Email for relationship marketing

I wrote the following for WeMeUs, with whom I consult. Let me know if you run across other tools that do a good job in this area also.

Are you using the right email marketing tool?

Group email companies like Constant Contact and iContact have popularized email marketing. The technology is helpful with automated email management and opt-in and out processing.  But is it working for you?

Review the following checklist.

  • Are your email recipients primarily anonymous … or people who personally know you?
  • Are your group mailings typically to  hundreds or thousands of subscribers … or fewer?
  • Are your messages the same from person to person with the name changing… or highly personalized?
  • Are your mailing groups fixed and general … or ad hoc and topic-based?

If answered by selecting the first choices, then the group email services have the right solution for you. If you chose the latter choices, then you’re likely a consultant or small business that uses email not just for direct sales or branding, but also for relationship marketing.

Email for relationship marketing

Most solopreneurs and many small businesses generate revenues through their existing contacts. Their primary asset is their network of contacts, which they leverage for repeat, referral, and new business. This is relationship marketing.

Relationship marketing use of email differs from standard email marketing in several ways.

  • It’s personal. Email contact is not with a anonymous subscriber but a professional contact.
  • Distribution lists are small. Emails may be individuals or small groups.
  • Messages are highly personalized. While groups emails use a common template, each email is often customized with a personal note from the sender to recipient.
  • Email is highly targeted. Some messages may general for your business, such as a new product announcement, special offer, or a regular newsletter.  Other mail is occasional, such as to pass on an article, industry news, or web site of interest.

Consultants and small businesses need a relationship management service that integrates contact management, referral marketing, and email like WeMeUs. A deep contact manager contains a wide range of contact fields make it easy to form small groups by tag, keyword, and other criteria, and facilitates email personalization. Contact reminders allow users to stay in touch with current and important contacts and build relationships. Robust tagging and groups enable contacts to be assigned to ad hoc or permanent groups for group email. A contact log that stores communications, including sent email, gives the user a single glance at personal contact.

Building referrals

When you move to relationship marketing you broaden your email communications.  You still publish product announcements, special offers, surveys, and your regular newsletter.  You can build on that to do much more when you also start targeting and personalizing your email.

  • Periodically reach out to customers and close contacts to say hello and see how their business is doing.
  • Add highly personal messages to emails from asking about the spouse and kids to mentioning a shared experience or interest to congratulating a contact on their latest business launch or other success.
  • Solicit ideas and feedback
  • Cross promote other media such as blog and video postings.
  • Reconnect with contacts you haven’t spoken to recently.
  • Share articles, white papers, industry news, or a web site of interest.
  • Update contacts with a new feature or testimonial
  • Celebrate news that is personal or a shared interest
  • Remind people how you can help them as an industry or business expert

Email marketing for consultants and small businesses goes beyond the direct mail mantra of direct sales and having your email stand out to get noticed. It serves the critical role of high-touch personalization in relationship marketing.

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