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Radically human: Unleashing the power of human email marketing in an AI-centric galaxy

Email expert and Slick Business Founder and CEO, Kay Peacey, outlines the tactics and three-step process for putting customers at the forefront of your email marketing strategy.

Hermes with a laptop sitting on Christmas cheese



With the advent of AI email marketing firmly upon us, there’s currently a lot of uncertainty around the industry. In fact, the mere mention of the term “AI” has email senders nervously peering over their shoulders. Are we really at risk of being replaced by AI?

Slick CEO and email expert Kay Peacey addressed this very question during her Email Camp session, Radically human: Unleashing the power of human email marketing in an AI-centric galaxy. While AI’s introduction will mix things up and bring in a host of new opportunities, humans have actually never been more important.

AI technology may bring unparalleled analytical power and automation to the table, but it is the human touch that injects authenticity, empathy, and a deep understanding of customers into email marketing. And guess what? That’s the part that counts: People still want (and will always prefer to) communicate with other people.

So, let’s find out what Kay had to say about marrying technology and human insight to create unbeatable email marketing campaigns.

A tale of Cheesemas

You might be asking yourself, what on earth have cheese and Christmas got to do with anything I’ve just read in that intro?

Well, as you know, good stories make for better marketing and it just so happens that Kay kicked off her session with an absolute cracker (excuse the pun).

It’s not just a grate example of why cheese must be ordered on time for Christmas, but also where a human touch to automated email marketing could have saved our cheese mongers a lot of time, effort, and eventually money.

If you couldn’t watch the full story, essentially Kay was on the wrong end of a large (and rather expensive) mis order of Christmas cheese. What should have arrived on December 20 actually – and much to the surprise of the Peacey household – showed up a month early. Plus, what Kay got wasn’t even the Christmas cheese, since that one wasn’t in store yet.

Yes, Kay accidentally ordered the cheese for the wrong date (human error). However, there were several instances where human intervention on the cheese monger’s behalf could have prevented the mis order:

  • The confirmation email was abnormally long, and the single piece of key information – the delivery date – was hidden in fine print.

  • It was sent from a noreply email address, so Kay was unable to contact them regarding the incorrect order.

  • Every year, for the past 10 years, the Peacey family have ordered cheese for a specific date before Christmas. Yet, no one seemed to have past-purchase data that would have alerted the company of the mistake.

  • The delivery even included a hand-written note explaining that the Christmas cheeses had been substituted as they weren’t ready yet.

Can you spot the issues here? When sending a confirmation email, the delivery date should be highlighted, in bold, in case customers make a mistake. Then if that’s the case, they should then be able to contact the brand to easily amend it.

It’s great that the cheese mongers wrote a hand-written letter (thumbs up, this is excellent practice!) explaining that the Christmas cheeses weren’t ready. However, this would have been the perfect opportunity for human intervention.

You can watch Kay tell the full tale below:

So, what do you think? Was it Kay’s fault? Or could a human touch to the email marketing chain have prevented this unfortunate incident?

While this was clearly a customer error, the cheese mongers could have provided a stronger customer experience by taking a human-first approach to its email marketing strategy.

We’re sure you’ve found yourself in the cheese mongers’ shoes at some point. So, how can you turn a user mistake into an opportunity for increased customer loyalty? Let’s look at the three-step process recommended by Kay herself.

Bring heart, soul, and purpose back to email marketing. You can do that by paying respectful attention to human behavior in the inbox. Most people who read your content are time-starved, impatient, and fallible, just looking to make a genuine human connection with somebody.

The 3 Cs of customer-centric email marketing

Kay’s given a great example of how a heavily-automated process resulted in a negative customer experience. As marketers, it’s really important to find the balance between leveraging technology and adding a human touch to our campaigns. That’s ultimately the key to building stronger relationships with your audience.

To ensure you’re getting this right, Kay recommends following these three steps:


The first thing people need when arriving at an email is context. This means giving people the information they need to see, at the time they need to see it, and in a format that makes sense.

Let’s use the Cheesemas confirmation email as a case in point. Kay explained how it contained a lot of information that was irrelevant to her at that point, and the one thing she needed to know (delivery date) was hidden in small print.

So, how could this email be reworked to make it human-centric and provide context? Make sure you’re including the following information:

Your cheese will be arriving on %INSERT_DELIVERY_DATE% **It appears that you have selected a Christmas cheese hamper, yet you’ve selected a November delivery date. Please check the date and click here if you need to change it** Click here to add this delivery to your calendar.

Let’s break it down based on context:

  • Critical information: We’ve now got a delivery date, the ability to change it, as well as an option to add it as a reminder to our calendar.

  • Timing: Delivered immediately after placing an order.

  • Format: A short, three-sentence email that clearly conveys the key information customers need from a confirmation email.

As you can see, by putting yourself in the customer’s shoes and asking yourself some key questions, you can make your emails much more human-centric. Think, what information would I want to see? When would I want to see it? And in which format?

This can be applied to many different aspects of a business. For example, what about a supply chain issue? How would you communicate this effectively to customers via email using context?

Well, let’s break it down:

  • Critical information: You’ll want to communicate that there’s a shipping delay and include an estimated date based on these changes. Consider if you need to provide additional context on the cause of the delay.

  • Timing: Send your email as soon as you realize customers will be affected. It’s always best to be upfront.

  • Format: A short email makes sense, but additional communication channels might also be needed, such as website banner or a dedicated social media post.

Using this information, an email effectively communicating supply chain issues might look like this:

Dear %CUSTOMER_FIRST_NAME%, We regret to inform you that due to global supply shortages, we are currently experiencing a temporary shipping delay that may impact the estimated delivery times for certain products. The new estimated delivery date for your product is %INSERT_DELIVERY_DATE%. Thank you for your patience and continued support. Our team is working diligently to get your order to you as soon as possible. Best Regards, [Your Company Name]


OK, so now you’ve included context to your email, it’s time to build in some real human contact. Remember Kay’s motto: People want to communicate with other people, not an automated robot or chat machine.

This is one of the biggest reasons why you should ditch the Noreply addresses are the brick wall of digital marketing – no matter how much people try to get through to a business, it’s just impossible to get through the sender. Not great for building human connections, right?

What’s more – certain ISPs, network spam filters, and customers’ personal email security settings are set up to send noreply email to the junk folder. This will decrease your open rates, affect your email deliverability, and increase your chances of landing in the spam folder.

So, you’re probably thinking building human connections is all well and good... But how am I supposed to do this at scale?

This is where smart email technology comes in. There are several tools available to email senders such as that allow you to respond to customers on a more personal level. For example, TextExpander collects your most used phrases, messages, and URLs to create customizable snippets that can be prompted into an email response. This saves your team hours of manual work while still allowing them to quickly edit and personalize their responses.


The final point that Kay goes through is providing subscribers with more choice. Now, this goes beyond adding an unsubscribe link  to your email communications, which will be mandatory for bulk senders to Gmail and Yahoo accounts in 2024. It is also about providing choice as to how and when they want to hear from you.

For example, when a customer begins the onboarding process, they’re typically drip fed a series of emails on a daily basis. This is fine for customers who aren’t in a particular hurry to use the product, but what about those who want to speed things up? How can we personalize their experience?

A good idea could be providing them a with Netflix-like binge option:

Hey %CUSTOMER_FIRST_NAME% Your next email lesson is due to land two days from now. However, if you’re on a roll and want to fast-track your onboarding, you can do so by clicking here. Regards, Dale

You could also of course turn this example on its head and offer a save-for-later option, giving customers the choice to begin the onboarding process at a time that best suits them:

Hey %CUSTOMER_FIRST_NAME% When would you like to start your onboarding? It’s a two-week series, where we’ll send an email every couple of days, so pick a slot when you’re not super busy and have time to get the most out of the content. Regards, Dale

Fixing your email marketing with the Superloop

So, how do we implement radically human email marketing in a sustainable, scalable way?

In her session,  Kay introduced a model for doing so that can be applied by any businesses – no matter the size. The self-dubbed Superloop is a three-step process that blends human-centric thought with your email marketing technology stack, and is split into the following steps:

  • Pain

  • Plan

  • Process

Let’s look at each one in greater detail.


The Superloop process starts off by identifying the pain points your customers are facing with your email marketing.

For example, it might look at common errors such as Kay’s inability to locate key information within the confirmation email. Are other customers also facing the same problem? How many other occurrences have there been? If it’s a regular issue, make a note of it so that you can address it in the next phase of the process.

You’ll also want to uncover areas where subscribers are forced to make a concerted effort to achieve something. This could include difficulty signing up to a webinar, locating a product tracking link, or a lost login. Essentially, if it takes your customers time and effort to do and costs you money, it goes on the list.


Once the pain points are identified, it’s time to put a plan together to address them.

What can you do to ensure readers have the information they need, at the time they need to see it, and in a format that makes sense?

Think of proactive ways you can provide context, connection, or choice to your subscribers to solve these pain points.


This is where your email tech comes into play. While we’ve highlighted the importance of human contact throughout your email marketing campaign, there’s just no way you’ll be able to scale your efforts without the help of technology.

This can be achieved through finer email segmentation, personalized but timely email automation, and even the use of an AI copy generator built into your email service provider (ESP).

All these tools will remove some of the heavy lifting from your shoulders so you can focus on providing that personal touch throughout the customer journey.

Bringing AI and humans together

So, hopefully we put to bed any fears you may have had of a robotic-led email marketing takeover. Like Kay said, people will always prefer communicating and dealing with a real person, which is why a human-centric approach to email marketing is so important.

However, that doesn’t mean we need to call upon our inner luddite. To truly scale and ramp up the effectiveness of your campaigns you’ll need to lean on technology too.

At Sinch Mailjet, this is something we’re continuously striving towards – bringing you the latest technology and product innovation to supercharge your email strategy while helping you layer in that human touch. Our brand-new AI Copy Generator is testament to that.

If you’d like to try it out, simply log into your paid account and start using it right away. If you don’t have a Sinch Mailjet account, create yours now, upgrade, and start building AI-powered customer-centric campaigns today!

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