Email Marketing: One Trick Will Boost EngagementAre you ready for the one thing – the one trick – to get more engagement with your email marketing campaigns?

Unlike Curly, I’m actually going to share it with you now.

The one thing to boost email marketing engagement is to be human.

At this point, it’s quite possible you are now standing up … shouting something like the following: “What? Really? That’s it? That’s the one thing? Be human? Thanks, Captain Obvious.”

While I agree “to be human” is obvious, it’s not something I see too many marketers practicing. When it comes to email marketing, or any marketing these days, much of the voice is still corporate: Cold, boring, and dull.

Who Talks Like This?

Much of today’s mail marketing copy reads something like this:

Corporate email

Who this email is from is not important. But take a look at the language. Nothing stands out. It’s all about them: “…world’s finest news site” and “award-winning news, opinions …” Who cares?

Now, contrast that with this email from Ann Handley at MarketingProfs:

Ann Handley Email

Other than the “Dear Colleague” salutation, this email BLEEDS human. My favorite part?

“Just think of what that extra money could go toward instead—half of an iPad2, a new business casual outfit for Boston, or a round of top-shelf drinks at the hotel bar (oh wait, I guess I’d be the one to benefit from that).”

I happen to know Ann Handley – she’s a colleague (get it? ha!) and good friend. She’s also an amazing writer. I’m pretty sure she wrote this “human” copy. On top of the copy being unique and witty, it’s also a nice way to remind folks to register for the event – always a tough email to write. Instead of saying “REGISTER NOW!” the copy is more subtle, yet it still has three calls to action – all pointing subscribers back to the main registration page.

Human. Well done.

Not Just For Business

But human does not have to be limited to B2B emails (or B2C for that matter). Any email newsletter can be human. Take this example from Chris Brogan. A recent Sunday newsletter of his started off this way:

Chris Brogan Email

While I know that this is Chris’s weekly email that goes out to thousands, it sure does feel like he’s talking directly to me. And it works. In speaking with Chris, his open rates are more than 40 percent – well above industry averages.

To top that off, tons of folks reply back to Chris.

Bonus: If you reply, there is a pretty good chance he will reply back again. How’s that for human?

You can grab Chris’s Sunday (human) email newsletter here. Even his opt-in landing page is human. I just LOVE that video.

Three Tips to Writing More Human Email Marketing Copy

While there really is no silver bullet to writing more human email marketing copy, below are a few tips that may help you get started.

1. Earn trust first. What makes both the MarketingProfs and Chris Brogan emails effective is they both built their tribes first. They provided value. They earned trust. This process enabled them to be more personal with their respective communities. Similar to the any relationship, you typically don’t lead off being overly personal. It takes time – and trust.

2. Ask for feedback. As you start to sprinkle your emails with “human,” check in with your subscribers and ask them if it resonates with them. Every so often in my weekly email newsletter, I’ll plant little nuggets like the one below, asking for a reply.

Waldow Social Weekly bottom

When a subscriber clicks on the “If so, tell me!” link, it pre-populates a tweet, that looks likes this:

Instant feedback!

3. Be yourself. It’s easy to spot fake human (and fake humans, for that matter). If humor is not your strength, don’t force it. It reminds me of high school when we used to grab a thesaurus (think: BEFORE they were online), and replace common words with ones that made us sound smarter. Most of the time, it was obvious and the output was not good. Be yourself.

While it may seem silly, remember this: You are human. Your readers are human. Write your email marketing copy with those two facts in mind and I promise you’ll boost your engagement!

What are your thoughts, fellow humans? Is ‘being human’ not suitable for more corporate organizations? Have you changed up your writing style and seen engagement improve?

DJ Waldow

DJ Waldow is an email marketing consultant, writer, blogger, speaker, and co-author of The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing. He is the founder and CEO of Waldow Social, a company that helps make email marketing go from boring to WOW. DJ has spent nearly 8 years advising clients on how to optimize their email marketing campaigns and--on occasion--break some of the “best practice” rules. Find him on most social networks under the handle “djwaldow” or by searching “DJ Waldow.” DJ is an alumnus of the University of Michigan (Go Blue), a knowledge craver, a sponge, & a lover of beer, coffee & people.

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