Saturday, April 12, 2014

speaking to your biggest segment

by kirk r gray

this past week i attended the marketo summit in san francisco. more than it being a visit to my second favorite city in the world (walt disney world being my first), it was a chance to finally hear a marketing-hero speak on a topic that many of us as marketers sometimes forget. and that's how to speak to your largest segment - humans.

the speaker was dj waldow. if you haven't heard of him, you're missing out. i started following him a few years ago, before he went to marketo. through his blog and tweets he offers up a lot of advice that can easily be tried in your email efforts. this time his presentation was centered around a central theme and quote:
"I don’t care what language you speak, who your brand is or what message you’re sending, we all need to speak more human.”

he offered suggestions on how being more human can help your campaigns (with the disclosure of test to make sure it works with your audience) and that by connecting with them on a more human one-to-one basis that email no longer stays a one-way communication path.

if you've ever met me, you know one of my biggest irritations with email marketers is the "do-not-reply@domain.com" from address. to me it is one of the biggest conversation stoppers out there, but think about it this example and what it is saying to your readers:
to: your readers
from: do-not-reply@yourdomain.com
subject: please share your thoughts through this quick survey
looks pretty normal doesn't it? but really look at it - what are you telling and asking your reader?

well, you're telling them first off do not reply to this email, and then you're asking them to share their thoughts about your service, product, or event by answering a survey. those three lines taken together really send a conflicting message don't they? how many of us have been guilty of this - we've taken time to pull a list, set up a beautiful looking survey in survey monkey or even in our esp if that possibility exists and then we get poor response rates and can't figure out why? you've just set yourself up for failure cause you told your reader first off to not reply to this email. think about that next time you send out an email.

in my opinion, email should be a two way communication street. we as marketers should work really hard to make communicating with our organizations as easy as possible. using actual from addresses and collecting responses to our campaigns should be paramount to success. and it doesn't take a lot of time or effort to do it.

other tactics that dj shared were to use out of office - not only our own - but those from our campaigns as ways to start a dialog or to at least our organization's commitment to personalized customer service. for instance, you send an email to someone, and you get an out of office reply that says that they are out on maternity leave and they'll be back on xyz date. take a few minutes to mark your calendar and to reach back out to them when they return -  send an email that says congrats and welcome back...

that got me thinking, besides this blog, i work for a major online education provider. we service working adults and the military. we could easily look at those bounce back emails and put notes in our crm for the admissions representatives to call them or send a personal note when they are back from vacation, or a conference (if the conference is on a topic that is a course or degree we offer even better), or even from deployment. the possibilities are endless for those kinds of conversation starters.

in addition to those types of tactics, dj pointed out that humor connects us all. as part of the human condition, we all like to smile, and even better when those things that make us smile come at unexpected times, when "we needed that". using humor in subject lines is a great way to be more human, and if not humor, at least make them less robotic. but it doesn't have to be a humorous subject line that connects us, something more engaging does wonders.
for instance, instead of:
from: xyzcable@cablecompany.com
subject: follow up to your appointment

think about using:
from: rep's name | xyzcable
subject: we were out, did some cool things in your place and may have left something behind - can you help?
of course a subject link is walking the line of "misleading subject lines" and if you're going to do something like this try it first before major deployment (the first rule of any email campaign, test, test, test and then test again....). but think about it, no one wants an email from the cable company. ask anyone; the two most hated faceless organizations that we all deal with have to be the dmv and the cable company. hell, i'd rather have a tooth pulled then deal with comcast, but if they talked to me like i'm a human and was appreciated, then i could begin to look past a few of the things i hate about them.

the long and short of the presentation was to simply be more human and to use the human condition to connect with our readers. connection leads to engagement, engagement leads to loyalty...

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