Every small business has an advantage. Unlike big corporations, smaller companies can be more personal, more relatable, more human. Unfortunately, most small businesses miss these opportunities.

Email marketing is a classic example of how the little guys have the edge. In recent posts, we’ve looked at email strategy for small email lists and a personal approach to list growth. Now let’s look at personalizing the email experience itself.

Here are 5 ways to add personality to your email marketing.

1. Sender name

This is the fastest and easiest way to be a person in your marketing. It’s also one of the most effective.

If your email’s sender name is just the company name, like “Company, Inc.” try adding the name of the author before the company. An email from “Dale Wilson / Company, Inc.” is perceived as coming from a person and is less likely to be deleted.

I once taught this to a group of businesses. A week later, I got this feedback from the event organizer: One of the business owners took your advice to use her name in her ‘from’ email. As a result, her open rate went from 20 percent to 39 percent. People also responded to the email, so it helped with customer service and client interaction.”

Be a person with a human name.

2. Picture of the author

The human face has a powerful ability to connect. So powerful that it’s ubiquitous in print marketing for generations, but somehow, email marketers tend to miss this. Very few small business newsletters include a picture of the sender or author’s face.

Add a picture of your face. Let go of that hesitation, and show the subscribers who you are. Big competitors rarely do this because of politics, turnover, or simple lack of courage. But you can.

Be a person with a human face.

3. Take a stand

Have a point of view in your writing. Opinions, especially strong opinions, show that you care. They also add emotion for the reader. It may not be in every newsletter, but mix in the occasional editorial. Even if they don’t always agree with your point of view, your readers will know that you care.

The big boys are often afraid to do this, which is why their marketing is often sterile and dry. The personality has been carefully removed.

Be a person with a point of view.

4. Tell a story

If you haven’t told your audience why you do what you do, it’s time. Tell the story about your passion and your background. Big companies can’t make this connection, but you can.

This is also an important approach for finding website content. Many marketers struggle to find topics, but haven’t yet told their own story.

Start at the beginning, but be brief. Make sure to touch on the big themes and let the passion come through in the tone. Connect the dots from your history to the value you offer to your audience and why it matters.

Be a person with a history.

5. Say thank you

This is a huge missed opportunity for companies big and small: the newsletter sign-up thank you page lacks personality. This page is literally the visitors’ first experience as a subscriber. If you’re not welcoming them to your list with a personal message, in your own voice, you’re not really welcoming them at all.

So truly say thank you with a sincere message and an invitation to become more engaged. A visitor who subscribes may also be interested in connecting with you on social networks. Don’t miss the chance to keep the conversation going.

Be a person who is grateful and engaging.

If you’re a person, this is all good news…

…because people get better results. These simple, free, and fast ways to personalize your email marketing will build stronger connections between you and your subscribers. Add a voice to your nameless, faceless marketing, and your email stats will thank you.

Andy Crestodina is the Strategic Director of Orbit Media, a web design company in Chicago. You can find Andy on and Twitter.