What if you were attending dear Aunt Betsy’s funeral, and as you were mourning, the funeral director approached you with a chuckle, smile and a large handshake? What would you think? Insensitive much? Your email subscribers will think the same if you approach them with an inappropriate tone and style.
The tone and style of your communication online is just as important as your offline conversations.
Imagine you are talking to your email audience face to face. What tone or style of communication would you use? Your communication style should depend on the people to whom you are speaking and be similar to how you would converse with them offline.
Here is another example:
I went for routine laboratory tests last week and the nurse drawing my blood had a serious tone when she was explaining the blood-drawing process to me and what I could expect. Had she burst out laughing with that needle in her hand right before she was about to jam it into my thick, burgeoning arm vein, I would have run out of there faster than my legs could take me!
While injecting your personal brand messaging and personality is important for your email campaigns, appropriate is appropriate. Consider your audience and the timing of your messages when determining what communication style would best suit your audience.
Professional (Hard Core)
I rarely advocate communicating in a professional tone ALL of the time, but for certain industries such as medical, law or even non-profits, the messaging will err on the side of professional more often than not.
For example, I follow a doctor who is spreading awareness about genetic mutations and the diseases they can cause. Though he could have a fun personality, that doesn’t necessarily mean I want his emails to be full of jokes, fun facts and smiley faces. I expect a more serious tone since he is respected in his field, and his audience will expect a level of professionalism as a result.
It’s okay to be unique in your branding, but if you stray too far from the “expected societal norm” you may not get the response you expect.
Here is an example of a professional email message. This is a message from the identity theft company, Lifelock, about the recent fraud affecting Target customers.
The Lifelock message read exactly as expected, in a professional tone, exuding leadership. Notice the colors and language, and the monotone, yet reassuring communication style. It uses “we” instead of “I” which displays a more organizational tone as if more than one person is behind the message, and in Lifelock’s case, protecting you.
Note: Professionalism does not mean being “unfriendly.” Always be courteous. No one likes to read “stuffy” emails. But, be careful how “friendly” you become, especially if your audience expects a certain professional tone.
Here is an example of a professional, yet friendly email:
Notice the message includes exclamation points, but it is not overly personal or casual. You can trust the service due to its confidence and urgency but you can also feel comfortable because it has a slightly friendly tone.
Casual…Let it All Hang Out!
When is it okay to communicate in a more personal, casual manner?
Here is a recent email message from Charlotte Russe:
This store’s demographic consists of teen girls and you can tell that right away by the look of the email. It is fun, modern, hip and exciting, the perfect mix for its audience, yet it is still selling its merchandise and promoting product discounts.
Other establishments that would fall under this “casual” category would be certain retail stores, bars and clubs, and any other “fun” company like a hip, organic cupcake shop on a trendy block on Ventura Blvd. in Los Angeles (you get the picture).
Even more casual…
You may speak to your audience in an even more casual tone, almost as if you are your subscriber’s “next door neighbor.”
A few instances exist where using the first person in a casual tone like this is appropriate.
Here are two examples:
- You are your brand
- You are speaking as a representative of your brand
Mari Smith has built her personal brand for several years. Though she has a team of people who assist her, “Mari Smith” is her brand and company name. In her message, notice how she speaks in the first person occasionally and treats her email subscribers as if they were friendly acquaintances or even friends.
How do YOU communicate to your email audience? Let us know a little more about your business and how you use email marketing to reach your customers!