Putting a Human Touch on Email Marketing
As a freelance and marketing writer, I end up on a ton of email marketing lists — usually one for every other site I contribute to. And the emails I get? They’re a dime a dozen. Most of them fail to speak to me in any way that’s meaningful, and quite a few don’t even include my name. They’re so emotionless that I’ve learned to look over them entirely; 98% end up in the trash, unopened.
However, someone surprised me the other day — in a good way. I received a marketing email from a parenting site asking me to take a survey. I trashed it and continued what I was doing. About ten minutes later, I received another email, stating that the first contained a broken link. I trashed it, and carried on. An hour later, I received a third email, this one profusely apologizing for yet another broken link. The marketing director went on to talk about not having had enough coffee, being distracted by her kids, and being a fallible human being.
In that moment, I made a connection. There really was an actual human on the other end of that email; a frazzled mom, just trying to do her job. And like her, I’d had moments where I’d messed up multiple emails, days when there wasn’t enough coffee on the planet to put me on the right track.
I ended up taking the survey. I did it because I had tangible proof it would be of benefit to someone who genuinely cared about what I had to say. The raw humanity behind the third email made me feel obligated to meet her effort halfway.
As marketers, we all know the incredibly important role automation plays in our daily lives. However, the more we use it, the more our clients crave human contact. And believe me, there’s no fooling them; they can spot corporate-speak in automated emails from a mile away. They’re absolutely inundated with stiff, clinical emails all day long. If you really want to stand out, you have to speak to them as you would a friend — in a warm and friendly voice.
Why does it make a difference?
We’d all like to think we make purchases based on logic. The truth is, most buying decisions are influenced by our emotions. According to Psychology Today, neuro-imagery has shown that when evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions (personal feelings and experiences) rather than information (brand attributes, features, and facts).
Case in point: I recently purchased a dog bed through Amazon for my aging lab. His hips have been giving him problems and I wanted to get him a memory foam mattress to help relieve the pressure on his joints while sleeping. I went through the usual comparison shopping process, evaluating details such as price, dimensions, waterproofing, removable cover, etc. I also read through pages upon pages of reviews.
I found myself coming back to the same product again, and again, not because it had a low price, but because many of the reviewers had included pictures of their dogs sleeping on the bed. Seeing the sleeping dogs stirred my emotions, and I imagined Vince finally getting a good night’s rest. In the end, it was the idea of a happy dog that pushed me to make the purchase.
The quickest way to appeal to your clients’ emotions is through personal interaction — and email, is the perfect place to start.
Humanizing Email Marketing
Email marketing is far more personal than billboards, bus benches, or banner advertisements. It’s not something that’s thrown at clients as they move through the world; it makes its home on their computers and phones, right next to notes from loved ones and messages from coworkers. To really make an impact, you have to speak to the individual.
To humanize your marketing emails, start by establishing a sincere relationship with your clients. Build the kind of trust that only comes from person to person communication. Include their name, information specific to their location, services that make sense based on what their business needs are. You can still use automation for this, you just need to break clients up based on business type or location.
This is advice for the initial stages of outreach. Once you move onto the next step, the sale, you have to take things a little bit further.
Selling like a Human
In sales, automation is often necessary. With hundreds of potential clients in each stage of the marketing funnel, it’s almost impossible to send personalized emails to each and every person. However, when you’re closing a sale, the more personalized the email, the better.
It should read like a letter, written as if you were speaking to them face to face. Be genuinely interested in what they have to say, and make sure that you have their best interests at heart. Yes, you’re asking them to work with your company, but only after you’ve made sure that your services will be of real benefit to them.
Remember that not everything has to be strictly business. Connect on a personal level. Look at their LinkedIn Profile, Twitter, or personal website and find some common ground. Ask about family, pets, or vacation plans. Show them that you are a human being, and that you care about more than their money.
If you have the time to write a fully customized email, do it. If you have too many clients for that to be feasible, employ an email template with both canned and customizable fields, so you can still get the feel of a personal email, but spend far less time writing it.
The Human Touch & Customer Experience
When you prioritize the human touch, you improve customer experience and increase the chances of ending up with a loyal client who recommends you to others. You don’t have to take my word for it, though, the statistics speak for themselves:
- 76% of consumers say they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. (Aspect)
- 60% of consumers have higher expectations for customer service now than they did just one year ago. (Parature)
- 74% of consumers have spent more due to good customer service. (Ebiquity)
- High satisfaction rates result in 2-12 times higher recommendation ratings. (Market Force)
- 91% of B2B buyers are influenced by word-of-mouth when making their buying decision. (USM)
- Loyal customers are five times as likely to repurchase, five times as likely to forgive, seven times as likely to try a new offering, and four times as likely to refer. (Temkin Group)
You might have noticed the phrase customer service being thrown around a lot. In the B2B world, customer service refers to every single interaction a client has with your company — including email communications.
When you take an extra moment to put a personal touch on your emails, you’re telling clients and potential clients that you care. Your care and kindness affect their emotions, leading to more sales and referrals, which, in turn, have a positive impact on your company’s bottom line.
Author: Alex Ilhan
Hailing all the way from England, Alex brings his email development expertise along with an endless stream of cups of tea and British cynicism. Follow him on Twitter: @omgitsonlyalex.