Email Marketing: How to Build Customer Relationships Using Email
Reading Time: 5 minutes
Email Marketing isn’t dead
Let me set one thing clear – Email marketing isn’t dead, or dying.
It’s still a viable one to one messaging channel – even though a large number of marketers forgot that over the last few years!
Fundamentally, it hasn’t changed much since 1971 when Ray Tomlinson sent the first email message, but there have been a few changes.
The content and messaging that we send now is completely different even from the emails that we sent in the early 2000s.
We can add dynamic content, we can segment our contact lists, we can add HTML elements to email and we can also send images (who would’ve thought that we could do that back in the 70s and 80s?!)
You can’t argue that there has been a move away from email for personal communications. Social media, instant messaging apps, texting and video all have a part to play when we’re communicating with friends and family now.
People are connecting in many more places than ever before, but we’re also becoming disconnected at the same time.
Take a look around any high street and you’ll see hundreds of people all looking down at their phones/devices and not paying much attention to each other, or their surroundings.
Train station platforms have stickers on the floor to tell commuters to look up and away from their phones – just so that they don’t walk off the platform edge because they are distracted!
As I said, we’re connecting in more places, but disconnecting with each other at a massive rate too.
We only really turn to email for work and for email marketing! Because of this us marketers have lost the ability to build relationships with our contacts.
Email still proves to be the channel that gets results though. It works for B2C and B2B just the same.
We’ve forgotten about relationship building
With the recent introduction of GDPR, we need to rethink how we are treating our contacts and their data.
Small business owners, rely on strong personal relationships to be able to do business. Whether it’s face-to-face, digitally, or on the phone, those relationships are tied to their business growth and success.
When it comes to email marketing they aren’t sure how to maintain the relationship building skills though. They are experts at what they do – and in most cases that isn’t email marketing.
This becomes even more important when it comes to getting repeat business and customer referrals.
At the other end of the scale, Marketing teams in lager companies now need to move away from the old “spray and pray” practices and move to building meaningful relationships with their prospects and customers too.
The only way that businesses will be able to grow their business in this new marketing environment is to start building relationships with their contacts. Not just customers, but the prospects and future leads too.
This might be fundamental move for the companies who are stuck in their ways and who are just shouting at the crowd at the moment.
Marketing isn’t a numbers game anymore.
Yes, there needs to be a quantity of leads, prospects, and customers in your funnel, but not at the cost of the quality of relationship.
This graph shows the relationship between relevance of marketing messaging, the use of data and conversion rates.
As more data and insights are used in your marketing messaging, you can expect your conversion rates to rise. This is a technical way of saying – the better you know your contacts, and the more you communicate with them personally, the better the results that you can expect.
What are the best ways to build relationships with people using email?
Building email marketing relationships is no different than building relationships anywhere else. You need to find a common interest with the contact, build a rapport, gain their trust, and then offer them support and advice when they need it.
It takes time. It takes effort. It takes patience. it takes understanding. it takes empathy. You have to get to know that person inside out. Learning a little bit more every time that you speak to each other. You get the idea!
You don’t build a relationship in one conversation with no understanding of who that person is or what they’re about.
Gone are the days of being able to get quick (instant) results. People are far too wary of unsolicited marketing and advertising messages.
Adblockers are taking over
People don’t want to see random sales messages now. GDPR will also have an effect on the marketers who don’t want to build relationships.
Marketers are under a lot more pressure. We have to achieve results in an environment that is hostile to anything that can be done quickly.
Getting a contact’s respect and then gaining their trust has to be done naturally. It can’t be forced with paid advertising and by trying to shout louder than the competition.
Marketers need to be smarter than that.
It would also help if there was less pressure on them for immediate results, but we can’t have it all!
To keep this post short we have boiled down the process of using email marketing to build healthy relationships with contacts into 9 actionable steps. Here they are:
- Define your goals and objectives for email marketing
- Create and use your buyer personas
- Create segments that are related to the buyer personas
- Plot the customer / contact journeys for each persona and segment
- Create marketing automaton flows that lead contacts through the buying journeys
- Plan what email marketing campaigns you will need as triggers
- Create the email marketing campaigns
- Activate your marketing automation flows
- NEVER lose sight of your contacts, their journeys, and their experience
The whole point of building relationships by email is that it is fine if the payoff isn’t immediate. Why would you settle for a quick sale with limited profit when you can build a relationship that keeps on giving through retained business and countless referrals?
We’re in a new era of email marketing and it’s an exciting time for those with the patience and motivation to want to do right by their contacts and to drive consistent positive business growth.
This isn’t the time to be dwelling on the changes that GDPR have caused. It’s time to take action and to start treating people like people again.