The Art of Being Human

I just read an article on the projections for email marketing and how due to the ever-growing inbox deluge email prospects/recipients of the future are bound to tune out more and more as time goes on.

This is nothing terribly new. We’ve been hearing it for a while. I tend to believe that marketing through this venue, if done properly, will see continued success; but, hey, I’m also an optimist (and a bit biased). As I mentioned last week, however, if we make the mistake of becoming too complacent, our response rates as an industry AND individually could very well take a nosedive.

There is one thing we can all do now to stave off any potential future dearth we need to experiment. Stay on the cutting edge. Try out new tactics in strategy, copy and design. (Keep it fresh, as mentioned last week.) Test new products and services that can enhance our promotions. And…

Add a “human” element.

Now there’s a concept for ya. Sure, we all know intuitively that those pesky (did I just say that?) email promotions that arrive in our inboxes originate with humans. But I think we often lose sight of how true prospects view them.

In other words, if you’re trying to connect with me, don’t give me the hard sell. Give me information first. Give me stuff I can use.

That’s why customer newsletters work so well. And why (most likely) longer, info-packed emails can often pull a higher response than their (traditionally much-heralded) shorter counterparts. It’s why some of the most successful promotions out there break up copy (and design, where applicable) into easy-to-digest, bite-sized chunks.

I once saw an HTML promotion where the copy was rather bland; yet every unique twist and/or new idea within the content was made unique and highly visible with the use of color, shadowboxes and sidebars. Even though the copy itself left a lot to be desired, I still read it because the presentation made it so easy for me.

And here’s something new that all email marketers B2B marketers, in particular might greatly benefit from because of its easy-to-apply human element. It’s called Instant Call by Global Online Telephone (a subsidiary of USA Global Link). With its just-launched email application, an email promo goes out as usual but with the additional enhancement of an embedded link that gives recipients the option of receiving an immediate phone call from a sales or service representative. If recipients click on the link, they’re taken to an easy-to-fill-out form. Much like Instant Call’s existing site-based offering, as soon as prospects complete it and click the “Call Me!” button, they are immediately phoned by the automated reply mechanism, which quickly hooks them up with a sales or service representative.

I like this service for its immediacy and its possibilities: Imagine receiving a promotion that uses it. The offered product might be something that you are truly interested in… but before making that final decision, you’d feel more comfortable speaking to someone to get more information.

How many prospects do we lose simply because there are too many questions left unanswered? And how many prospects are going to take the time to go to the advertiser’s web site, hunt down a customer service or sales number (if they can even find one), and make that call to answer those questions? I’d guess not too many. This type of service can solve that problem.

Of course, marketers who utilize such a service will need to ensure that their internal staffing numbers will cover the number of potential calls that come in. But I do believe that this type of “marriage” between technology and live interaction will be the wave of the future, at least to a certain degree.

And when it comes to winning new customers (and keeping existing ones), I think it can be argued that ultimately no one does it better than a living, breathing human being.

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