It’s not the devil that’s in the details, it’s human interaction. Would you rather receive email from or Sure, marketing automation allows your communication to be scalable, but it carries a pretty big price. Impersonal interactions with potential and current customers go only so far and can actually backfire. You might find yourself bleeding customers rather than growing your list.

A recent webinar led by DJ Waldow, Marketo’s Marketing Evangelist, started by offering instruction on writing more engaging emails. But Waldow branched out, poking into all kinds of e-corners. A generic 404 error page, in Waldow’s world, should be replaced by something more personal and therefore engaging. Here are sixteen examples of 404 pages that take the opportunity to have some fun with what seems like a throwaway moment.

In truth, every touch with a consumer is an opportunity to engage. And once you have that interaction flowing, trust blooms.  Leads will be far more likely to convert to customers, and stay for repeat performances, if they feel that love.

Waldow recommends humor as the most effective tool for heightened engagement. That may work if you have a bit of comedy writer insider you, but most people are just trying to get the job done, not inspire spit takes. That’s alright. You can just be yourself and that will work equally well.

Here’s an example from a recent real life ecommerce interaction that highlights best practices. Bonobos, an online apparel retailer that appeals to the hip crowd, is well known among marketers for its fun and engaging web shopping experience. Not long ago, I placed an order, received the product and found it was not a good fit. Bonobos makes returns very easy, and I sent the item back. Within very short order, I received a personal email from Customer Experience Ninja Heidi Alpert (how do I get a job as a ninja?), asking about the fit and offering a 20 percent discount coupon so I could try a few other sizes. We went back and forth, discussing fashion tips and even got into a bit of a discussion about related topics.

That warm and human email exchange did the job remarkably well. I ended up ordering three pairs of pants on the next go round, tripling my original order, thanks to Heidi.

In a parallel universe (or shall we say in 98 percent of my other online orders), I would have returned the pants and moved on. But because of some above and beyond customer care, Bonobos tripled the sale.

The data offered in Waldow’s webinar verifies this experience. Being human, being funny, being warm, and reaching out in a genuine manner is an exceptionally effective marketing tactic. You have countless occasions to reach out and touch someone. We all want to be known and understood when we consume emails, content, social, web copy, or even error pages. Aim to take advantage of all of them.