How to Nail Tone of Voice in Your Email Marketing Strategy
Marketing Social Media

How to Nail Tone of Voice in Your Email Marketing Strategy


Check your inbox. How many emails do you have—opened, unopened, or deleted—that are extremely dry? If you’re like me, or anyone with a business email, your inbox is filled with same-sounding emails. Something like:

“Hey, check out my company. It’s great. This is what we do. You need help. Let’s talk.”


What’s special about this email? Nothing.

Now, imagine this:

The most ideal lead comes through to your database. She downloads your latest eBook and immediately subscribes to your newsletter. She also requests a demo. Upon further review, you realize she has all the characteristics you look for in a qualified lead: She is an experienced executive at a target company and is not afraid to take a risk for what she believes in.

You feel like you’ve hit the jackpot—all five numbers match, including the winning Powerball number.

But just as quickly as the lead came in, she’s right out the door. What she saw on your company’s website was great, but the messages she received in follow-up emails didn’t match. Sensing confusion and inconsistency among your organization, she became disinterested. Working with an organization that can’t get its tone consistent and email marketing strategy straight is not a gamble she’s willing to take, since she assumes these people will be equally erratic and unreliable for her company.

Unifying your tone of voice across your organization can be difficult, especially in enterprise organizations. However, once you nail it down, it can make a huge difference in engaging leads and driving business. You know you have to be consistent in your tone throughout your organization. That’s the easy part. The hard part is taking the necessary steps to get everyone on the same page.

According to Entrepreneur, “having that same, consistent tone over time is what will help build your personal brand.” The same is true for brands of all sizes that hope to improve legitimacy and dependability in prospects’ eyes.

If one part of your organization is telling one story, and another is telling a different one, how are you supposed to make prospects believe in you?

Know Thyself

From the ancient Greek aphorism, “Know thyself,” comes a more modern saying: You need to learn to love yourself before you can love someone else. As cliche as this is, it rings true for businesses everywhere.

  1. Ask the age old question: Who are you? Or alternatively, what does our organization want to accomplish? Deciding who you are is the first and most important step to establish tone. If your company is trying to appeal to Millennials, don’t use a formal tone. Formal might work for a target audience of directors and more senior-level leaders, but not for a younger demographic.
  2. Write it down. Creating guidelines on what to say (and what not to say) is beneficial for everyone across your organization. Sharing this throughout your company will bring consistency in every aspect of your day-to-day tasks, whether a salesperson is reaching out to a prospect, you are crafting copy for your email marketing strategy, or a strategist is creating content.
  3. Change it up, but keep the message the same. No one wants to get the same-sounding message multiple times. Add variety to your emails depending on who you are reaching out to, but make sure to stay consistent with your tone. In your guidelines, create different messaging for various situations. For example, a demo request, a follow-up email for an event, or a prospecting email. These examples will act as a model to follow. By having a baseline of what to say, it gives others a chance to make it their own without completely missing the point.
  4. Enforce it. While you don’t want to take away people’s personal voice, it is important to stay on top of what sales and marketing are sending. Having someone, or multiple people—call them brand representatives—properly trained in your messaging is a way to overcome this obstacle. Have them review and approve materials before they are sent or uploaded. Get them to train current and new employees on branding guidelines early on. As Content Marketing Institute suggests, you don’t want to be the “brand police,” but rather a “coach.”

Learn from the Pros

Whole Food’s tone throughout its channels reflects the same message: It is the go-to source for quality, healthy foods for everyday people. The brand has taken its mission of being the destination for healthy recipes and educating audiences about food and applied it across all channels. Its authoritative, educational, and easy-to-understand tone is reflected in all of its content. Whether you are on their website learning about its high standards of food control, learning from Co-CEO John Mackey’s blog, or scrolling through posts on its Twitter page, message and tone remain clear and consistent. It is Whole Food’s tone of voice that gives the brand authority and legitimacy.

Whole Foods - Mission and Values

Quirky media brand theSkimm is also impressive when it comes to nailing consistency throughout channels. From the minute you sign up and receive its welcome email with the subject line: “You just got #Skimm’d,” you get an immediate sense of what the following touch-points will entail. theSkimm, a daily email newsletter that breaks down the top stories in an easy to understand fashion, can be described in three words: sassy, informative, understandable. Every daily newsletter email, Tweet, or post reflects these characteristics. It never shies away from who the brand is—and that is extremely important to its readers.

theSkimm - Welcome to theSkimm Email

I read theSkimm every morning, and it’s been made clear through all channels what their tone of voice is. I would be shocked if subject lines every morning weren’t creative like “Fri-YAY,” or if the job postings on its website suddenly changed to normal titles. #Skimm’r is a social media manager position.

Open positions on theSkimm
I didn’t sign up for “The Daily News of the Day” subject lines, and I don’t want to read the same stories every day. I want something that keeps my attention. Tone of voice is what differentiates theSkimm from everyone else, and that’s what makes the brand’s content original. Nailing down tone for your brand is not only crucial for your email marketing strategy, sales team, or content team, it’s important because it is your company’s reputation. Get it right, keep it consistent, and you’ll be sure to improve conversions and your business value. What’s more important than that?

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