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5 Steps to Create Empathetic Content Right Now [Examples]

Out-of-touch content can lose customers and subscribers. On the other hand, content that helps people can win new customers and evangelists for your brand.

What’s the secret to that in-touch content? Empathy.

Empathy is not about pretending to feel something. It’s about putting yourself in the other person’s shoes by connecting with their point of view, thoughts, or feelings about the situation.

The ability to empathize is a skill worth developing because it can affect everything, from content creation to team management. Done effectively, it can help people feel seen and heard. It also can help your messages strike the right chord.

Empathetic content marketing, even in B2B, can make all the difference.

Empathetic #marketing can make all the difference, says @DaisyQuaker via @cmicontent. Share on X

Empathy is a muscle, one that can be strengthened through exercises and by listening to your audience. These five tips can help you come up with ideas for empathetic blog, email, or social content. Then see how four brands are doing it well.

1. Brainstorm topics in your content sweet spot

While it might be tempting to jump on popular topics, focusing on content that you can authoritatively speak about, don’t do it. You need to think about your audience too.

Use a Venn diagram to empathize with your audience in relation to your brand, says @DaisyQuaker via @cmicontent. Share on X

I use this simple activity to recognize the brand and empathize with the audience.

Draw a Venn diagram. In one circle, list the problems your audience and industry are grappling with. In the other circle, list all the areas of your brand’s expertise. In the space where the two circles interlock, identify two to three themes where your audience and brand interests intersect.

Now take those areas of focus and brainstorm about topics for which you can create and curate content for social media, your blog, or even the building of a resource center. Rank the themes in order of priority or difficulty.

2. Create an empathy map

Empathy maps aid in understanding and visualizing how your audience thinks and feels.

Create an empathy map to visualize how your audience thinks and feels, says @DaisyQuaker via @cmicontent. Share on X

Grab a sheet of paper and create four quadrants. In each section, jot down one of the following: What does your audience see? Hear? Think and feel? Say and do?

On a separate sheet (or below the quadrant chart), list your customers’ pains and gains.

Fill in each of these sections based on what you know about your audience. Then use these insights to spark blog posts that will help ease your customers’ pains and increase their gains.

TIP: The think-and-feel section can spark blog ideas, while the say-and-do portion can help shape writing with more impact.

3. Run a content audit to find and reuse existing content

A content audit helps you identify existing content that you can rework or consolidate, which removes the stress of having to start from scratch.

With the topics and angles from your empathy Venn diagram and map in hand, which previously published content can you repurpose to fit your audience’s current needs?

Do gaps exist in your content that present an opportunity to supplement what’s being said in your industry?

4. Run your ideas by someone you trust

Once you have a set of content features that you would like to create, repurpose, or promote, ask a trusted external source for feedback. Sources who are a few steps removed can provide feedback and save you from creating content that is too self-serving and not sufficiently empathetic with your target audience.

5. Review automation processes

Email automation is a wonderful tool in segmenting and nurturing relationships with your audience. However, out-of-touch email marketing can hurt your brand, cause people to unsubscribe and drive customers away.

Cleaning up your email automation periodically is important for the long-term health of your list and marketing efforts.

Audit your email marketing automation workflows to check for messages that might not be appropriate given the current climate. For example, references to in-person events and travel wouldn’t reflect well on your brand’s understanding of your audience’s concerns.

Check your #emailmarketing automation for messages that might not be appropriate now, says @DaisyQuaker via @cmicontent. Share on X

Don’t waste all your hard work and lower your response rate by sending leads an outdated automated email right after they sign up.

Now, let’s look at four examples of brands hitting their stride with empathy for their audiences.

4 examples of empathetic content

Right now, COVID-19 is at the forefront of many audience’s thoughts and feelings. Here are four examples from brands that have created empathetic content that is responsive to the current situation.


Patagonia has always been a brand that stands behind its mission to fight for people and the planet. Instead of announcing a new sale or seasonal clothing favorites, Patagonia’s back-to-business email opens with a thoughtful message:

In succinct paragraphs, the email goes on to thank health care professionals, public servants, and the many others who are supporting the community. The brand highlights its values of sustainability and supporting the environment by reminding the audience that recycling and reusing is still one of the best ways to enjoy Patagonia clothing.

How your brand can do this

What messaging are you sending around changes to company policies or operations? Those are good opportunities for your interlocking empathetic circles. Create thoughtful and people-centered copy while still conveying your message.


Sparktoro launched its audience research tool this spring. As he was releasing it, founder Rand Fishkin chose to acknowledge the difficult emotions and thoughts his audience was grappling with in a series of thoughtful posts. His voice reflected what many were thinking as seen in this post:

How your brand can do this

Inject a more personal tone when your executives, thought leaders, or others create content on behalf of the brand. Writing human to human is essential to empathetic content.

Writing human to human is essential to empathetic #content, says @DaisyQuaker via @cmicontent. Share on X


HomeSpotter caters to real estate brokerages and agents. In the past few weeks, the company has created content to help its audience shift to doing its client work online.

Its post on virtual tours, which received over 230 shares on Facebook, answers a question real estate agents have now:

Other content in this series includes how to select the best platform for a live open house, and how to capture leads at a virtual open house. All these posts are geared toward helping real estate agents conduct their work safely and successfully online.

How your brand can do this

What questions does your audience have now that you can answer? These topics may not have a high search volume yet but will be timely and helpful.

First Round Review

First Round Review is a blog managed by a venture capital firm that works with very early-stage startups. In response to COVID-19, the firm created a resource hub.

In this guide, First Round Review dials in on its audience’s issues – facing economic uncertainty, keeping their business afloat, being a good leader, doing virtual events, and thorny topics like layoffs. All of this content is designed to help the audience by tapping in to the firm’s network of recession-era leaders, investors, and CEOs right now.

How your brand can do this

Do you know of resources your audience members may not have that could help them? Collect information from your archive and present it in a way that will help your audience find the content it needs from trustworthy sources. Fill in the gaps with new content.

Adapt mindfully

Studies show that companies that continue to market themselves during times of uncertainty fare better in the long run. But for content marketing to work well, it requires an empathetic approach. It’s one of the best ways to build a long-term relationship with your customers.

Check out CMI’s one-stop curated resource to help you navigate your content marketing strategy and implementation during the COVID-19 crisis.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute