven’t mastered this art, it’s like throwing spaghetti at the wall, little will stick.

Ouch, all that wasted time and effort! And those carefully designed and crafted emails will collect digital dust in her inbox.

So, Crafting Email Winners Comes Down to One Thing

Surprisingly, people don’t want to learn. But they DO want to solve their biggest problems and challenges. They DO want hand holding and a personal roadmap to get from where they are to where they want to be. So, lecturing doesn’t work.

But, if you know how to wield empathy with a little love, not a sledgehammer, you will be able to crawl inside your reader’s head and touch her heart every time.

You may wonder, how I compelled this frightened child to stand down? Prior to this, her therapist helped me implement an individualized plan. Because she felt scared and cornered, I had to gently help her regain self-control, without her hurting herself or others.

From my classroom experience, I learned to meet the student where she is. The same principle applies in marketing: Always meet the customer where the customer is.

Below I dive deeper into the art of empathy and provide 3 SIMPLE tips to add this secret sauce into every email.

What is Empathy?

“Empathy is a spectrum” says Marketing Director Alex Patton of in his presentation on First Aid Training - Building Empathy Into Your Email Lifecycle on Vimeo.


Patton uses this Empathy Map to explain the continuum. On the left side, the two separate circles represent not showing any empathy in your emails. That means they have zero human touch. Just the facts. She thinks, “Why am I getting this?”

On the right side, he shows what too much empathy looks like. It comes across as false and self-serving. Your customer doesn’t want to be sold to. So, her “Spidey Sensors” go on high alert. A booming voice echoes in her head: Step away from the email. Danger. Proceed with caution.

But, if you put the customer in the center, then Patton says you provide just the right amount of empathy. This shows that you understand your customer’s challenge and try to resolve it in a way that works for the individual and benefits your company.

This means that you understand your subscriber’s challenges, what they could be feeling, why they want what they do, what they are excited about, and what keeps them from it.

1. Find Your "True North"

Empathy with your customers begins with your own self-awareness.

What you feel comes through your messages. So, “give yourself empathy before attempting to share it with others,” says Dolan.

“As human beings across the globe we are having an incredible experience on earth, where almost no person on Earth is not affected,” says Matthew Smith in “Mindfulness &Meditation - The Mental Inbox  with Really Good Emails” . We’re experiencing challenging times as a nation. “No matter where you are on the political spectrum, anger is a big part of what people are experiencing. And that means your customers too.”

Smith says before you compose your next email, clear your own “mental box” first. In his video, mentioned above, he walks you through the research-based, mindful process that leading clinical psychologist and author Tara Brach uses.

Implementing a daily practice of meditation or yoga retrains your brain to respond to stress with more calm and ease with less overreaction.

Why does this matter?

When you are mentally prepared, then you can compose emails, without clouding your judgement.

2. Walk a Mile in Your Customer’s Shoes

Marketer Todd Brown’s Magic Wand Exercise

  • Brown’s Magic Wand Exercise

Ask: If you wave a magic wand and grant your ideal customer anything, what would they ask for? What would that magic result be?

  • Brown’s Ideal Client Exercise

Imagine your greatest client success story. The one that hasn’t happened yet. What result did she experience? How did it transform her? What changed in her life? What is she not experiencing anymore? What positive things happened? The more you know about her, the easier it will be to answer these questions.

3. Use Rich RAS Trigger Words to Increase Your Email Opens, Reads, and Engagement

“RAS” stands for “Reticular Activating System.” Every human being has a database in their brain. It constantly monitors data points throughout the day and filters out what’s important to pay attention to and what to ignore.

RAS Triggers are the thoughts, images and words that are important to your reader. This is where you should begin the conversation. 

Consider your own habits. What causes you to scroll past certain messages, but triggered by others to drop everything to devour them?

Remember, your reader is a human being, just like you. They have hopes, dreams, passions, fears, hunger, disappointments and other human emotions and experiences common to us all. 

Every day people are pulled into their own daily drama. They don’t come up for air-- unless it directly impacts them or their family. They are crazy busy with packed days juggling family, relationships, priorities, and work.

If you understand your reader’s RAS triggers, then you can cut through the noise and other daily distractions to grab their attention and share your message with them.

You know from your own customer experience that people don't want to be sold to. They want to be seen, heard, understood, and valued.

So, the most effective way to over deliver on value to your subscribers is to know what is most relevant, useful, and engaging to your ideal customer in their personal, business, and family life.

Be sure to focus directly on the person who would benefit most from your services or product.

The Secret to Increase Email Opens, Reads, and Engagement is Not to Make Promises you Can’t Keep

The one thing that moves the needle is to use empathy in your email headlines and leads. But if you’re heavy handed, your emails will be ignored. Not enough, deleted.

Today I unpacked three EFFORTLESS tips for adding empathy to every email, using just a bit of brain science and psychology.

1.   Get focused and calm before you compose a single email.

2.   Step into your customer’s shoes.

3.   Use RAS trigger words to cut through daily distractions and noise to grab and hold your reader’s attention every time.


Lynda Dell is your Copy and Content Marketing Repurposing Queen! She mines and breathes new life into your content that ignites and inspires. From brand storytelling to converting stale email lists to an engaged, curious, invested email tribe in your voice.

As a professional copywriter, brand storyteller, and marketing leader for the personal development, health & well-being, and nonprofit markets, she writes crisp, targeted content to help you build trust, gain expert status, turn unknowns into lifetime customers, and drive revenue.

Her superpower is that she puts empathy into your copy and messaging. Honed from more than 20 years as a teacher and mentor to students, colleagues, clients, and parents.

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