The growth of email marketing, social media and the world wide web in general has in turn threatened to dilute the ability for businesses to be personable with customers. Consider a hotelier, who has for years dealt directly with his guests before their stay; now the only pre-stay communication is likely to be an automated confirmation email from a booking agency.

Large corporations have always thrived in such an environment; their business models focus on mass customer acquisition and retention, even if the latter is often only worked on significantly when a customer threatens to leave. As a result, modern methods of communication have benefitted them hugely.

For small businesses, retaining the personal touch still enjoyed by shopkeepers on the high street is a crucial element in maintaining goodwill and loyalty amongst their customers. Marketing tactics such as email are fantastic tools for businesses of any size, but in the wrong hands, they can completely remove the personal touch craved by many SMEs.

Conversely, and when used correctly, email marketing can actually give smaller businesses the edge over their larger competitors. But how do you add that personal touch to your email marketing campaign?

Firstly, let’s look at growing subscriber lists personably…

Face-to-face works

Ask any successful email marketer how they first significantly built their subscriber list, and it is likely they will say the breakthrough came when they went face-to-face. Particularly if you deal in business-to-business, getting in front of customers is a great way to encourage them to sign up to your newsletter. It will likely elicit a far more positive response if you show your face, and particularly if you offer something in return for them signing up. If they trust you, they’ll trust your emails.

Work it into your meeting regime

Anyone who works out on the road will have some form of a meeting regime. If you’re demonstrating a product, you’ll have your presentation fine tuned, but by adding a mental note at the end to remind them of the benefits of signing up to your email marketing list, you’ll significantly increase the benefit of your visit. Make it a habit.

Be honest

Meeting someone gives you the perfect opportunity to enable them to put a face to your company. Doing so will allow them to trust you more. Once you have established a layer of trust, be honest about what they’ll get in return for handing over their email address. How frequently will you email them? What will the emails contain? What will they get out of being a subscriber? Leave them wanting more.

Think quality, not quantity

Email list growth will only produce good results if the subscribers contained within are of good quality. The benefit of getting in front of people before asking them to sign up is that you will already have established some form of relationship. You’ll be sussing them out as much as they are you. A smaller list can be can be a big advantage – remember that.

So, you’re growing your list ethically, sensibly and personably. But how do you add some personality and warmth to your emails? Read on…

1. The sender address

When your email drops into someone’s inbox, the person from whom it originated might be more important than the company. A subscriber might be less inclined to open an email from ‘Feather Dusters Incorporated’ than one from ‘John Smith, Feather Dusters Inc.’. Just a very small change to your email marketing formatting instantly makes the message more human. Studies show that people are less likely to immediately delete emails if they appear to originate from another human being – use that to your advantage.

2. What’s the story?

Email marketing offers a fantastic opportunity to tell customers a story. The plot might revolve around a product or service, or it might be simply a little ditty about the history of the company. Whatever it is, work some humanity and passion into the story you are telling. It will help increase the value of your offering to the customer and will read infinitely better than generic sales blurb.

3. Show your face!

Nothing helps us connect with other human beings better than the humble face. Email marketers often miss this trick, but adding a picture of the author to the email could be the single-most personable thing you’ll do to it, and your subscribers will feel more at ease. We all like to put a face to a name, after all.

4. Don’t hide your opinion

The chances are, if you’re in the business of selling something, you’ll have an opinion on it. Don’t be afraid to put your point of view across when emailing en masse. You’re selling your stuff for a reason you believe in, and conveying that to your audience is absolutely crucial. Be honest and passionate – they’ll like you for it.

5. Thank you

Two words, but often left out of email marketing messages entirely. Thank your subscribers. You can’t do it enough. They’ve been kind enough to hand over their email address and have given you the ability to send them anything of your choosing. Finish all of your emails with a sincere thanks and ask them to connect with you in other ways – keep the conversation going via social media!

On that last note, we’ll leave you with an example of how mailingmanager thanks its new subscribers when they sign up: