Email Engagement

Should You Send Emails from Your ‘Organization’ or an Actual Person?

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Should You Send Emails from Your ‘Organization’ or an Actual Person?

Here’s how the internal dialog usually goes:

“We’re torn. We see other organizations sending from individual people but how do we know if that would work for us?” ... “What about our organizational ‘voice’?” ... “Isn’t it more professional to send messages directly from the organization?” ... “Our supporters don’t know and won’t recognize our team members ... what if they leave?” ... “What we’ve been doing seems to be working—why risk it?”

These are legitimate things to ask. And many of us have reached the same conclusion: the answers to these questions only reinforce the value of sending broadcast emails from real people.

Okay—let’s break it down.

Why do some organizations introduce individual voices—and will it work for us?

Simply put, it works. We humans are wired for personal connection. In a digital medium that forces us to fight for our audience’s attention, the ability to build ‘connection’ is a competitive advantage. Only organizations that choose to put forward individual voices gain the ability to take full advantage of personalized communication. This includes a greater ability to gain attention, hold attention, and nurture lasting supporter relationships. There’s only one way to know for sure if it will work for you—try it!

How can we respect our ‘organizational voice’ if we introduce individual senders?

Great question! If this is a concern for your team, then that’s a good sign that you respect the value of brand identity. Let’s work with that. Organizational voice sets the tone for what your organization stands for; what it will and won’t say; how it will and won’t react...

It’s no secret that organizations are made up of people. Your supporters know this—whether or not you choose to introduce them. In reality, it is people who have the ability to truly bring your organizational voice to life.

Individual voices that respect organizational voice have these things in common:

  • They express themselves in ways that reflect the purpose and mission of the organization
  • They share personal stories and anecdotes that exemplify organizational values
  • They exhibit emotions and personal reactions that mirror the behavior the organization hopes to see in its supporters

It’s entirely possible to do these things well while still leaving some room for personal expression. A well-defined organizational voice should be flexible enough to accommodate some degree of individual personality. When it does this, it becomes more relatable; it builds connections faster; and it makes the brand’s values more concrete. Workshop with your team how different individual voices could bring your organization’s brand identity to life.

Is it ‘less professional’ to send from an individual person?

At the end of the day, an organization is only as professional as the conduct of its people. If you send messages from someone who communicates unprofessionally, then yes—your emails will feel less professional (don’t do that!). Ask yourself, what does professionalism mean to you? The notion that ‘personal’ and ‘professional’ might sit at opposite ends of a spectrum is long outdated. Over recent decades, innovative brands have increasingly recognized the need to introduce a friendly, personable (and yes—professional) face to customer relations. Done well, ‘personal’ and ‘professional’ don’t compete—they enhance one another. The strength of using individual voices comes from their ability to express brand values with authenticity. If you value ‘professionalism’, then use individual voice and individual stories to exemplify professionalism in your communications. This will gain more attention, feel more genuine, and leave a stronger, longer-lasting impression on supporters than ‘professionalism’ expressed through a faceless entity.

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Our supporters won’t recognize our team members. Is that a problem?

Yes, and no. It’s a big problem if your supporters don’t recognize that your team members represent your organization. Fortunately, there are easy ways to address this. When broadcast emails are sent from individual people, it’s critical that those messages also appear to come from your organization. Do this by including your organization in the ‘from name’ field in addition to your sender’s name. This gives you brand continuity and allows you to introduce new senders now and then.

What we’re doing seems to be working. Why risk it?

True—choosing to do something different creates risk. But choosing to ‘do things the way they’ve always been done’ is also a choice. In reality, neither choice is risk-free. Consider the counterfactual: what might you be risking by not optimizing your communications? It’s possible you’re missing out on higher engagement, lower attrition rates, and greater levels of long-term support. Can you afford to take that risk?

Untested things are scary. So, test it! Consider running a series of split tests. This will give you the quantitative reassurance you need to know that your supporters are responsive to individual voices—with minimal risk to your organization.

If you choose to join the ranks of organizations that are shifting from ‘impersonal’ to progressively more-personal communication, good for you! Now you can take advantage of these personalization tactics that will help you get the most out of your email comms.

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Karen Nilsen

Hi there! I’m Karen. I’m on a mission to reach my former self. Had I known 10 years ago what I know today, I could have achieved more good, made fewer mistakes, and had more weekends. Every time we share what works, we win faster. Let’s create digital experiences that move people — that grow our base and fuel our movements. Are you with me? Please share this with someone you know who wants to up their digital game!

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