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Do Your Emails Have a Personality?

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by: Loren McDonald (@LorenMcDonald)
09 January 2009

Think about the emails that you subscribe to. Which newsletters and promotional emails do you anticipate, open as soon as they arrive and value the most? I'll bet that most of them have distinctive personalities.

This is often a tough challenge for promotional emails or corporate newsletters, where many people (the CEO, your boss, the legal department, the sales manager, etc.) might have their hands in the mix. Still, even the most conservative institutional publications can cultivate a personality.

Personality is a mix of positioning, your value proposition, your company's culture, your newsletter or email goals, and a reflection of who you understand your readers and customers to be. You express it through the offers you send or the news you report, your design and choice of images and mostly through your writing style, tone and voice.

Personality, however, is first and foremost embodied and conveyed through people. Think of the financial newsletters from The Motley Fool, with its tagline "To Educate, Amuse & Enrich." This is embodied in the irreverent and humorous personality of the two co-founders and expressed via company logo and approach to stock investing tips. The Magilla Marketing newsletter is a direct reflection of Ken Magill's personality, even though he works for a large corporate publisher.

Give your emails a personal voice, using an editor or executive from your company or even a fictitious character or amalgamation. Remember that email is a conversation between you and your subscribers. Conversations are more interesting than lectures.

So, cultivate a personal, reader-oriented approach (use "you" far more often than "I" or "we") and a tone that reflects natural speech. Read your copy out loud as you proof it. The ear often picks up awkward construction better than the eye.

One concern I often hear about using personality is this: What happens when the "human personality" leaves the company? This is why it is important that the person who embodies the essence of the personality needs to be consistent with the company's personality. The successor probably will inject a different individual personality into the emails, but the core tone and style can still move seamlessly from one human personality to the next.

What are your favorite emails and newsletters? Do they incorporate a distinctive personality? List your favorites below.




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