There’s no easy way to say this: there’s just too much noise in the world of email.
So many automated emails invariably end up in the Promotions Tab on the inbox and that is causing a collective drop in the open rates of emails. While many factors decide the deliverability of emails, personalized and humanized messages are known to elicit a better response from recipients.
This is especially true if you are reaching out to a cold database or are nurturing warm leads through automated drip email campaigns.
How to Lend a Personal Touch to Your Automated Emails
Automated emails such as drip emails and autoresponders with a human touch create a better connection with a recipient. In the sea of promotional email, humanized messaging stands at a lower risk of being marked as spam.
Give a Face to Your Communication
Sometimes, the little things play an essential role in establishing a human connection with a recipient. Yet it is often these very things that a number of email marketers unwittingly ignore.
One effective tactic for humanizing mail is to send an email from a particular person’s email address and name rather than from a business name.
It is noted that emails sent by a personal name versus a general email address see an improvement in the open rate by 15% – 35%. They also receive a similar lift in CTR as well.
Most people don’t want to be a part of the crowd and certainly don’t want to talk to a robot. If it looks like a person spent the time to write an email, people usually respond to it.
As soon as you include a person’s name, you give a face to communication. Add to that a signature complete with contact details and a picture, and suddenly one is addressing a human instead of a mass-mailing bot.
Keep the Conversation Natural
The tone of your email is instrumental in getting a response from your prospects. Casual emails tend to get a better reply rate, and it is always suggested that you write as though you are addressing a recipient personally.
While some argue that business emails should be strictly formal, we have a number of examples that prove that casual is more impactful.
I really appreciate how our friends at Webengage (a marketing automation software) write their emails. Notice how the language is casual, yet to the point. The cheeky postscript at the end “this is not an automated email, or is it? :)” inevitably brings a smile to the reader’s face and delivers an impact.
When the email is warm and friendly, people tend to open up to a conversation, and a little bit of humor works well to elicit a connection.
However, there is a fine line between appearing casual and being downright unprofessional. Exercise caution with humor as it can be very difficult to get the right tone across in an email.
Should I include a few typos?
Now, this is a point to be debated.
In my experience, I have noticed that an autocorrect or a small typo does lend a human touch to an entire communication. You can also include a disclaimer in the form of a postscript saying ‘please ignore any errors; wrote this on the fly’ or the even more sly ‘Sent from my iPhone.’
These responses work very well when you are sending follow-up emails through a Drip Email campaign.
It’s simple: bots run into glitches, humans make errors.
The idea is to show to an email host that you are a human, personally writing the email to your prospect. Just a small human error is forgivable and signals to the email service that you aren’t a robot.
However, this can be a double-edged sword. Include too many typos, and it can very well end up looking unprofessional and turn off your prospect. So, exercise caution with this technique — this won’t work for many businesses.
Set a ‘reply-to’ address
When you are nurturing leads through email automation, sending emails through a ‘reply-to’ email address is important.
Often, marketers think that recipients will only respond by clicking a CTA. But this ignores the fact that people may not want to agree to view a Demo (or whatever other goals the CTA is targeting) and may have some other question!
A ‘no-reply’ mail is a dead giveaway that the inbox is not monitored and reveals to your target that the email is auto-generated.
It is also a good idea to set the sender’s primary email as the ‘reply-to’ email address instead of a general email address. This further validates that the email was sent by an actual human and if a recipient replies to the email, the reply will be received and replied to by a human.
Personalize and segment
The importance of addressing your reader by name, and preferably the first name cannot be stressed enough.
Recent research shows that the open rate for emails with a personalized message is 18.8% as compared to 13.1% for emails without any included personalization.
Most of your email marketing activities are not going to reap results if you only have a prospects’ email address and are sending them as a generic campaign. If you want to elicit a response, your email needs to be as comprehensive as possible.
And for that goal, you need data!
Try to collect data from as many touch points as possible, perhaps by triggering an exit intent pop-up as a visitor is leaving your website.
Or maybe by collecting a few lead qualification questions before granting access to a piece of downloadable content.
To personalize your emails further, you should consider including the following data points in your email:
- First name
- Company name
- Company industry
- A piece of information about them to intrigue their interest
- Current pain points that you are offering to resolve
This might mean that you may have to do a bit of homework before sending an email — but trust me, it’s worth it!
For instance, at POSist, a B2B restaurant technology company that caters specifically to the restaurant business, we ran a drip campaign on a warm database that looked like this:
Notice how we enriched the email as much as possible through our secondary research.
And the response that we got was amazing! The first email drip sent to 500 people saw an open rate of 80% and a CTR of 61% with most of the people agreeing to a meeting.
The next emails in the drip series were shorter and sent to prospects who had not opened or replied to the first email.
If you have set up the lead capturing forms on your website correctly, segmentation like this should be easy. The key thing to note here is that the data captured from different forms should go into different lists. And the communication sent to the different lists should be based on the user’s subscription.
As marketers, we may be tempted to send all our campaigns to our entire database; however, an inflated email list does not translate to conversion. Worse, you may end up irking your subscribers by sending them unwanted emails they did not sign up for!
Test your campaign
Email marketing is quite a dynamic field.
You need to constantly be innovating and iterating with each email. It is never good to go with assumptions and gut feelings. You need to be data-driven each time you create a new campaign or go back to optimizing your existing ones.
The best way to accomplish this? A/B testing.
I strongly recommend you have at least three variations of the same campaign. The subject line is the most critical factor that impacts open rate and should be as catchy as possible.
Deciding on the perfect subject line can be just as challenging as writing marketing copy, and it has just as much potential to get the conversion for your campaign.
The bottom line?
Play around with the subject lines and the copy if your open rates are high but the CTR and response rate are not.
Even if certain campaigns have worked in the past, they may not continue doing so since similar subject lines, an increased list size and the value offered in the emails can have diminishing returns over time.
The purpose of the entire humanization of automated emails is getting people to open emails and reply to them; even if the response is not positive. A negative response is still a response, and a critical one as well, as it will help you sort the recipient into a separate segment and nurture them in a different way.