Email Style – Using Your Authentic Voice

The Importance of Having An Email Style

Email styleHere’s one aspect of your marketing no one ever seems to fully explore.  You’ll find articles on email strategy all over the web, but not too many articles seem to acknowledge the importance of your email style in creating the sort of loyalty and consistency that helps grow healthy lists.

It’s also dismayingly easy to blow favorable impressions in the crucial follow-up stage through inconsistency in email tone and voice…also known as your email style.

Using your own authentic voice in all of your communications is the best way to circumvent this sort of unwanted effect.  But you should also, quite consciously, decide what parts of your persona you want to share.  One easy way to decide on this is to ask yourself the following question:

  • “Do I want my reader to see me first and foremost as an expert or as a friend?”

There is no “right” or “wrong” answer when determining which email style you will use:  A business trainer for corporate workshops doesn’t need to tell her clients all about her kids and her frustrating day when presenting a webinar or sending follow-up emails.  An expensive suit or a flow chart might be a helpful aide in creating the right impression with her potential subscribers, whereas a fantasy gaming guru who uses her blog to reap affiliate commissions from hardware and software would excite derision if she consistently turned up in webinars dressed like a Wall Street executive — or sounded like one in her emails.

But it’s important to remember that what people are really reacting to is a lack of authenticity.  People don’t like fakes.  They instinctively mistrust them.

Somebody who is thoroughly, totally comfortable in their own skin of course can get away with wearing-or-sharing anything — but these rare beings are the exception, rather than the rule.  This will be what you’re striving for in your email style and you should use your authentic voice from Day One.  But being aware of your online style and first striving for consistency — particularly in your email campaigns — is essential to success and growth.

Social consciousness today insists that you need to be a friend to your subscriber — and that’s too bad because, while often a handful of subscribers do end up as your personal friends, that shouldn’t blindly be your goal.  You really don’t want your subscribers emailing you every five minutes, venting about their days and endlessly tapping into your fountain of knowledge (and time) for free, do you?

To your subscriber, you should feel like a trusted friend…but one that’s still a step or two ahead of them.  And if you’re in certain niches, you can go right ahead and be the expert.

If your personal email style just isn’t being the chummy sort, you’ll actually create a better impression if you position yourself without any false modesty, from Day One, as all business.

This means people should know your boundaries:  Which means you should know — and consciously decide on — these too.

Your boundaries should be set with absolute consistency:

  • A first contact
  • In posts
  • In your website’s tone and “voice”
  • In props and teaching aides you use
  • In your choice of visuals or sound clips
  • Especially in your email campaigns!

Email Style – Taking it to the Next Level

You see, email campaigns are never stand-alone strategies, they are stand-alone units of your overall business plan.  And they have to be consistent, across the board.  Everything has to work together as a whole — from webinar to blog to social posts to offers…to emails.

Let’s take a quick look at an unfortunate….Case Study….

What you should never, ever do is position yourself a certain way, then act completely differently to your subscribers.

Recently a Fortune 500 niche expert held a webinar that blew everybody’s socks off.  She went out of her way to convince people not previously exposed to her, that she was their best friend — there 24/7 to help them.  She finally announced that she identified with their struggles so much, she was going to open up a private membership at an incredibly low price.

Once she had them in her membership site, however, people began to complain among each other that she was “ignoring” them.  And one of the complaints was that, when she did post or email, she seemed to be frequently telling them how much they annoyed her.

Some were particularly insulted when she sent a blunt email acknowledging the criticism and stating that since she had given them such an incredible deal, they shouldn’t expect the same attention as her higher-paying clients:  While this may be a fact of business life in that type of niche, that point should have been made in the webinar.  Because she had intimated the opposite, the message that actually got across — loud and clear — was “You’re not important, I’ve got your money, so don’t waste my time”.

Finally, she started posting announcements in the membership sites about events and training for her Executive Elite group — finishing off with comments like:  “Didn’t choose my Executive Elite option?  Too bad — you miss out on the training.  There may be some openings in 2014, but it is currently full.”  Which is so counter-productive and antagonistic, it boggles the mind.

Posts to the membership site decreased.  Interaction rapidly dropped, except for a small group of “die-hards”.

Email Style Not Being Congruent With the Authentic Voice

Here are the exact mistakes this top niche expert made that created such an unusual degree of ill-will and disappointment among her new [regular, recurring, paying] subscribers — and notice how much her emails had to do with this. We’re talking about:

  • Emails that continuously announced her achievements and focused on her expert status, rather than on her members’ needs and interests
  • Emails that chided them for needing help, continuously comparing them with higher-paying clients
  • Sporadic emails, with long gaps in between flurries
  • Sporadic interaction in the membership site
  • Not delivering what was promised.  Her webinar promised a warm, best-friend type of relationship with step-by-step hand-holding.  Her sporadic emails and even rarer membership site posts did not follow through on this persona or promise.

In the case of our example, one of her frustrated members finally stated:  “I feel like we’ve got her evil twin or something.  Why did she do it if she has no time for the membership site?”

Taken objectively, her preemptive, defensive posts and emails continuously warning her members that she was not available for their questions serve as a sure sign she wasn’t enjoying having let this obviously-unfamiliar, economically lower-paying group into her marketing mix.  perhaps she sincerely wanted to help them and didn’t realize what that would truly entail; or perhaps she was simply being greedy and making sure she netted the “bottom feeders” — we’ll never know.

But the real point here is that no matter how great the initial impression anyone makes with first contact, you can rapidly destroy it and create strong negative feeling without even meaning to do so by being inconsistent in your posts and emails; your email style is important.  Add focusing on yourself in your emails, instead of on your subscribers, and you’ve totally killed the goose and — worse — created bad press.

The character you portray in your webinar or video should be the same person people feel they are interacting with when they read your emails and posts.

But what got people to her webinar in the first place? A perfectly crafted landing page and email.

What annoyed people into giving up on her membership site? An email follow up that wasn’t:

  • Subscriber focused
  • Consistent

You may be saying:  “Well, all that’s well and good, but how does managing a list help me grow one?”

That question will be answered, in the near future, in a separate article.

To Your Success,

Email Style

P.S. Have you had struggles with holding true to your email style and using your “authentic voice?”  Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear about your experiences or if you found this information helpful.

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