If you’re familiar with email marketing, you’ll know that when you receive a “personalized” email, it’s actually not personalized at all. Quite the opposite. Every email marketing software out there allows you to automate this, so that you can address every recipient by their first name.
I don’t know about you but these days I get a little weary about getting these emails. It’s not that these personalised emails are intrinsically bad. It’s that I can’t help but feel like I’m just someone in a sales funnel to be converted, rather than a real person who needs solutions to my problems. Can you relate?
My name is Mui Tsun. I help creatives and entrepreneurs grow a successful business without website and tech overwhelm. I grew up in a large Chinese family (I’m one of 11 children!) and was pretty much left on my own all the time. I grew up thinking that in order to survive I had to struggle on my own. Now I’m on a mission to help others feel a sense of ease and flow in their businesses.
My work involves creating marketing automation to help clients generate leads and increase sales. So I’m all for simplifying time-consuming business processes with automation. As small business owners, most of us are one-person bands. We don’t have the luxury of having unlimited time and resources. We simply can’t do everything ourselves manually or we’ll get burnt out pretty quickly. Marketing automation uses software to execute, manage and automate repetitive marketing tasks and processes so that you don’t have to do them manually. It makes it easier for us to reach out to and manage a larger number of prospects and clients at the same time.
Example: You see a free resource on a website. You enter your email address to sign up. An email lands in your inbox with a link to download the free resource. A week later you receive a follow-up email, asking you if you have questions about the free resource.
You can see how automating this process can save a lot of time. You set up the automation once and let it run itself, instead of having to manually send out download links and follow-up emails to every person.
The problem is, often we get so caught up in automating our marketing efforts that we forget there are real human beings at the receiving end. And I’ll be the first to admit that I am guilty of this myself!
At its core, marketing is about building relationships. Building great relationships requires trust. When we treat others as a click, a conversion, an email address with a lead score, it’s difficult to build that trust.
We can sense when we’re being treated as objects. And we can sense when someone cares. We can tell when someone genuinely wants to help, with no hidden agenda or deliberate manipulation.
If you can remember that you’re dealing with flesh-and-blood human beings, and make an effort to show your human side rather than appearing like a robot, your marketing will be much more effective and efficient.
Here are 8 ways you can add a human touch to your marketing automation:
1.) Grow your own tribe
Do not be tempted to buy a list. It may sound easy to pay for 10,000 email addresses so you immediately have a large list you can send emails to. But think about it. These people don’t know who you are. You have not built a relationship with them over time. So don’t be surprised when you find that very few of these bought email addresses will lead to any sales.
RELATED: How To Build Your Community or Tribe
2.) Be relatable
Automation is run by software, but ultimately it is driven by YOU. One mistake I see often when my clients hire me to fix their sales funnel is their lack of personality and boring generic copy.
In your communications and marketing messages, create an experience so that you customers can relate to you as a live person, not as a faceless organization or an automated system. Let your customers get a glimpse of your world and find out what makes you human.
From all the emails I’ve sent out to my subscribers, I got the most replies from people sharing their stories with me on these two occasions:
– When I talked about my sense of loss when my sister died in 2016.
– When I mentioned how having a puppy threw my daily structure out of the window.
3.) Be considerate
As an example, automation allows you to target those who haven’t clicked on the “Buy Now” button and, if you want, send them an email every day until they either buy or unsubscribe. After all, you can argue that someone who doesn’t buy from you is a waste of space on your list. But, are you being considerate to your potential customers?
An easy way to decide is to think about how you would like to be treated as a customer. If a salesman knocks on your door every day until you buy something, wouldn’t that annoy you?
4.) Use Segmentation
One of the most powerful features in email marketing is the ability to send an email to only a segment of your audience. If you broadcast the same message to everybody, it will be relevant to some but not others. Segmentation allows you to create content according to the experience and expectations of the different segments of your audience. It has the power of creating marketing messages that are more relevant and less disruptive.
Example: Say you’re a music teacher and you have two free resources on your website, one for guitar learners and one for piano learners. If you send out a blanket email to everyone titled “Learn Piano Scales The Easy Way”, the guitar learners will not find it useful. They may even find your email annoying and disruptive, and unsubscribe. It’s much better to send it out to people who have requested your piano resource. Most email marketing software will allow you to do this.
One mistake I’ve made in the past was sending a blanket email to everyone on my list to promote an ebook. My list included people who have already bought my ebook. Now that’s not cool, and I received replies from a few people asking me if it was the same book. I could have easily used segmentation to avoid this.
5.) Tell stories
Storytelling is central to our human existence. Ever since the first cave painting, it has been one of our most fundamental methods of communication. Our brains are hardwired to understand and retain stories. When we listen to a story, we try to find commonalities and it’s those commonalities that help us build human connections.
6.) Show off your staff
Showing the real people behind your company helps to build trust with your customers. Nobody wants to do business with a faceless entity. If some of your staff are happy customers of your products or services, even better! Get them to talk about it.
7.) Provide value
If every communication you send out is a promotion, you are simply treating your customers as walking wallets. Don’t do that! Show that you care by delivering valuable content regularly without asking for a sale. A good starting place is to follow the 80/20 principle: 80% value, 20% promotion.
8.) Don’t automate everything
There will be times when automation is not the best solution. Be flexible. It’s okay to pick up the phone sometimes.