The year was 1998. While we were rocking out to Britney’s “Baby One More Time” and second-guessing our Furby purchases, we were also being introduced to Google and the first Apple iMac. Amidst all this innovation, a movie was released that perfectly encapsulated the intrigue and possibility of one new technology in particular—the internet. That movie was You’ve Got Mail.
If you’re not familiar with the story of Kathleen Kelly and Joe Fox, here’s a quick summary (note, SPOILERS AHEAD): Rival bookstore owners Kathleen Kelly (played by Meg Ryan) and Joe Fox (played by Tom Hanks) unknowingly connect in an over-30s online chat room and—you guessed it—fall head over heels for each other.
Why is this important?
Aside from the fact that this movie is a Nora Ephron classic, it actually illustrates an important concept about online communication—brand voice matters.
Case in point: to garner attention in an over-30s online chat room, your voice has to be distinct and stand out among the generic Hello’s and How are you’s? In the same way, when you send a marketing email to your customers, it has to capture their attention, pique their interest, and ultimately, cause them to fall in love with Tom Hanks (or, in your case, your company).
In this guide, we’ll explore brand voice in email marketing, how your business can develop your own brand voice, and how you can use this voice to attract customers and increase sales.
What is Brand Voice?
As its name suggests, brand voice is the distinctive language and tone your company (aka your brand) uses to speak to your audience (aka your customers).
As an individual, you too, have a unique voice that signals to people who you are and what you stand for. For instance, maybe you’re someone who’s:
- Outgoing, immediately striking up conversations with strangers and retelling the latest joke you heard.
- Warm and subdued, inviting friends over for a cup of tea and to try your new cranberry scone recipe.
Maybe you’re someone who’s constantly drawing connections between real life and movies…
No matter who you are, you have a unique voice. Similarly, your business has a unique voice that gives people insight into your business, how it’s different from other businesses, and why they should support it.
One of the best ways to show people your business’ unique voice is through email marketing.
The Benefits of Using Email Marketing
Compared to other marketing methods (like direct mail, for instance), email marketing consistently reports the highest return on investment.
In fact, according to Forbes, you can expect to earn back $42 for every dollar you spend on email marketing.
But ROI isn’t the only reason your business should be taking advantage of email marketing. Research shows that customers prefer to be contacted through email marketing. After all, it’s not 1998 anymore—these days, the consumer can get marketing materials sent directly to their emails, then access those emails on their smartphones no matter where they are or what they’re doing.
This allows for a form of marketing that’s:
- Efficient – With email, you don’t have to rely on time-consuming processes like printing fliers. Instead, information can be quickly and easily relayed through broadcast emails.
- Affordable – By nixing printing and mailing costs, your company can save money.
- Highly personalized – With email segmentation, you can use what you know about your customer (their past purchases, their location, etc.) to get specific with your offerings, discounts, and calls to action.
Plus, when you’re able to personalize emails and regularly send them to your customer’s inbox, you can build a stronger connection with your customer, elevating their trust in and loyalty to your brand.
And when 94% of consumers report they’re highly likely to recommend a brand they feel emotionally connected to, trust and loyalty become a pretty big deal.
How to Build Your Brand Voice
Whether or not you already have an idea of what your brand voice is, it’s helpful to take some time to consider your business’ identity and your target audience to ensure your brand voice is as compelling, engaging, and effective as possible.
Showing Your Business’ Identity
Your business’ identity is the starting point for developing your brand voice and understanding what language to use in your email marketing.
For instance, if you’re in the business of selling children’s books (ala Kathleen Kelly), you probably aren’t going to talk to your customers the same way a car insurance company is going to talk to their customers.
As a children’s bookstore owner, your business isn’t just books. It’s stories that can transport us to magical, new worlds, and show us perspectives we never knew existed. It’s exploration, connection, and whimsy. This means you’ll probably want to use language that’s
- Filled with references to classic storybooks
Consider Your Audience
Just as important as your business’ identity is your audience’s identity. Though 90s romcoms taught us that you should never change yourself to find true love, it does help to consider your clientele when building your brand voice.
For instance, in You’ve Got Mail, the voice Joe Fox uses to attract the attention of Kathleen Kelly in an over-30s chat room is different from the voice he uses to speak with her IRL. This is because in real life, Joe and Kathleen are rivals. So, he needs to appear tough, clever, and professional to her (his audience).
But online, thinking his audience is an adorable stranger he wants to connect with, Joe shows another side of his “brand:” helpful, encouraging, and charming (this is Tom Hanks we’re talking about).
Often, your business’ identity will match your audience's identity. In our children’s bookstore example, using a brand voice that’s soft and enchanting will likely be an effective way to speak to an audience of adult book-lovers who want to share the magic of storytelling with the children in their lives.
However, if you were to own a bookstore that was geared specifically toward young adult readers, rather than children, you may want to speak directly to young adults, rather than their parents. This might mean:
- Implementing the same kind of language and terms they use in their everyday lives
These are the types of brand voice considerations that can take your email marketing to new heights.
A Helpful Brand Voice Questionnaire
Although the task of identifying your brand voice can feel somewhat daunting, you can hone in on your brand voice by asking yourself some of the following questions:
- Does your voice include humor? If so, is this humor punny? Intellectual? Cultural? Clever? Sarcastic?
- Is your voice more casual, like you’re talking to a peer, or formal, like you’re talking to someone in a professional setting?
- What’s your business’ persona? Are you a no-nonsense deal-closer, or a trendsetting influencer? Are you the best friend who knows about the hottest new products, or are you the caring intellectual who wants to share the secrets of a better life?
Additionally, understanding what your brand voice isn’t is just as important as understanding what your brand voice is. For instance, your brand could be clever, but not sarcastic. Knowledgeable, but not condescending. Optimistic, but not unrealistically so.
By taking the time to answer these questions, you can build a brand voice that truly captures your business’ unique identity.
How to Use Brand Voice in Email Marketing
Distinguishing your brand voice is one thing, but how do you translate that brand voice into your marketing emails?
Essentially, your brand voice will come across in three different areas of your email:
- Subject lines
- Body text
In the world of email marketing, your subject lines are like your pick-up lines. They need to be unique enough to stand out among other subject lines and compelling enough to cause your customer to open the email and hear what you have to say.
When it comes to subject lines, your brand voice can really shine. Ask yourself:
- Do I want my subject lines to include funny or playful emojis?
- Do I want my subject lines to tease a message with a joke or cultural reference?
- Do I want my subject lines to get straight to the point?
In any situation, subject lines can benefit from being relatively short—between 30–40 characters will ensure your customer sees your entire subject line if looking at the email on their phone.
Once your customer opens the email, your headline provides your next opportunity to showcase your brand voice. While, graphically speaking, headlines usually stand out with large, colorful fonts, it’s up to the content of the headline to compel the customer to keep reading.
If your subject line is your pick-up line, your headline is your introduction. Ask yourself:
- Is your headline a shocking statement?
- Is your headline a warm invitation to continue reading?
- Is your headline a funny joke?
- Is your headline a fierce inspirational message?
Then comes the body text—the conversation you’re having with your customer, one-on-one.
While the purpose of your email will guide the context of your body text, your brand voice will guide the content.
Let’s look at four common types of emails and how brand voice plays a role in them:
- Welcome email – A welcome email is sent to customers who’ve subscribed to be part of your email list. This is your opportunity to use brand voice to greet these interested parties. Will you use phrases like, “Welcome Fam,” “You’re officially part of our community,” or “You’ve made the smart choice?”
- Abandoned cart email – This email is triggered when a customer has added items to their online cart but hasn’t purchased them. So, you’ll need to determine how your brand talks to someone who’s being indecisive. Will you be informative by providing more product details or will you reignite their excitement by reminding them that they’re part of an exclusive group?
- Post-purchase email – After your customer makes a purchase, how will you thank them? Is it “high fives all around” or a compelling story about how their purchase helps fund your charity efforts?
- Win-back email – Win-back emails are sent to customers who haven’t made a purchase or logged into their online accounts in a while. These emails present a different opportunity for brand voice—how do you speak to someone who’s ghosted you? Will you be upfront and tell them you’ve missed them? Will you casually check in to see how they’ve been? No matter how you choose to address the elephant in the room, you can use the opportunity to remind them, through brand voice, who your company is and why you’re different.
Similar to subject lines, all body text can benefit from being rather short and easy to read. After all, this is an email, not a blog post professing your love of 90s rom-coms. By keeping it concise, you can help ensure your customer reads through the entire email and sees your call to action.
And, by using a brand voice that’s unique, compelling, and authentic, your customer will accept this call to action, converting them from interested party to loyal friend.
Build Your Email Brand Voice and Increase Your Profits with Copycat
Whether you’re Tom Hanks trying to find true love or a business owner trying to increase sales, understanding your unique brand voice is important. As a business owner, implementing brand voice into your email marketing strategy can help you stand out from the competition and build a strong relationship with potential customers.
Plus, by utilizing email marketing specifically, you can capitalize on its efficiency, affordability, and personalization to increase your sales and ROI.
At Copycat, we understand the importance of brand voice, email marketing, and brand voice in email marketing. By partnering with us, we can help you identify your unique brand voice, translate it into effective email copy, and transform your company into the Tom Hanks of your industry. Contact us today to learn more.
Forbes. Email Marketing: Still The Most Powerful Tool To Take Your Business To The Next Level. https://www.forbes.com/sites/allbusiness/2020/10/26/email-marketing-still-the-most-powerful-tool-to-take-your-business-to-the-next-level/?sh=63039d0f34bf
Smallbizgenuis. 50+ Eye-Opening Branding Statistics - 2022 Edition. https://www.smallbizgenius.net/by-the-numbers/branding-statistics/#gref