Have you noticed an increase in unsubscribe rates or emails left unopened (even with the recent Apple® changes)?  Persona-based nurture and drip programs we crafted just six to eight months ago are no longer performing the way they were. 

Do these flagging results signal a backlash against impersonal, automated programs? Are people getting tired of the same old messages sent the same old way?  

Your leads, prospects, and customers want to be treated like humans. I, for one, have become unsubscribe- and unfriend-happy on quite a number of platforms. For instance, I receive a barrage of emails when I download a whitepaper – most of which are product offers or sales outreach. How can you engage prospects who yell, “I am not a persona!”

Tips to humanizing your messages 

As you’re planning for the weeks ahead, here are several approaches to avoid (and what to do instead):

Generic awareness campaigns.

Although it’s tempting to search for ideal customer organizations or titles and put them in a generic nurturing workflow, this approach no longer works. And it may backfire. For every 1 prospect you may uncover, how many are choosing to unsubscribe? And once that’s done, they are unlikely to resubscribe.

INSTEAD: Find a smaller group where you can pinpoint their needs, and communicate directly to what they need. This can be done through social media groups, communities, or live events. Remember, it’s about inviting them into a conversation and then helping them solve a problem they’ve identified.

Sale sequences that repeat the same, tired approach.

How many times have you received (or possibly sent) the same cold templated email that gives three bullet points and asks for 15 or 20 minutes of the recipient’s time? These often arrive with no context and often fall short of what you need at that time. This is how YOUR recipients feel when they receive emails from your team.

INSTEAD: Find more targeted contacts; people you know, or people who know them. You can still use a templated email, however customize it with quick mentions of a previous conversation (be specific), or a mutual acquaintance. Yes, it’s a slower process. But, aren’t you more likely to read through a cold email from someone your previous boss trusts? Just as simple as, “John Doe and I worked together to solve his widget production problem, and he’s now doubled his capacity.” 

Emails with all the sizzle but none of the protein.

Another flavor of tired sales sequences is receiving a message that is SO benefit-focused that it’s unclear what service or product is being offered (this one is particularly frustrating!). To be honest, I’ve occasionally responded to these emails asking, “In 3 words, what do you actually sell? If I’m interested, I will let you know.”

INSTEAD: Start your pitch email with a direct discussion of what you offer, and let the recipient decide how to react. Instead of benefits that promise to solve world problems, your recipients will appreciate something like,  “Are you in the market for left handed widget tweakers? If so, read on. If you will be looking later, keep this note and we can talk then.” Follow this with three specific bullet points explaining feature / benefit content that speak to what their industry, company size, and recipient’s level would need. (Yep, that’s micro-segmentation again!) 

Who really wrote that email?

It’s common to send an email on behalf of a C-level person. Unless it is administrative, though, your recipients are likely to see through the ruse. 

It is true that someone may be more likely to open an email from a senior person, however, if the promise of the CEO sending a personal note is backed up by content that was clearly geared to sell (and obviously not written by the sender), most people will immediately unsubscribe, trash, or even mark the message as SPAM. 

INSTEAD: Be clear about who is sending messages. Include a name (preferably your name) from an email address that isn’t marketing@domain.com or info@domain.com. And be sure to track human responses to emails you send! 

Automatically pitching to every new LinkedIn connection.

If you’re like me, you receive quite a few LinkedIn requests every week. On a good week, I am able to look through these requests and identify who would be a good fit. Other weeks, I’m too busy to figure out who they are. 

Once I accept the connection request, though, I’m often disappointed with the results: an instantaneous, paragraphs-long sales pitch. So often these pitches have nothing to do with my business, nor are they relevant to me at all. It’s just someone trying to sell me stuff. 

INSTEAD: If you really want to connect with someone, be helpful to that person. Keep your emails personal and short. No one is reading beyond the first 30 words, so don’t bury the lead. And mention people you may know in common (but don’t infer a referral or testimonial). 

“Hi, John. I see we both know Fred Smith. Did you see his recent post ranking your left handed widgets really highly? Here’s the link. 

“If you’re looking for specialized widget paint, let me know. We can match your corporate colors and deliver in 3 days.” 

Conclusion: I am not a persona!

Plan on spending more time creating micro-segments so that you can assure your communications are far more personalized. It will take more research and effort, but the results will mean that you nurture advocates rather than just sending another bulk email.