4 Ways to Keep Your Automated Campaign Personal
If there’s one thing small business owners lack, it’s time.
By Rebekah Henson May 31, 2012
If there’s one thing small business owners lack, it’s time. You’d like to reach your audience more effectively, but you don’t have the time. Which is why solutions like autoresponders are attractive solutions for your email marketing.
But isn’t email marketing all about building relationships with your customers? Doesn’t running an automated campaign make your marketing less personal? Not necessarily.
A session on automated email campaigns at MarketingSherpa’s Email Summit 2012 presented tactics for automating your campaign to save time without sacrificing the personal connection consumers have come to expect.
Here are four simple ways to save time with an automated campaign that still feels personal.
Build Rapport With a Conversational Tone
The language you use influences the kind of connection you build with your customer base. If your tone is friendly, your readers will feel more personally connected to you.
We ran a case study on an AWeber customer who uses conversational language in her automated follow ups and achieves high open rates and click throughs as a result. Jermaine Griggs – the presenter who discussed these tactics at the Email Summit – uses such a friendly voice in his emails that even his own grandmother doesn’t realize that his whole campaign is automated. Now that’s effective content marketing!
Keep these points in mind to make your follow ups feel more like a conversation:
- Write your emails like a real person. Remember, the addresses on your list belong to real people. When you sound more like a real person and less like a marketer, the people on your list will respond to your messages better.
- Have a real conversation with your customers. Sonia Simone of Copyblogger spoke at the conference about her own autoresponder series, which invites subscribers to reply to her messages with their feedback and other comments. Invite real conversation with your own customers by sending your automated emails from a real address than can accept replies (not a “noreply” address) and answer them as you can.
Harness the Power of Anniversary Emails
Acknowledging the anniversary of when a customer joined your list is an easy way to make an automated campaign feel personal. You probably can’t keep track of the date each customer signed up, but your follow up series can remember for you. Reward your customers for their loyalty with a coupon or free download and a message that feels personal.
- Decide on your time frame – three months, six months, one year? – and set a follow up with the appropriate interval.
- Use a personalization variable to automatically reference the exact date a customer signed up. Your automated anniversary message will send itself to your subscribers on their own anniversary, as the timing of a follow up series is based on when a subscriber signs up. That means limited work for you while still maintaining a personal connection.
Use Evergreen Content
As you create your automated follow ups, focus on content that customers will find useful for a long time to come. Marcus Sheridan – an entrepreneur, small business marketer and AWeber customer – recommends paying attention to the questions your customers frequently ask, along with the search terms that bring the most traffic to your web site. Address these questions in your automated campaign for content that will feel fresh and relevant for customers who sign up now or a year from now.
Think about other helpful content on your site that you can repurpose for your campaign. This doesn’t mean directly copying; rather, it’s reworking what you have readily available. Things like:
- Your web site’s FAQ
- Tutorials for your product or service
- Instructive blog posts
- Print materials re-worked for your email campaign
Repurposing content that doesn’t go stale keeps your conversation with your customers feeling fresh no matter when they join your campaign.
Don’t Always Follow the Crowd
Building a campaign that feels personal means expressing your brand’s personality. Sometimes injecting personality means breaking best marketing practices in your industry.
Personality is easier for businesses that market directly to consumers, but that doesn’t mean business-to-business companies should be left out. Your services might be geared toward other businesses, but your emails still go to people who make the buying decisions. Your business can build rapport by striking a balance between friendly and professional in your emails.
It all comes down to tone and what your readers respond to, which you can tell by how many of your customers open and click through your emails. People who are engaged with your emails will open them and click through to your site more often.
- Experiment with the tone you use in your emails. Split test a broadcast message – one version with a professional tone and one with a friendlier tone. Stick with the version that gets the most response from your readers.
- How can you tell what your customers respond to? Pay attention to your opens and click through rates. When your customers appreciate your content, they’ll open your emails more frequently and click through to your site content.
If you’re getting good results, keep it up, regardless of what other businesses in your sector are doing. Sometimes different can resonate with your customers on a more personal level.
What Have You Tried?
How do you balance saving time with automated emails while keeping a personal connection with your customers? Have you tried any of these techniques successfully? Share your stories in the comments.