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Automated messages – a handy tool but no substitute for the real thing

Automated messages – a handy tool but no substitute for the real thing

Email has been around so long now, it’s hard to believe it was ever considered new and exciting.

It’s certainly easier than using snail mail, phone calls and carrier pigeons. However, it’s become so deeply embedded with our work that, far from being an engaging, innovative form of communication, it’s become a stale but necesssary chore to deal with every day.

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It’s rare to finish a full day of work with fewer than 100 messages piled up in our inbox. With a dozen different tasks to balance at any time during the day, it’s ludicrous to think we can give all these messages our full attention.

That’s why automated messages have become so common. They certainly serve a purpose but we may be starting to rely on them too much.

With so much to do, the idea of bespoke emails to all our connections is a fantasy. No one has the time or the resources to communicate with everyone in their inbox in a unique way.

So what’s the answer?

Well, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Automated messages certainly have a place.

When it comes to pure reach, it’s difficult to think of a better substitute. They are unrivalled for instantaneous, broad communication to a large audience.

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However, when it comes to actual engagement, they are far more lacking. It’s easy to tell whether an email has been written just for you or for another 1000 people.

Companies therefore, need to be flexible when it comes to communication.

Resorting to bulk messaging as the only form of contact with those in your network is an easy, but ultimately one-dimensional fallback.

If you want to stand out, it pays to be a bit more adaptable with how you spread your business’s message.

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By all means, use automated messages to keep your network up to date with your news for example, but don’t expect people to do something using the same strategy.

If you really want to improve net engagement, unique messages are a more time-consuming but worthwhile exercise.

Before contacting someone, always consider what you hope to achieve by getting in touch.

If you want to get something out of the exchange, be sure to actually demonstrate you know something about the person you’re talking to.

If they have a partner and/or kids, ask how they’re going. Little personal touches like this show that you’re actually invested in their life outside of work. It makes such a difference and really stands out amongst the hundreds of near-identical messages clogging the inbox.

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At Blended, we also send out handwritten letters to stand out. It’s such an old-fashioned form of communication that people are taken aback when they receive them. But that’s what makes it so effective.

Taking the time to sit down with a pen and paper to get in touch says that we really want to know someone well. The message itself may not change, but the effort taken to produce it makes all the difference.

Of course, you can’t do this for every message you want to send out, but mixing up your communication strategies shows you’re more adaptable and willing to engage than endless cut-and-paste emails. At a time when staying connected is more important than ever, this is a really effective way of doing so effectively.

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