We are excited to annunce a new series of guest posts that will be authored by popular bloggers and internet business consultants.
Today's guest post is written by Dean Shanson, a professional writer and a regular contributor to some of the Web’s leading marketing blogs.

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Guest Post: Put the Personal Power of Social Media in Your Email Messages

One of the changes that social media has brought to marketing is that it’s made selling personal. Because tweets and even Facebook pages are created by individuals who display their photos and share personal details, they allow the entrepreneur behind the business to form a personal relationship with members of his or her market. Leads become friends as a way of turning them into customers.

That’s a powerful change. People usually do business with people they know, like and trust, so the ability to create personal relationships, even shallow ones, can create the kind of long-term connections that businesses need for reliable sales. That’s why the most successful commercial Twitter streams are those that allow the twitterer to mix personal comments with professional announcements. Starbucks do it well, and so do Zappos.

And email marketers can do it too.

Usually, newsletters come in the form of corporate broadcasts. They might describe a special offer or announce a new release. When the writer refers to him or herself, he or she says “we” as though it’s the company speaking, rather than an individual. If the offer is interesting and the mailout targeted, the newsletter can still deliver results but to the reader it always looks like a business flyer sitting in his or her personal mailbox. It’s tolerated and acted on as long as it’s beneficial but rarely welcomed or anticipated.

Messages that are welcomed are those that come from friends, colleagues and people the reader knows. There are a couple of ways to create email marketing messages like these.

The first is to use the first person. Instead of sending a marketing message from your company, send it from the CEO or someone more approachable, such as the sales director. Put his or her name at the bottom and a friendly (but not cheesy) photograph in the corner. Don’t be afraid to use colloquialisms and especially self-deprecation to show that you’re amiable, friendly and someone the reader would be comfortable doing business with.

And the second is to go off-topic. Twitter has been criticized for its banal content, but it’s exactly that kind of small talk that helps to build relationships. When sent by email, the content still has to be useful to the reader – it has to be on a topic that your list would find genuinely interesting – but sent occasionally, it doesn’t have to only be about your business. Merav Knafo, founder and CEO of software firm iJoomla, for example, shares quick tips about Facebook, Firefox and site usability in messages that supplement her regular newsletters because she knows her readers would find them useful.

It’s not social media, but it does help to turn an email list into a list of friends and those friends become customers.

About the Author
Dean Shanson
is a professional marketing writer and a New York Times bestselling business book ghostwriter. He is also owner of ConstantConversions.com, an email marketing content company, and co-founder of Scribat.com, a content syndication service and writing agency. He can be contacted at dean@constantconversions.com.