Before you press send, think again! Do your emails build or break customer relationships?


Is it just me, or does it feel like a hoard of lawyers has invaded the inbox? I can’t even count the number of email messages from CEOs I never heard from telling me how important the wellbeing of their employees and their customers is. Or how they are now taking exceptional measures to keep their facilities clean (eww!).

While perhaps necessary from a liability perspective, these bland messages and often unreadable emails do nothing to reinforce the relationship between brands and their customers. And they demonstrate a lack of understanding of the true role of email and relationship marketing.

Email’s real job is to reinforce brand relationships

In times of trouble, consolidating brand relationships is perhaps the most critical of priorities. This pandemic won’t last forever. But how we handle ourselves in these troubled times will have a lasting impact. When we emerge, organizations who will thrive are those that remained present, positive and helpful throughout the crisis.

What does that mean for email and what should I do?

It’s quite simple really. Even in the best of times, your email campaigns shouldn’t simply ask people to buy your stuff. They should contribute in some small way to making your customers’ lives better. With that in mind, each and every time you create an email campaign, ask yourself this simple question:

“Does this email provide value to my customers?”

If it doesn’t, or the value is unclear, perhaps it’s time to rethink your strategy.

Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t sell. On the contrary. Email is a powerful tool that contributes significantly to the prosperity of most organizations. Email is typically one of the top three sources of revenue.

That said, your email campaigns should do more than just push product. They should continuously contribute to building lasting relationships. Sustainable relationships I dare say. Email should create relationships based on an exchange of value between your brand and the people you serve.

Three cornerstones of a sustainable relationship

A sustainable relationship is one where the exchange of value between brands and people is at its finest. Everyone wins! The level of market pressure is just enough to produce great results and an excellent ROI. But not too high as to trigger opt-outs, spam complaints and negative reviews.

A sustainable relationship is one that is built on three cornerstones: Insights, Connection and Trust. Before you fire off your next campaign, examine how well it follows to these three attributes.

1. Insights

To build and reinforce a relationship, you need to better understand your customers. And demonstrate to your customers that you “get them”. That you care about them. That you value the relationship.

So, ask yourself how well you’re using customer data to better target and personalize the message. What can you do to make it more relevant and more focused? Does your campaign demonstrate that you understand and care about your customers? Or does it simply ask for an order?

If the campaign doesn’t lend itself to personalization, or you don’t have the right data to do so, is it an opportunity to learn more about your customers? For example, can you use link-click tracking and analysis to capture interest, intent or preference? Can you use the email to capture more data? And better segment future mailings based on customer needs, behaviours, priorities and values?

2. Connection

The second cornerstone of a sustainable relationship is Emotional Connection. Will your message resonate with your customers? Does it convey joy, a sense of security, a positive experience? Does it make them smile or laugh or cry? Does it make customers dream of a brighter future? Or does it sound like a lawyer making excuses?

Ask yourself how you can better use storytelling through imagery and copy to better connect. It can’t always be about you, or about a special limited time offer. It should always be about your customers. And you should always be acutely aware of how your messages makes your customers feel.

3. Trust

The third and most important attribute of a sustainable customer relationship is Trust. As you well know, trust between brands and people has eroded significantly over the years. A recent study revealed that marketing, advertising and PR professionals are considered to be among the least trustworthy by consumers. Their trustworthy index stands at -1 on a scale of 0 to 100. Ouch!

So, before you press send, ask yourself if your message builds, or undermines trust in your brand. Does it treat your customers with respect? Or does it stretch the truth and make promises you can’t keep. Remember that your customers can smell your bs a mile away. And they will openly share their disappointment online.

Simple, but hard to achieve

Let’s not be naïve. Building insights, connection and trust sounds simple. But achieving it consistently is the hardest thing you’ll ever do. But at least if you start asking the right questions, you’ll start moving in the right direction: Towards building strong, sustainable and profitable relationships between your brand and the people you serve.

Ok, now you can press send…