How to Strengthen Relationships Using Email Marketing

Sarah understands to engage in online communication, she needs good content.  But what is good content?  She’s lucky her business is nutrition.  She produces content about foodstuffs, health, cooking, local suppliers and politics.  She could specialise in one of these areas and perhaps narrow them down further.  So far, so good but how can she use her message to strengthen relationships with her list?

High Quality Material Teaches and Entertains

With an email based strategy, Sarah has a number of issues to consider.

  1. Can she write subject lines that entice recipients to open the email?  This is arguably the biggest challenge of email marketing.  True, some people open the email because they see it is from Sarah.  But that didn’t happen so much when she started.  And new people join her list all the time.  They need to learn to open her emails.
  2. Can she say what she wants to say inside the email?  If she has a relevant, interesting theme, people might read 4 or 5 paragraphs.  Another option is to pursue the same topic over several emails.  If she tells a story, suspense might mean some readers look forward to and so open the next in the series.
  3. An alternative is to say enough in the email to get readers to follow a link.  This link connects to a webpage containing video, audio or a long sales letter. 

Storytelling is effective.  Well told, a story captures attention and holds it so that the reader responds to a call to action.

Stuff People Look Forward to

Compelling content informs and entertains.  I’ll open an email if I trust the author to tell a good story and provide useful information.  I receive emails from a couple of marketers, where I always start to read their emails.   I don’t always get to the end – they don’t always share stuff that interests me but usually they do.

Both these business-owners know how to write readable emails.  They usually start with a story that leads onto some helpful observation.  I use their stuff, even on the same day I read it!  One of them writes every day and his emails are always worth at least a scan.

The approach is sometimes called OVO – Opt-in, Value, Offer. When someone opts-in, send them value before you make an offer.

Giving Away Material

Most emails should not attempt to sell.  Informative and entertaining emails add value and are key to building a loyal following.  It is always better if a follower asks for support. 

So, focus on quality content.  If you have an event or new product to promote – drop hints.  Don’t refer to a landing page straight away – build anticipation.  Do this by opening a topic and promising more.  Tell them you’re going to make an announcement before you make it!

 Always Scope to Go Deeper

Sometimes people are anxious about giving too much away.  It is difficult to give away too much.  In a live workshop you cover much more ground.  Participants ask questions, contribute insights, discover new things. 

What you say in an email, is without context.  You explain how to do something but practitioners need help applying it to their business.  There’s always scope to go deeper.  Depth arises from communication – you need to work at a deeper level – find out next time how email marketing can help?

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About the Author

I've been a community development worker since the early 1980s in Tyneside, Teesside and South Yorkshire. I've also worked nationally for the Methodist Church for eight years supporting community projects through the church's grants programme. These days I am developing an online community development practice combining non-directive consultancy, strategic management, participatory methods and development work online and offline. If you're interested contact me for a free consultation.

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