You’ve probably called customer service before when you’ve experienced an issue. During a service call, you’ll often be forced to deal with an automated phone menu, one that asks you to “briefly explain the reason you’re calling.”
This system tries to diagnose your problem without ever connecting you to a real person.
While this can simplify customer service for companies, navigating through the predetermined prompts can be endlessly frustrating for you as the customer, especially when all you want to do is speak to a real human.
Unfortunately, your customers might be feeling the same way about your emails.
If your marketing automation strategy isn’t right on the money, your customers could have that same frustrated feeling, especially when receiving frequent or robotic emails. Their time is valuable, too valuable to receive unhelpful emails.
If that hits too close to home, it’s time you use marketing automation to humanize your emails. Read on to discover four tips to implement right now to make sure your emails don’t sound like they’re coming from a machine.
What is marketing automation?
Marketing automation is at the center of any good email strategy, allowing you to set up your emails to be sent automatically based on a workflow or customer journey you’ve established. These emails can be triggered by anything, including behavioral changes, purchases, and even time factors.
When you group multiple automated emails into a single workflow, you have a drip campaign. This strategy is a powerful way to send emails automatically (without using valuable time and resources to email customers manually).
On the surface, manual emails may seem like a better approach to humanizing your process, but what if you have a million customers in your database? Even fifty subscribers can be too many. It would be impossible to individually email each one, especially if you want to communicate during every designated touch point of the customer journey.
But despite that, only about half of companies are using marketing automation.
But even with a powerful drip campaign, you need to take steps to make sure your emails are scalable and feel authentic. You can accomplish this with segmentation and personalization.
How segmentation helps marketing automation
You probably already know not to send the same message to all of your customers at the same time. After all, why should a longtime customer and new subscriber receive the same message? They’re at completely different points in the buyer journey.
Segmentation is one of the best ways to group your contacts. This tactic is critical for running successful email campaigns because you can deliver catered messages to specific groups of people, during times when they expect to receive communication from you.
There are many ways to segment your contacts. You could do basic segmentation based on demographics and purchase history, or you might go as in-depth as targeting them based on their preferred email device.
The bottom line: The more you know about your contacts, the better segments you can create. This knowledge will help your marketing automation, and your emails will seem more human.
How personalization helps marketing automation
Sending to the right group of people at the right time is just one piece of the puzzle. You also need to make sure your marketing automation uses personalization for your contacts.
This starts with gathering the right information. The more you know about your customers, the better you’ll be able to offer them personalized experiences. For instance, if you understand their purchase or behavioral habits, you can cater content in your emails based on their interests.
You do have to be careful with personalization. As great a tool as it can be, if you make a mistake, it can backfire. Consider the example from Pinterest, which accidentally sent congratulatory wedding emails to single women. People who received the message in error quickly pointed out the mistake on social media.
However, when done well, personalization can go a long way at improving your authenticity marketing and improving email performance.
4 basic tips to make your marketing automation seem more human
The simplest ways to make your marketing automation seem more human is to use a good mix of segmentation and personalization. But this isn’t the only way to make your customers feel like they’re talking to a real person.
Here are four basic tips you can use to create a human element.
1. Personalize the email subject line
If there’s one easy personalization win, this is it. Adding a personalized element to an email subject line can increase open rates by up to 26%. It can be as simple as using the first name of the contact, which you should have in your database.
Image Source: Netflix
If you go this route, just make sure you proactively address and fix a potential (and unfortunately common) error with personalized subject lines. Create a default name that can be put to use, if for whatever reason there’s no first name attached to any customers.
Otherwise, you’ll see the “first name” code in the subject line. For instance, if you’re a beauty company, your default name could be “good-lookin’,” or if you run an extreme sports website, you could go with “thrill-seeker.”
2. Be conversational
There will always be a debate between marketers over using HTML emails or plain-text emails. If used properly, both are fine, as long as your customers engage with them.
Although formatting can play a big role in humanizing your automated marketing, you should be paying more attention to the copy in your emails. You should be writing your emails in a conversational tone.
This means avoiding stuffy words unless they’re necessary. Studies have found big words don’t make you look smarter, and unless your content is extremely technical, you should avoid technical jargon altogether.
Television journalists are taught to write their stories to be understood by a mass audience. Email marketers might want to think the same way, at least for most industries.
3. Send emails from a real person
Receiving an email from a no-reply address can feel deeply impersonal.
Brands will sometimes do this to signify the email account isn’t monitored. Although they’re doing customers a favor by letting them know they shouldn’t respond, you could also turn customers off by doing this.
Email marketers should always be looking for ways to engage with their contacts. Customers will feel a stronger human connection if they are able to ask questions and get real responses. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to use your real email address, though.
For instance, if you change the “From” field to something like Ros at Campaign Monitor but retain an admin email, then Ros doesn’t have to worry about Out of Office notifications or email bounces flooding her inbox every time an email is sent to a customer list.
You can easily create a dummy account specifically for email sends and filter out the bounced back emails. Then you can concentrate on responding to the real inquiries.
4. Don’t just set it and forget it
One of the great things about marketing automation is that once you turn it on, it does most of the work for you. But that doesn’t mean you can just forget about it.
Brands that aren’t testing their emails are missing out on vital opportunities to improve their authenticity marketing. As with all email campaigns, you should be A/B testing everything you can to determine how your customers are interacting with your content.
Remember, customers are more likely to engage and respond to emails if they feel there is a personal connection. Tinker with your copy and the many elements in your email body to find which messaging feels the most genuine.
Personalization and segmentation are the two best ways to make your marketing automation emails seem human. If you’re sending timely messages to the right people, the experience will seem more authentic and unique.
To deliver an authentic experience with automation:
- Use personalized subject lines
- Use conversational language
- Send emails from a real person
- Follow-up whenever possible
It’s so important to pay attention to email content. Personalize the copy as much as possible. This can be done with a name in the subject line or with dynamic content that’s based on behavior or past purchases.
Finally, test constantly to see what’s working. These simple tips will add a human element to your emails in the age of technology.