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Opting Out Provides a Chance for Your Brand to Build Empathy

Christina Tosi created a sugar empire with her bakeshops and e-commerce business, Milk Bar. Tosi discussed the “goodness” inside Milk Bar in an interview with the Female Founders Fund. It’s a company founded by people for people. Everything in the brand is human, from the product pricing to the bakery design. The Milk Bar brand’s deliciousness has made it popular among home bakers and the New York community.

People are celebrated at Milk Bar, and cake is the medium. Their credo, “everyone deserves to be celebrated,” is straightforward and very human. Tosi’s team believes that everyone, regardless of circumstance, deserves to be recognized, thus it collaborates with nonprofit groups such as The Birthday Party Project to provide joy to children experiencing homelessness.


In March 2020, while we were all sitting at home wondering where the world was going, Christina Tosi appeared on Instagram with a daily bake club for over 440,000 home bakers. Popovers, pancakes, and cheese crackers were created. She played music and celebrated our birthdays while we baked with our hands, escaping reality. In its third year, bake club has evolved into a weekly event. Tosi shares recipes on her website in a way that no other bakeshop does since Milk Bar is all about fostering community.


They recognize that Mother’s Day isn’t all flowers and sugar, as seen by their request to opt out of Mother’s Day email communications. The tiny sacrifice of a few eyeballs in the run-up to a holiday strengthens a brand that has repeatedly demonstrated empathy to us.


Why should we prefer empathy to eyeballs? When we rely on transactional email marketing, we put our eggs in a relatively small basket, with an average open rate of just over 22% and a CTR of just under 3%. Email marketing provides us with a megaphone via which we may shout our message to as many people as will open the email. It’s measurable and requires little effort. Brands are not built through transactional email. Empathy, expressed via all media, including email, helps to establish excellent brands.


According to a Capterra survey, consumers may reward us for the ability to opt out of certain subscriber lists. After seeing Christmas opt-out options, 81% of customers in the research felt inspired to purchase from a brand. Consumers are more concerned with brand authenticity. 


What if we gave customers the option to opt out of emails they don’t want or won’t open? What if we examined the consequences to our brand of consumers receiving an email about a personally distressing subject? What if we stopped equating the size of our email subscriber list with affinity and instead used it to define ourselves? What if we wanted to create our own “goodness” in order to use email to propagate an empathic brand?


Papier, a stationery company, has tracked their holiday opt-out attempts. According to a spokesman, between 1.8 and 2.5% of subscribers have declined special holiday email communications. When you take a percentage as low as 2% of a subscriber base and double it by a click through rate of 3%, the effort to establish empathy with an entire subscriber list means very little loss in list growth.


Furthermore, brand empathy is growing as user experience becomes increasingly important in brand growth. As brands aim to partake in the human experience, empathy takes numerous shapes. According to research after study, Generation Z values authenticity and strives to align with brands that they believe to be authentic. Personalization meets humanity in the Christmas opt-out. A great email list is one that is well-segmented, ensuring that customers get what they need without getting anything they don’t at every stage of the customer journey. But it does not stop there. Your brand demonstrates empathy through its behaviors on a daily basis.


  1. Pay attention: Your data is telling you something. Consumers are not obliged if they do not open your email. Instead, discover what motivates them. What can you eliminate from the client experience instead of continuously adding?
  2. Connect: Your brand’s value exchange is for an emotion or association. Instead than focusing on a single purchase, utilize email to interact with customers over time through messages and activities that demonstrate your brand’s humanity.
  3. Amplify: Customers have motivations and tales that influence their behaviors and decisions. As a brand that cares about its customers’ real experiences, amplify those stories.


  1. Facilitate: If a consumer opts out of a specific sort of email communication, utilize your CRM and social technologies to guarantee that those messages are not served on social media or via text messages.
  2. Thank: Treat the opt-out as you would any other consumer interaction. In your brand’s genuine voice, thank the customer for opting out. Provide a method for them to reconnect when and if they are ready.


The quantity of your email list does not indicate the value of your brand. That should be repeated. Just one more for good measure. Instead, if you examine how to use the opt-out effectively to foster empathy, email can reinforce rather than weaken brand. 

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