This time, it's personal

20 tips for sending automated emails without sounding like a robot

Chapter 01: Introduction

Using automation doesn’t make you a robot.

Well, it sort of does—in a good way. Software like Keap can take your place in sending emails and fulfilling business processes, accomplishing in moments what might take you hours of manual work to complete. But, you don’t have to sound like a robot. An automated email is still a message from one person to another, one that can provide the personal touch hundreds or thousands of prospects and customers appreciate (and expect) from a small business.

Automation software helps you respond quickly to inquiries, introduce your business to newcomers, and consistently communicate with prospects over weeks or months to nurture a lead into a sale. And automation can actually make emails feel more personal, as software ensures that you send the right message to the right customer at the right time, every time. To help automated emails sound like they came from you—if there were a thousand yous—use these twenty strategies, tips, and tricks.

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Chapter 02: Add a personal touch

People like to buy from people, not from companies. Follow these tips for writing emails that, although automated, feel like they were written from you to your client.

1. Send some emails from you, not your business

Clients are used to seeing branded emails sent from your business (and every business) that contain logos and marketing messages. Stand out in an inbox by occasionally sending automated emails from you or a staff member, not your business. Drop your branding for regular old text, and use merge fields (fields you can use in the software to personalize things like name, preferences, etc.) to address people personally.

Canva email example

Using automation software, you can schedule these messages to interrupt business-as-usual communication. Send them for more sensitive emails, like a referral request, or impress the client with attentive service by personally asking about her satisfaction with your product or service.

2. Write like you talk

Picture yourself face-to-face with a potential client. If he asked you to send information about your business, would you respond with, “Your inquiry has been received. A representative will contact you within two business days”? No. The answer is no. So don’t write that. Use conversational language in automated emails, the way you would if you were talking or writing to a single client. Automation simply takes that message and scales it to reach a much larger group.

Hustle email example

3. Use a subject line you’d send to a friend

Your subject line introduces the content of your email, so one that sounds like personal correspondence has a good chance of being opened. Act like you’re sending the email to a friend by writing a subject line like, “Are you free this week?” or using merge fields for “Hey [First Name]!

4. Include a photo

Add a headshot to your email signature. A photo helps reinforce that there’s a real person with thoughts and emotions—not a robot—behind your business.

5. Make unsubscribing more casual

Every mass marketing email you send, even one that’s personalized, needs a link for unsubscribing or opting out if your list. It’s the law. While you can’t remove the link, you can customize it so it looks a little less official. Instead of the standard “click here to unsubscribe” message, try something like, “Click here to let me know if you don’t want to hear from me anymore.

SnapApp email example

6. Step away from the marketing message

Not every email needs to have direct correlation to your sales and marketing objectives. The goal of some emails can be simply striking up conversation. Share a funny video on a Friday, show off a picture of your dog or kid, or ask contacts how their holidays were. Consumers are used to companies asking for their money, not asking about them as people.

Chapter 03: Make magic with merge fields

With Keap, you can use merge fields to automatically insert data from client contact records into emails so that “Hi, [First Name]” becomes “Hi, Lauren” or “Hi, Joe.” When you use these tips, emails become so personalized that leads and clients may not even realize they’re automated. Many other automation platforms have similar functionality.

7. Call contacts by name

It’s not too surprising to see your name at the beginning of a message. But a mid-email or mid-sentence reference feels a little more personal—and helps to catch the client's attention.

Using merge fields, repeat client names a couple times per email, like, “I wanted to ask, Lauren, are you available tomorrow?” or “Enjoy your weekend, Lauren!” But be sure to use only the client’s first name. Nothing says “robot alert” like “Enjoy your weekend, Lauren Jackson!”

Monkeypod email example

8. Start name-dropping

Use additional names or information if you have it in your records. Wish Lauren and her husband, Joe, a happy Valentine’s Day, see if Sparky (the dog) needs a pet-sitter this month, or send an offer for Lauren’s Honda CRV. If you don’t have this kind of information, ask for it if it’s relevant to your business. See tip No. 20 to find out how.

Costco email example

9. Show you know who’s who

Work in a contact’s company and job title to show that this email is intended for her, not just anyone: “Knowing you’re the [Job Title], I thought you might be the best person to talk to at [Company Name]. If you’re not, would you mind pointing me to the right person?”

10. Always know what day it is

Even if you wrote the email months ago, a date merge field makes it seem current every time. By including a sendoff like, “Have a great [Day of the Week]!” your client might not suspect that you didn’t actually write the email that day.

11. Make old content new again

When you bring a new client on board, you might welcome her with a series of e-newsletters you’ve used in the past. There’s no need to change the date on each edition if you label it “The [Month] [Year] Newsletter.”

12. Talk up their town

Automated small talk gets personal with the help of a location merge field. Ask “How’s the weather in [City] today?” or venture a guess that “I bet you have great pizza in [City.]

13. Reminisce about the first time you met

If you’re the networking type, let automation software follow up with your new contacts for you. When adding someone to your contact records, create a field for the event where you met. Then send off an automated email to the effect of, “Hi again, [First Name]! I wanted to follow up to tell you how much I enjoyed our conversation at [Conference Name.]”

Chapter 04: Write at the right time

Automated emails may not seem automated if they arrive at the perfect time. Use these tips to send automated, personalized messages just as clients are looking to talk, learn, or buy.

14. Respond quickly—but not too quickly

Automation software can respond to a “contact us” inquiry within a couple of seconds. But that’s what a robot would do. A human would be considered fast if she responded within five or ten minutes.

With Keap, as well as some other automation platforms, you can set a delay timer to send your automated reply after a realistic length of time. Write the reply as if you typed it up: “Hi [First Name], thanks for your note! I’ll be in touch soon, but I wanted to let you know that I got your message.” The client will be impressed that you check email so diligently, while you’ve bought yourself more time to call or respond at length.

15. Win the game of phone tag

You could spend half of every day chasing down clients who haven’t returned your calls. Software helps you win at phone tag by automating part of the process while still keeping the conversation personal.

After you leave a voicemail for a client, you can record a note in the software that triggers an automatic email: “Sorry I missed you! I just left you a message. If I don’t hear from you, I’ll try calling you again tomorrow.

16. Follow up on a download

After a client enters his email address to download a resource, like an ebook or video, you can schedule an automated follow-up email to be sent a few days later. With Keap, you’ll be able to tell whether the client actually clicked the email link to the resource.

But telling the customer, “I know you just downloaded my ebook,” is a little creepy. It’s better to play it casual and ask, “Have you had a chance to download the ebook?” (for someone you know hasn’t) or, “What did you think of the ebook?” (for someone you know is ready to discuss).

17. Wish clients a happy birthday

With Keap, you can wish every client a happy birthday, no calendar required. If you have a client’s birthday in their contact record, you can set up an automated sequence in which they receive a personal message on or just before the big day. The same can be done for an anniversary or another type of holiday. A small gesture can make a big impression on clients, who don’t often receive thoughtful messages from companies.

Chapter 05: Send them what they want

Personalized emails are only so effective if you’re also sending clients irrelevant information, like offers for a service they don’t need or promotions for a product they already purchased. Automation software can help you determine what your customers want to hear through these tactics.

18. Use segmentation for personalization

Say you have two pet boarding facilities, each on the opposite side of town. A client may only visit one facility and own a dog, not a cat. Using automation software like Keap, you can segment your contact list so that clients receive only the emails of interest to them—which, as a result, feel more personal. Tags can be applied to client contact records, either manually or as a result of an action they take, like clicking a link for the location they want to visit.

19. Personalize the next offer

Create an automated sequence in which a purchase is followed by email offers for complementary products or services. The strategy not only helps emails feel more customized to the client, it helps your business grow sales through repeat business.

20. Ask what they want

Not sure what clients are interested in? Try simply asking them for the information you need to better understand them and their needs. As part of an automated sequence, send an email asking the client to complete a web form. The new data will automatically be added to contact records, helping you to personalize communication in the future.

Chapter 06: About the author

Author, Amy Saunders

Amy Saunders

Amy Saunders began her career as a business reporter at The Columbus Dispatch in Ohio before becoming a features writer. After more than six years there, she moved to Phoenix. As a lifelong Midwesterner, Amy promises to never take Arizona weather for granted and spends her free time riding horses, playing tennis and hiking in the sun.

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