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3 (relatively) simple ways to personalize mass emails—including a story formula

Whether you’re a local art gallery sending out your monthly newsletter, or a financial services institution communicating with one thousand clients, the same can apply. 

We’ve heard it before: the inbox is today’s gold mine. 

Think about it. It’s a personal space, secured by a password, that people take the time to review (and even read) on a frequent basis. 

If someone has allowed you into their space, the least you can do is be respectful and address them properly. 

I know: it’s often impossible to write to everyone individually (let alone send a handwritten letter, as the Persian Queen Atossa would’ve done around 500 BC), especially as we await the help of AI. 

But in this digital age, it doesn’t all have to be blah. 

If you don’t want your email deleted immediately, try the following story formula:

  • A) One Human Being + B) Communicates with Another Human Being = C) Offers to Help

A) One Human Being

  • Have it come from an actually person (not a company) 

When I see a person’s name I am more likely to open it, out of curiosity.

Similarly, if someone addresses you at an event, you are likely to respond–even if you don’t know them. 

Human nature, right?  

If I see a company name, I almost immediately think: they want to sell me something. 

If I see someone’s name, I often wonder: who is trying to communicate with me and why? 

This simple, yet important, gesture can make the difference.

B) Communicates with Another Human Being

  • Address the receiver by name, e.g. Dear Dejan, 

As soon as you are writing to ME, I will want to know why. 

Similarly, if you hear someone calling your name on the sidewalk, you’re likely to turn around.

Very few businesses do it nowadays, so it stands out in my (often saturated) inbox.

And it shows that you took the time to personalize the communication. Even if it’s mass sent.

The key, here, is to catch the information early: as soon as you ask for their email, make sure you catch their name. 

Besides, you wouldn’t add someone’s phone number to your iPhone without also plugging their name.

C) Offers to Help

  • Speak to an issue you can solve for THEM, not just about YOUR latest news, product, or service

This one takes some curating, but it’s essential if you want to boost interaction (and eventually action). 

AI will soon optimize this part and allow you to do wonders. In the meantime, here are some examples you can use… 

If your email answers a question or offers a solution to something I’ve been Googling, I will read it. And even *click* to find out more. 

For example: you can compare two products and outline the difference (something I would’ve done anyway, but you’ve now “helped me”). 

You can send me a Q&A with people’s frequently asked questions about a service, and answer them. Or you can provide me with a helpful guide that will group together pertinent products.

Alternately, you can link your content to current times.

For example, in the summer many are moving and might need help: finding boxes, securing notary services, purchasing new furniture, installing appliances, locating a lawyer to resolve that landlord issue, and the list goes on.

You can speak directly to those needs and title your email: “Moving soon and worried about … ? We can help you …”

Applying this story formula can make all the difference

If your email is about YOUR latest product, without any connection to ME, I will probably ignore it and pass to the next one. 

Afterall, I have so many to sort through… 

If you don’t surprise me and speak to my needs, wants, or aspirations, the next one just might. 

Remember: in the end, you’re just a human being, communicating with another human being, seeing if you can help. 

It’s important; especially in our digital age, where everything can be automatized and rapid and so impersonal. 

People still crave the personal. They still crave the human. 

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