There’s no doubt about it: automating your marketing can bring incredible efficiencies to your business, allowing you to scale your efforts without losing precision. But you don’t want your automated messages to feel automated – you want your marketing to feel personal, to build connections, and you also want it to amplify your brand.
After all, it’s widely accepted that it takes at least seven positive marketing messages to make a brand stick in a potential customer’s mind. That means that every single message counts – especially until you’ve “stuck.” If your communications are not consistent with your products and company values, or are insensitive to information you’ve already collected, you may lose some of your highest quality leads.
Unfortunately, many companies are not effective enough during this delicate phase. Their brand messages aren’t building their credibility, or resonating with the audience receiving them.
Consumer brands like Coca Cola, on the other hand, are excellent at this – they have comprehensive, enforced brand guidelines to control every marketing message across all channels. They can justify huge spend on media like TV, radio, and print, and they enlist the help of high-profile celebrity endorsers, to simultaneously resonate with consumers and their personal values. They’re conscious of how brand voice, narrative, and imagery should all tell a consistent story.
B2B marketers generally have less money to spend and fewer channels to leverage than consumer marketers, but they also control a large proportion of brand transmissions in your emails. Luckily, automation can actually make your marketing more personal, and can also help you remain consistent in your messaging across every channel.
Here are four easy ways to create more on-brand emails which resonate with your prospects, using marketing automation, your data, and a little creativity:
1. Sender Personalisation and Brand Ambassadors
As people, we are hard-wired to crave connection with others, which is why, as marketers, we want to introduce our brand as authentic and personal. Despite this, many B2B marketers are still sending emails from “email@example.com”, or signing emails with “Sincerely, Your Marketing Team.”
In other words, they’re simply begging for unsubscribes – who wants to be reminded that they’re on a marketing list. Instead, make sure you’re sending your emails from a real person – one who represents the values of your product or organization, and who fits with the message you are trying to convey. Choose brand ambassadors wisely. To give a widely publicized example, Coca-Cola chose Taylor Swift as the face of Diet Coke last year, which, due to her controversial, polarising persona, many blamed for a drop in Diet Coke’s sales.
If possible, send emails from a person who is highly relevant to the message – ideally, an expert in the subject matter discussed. Include an e-signature, links to Twitter, LinkedIn… whatever you decide will demonstrate authenticity. You might also include a photo of the sender in the email’s signature – try a little A/B testing to find out what drives the best results.
If you’re using marketing automation, you can tailor your “from” names to appeal specifically to each email send’s audience – you might use your own name, include contact information, or use the name of someone in your company (with their permission, of course!). This is where knowing your brand comes in – do you have a charismatic CMO whose name you’d like to highlight? Or do you position yourself as friendly practitioners? You can dive a little deeper into these options with our ebook, Creating Your Email Marketing Subject Lines and From Names.
2. Segmentation and Geographic Relevance
Nothing encourages an express opt-out like a message in the wrong language, or an event invitation from the wrong continent! These messages are highly irritating, and are guaranteed to result in unsubscribes. If you’re marketing globally, an incorrect geographic filter can even have legal implications.
That’s why we recommend segmenting the audience you send emails to. Beyond geography, you might also consider segmenting your audience by gender, age, job title, company size, industry, interests, and more. Marketing automation makes segmentation easy to implement, helping you avoid this major (and surprisingly common) faux-pas.
3. Use Your Data to Find Other Data
Data has a way of hiding right under your nose. Often, marketers will waste time gathering info, only to discover only that they’ve had what they needed all along.
For instance, some industries and countries require you to address potential customers formally – typically with both a salutation and last name. If you don’t have this information for every prospect in your database, you might be daunted by the idea.
But if you’re looking for a last name, these are often included in email addresses…can you pull from there? If you’re looking for a prospect’s gender, can you discern it based off of first names? Both country and state can often be derived from contact fields.
You can also derive a prospect’s interest in a product based on behavior, which marketing automation can help you track. In short, don’t re-invent the wheel – take advantage of automation to cleverly embellish your data with information you already have.
With a little creativity and the help of automated campaigns, your database will rapidly fill up with the personal details needed to make emails feel individually tailored.
4. Create Resonance with Scoring
And finally, use lead scoring – an essential, but often overlooked marketing tool that is used to qualify and pass along leads to sales. If you’re using marketing automation, lead scoring presents a ready-made yardstick to measure how responsive new leads are to your content.
First, marketers define levels of buyer interest (i.e. early, mid, and late stage), and then set parameters to determine a lead’s qualification for each level. As each lead progresses from one stage to the next, the messages they receive can be adjusted in turn.
You know how interested a lead is in your product or services, so you can be sure you’re communicating in a personally relevant (but still automated!) way, sending the right content at the right time. Remember those first, most crucial seven touch points? Carefully plan your content streams for the most resonant results. This is often the difference between a marketing message that results in qualified leads, and a marketing message that results in an unsubscribe.
So how can you measure success? Your response rate!
You know you are making personal connection with the right brand messages when someone responds to an automated email. Honour this with a response whenever you can. And congratulations! It’s not easy to achieve.
So those are my four most effective tactics to make automation feel both personal and on-brand. Any questions about putting them into practice? Want to share a few successes of your own? Let us know in the comments below.