Almost every resident in Dunn, North Carolina reads their local newspaper, The Daily Record. Why? The newspaper’s founder, Hoover Adams, explains their great success: “It's because of three things: Names, names, and names."
Because so many of their articles and features focus on Dunn residents, the general population cares more about the newspaper. The content applies directly to them and their lives. Whenever any writer on the newspaper strays away from the core focus, Adams reminds them of the mantra, “Names, names, and names.”
This is an important lesson in today’s marketing and event world, especially with all the automation we utilize.
Automation plays a crucial role in streamlining our trade show workflow, but we cannot completely disregard the human elements. We must remember to keep our audience in mind and appeal to them. If the content we send post-show does not apply to them and their problems, why should they continue to interact with us?
Let’s look at some best practices for personalizing your auto emails to optimize your post-show marketing:1. Names, Names, Names
“A person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” –Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People
Going back to the story of The Daily Record, we cannot overstate the importance of using names. It’s scientifically proven that people enjoy hearing their names. A study by Brain Research found that hearing one’s name triggers a unique reaction in the brain. This explains why using names increases engagement and interest. In auto emails, you can use personalized fields like [First name] to add names without disrupting the automation. This small change will help you reach out more effectively to each individual prospect.2. Subject Lines
Think about how many email lists you subscribe to. You likely receive emails weekly, if not daily, from each one. Not to mention the hordes of business emails you read every day. With such a high volume of incoming content, we tend to be picky about what we actually read. Many emails end up trashed without even being opened. And what typically decides that? The subject line.
The wrong subject line can send your email straight into the virtual garbage. On the flip side, a great subject line can increase open rates, click-through rates, and engagement. Here’s some tips to improve your subject lines:
- Use personalized fields to add relevance. This is especially effective immediately after a show to remind prospects of meaningful conversations they had at your booth. For example, “Still Interested in [Product]?” or “Hey, [First Name], How Did You Like [Last Event]?” Personalizing the subject line can increase your open rate by 26%.
- Keep them short and sweet. Subject lines get cut off when they exceed a certain length, especially on smaller screens like cell phones. Aim for 50 characters or less per subject line (around 7 words max).
- Avoid spam words. We all tend to think words like “free,” “100% guarantee,” “Save money,” “Act now,” and so on help engagement. Actually, because they are overused, people tend to tune them out. Worse even, they trigger spam filters. Check out this list of common spam trigger words for more guidance.
- Use proper English. This means avoid using all caps, look for typos, and check your grammar. Spam filters will pick up on any errors, and most people trash emails with error-ridden subject lines.
- Add some curiosity. Every once in a while, use subject lines that pique a person’s interest. This may mean more general or enigmatic subject lines. Of course, too generic and you run the risk of the prospect labeling you a “trickster.” So using gimmicky subject line tricks like “Re:” when it isn’t a reply isn’t the way to go. Instead, try subject lines like, “We finally did it . . . We finally . . .” or “Does Your Marketing Smell Funny?” You can get creative with subject lines, but make sure to stay accurate. Misleading your prospects will get you nowhere fast.
- Do A/B Testing. Make sure to test one headline versus another to see what works better. Frequently testing and changing up headlines will help you find the best headline for your audience.
3. Add Personality
Personality matters. The average person wants real human connection and interaction, even from a company. So if your post-show emails sound robotic and monotone, your engagement rates will suffer. Although this doesn’t give you a free pass to ditch professionalism. Some companies can use more humor than others depending on their brand and industry. But for most B2B companies, professionalism with a sprinkle of personality and light humor is the right ratio.
Personality comes in all shapes and sizes. Here are some simple ways you can veer away from robotic and monotone tones:
- Use contractions in less formal writing. Throw around “you’re,” and “it’s,” and so on. Maybe even include a few “y’alls” if you prefer a casual Southern vibe. This small change makes a world of difference in changing your tone.
- Use shorter sentences and words. This doesn’t mean dumb down your content. Instead, simplify your language. Many readers can keep up with your fancy vocabulary and complex sentences. But it doesn’t mean they want to. You run the risk of alienating your readers by forcing them to trek through hard-to-read paragraphs. As a rule, aim for a Grade 7–9 reading level. Online writing/editing apps, like Hemmingway Editor or Grammarly, can measure readability for you.
- Use a more conversational tone. You want to avoid awkward wording and unfamiliar phrases. A good trick for this is to read your content out loud. If you stumble over certain sentences, you probably need to rewrite those parts.
4. Provide Valuable Content
Even if every other part of your auto email sequence works great, you still must provide valuable content. Put the work into making valuable, engaging content. Not every email should be a sales pitch. Here’s where we need content marketing—material that educates rather than promotes.
At first glance, content marketing doesn’t seem to affect sales conversion. But creating meaningful content will better connect your company and your audience. It will also cement yourself as a thought leader and expert in the field. Then, when prospects need solutions, they turn to your company for help. Content marketing done right drives sales.
Consider your own expertise in your industry. What knowledge do you have to share? Think of best practices, how-tos, and tips. This is a great place to start creating content. Write a few short guides centered on the main problems in your industry and build from there. Before you know it, you’ll be a content marketing pro.
5. Analyze What Content Your Audience Prefers
You’ve likely received an email from Amazon or Netflix before titled “We thought you might also like . . . ” Or perhaps Spotify has sent you a personalized playlist based on your listening history. These companies have learned an important lesson: review what content your user base interacts with and send them more of what they want.
To generate interesting and personalized content, you must analyze the content your audience prefers. First, keep track of the most popular emails and posts. Then consider what those pieces of content share in common. What elements does your audience identify with? What can you do to replicate this type of content?
Without tracking your audience’s interaction with your content, you will end up creating content blindly. As a result, you will miss the mark and your engagement rates will drop. Instead, be more like Amazon, Netflix, and Spotify. Study your audience, and give them the content they want.
These five best practices will help turn your auto emails into personalized emails in the eyes of your audience. Remember that personalization plays an important role in engagement and connection. By building your emails right, you also build your email list right—and your conversion rates from events are sure to follow.