Do you ever receive email in which the tone just doesn’t feel quite right for a professional communication, or was a bit ambiguous about the author’s intentions?

I’ve been reading recently about a free Outlook add-on called ToneCheck which provides a kind of emotional spell-check, performing sentiment analysis on your email to make sure it gives the reader the impression you intended.

SentimentCan it be done?

It’s a nice idea, and this kind of automation of language sentiment is the holy grail for linguists after all. Indeed, having a tool for this purpose has huge potential and let’s face it, sometimes it’s excellent to have a sanity check on work here and there.

But can software really be trusted to get it right? Other automatic tools like Babelfish and Google Translate repeatedly demonstrate themselves not to be the most accurate way to get a job done…

While it’s important to make sure you have the right tone for your email marketing efforts, isn’t this something of such high importance that it still requires a set of human eyes and proper training?

If your customer service and sales teams are relying on automation to judge this for them, what exactly are you paying them for?! And don’t they have a craft of skill and experience which can’t be automated; an instinct for copy, offers and calls to action?

Testing Testing, 123

In our Hitting the Mark workshops, I often talk about the importance of testing your email templates based on their creative. A big part of this is the idea that you should have at least two formats and perhaps several for different purposes depending on your business.

We have one template for our newsletter, one for maintenance and one for special one-off campaigns. Each has been tested to the hills and back by our email marketing experts to make sure it’s serving its purpose as well as possible and providing maximum value to its own particular audience.

The copy and tone we use in each is drastically different and deliberately so. Can a sentiment checker keep up with this?

Sentiment is in the eye of the beholder

We’re glad that the subject is being paid the attention it deserves because many brands out there aren’t playing this game properly with their email marketing. But ultimately, there can be no replacement for the well-trained eye of a battle-worn email marketer.

What do you think? Completely disagree with this blog or do you agree with the sentiment of it? 

Let us know on Twitter or in the comments below.

Image credit:

Tink Taylor

Published 21 February, 2011 by Tink Taylor

Tink Taylor is founder of dotmailer and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

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Comments (2)



I've been waiting for a feature like this! Yesterday while I was listening to a nostalgic tune from high school I thought to myself, "I wish I could share this with my HS friends on my FB page", and now I can.

Thanks for the update! Looking for more integration in the future.

over 7 years ago


Georgia Christian - Mail Blaze

Thanks for the post Tink. I find the concept quite novel and to an extent it does much of the thinking for you, but as you mentioned, can this type of technology really be trusted to do the job better than you might be able to? I know many people who have used Google Translate for important documents with disastrous effects. I know that personally, l'd run ToneCheck and then proof it again afterwards just to make doubly sure. Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see how it develops further.

over 7 years ago

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