Here’s a comms strategy that didn’t work for me:

I signed up for a new tool and tried it out.

Almost immediately after signing up (we’re talking a matter of minutes) I receive an email asking how I’m finding it.

While it felt far too early to be asked for my views (I’d barely finished installing the tool), I had a poor experience quite early on. So I sent some feedback about an hour later. I gave lots of feedback on why it wasn’t the best experience for me, and gave constructive suggestions on what could potentially be improved.

I did get a few replies acknowledging this. However…

3 days later, I get an email asking how it’s going with the tool.

5 days after that, I get an email saying I haven’t used the tool for about a week, and they’d love to hear my feedback.

I’m no comms person, and I understand getting these things right is tricky. But as a user, the dialogue I have with a company makes a huge difference in how I feel about them – automated or not. The two automated emails I got after initially sending some lengthy feedback felt impersonal and honestly irritating to me.

Some suggestions from this experience:

  1. It’s probably a bit premature to send an auto email asking for feedback so soon after signup. Give the person a bit of breathing space.
  2. If someone responds to your first email with feedback, send them different emails to the people who don’t respond at all. Or don’t email them at all. It feels impersonal to get emails that come across as trying to give a warm fuzzy feeling, when the message isn’t in sync with your previous comms.
  3. Pay close attention to the people who give detailed and thorough feedback. I fully accept many of my suggestions may be flat out wrong for the company I’m sending them to. But it takes time to write these responses. Even if the ideas don’t match up with your plans, don’t overlook asking your vocal (but constructive) commenters for feedback on things you’re working on.
  4. Make it easy to opt out – and be sure to honour any opt out requests.

And please, please, stop auto-opting people into marketing newsletters when they register for your service. At least give them a way to opt out at signup.

If going for full-on personalisation is a challenge – keep it simple. Don’t try to automate friendly emails from your CEO, with wording that sounds tailored, if you blast them to everyone on your list.