Stop with emails that sound like they were written by a robot

Whether we like it or not, AI is going to make a huge impact on pretty much every aspect of our lives. But that doesn’t mean that your marketing automation sequences should sound like they were written by a robot, argues Daniel Smith.

With the average email open rate at around 23%, there’s a lot of room for improvement when it comes to marketing automation for small and large businesses alike.

In 2012, if your business had the following automations in place, you were ahead of the game:

  • Welcome series
  • Win-back series
  • Cart/sign up abandon series
  • Cross-sell series

The quality of these series didn’t really matter so much as very few businesses were using marketing automation to nurture leads or drive sales, and consumers weren’t receiving many emails.

Fast-forward to 2018, and every business with a competent marketing strategy has dozens of different email series in play. Marketing automation is evolving. As consumers receive more emails per day, simply using automation is not enough. You need to take your communications to the next level.

The two biggest problems I see with marketing automation are as follows:

Lack of personalisation

Only putting the subscriber’s first name in an email or showing them an offer for something they may be interested in is robot-level personalisation.

It lacks depth, and the subscriber knows the email was probably sent by a robot.

For example, here’s an email from David Jones (who I’ve only ever purchased men’s clothing from) sending me an automated email which has clearly been sent to their whole database without any level of segmentation.

This is classic robot personalisation – no effort has gone into customising this email to interest me in particular, and as far as I’m concerned (I’m the subscriber), it’s spam.

In contrast, check out this email from Product Hunt, who introduce their email in a conversational tone and provide tons of relevance by mentioning new features they have added to their website.

This type of email is much more conversational, may actually evoke replies, and will keep subscribers opening their emails for a longer period of time. There’s a human element to that email.

Lack of brand voice

All emails you send need to echo your brand’s voice. A strong voice helps the subscriber connect to your brand.

Revolut is a digital banking alternative used by millennials. Revolut’s voice and content in each email is funny and relevant with pop-culture, which resonates with their customers.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of the biggest sporting icons right now and is looked up to by many. This email is fun. Even if you don’t want to send a free Revolut card to a friend, the email will put a smile on your face and you’re a lot more likely to open the next email they send out.

You must update marketing automation sequences to include your brand’s voice, and the voice should connect with your audience and build long-lasting relationships.

If you don’t have a brand voice or feel your voice is not up to date with the culture of your customers (common with most businesses), have a meeting with your marketing team to find your voice.

Side note: I highly recommend reading the book “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek if you feel like your brand is wavering.

Start using plain-text

Businesses shy away from plain-text email because they don’t look professional, but the truth of it is that plain-text emails often perform better than fancy templates, and they should be the preferred format for everything but promotional emails with product photos.

Here’s a great plain-text email from Ahrefs (I know this email is automated, but the tone is very conversational and it’s very punchy).

[Click to enlarge]

This email looks like it was specifically written for a single user, but it is actually a triggered automation. Paleo Robbie will receive more replies and engagement using plain-text than if they opted for a fancy footer.

Their welcome series is also in plain-text and carries on using the same light-hearted voice.

This added layer of personalisation will ensure subscribers open more emails, engage, reply, and stay subscribed for longer.

Audit your email marketing funnel

Is your email marketing strategy serving your subscribers, or does it solely focus on selling your products and lack a human element?

Shoppers are spending their money at more online retailers than ever before. If your emails fail to provide humor, value, or deep personalisation, then your marketing automation strategy will begin to fall off.

Your welcome series, win-back series, and ‘signed up but never ordered’ segments should be receiving highly personalised emails in plain-text which introduce your brand, ask them why they stopped ordering, or ask them if they had a problem checking out. Each series should have an employee’s name attached and not simply your business name.

Emails in 2018 need to look like they are actually coming from a human being, not an email robot. Who’s sending your emails?

Daniel Smith is a digital marketing specialist at Digital Deluxe


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