Email Marketing: Where the sidewalk ends the relationship begins

Email Marketing: Where the sidewalk ends the relationship beginsWhat 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

Mind Your Marketing Manners! Say Thank You!

Marketing manners matter!

Mind Your Marketing Manners: Say Thank You!Unless you were raised by wolves in the wild, at some point you’ve learned it is polite to say “Thank You”.  Not only is it proper etiquette, it’s just downright considerate and gracious.  Yet for marketers, saying thank you is about much more than just being polite.  If you’re in the business of building lasting, loyal customer relationships (and if you’re not, please question why you’re bothering to be in business at all ) it’s an essential practice that pays both monetary and good will dividends.  Without it, you’re both at greater risk of customer flight and a sitting duck for the competition.

If you don’t already have a “thank you” process in place, it’s easy to begin one.  I suggest matching the format of the initial thank-you message to the channel in which someone first did business with you, then expanding that over time.

For example, did someone purchase from you online? If so, email them a thank you with an offer to re-visit or purchase again, ideally with a coupon or free gift to entice them into action soon. Did they buy in your store or office? Postal mail them a thank-you follow-up.  Did they do business with you at a conference, fair or trade show? Email and mail them an invitation to engage with you at either your physical place of business, your online storefront, or both.  And keep the follow-ups coming.

It should be obvious that the thank-you, and other conversational greetings like acknowledging birthdays, holidays and anniversaries, becomes a legitimate reason to reach and talk to customers that is distinctly different in feel than the ever-present invitation to buy, buy, buy.  It makes you approachable, grateful and personal.  Remember, people don’t buy from brands; people buy from people. Adding thank-yous into your marketing illuminates the human side of your brand.

Over time, the greater the variety of media you use to communicate with your customers, the more engaged they will be.  Follow-up emails with a postal mailing; integrate email and social media connections with direct mail, catalogs and phone calls.

Acknowledging the action you asked for is as important, if not more so, as asking for it in the first place.  Always thank promptly, but also show gratitude when it’s not expected (like at Thanksgiving, or at any other appropriate juncture when it will surprise and delight).  When you integrate thank-you messages into your customer communication stream, you won’t be thought of as the friend who only calls when she needs something.  You’ll instead be considered, and appreciated, for taking the time to be sincere – and human!

Since I certainly couldn’t claim to provide enlightened anything without practicing what I preach, thank you for reading.  Tell me, how do you thank your customers today and what has this article inspired you to do differently in the future?

Manners matter in social media too! Check out a post on that very subject by Michael Gutelli @