Though the world around us has clearly changed since the ‘60s, the way we market has not. Of course, we use new tools and channels, but we often forget to focus on what really matters today: People. After all, brands only exist by virtue of the relationships they build with their customers. And how solid and sustainable those customer relationships are.
We all know this to be true. Yet we focus our attention on what we have to sell, instead of on who needs it and why they would buy it. We falsely believe that everyone wants what we have to sell. That everyone is ready to buy, now. That’s a mistake that can sometimes prove fatal. Leading to massive unsubscribes or critically low conversion.
How do you build strong customer relationships?
I recently had the privilege of recording a TEDx Talk on the subject of sustainable customer relationships. My key point was that brands need to create stronger relationships by bridging the gap between them and their customers. By getting closer to the people they serve.
But how do you get closer to your customers? Well, it turns out that it’s not that complicated after all. Brands that get closer to the people they serve do three things incredibly well. Three things that help build profitable customer relationships. These brands:
- Know each customer much better than their competition
- Connect with them on an emotional level
- Earn their trust in everything they do, all the time
Three simple things, but far from easy!
Basically, for brands to be successful now and into the future, they need to be consistently providing value to their customers. Not just sell stuff. By creating and communicating an exceptional customer experience. And by keeping their promises.
Although many marketers don’t see it that way, their email campaigns are a central and integral part of the customer experience. As a matter of fact, they are typically the most visible part of the pre-sales customer experience. And the most effective!
Three important questions
So how can you tell if your email program is helping, or hurting your customer experience? How can you tell if your emails help brings your brand closer to the people your serve?
Well, you can start by examining your content while asking yourself these three questions:
1 – Am I making best use of the data I have?
Your customers expect to be treated like you know and understand them. Batch & Blast is no longer acceptable. Plus, it hurts your deliverability. You need to use your data – as imperfect as it may be – to deliver a relevant, powerful and valuable experience. To deliver an experience that shows your customers that they are valued, understood and appreciated.
2 – How will this content make my customers feel?
Does your content resonate? Or are you just pushing product? Will it connect with them deeply, emotionally and profoundly? Or is it just something you want to sell?
Does it showcase your experience and how it will make their life better? Does it say “hey, here is something really cool/useful/awesome that we know you’ll love”? Or does it say, “we want more of your money – so this buy now!”.
Is the copy entertaining? Do the images make your customers smile? Does the content make them remember fond memories? Or show them how their lives will improve. If not, get back to work!
It’s not enough for your emails to be “on-brand”. They need to be “on-customer” as well.
3 – Does this email help to build trust?
Sometimes it’s the little things that get in the way of trust. Like “extending” an offer deadline. Or playing with the price to create urgency. Always using the same offer, time after time while saying “don’t delay, this awesome deal ends soon”. Using clickbait subject lines to boost open rates.
Using trust-building tools like customer-reviews and unbiased advice help to build trust. Sending relevant emails through better targeting also build trust. So does telling the truth. And respecting customer privacy, not over-mailing, and considering customer preference also help build trust.
Selling less can actually lead to greater sales!
There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that if your emails are interesting, entertaining and deliver true value (not just an offer), you’ll get better engagement. And that will lead to greater sales.
The key is to focus on the experience. Because at the end of the day, what really counts is not what you have to sell, but how your customers will use it to make their lives better. And don’t you find it inspiring that you can help to make someone’s life just a little better?
Mark Morin, eec Education & Events Member: Morin brings brands and people closer through relationship marketing, email, cognitive and automation. He is the founder and CEO of strategies.ca, an email marketing collaboratory in Montreal, Canada.