Email Marketing 101: Part Four: Email Relationships
When using email as a communication channel you are in a perpetual state of strengthening and/or weakening your relationship with your contact base. Email relationships can be a fickle and capricious construct and so must be considered at all times with a view to strengthening the bond between sender and sendee.
In this post I want to bring up two important points that are so obvious that they are always overlooked: the first is about setting the tone of your email relationship with new subscribers; the second is to really think about the holistic email strategy that you currently are providing or planning to soon provide.
1) New Subscribers
So, a new contact has been kind enough to provide you with their contact details in the belief that they are going to receive something of value from you. What is this value that you are going provide? Will there be exclusive event invites? Will it be valuable and informative content from your company’s thought leaders? It doesn’t really matter what your overarching email strategy* is at this point because once a contact signs up most Email Service Providers (ESPs) give you have the ability to send an automated email campaign to that new subscriber which transparently underlines how the email relationship will progress. This is known, in the trade, as a Welcome Email (series).
Take the time to set up an automated email (standard functionality of virtually all ESPs) which outlines how, when and why you will contact the recipient and what the recipient can expect. This not only develops sender trust but it will also give the subscriber the chance to immediately opt out if they have made a mistake (saving you email volume and, further down the line, reputational degradation). But more importantly it gives the recipient peace of mind that their sign up has been successful and will highlight the preferences they have selected.
2) Holistic Email Strategy
*The pedantic and observant (as well as those who love to point out hypocrisy) will notice that above I stated that ‘it doesn’t really matter what your email strategy is’. Now obviously that is very untrue but the statement above relates to Welcome Emails rather than an actual marketing strategy.
With that said, however, I think it is vital that we all, as email marketers, take a step back and actually think about why we are emailing our contacts; step back and think why do I sign up for email newsletters; step back and think why have these people agreed to receive content from us? All too often, especially in B2B, the driving force of an email program is characterized, designed and implemented based on internal KPIs and marketing objectives. What we really need to do, however, is understand the value proposition for our recipients and design our email program based on that. Regularly ask for feedback – again this can easily be an automated email – to make sure you are catering for the majority and to build further trust. Ask recipients for the frequency they would like – is monthly enough and is weekly too much? You won’t know unless you ask.
Those are two very simple concepts that could easily change how your email program performs and how your email is regarded by your contacts. Email relationships require constant work just like all forms of relationship. Remember: trust takes years to achieve and only seconds to destroy. Make sure you stick to your promises.