How to Achieve Email Authenticity in a World of Automation 

I have pretty much come to expect that any time my phone rings from an unknown number, it’s going to be a robot on the other end. “Hi!” the perky voice says before diving into some pitch. If it weren’t for the momentary pause before the greeting and the responses that don’t quite match up, I’d almost be fooled. But instead, I’m just annoyed.

While automated calls are decidedly more invasive than automated emails, the latter still has to walk a fine line to avoid losing its spot in consumers’ good graces. Currently, 74 percent of consumers prefer to receive commercial communications via email. However, more than 100 commercial emails are sent and received per email user every day and fatigue is starting to set in. Fed-up users may click “spam” instead of taking the time to unsubscribe, leaving senders in a potentially perilous position.

For marketers to avoid ending up blocked, they have to cut through the automation and achieve authenticity. Here are a few ways to do just that:

1. Make opts out easy

If you’re trying to hide your unsubscribe link, you’re frustrating rather than fooling your subscribers. Don’t make them want to hit that “spam” button. Make it obvious and easy to find the link and opt out (i.e. once they click, prepopulate their email address and make the opt-out directions easy to follow).

2. Provide options

Your unsubscribe link should be accessible, but it can also provide options. Use your email automation tool to group your subscribers and create a form to update preferences. You can give subscribers choices to what kind of emails they want to receive and how often they want to receive them. Then follow those preferences.

3. Pay attention to data

One of the greatest features of marketing automation is the ability to gather and analyze subscriber data. Avoid the temptation of a “set-and-forget” approach. Check your data regularly and respond to it. If you’re seeing a lot of unsubscribes, a drop off in opens, or a change in click through rates, use that data to drive conclusions about what your subscribers do or don’t like about your approach. Stay or change course as needed.

4. Strategize

Marketing Automation software makes it incredibly easy to start sending marketing emails to your listserv. But don’t just start hitting “send” for the sake of it. A carefully-planned strategy is what sets successful campaigns apart from spam campaigns. To create that strategy you shouldn’t be asking “What do I want to tell my subscribers?” but “What do my subscribers need from me?” There is a huge difference in those answers. If you email based on the first, your emails will be strictly transactional. Aim for the latter, and you’ll build relationships.

5. Segment

Without knowing anything about what you do or who your customers are I can tell you this about your email subscribers — they are different people. They want different things. Some are loyal customers while others just heard about you today. Some signed up for your emails hoping to learn more, some just wanted a coupon code. By evaluating the data, you can start to formulate an increased understanding of your subscribers and group them based on interests and needs. These groups should be segmented and receive different email campaigns. Segmenting should never stop — the more you email, the more data you get, the more you understand your subscribers, and the more you segment.

6. Personalize

Personalization starts with segmentation, but shouldn’t exclude the small details. In a study, personalized subject lines increased open rates as much as 41.8 percent. That such a simple, (and automated) change had such a big impact shouldn’t be ignored. People want a human touch. Consider all the ways you can provide personalization — location-based deals, product updates based on what a customer has bought before, cart abandonment reminders, and so on.

7. Provide value

Increasingly, email inboxes are becoming another to do list — pay this bill, RSVP to this event, answer this person, meet this deadline. To truly stand out in a world of automation, be the one email that doesn’t ask, but provides. Give value whether it’s a special deal, an interesting piece of content, or just a simple moment of inspiration. When it comes to email, the more value you give, the more interest you’ll receive.

Consumers are teetering on the edge of email fatigue. You can be the sender that strengthens, versus breaks the final straw by being authentic and thinking of your subscribers as the humans they are.


Taylor Burke is a contributor for She’s passionate about marketing and great customer experiences. When she’s not in front of her screen, you can find Taylor reading, cooking, running, or hanging with her dog—but rarely all four at once. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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