Jul 28, 2010

Making your emails more human

swanson-gmail-rapportiveI’ve always recommended that companies send their email newsletters using a role account for their reply-to. For example, instead of using my personal "ben@" email address, I’ve always used "newsletter@." Mostly because I might get hit by a bus or something, and somebody here might have to replace my role (hence "role address").

But today I changed all that, because of an email newsletter I got from Jon Swanson. I subscribed to his blog updates a long time ago, because he was one of the first people to try our RSS-to-email tool.

All I wanted to know is whether or not our tool was working properly for people. But I ended up staying on his list, because I like his writing and his content. Heck, I’ve ended up purchasing books he’s recommended (that’s what’s so interesting about influence, and the social web).

Anyway, in Gmail, since I have Rapportive installed, I saw Jon’s face right next to his newsletter (that’s him over to the right). I can also see some of his recent tweets, which  include links to more photos.

This makes his email newsletter really personal, and really human. So if you have Rapportive installed in your Gmail, and you got my most recent newsletter, there’s me:


When I first wrote about MailChimp’s integration with Rapportive, I was only thinking about how you could use it to learn more about your customers. Never even thought about using it so that customers could learn more about you(r brand).

Speaking of learning, when I was looking at his Rapportive information, my MailChimp Raplet showed me that Jon is also subscribed to my email newsletter:


And he has a 4-star (very engaged) member rating.

Small world.


Switching the email address that your company uses for your newsletter’s reply-to is NOT something you can just do on a whim (unless you own your company, and you love experimenting). That’s because if you’ve been using a role address for years, it’s likely your subscribers’ address books and spam filters have been trained to trust and accept emails from the email address you started with. Switching your reply-to could result in spam filter blocking.

But it’s something worth considering if you’d like to form a more personal, human bond with your loyal subscribers. Dan, my co-founder who runs our MailChimp Webinars, is building up a "social profile" for the webinar department so that their emails to customers can be accompanied by some fun bio information and avatar (pulled from this twitter account).

If this is all something you just can’t risk, no worries. It does look like Rapportive is working on a way to get corporate information included whenever it detects certain role addresses. A very "corporate" email promotion that I got from Network Solutions gave me this in Rapportive:


And come to think of it, you could always integrate your social profile information right next to your email newsletter by using MailChimp’s built-in twitter template (here’s a blog post about that from 2009), or any of our other socially integrated AutoConnect templates.