Building relationships using email marketing

31 January, 2019 by Jenna Tiffany

Valentine’s Day is on its way, and we’ve all got relationships on our mind. Which makes this a great time to talk about one of the most important relationships of all: your relationship with your customers.

Email marketing is not (or it certainly shouldn’t be!) about bombarding customers with generic content. It’s about building relationships between your brand and the very real human beings which provide your custom. 

Building relationships isn’t always easy, even between humans (as many of us will be bitterly reminding ourselves on the morning of the 15th!), so you’d think that building a brand-human relationship would be even harder. In fact, if you’re utilising email properly, it’s actually not that difficult.

Don’t believe us? Here’s our top 5 tips to building relationships with your customers using email marketing.

1. Greet your subscriber

Imagine this: you arrive at a nice restaurant for a date. You locate your date, sit yourself down opposite them...and they immediately launch into a story about themselves. No ‘Hello’ or ‘How are you?’- they charge straight into the sales pitch. Not ideal, right?

Every good relationship should start with a cordial greeting, or a nice welcome. Apart from anything else, it’s good manners. A warm and inviting greeting demonstrates that you are pleased to have this person’s company, that you care about their welfare, and that you are interested in what they have to say.

The takeaway here is that you should always kick off your email marketing relationships with a welcome email. Be inviting, show your new customers just how pleased you are that they’ve subscribed. A welcome is the first stage in getting to know someone, and it often sets up the relationship to follow. So put some thought into it!

2. Listen to your customer

Ever had one of those awful dates where the other person just talks constantly about themselves? It’s obnoxious and off-putting – particularly when, if you do get a word in, it’s clear they aren’t really listening.

The same applies to email marketing. If you keep blasting the customer with marketing materials but aren’t actually engaging with them, you’re not building a relationship. You’re just annoying them. To build a successful relationship, you need to talk with, not at your customers.

So, how can you do that? Well, you can use automations to gather data on your customers’ behaviour towards your emails, and respond to that appropriately. For example, if your automation notices that a particular customer frequently clicks links to a certain product type, listen to that information and give them more of what they want. Use personalised language (more on that later), and – crucially – be sure that there’s a human available to email them back in person if they want to start a dialogue.

3. Remember special dates

Remembering someone’s birthday, anniversaries and so on is a great way to show them that you are interested in them and that you care about what happens in their life. Thanks to our specialised email software, this is now easier than ever. If your customers tell you about dates which mean something to them, it’s easy to set up your marketing automation to send out a personalised email for them on that date. A common example is to send your customers a ‘Happy Birthday’ email on their birthdays, perhaps even containing discounts or extra loyalty points.

4. Personalise

If you’re involved at all in the world of marketing, you’re probably sick of hearing this one by now. But we’re going to repeat it anyway, because it is important! You wouldn’t like it if your significant other treated you like a generic human rather than the unique individual that you are, would you?

Make the effort, insofar as you can, to personalise your marketing emails. Address customers directly, use their names, target emails according to their preferences, and pay attention to the signals they send you. A lot of what we’ve mentioned above (listening to your customers, remembering special dates etc) come into play here as well.

See this example below from American Apparel that is segmented based on gender:

5. Don’t be boring with consistency

OK, as with dating, there’s a fine line to walk here. Many, many people have been bored out of a relationship – but it’s equally bad to find yourself paired with someone who’s trying so hard to be cool and fun that it’s cringeworthy. Authenticity is crucial in human relationships, and that’s kind of true for email marketing relationships as well.

When I say ‘Don’t be boring’, I don’t mean ‘Fill your emails with jokes and snazzy vids’ (although do do this if it’s consistent with your brand voice – more on that later). I mean ‘make it relevant’. Your customers are likely to skim through your emails looking for what’s relevant to them. So, keep it brief, highlight your most important points, try to be engaging, and be sure that your content is adding value for your customers. Again, you can ensure relevance by listening to your customers’ data, and personalising accordingly. 

The number one piece of advice given out to first-time daters is always “Be yourself”. Don’t put on a fake persona, don’t pretend to be interested in stuff which bores you, and maintain your integrity. Applying this lesson to email marketing, consistency is key. See the below example from Birchbox: