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5 Tactics Retention Marketers Use To Make Automated Messages Feel More Human

When communicating with customers, finding the balance between productivity and humanity is a challenge. Still, there are ways to achieve just that

Evan F.P.
December 31 2018

There are a couple of universal truths in marketing: everyone’s inbox is bursting with emails and no one wants a templated pitch from a robot. One way marketers are engaging with consumers is by adding a human touch to communications.

Gone are the days when a templated, all-text email form got the job done. Instead, skilled marketers know that they have to use every tool at their disposal to make customers feel special and connect with them on a personal level. It may take some creativity and require a few new tricks, but the effort is worth it. Here are some efficient ways to add that human touch.

Remind Customers of the People Behind the Product

It seems obvious: of course there are real people behind the emails and messages bombarding customers. But from the other side of the inbox, marketing emails are often viewed as mechanical, utilitarian, and devoid of personality or identifying details that differentiate one recipient from any other.

One good way to avoid conveying this feeling is to have emails sent from an actual person, instead of a generic PR or marketing handle. Tools like HubSpot use a “Contact Owner” property that makes it appear as though the message came directly from a senior executive or sales rep, making it more likely to grab attention in a crowded inbox.

After that, follow up with a dynamic subject line, preview, and maybe even a personal note from a CEO or other executive within the email itself. These small touches remind your customer that behind the business, there are real people at work – making the whole interaction more relatable.

Use Natural Language Processing

So much of our day-to-day lives are now influenced by artificial intelligence – from Siri and Amazon Alexa answering voice commands, to Google auto-filling search queries. With AI carrying much of the load when it comes to messaging and data analysis, it’s important to understand your customers’ POV. Computer systems use Natural Language Processing (NLP) to understand and interpret meaning. NLP is put to work anytime a predictive text program finishes your thought or a built-in spellcheck corrects a typo. As an added benefit, NLP helps separate the emails you send from actual spam, making it more likely your messages will reach their targeted destinations.

One example is Amazon Web Services’ NLP service, Amazon Comprehend, which has several useful functions: it “identifies the language of the text; extracts key phrases, places, people, brands, or events; understands how positive or negative the text is; analyzes text using tokenization and parts of speech; and automatically organizes a collection of text files by topic.”

Natural Language Processing is useful beyond just email; it also makes chat bots more helpful when communicating with customers. Successful marketers must keep NLP in mind for all their communications applications.

Extend Communication Beyond Just Words

When communicating in a professional capacity, there’s an instinct to keep the messaging strictly… well, professional. However, this can be interpreted as stiff or generic, so instead, good marketers strive to make their emails more conversational.

Something to keep in mind is that modern technology has completely changed the way people communicate. A simple image or smiley face can change the entire tone of a message and convey meaning in a way that words alone cannot. It’s now common to see emojis in marketing email subject lines and body text – whether as an expressive face, a fire icon, or any other form of visual electronic messaging that can get the point across.

In addition to emojis, many brands use the universal language of the 21st century, the GIF, across email and social media. It’s a great way to make a statement without over-explaining, and it adds a fun element to communications. Even adding just a touch of animation to a standard image takes it to eye-catching new levels.

Show That You Know Your Customer

Another way to stand out is to go beyond the standard “Hello FIRSTNAME LASTNAME” greeting in email marketing. Skilled marketing pros are using accumulated customer data to personalize their messages. For example, a veterinarian’s office might be sure to mention the name of the client’s pet, using a tool like Constant Contact to fill in the blanks. Subscription streaming services like Netflix may invoke recently viewed media to let customers know they’re paying attention.

When using personalized fields, marketers should always keep their data up to date to avoid any embarrassing gaffes. There’s no quicker way to get an email deleted than to accidentally send it out with “Hi %FirstName %LastName,” in the greeting. Effective email marketers make data management a regular part of the routine, relying on experienced professionals – not interns or temps – taking the lead.

Keep it Short and Sweet – But Don’t Forget Design

Even if every tool listed above is utilized, a lengthy email with a wall of text is likely heading right to the trash folder. In today’s hyperconnected world, the constant influx of messaging ensures that many different people and companies are vying for your customer’s attention, and it’s only a matter of seconds before they’ve moved on to whatever’s next.

The tips outlined in this article allow marketers to create an effective but brief message, one that instantly gets the point across while still retaining that human touch customers respond to. It could be a combination of a dynamic greeting, a bold GIF, and a short blurb with personalized information, or one that utilizes copy and graphic design to create a template unique to a specific brand. Companies like Apple and Starbucks are masters of the short, beautiful email blast, often providing just a tagline and single sentence with gorgeous photos that clearly highlight the advertised products. Sephora takes a similar but distinct approach, providing customers with bite-sized messages about special deals in a colorful presentation that’s easy to scroll through and absorb. Use your brand’s identity to create a style all your own, and make it one that’s sure to get customers clicking again and again.

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Evan F.P.

Evan is a writer, educator and tech marketer. As content director at Fluid PR Group, he helps businesses tell their stories to the world. He lives in Toronto with his wife, their son and an occasionally well-behaved Australian Shepherd named Islay. Follow Evan on Twitter

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