Email Marketing: Where the sidewalk ends the relationship begins

What do the book “Where the sidewalk ends” and the songs; A Boy Named Sue, and The Cover of the Rolling Stone have in common?  They were all written by Shel Silverstein.

In the mid-90s while living in Key West I had the good fortune of meeting Shel through a good friend and got to spend some time with this amazing individual.  My buddy Michael, Shel and myself would meet for breakfast on Saturday when he was in town.  Usually we would discuss music, news on the island and life in general.

While talking to him about my new internet business and sales, Shel gave me some advice I still hold dear to my heart.

He said, “Selling is easy. There are only two reasons people make a purchase. They want something or they need something. Every sale is emotional, whether someone is buying a car, a pair of socks or even a website.  At the moment of the actual sale, the person buying has started a relationship with you and will continue that relationship if you hold-up your end of the relationship.  They also think this is a one-to-one relationship.”

Not all relationships last forever.  Needs and wants change, life changes, location changes, etc.  The main problem is there are many more reasons why they leave compared with why they stay.

They stay because they want what you sell and perceive it to be the best fit for them. They stay because they need what you sell and perceive it to be the best fit for them.  Why do they perceive yours to be the best?

This boils down to a few reasons:

  • Love – They are simply in love with what you sell and your brand (see apple)
  • Quality – They perceive your product/service as the best and they want the best
  • Convenience – You provide convenience which they perceive as valuable
  • Price – Your product is cheaper than the competition and still does the job in their eyes
  • Single Source Solution – You’re the only one with that product/service (rare)
  • Peer-Pressure – Even adults respond to peer pressure (see people with iPhones that don’t really need or use them other than for phone calls)

Okay now where does email marketing come into this story?

Your email marketing is a continuation of that relationship and should engage and grow the relationship.  Your email content MUST stay on topic and on target. Segmenting your list to match content or offers to your subscribers is critical to be sure they receive the right message.  One-size does not fit all anymore and hasn’t for many years.

Early engagement with the subscriber is a must and will make future communications easier and more fruitful.

Keep the main content targeted and then add other relevant content below.  If you’re going to cross-sell keep in the customers buying wheelhouse.  Just because you have a great sale on dresses doesn’t mean you should push that on your subscribers who showed no preference or buying history for clothing.

Consumers have become much more fickle and demand relevant communications or you risk damaging the relationship and losing them as they unsubscribe.  Remember all purchases are in part emotional choices.  Just like unsubscribing is an emotional response to perceived relationship abuse.

The customer came in from the sidewalk and you made a sale.  They made the first step in the relationship, so nurture that relationship with great customer service and thoughtful, targeted email content.

Cheers, Chris

2 thoughts on “Email Marketing: Where the sidewalk ends the relationship begins”

  1. Cracking piece, really nails down the perception you need in order to do email well.

    I’d add as a follow on that over time you can see from behaviour how engaged people are, the less engaged they are, the softer the call to action needs to be to be achievable for that recipient. Someone who engaged is more likely to buy than someone who is obviously not. So why not make more engagement a CTA to people who are not engaged before you try to sell to them?

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