Seen. Heard. Understood.

It’s Christmas, 1996.


My aunt passed me a small yellow cardboard box, overlaid with a botanical drawing of flowers. Inside, nestled in hot pink shredded tissue paper were tiny wrapped gifts: a costume ring, a pen, a rose quartz bracelet and a set of fortune cards. A fairly cracking gift to the average 11-year-old, but to me, they blazed with rare radiance.


I felt absolutely seen and understood.

While I lost the pen and the cards, outgrew the ring (much to my chagrin) and snapped the bracelet a few years ago, I still have the box.


That feeling of being seen, heard and understood got me thinking about the marketing emails I receive.


In this post GDPR landscape, I’m only accepting emails from companies I like and am likely to make a purchase from. Few recreate that feeling of being understood and seen. But the ones that do? My credit card often makes an appearance, because who doesn’t want something that is aligned personally to them?


Have a think about your own email inbox, root through your phone and check out what’s been archived.


My question to you is: which of the emails from your preferred companies did you open?

The one that shared an offer with the option to ‘Buy, buy, buy!’


Or the: ‘Hey! That product you bought? Do you know that you can use it in X and Y ways, to get even more value from it? Oh, also, have you checked out this amazing new discovery we’ve made?’


The former shares information and is a little generic.
But the latter empathises with the customer on a more personal level, while still considering business needs.


The latter follows this process:

  • identified the product the customer cares about (shows understanding)
  • shared their expertise on new ways to get more value from the product (develops trust)
  • directs attention to a new offering (helpful)


It’s more complex but more precious for it. Emails that follow that process, show empathy.

They show the company putting themselves in the customers position, and that is a savvy thing to do.


A journey of discovery

Why not find out what they’re concerned with. Discover what questions they have? After all, knowing your customers even a little smidge better is never a bad thing.


You could contact your customer services department and find out what the ten top queries they’re asked. Or you could review your company’s social media and deep dive into the comments.


Is there a pattern to the questions people ask? Do they want to know if those products are suitable for specific circumstances? Do they have questions about getting the best use from an offering?


It’s a chat

Say you’ve discovered ten needs your customers have, and you’re ready to meet those needs with a new content campaign.

My next question to you is: how’re you gonna speak to them?


After all, you’ve spent the time and effort finding out what matters to them, you can’t be impersonal when meeting their needs. It’s a conversation, simply a chat with another person.


An example of content marketing done right lies with luxury beauty company Charlotte Tilbury, an award-winning make-up artist before setting up her own brand.


Every single email conveys her gregarious personality. Her emails even mimic her speech patterns. For instance, she will write, “Darling! I just have to share with you the most fabulous XYZ” – all the while dispensing her unmatched expertise.

Opening an email from this beauty company is like starting an in-person conversation with Charlotte.


Each email reads like she is your friend, champing at the bit to share with you a new discovery or technique.


The tone of voice is conversational, friendly, enthusiastic, relaxed and fun. After all, why wouldn’t you open an email from a friend?


Let’s return to your inbox to look at the emails you opened. How do they sound? Warm? Friendly? Knowledgeable? Exciting? Funny?


The tone of voice will reflect the brand, but ultimately whether the tone of voice is friendly and playful or knowledgeable and warm, the email will sound like it’s written by another person. Use the active voice, use ‘you’ to engage the reader, use shorter sentences and maybe some slang if appropriate – like an email from a friend would.


It takes time

Making your customers feel seen, heard and understood via content is one of the most worthwhile things a business could do. It builds trust, highlights your expertise, helps your customers and promotes your business at the same time. What’s not to love?


Perhaps the time needed to research, create and deploy content- it’s hard going when you’ve got other work to do.

The thing is, we love it. We eat, sleep and breathe content. To us, researching customer needs and aligning them to the needs of your business is fun. We’re obsessed with tone of voice and how the correct persona can make your customers feel understood.


We’re a talented bunch (and award-winning! Not that we’re bragging, no, not at all, never. Ahem). Why not have a chat with us over coffee? We’re lovely, and it’s only a nice cup of java, why not drop us a line to meet up?