Too often, argues Julia Rubiner in the Editorial Emergency newsletter, automated email messages lack the human touch. "They frequently sound like they're coming from a robot for whom English is a second language," she says. "If you're trying to connect with people and persuade them to take action … you want to sound like a person, someone your e-audience can understand and relate to and trust."

She tells the story of one client that used this highly formal message to confirm opt-in subscriptions:

  • "This email address was subscribed for notifications at [client's website] but the subscription remains incomplete. If you wish to complete your subscription please click on the link below. If you do not wish to complete your subscription please ignore this e-mail and your address will be removed from our database."

Rubiner says the stilted copy failed to reflect the company's playful attitude. Accordingly, she explains, she retooled the message to communicate the same information with a healthy dose of brand-appropriate humor:

  • "Someone entered this e-mail address when subscribing to [client's blog], but we can't activate the subscription until you click this link. If, for some crazy reason, you've decided you DON'T want to join [client's mailing list], please ignore this e-mail and we'll pretend we never met."

"A few simple changes and your autoresponder provides not only an easily understood course of action but distinctive branding language as well," Rubiner concludes.

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