When learning how to build relationships through email marketing, it’s imperative to remember that email is still a one-to-one form of communication. As a medium for communicating information, email has remained fundamentally the same, but over the past two decades, the content and messages conveyed through email have changed a lot. Sure, we use email for personal communications with friends and family, but a lot of that has now shifted to social media, texting, and video chat. As a result, we typically only use email for work or email marketing and we’ve lost the art of relationship building. An art that many small business owners can learn to master and use to their advantage.

Small business owners in the industry verticals we cater to (mortgage brokers, real estate agents, insurance agents, and promotional products distributors), all rely on building up strong personal relationships in order to do business. Whether that’s face-to-face or over the phone, that relationship is tied to the bottom line.

However, when it comes to email marketing, a lot of these industry professionals simply don’t know how to maintain those same relationship-building skills through email. This becomes increasingly more important when it comes to building up repeat and referral business too, as these industries tend to have longer sales cycles than most. The following list demonstrates 7 things you need to do to build effective relationships through email.

1) Communicate With Them, Not To Them

Don’t make things awkward for your email recipients. Some of them you know and others you don’t. If you talk to them, be personal about it. Just because you’re sending an email to a large audience, it doesn’t mean you can’t write it like you’re talking to a single person. Customers want to be communicated with, not to.

2) Be Welcoming

If all someone means to you is just another name on an email list, then the emails you send will be received as such. This has a lot to do with the content that you’re sending to someone. If all you have to say to your email list involves you or your business, that’s not really inviting someone to have a conversation with you. Trust me, they know who you are and what you can do for them. Think about your elevator pitch. You wouldn’t simply walk up to someone and ask them for business. Make your emails inviting.

3) Keep It Brief

Why send a lengthy newsletter full of a variety of things when a few paragraphs and sentences will do? Of course, there will be some emails that are longer than others, but make sure the length is appropriate to the message. If they’re longer, make it easy for readers to find what they want and then get to the point.

4) Make Them Relevant and Provide Value

When someone signs up to get your emails, this person is taking time to ask you to communicate something of value to them. This is where the value of content marketing comes in too. Think of email as being a mini billboard for your business in someones inbox is fine, but you still want them to read what you have to say so you had better make it worth their time. Plus, you already know your customers, and you probably know their interests and needs. Your emails should reflect this rather than being simply self-promotional.

5) Automate Where You Can

You could easily spend hours typing personalized emails to everyone on your email list. You could also try and write an email newsletter that is both personal but applicable to all of your recipients. A few weeks ago, I put together a blog post to show you all what to include in an email newsletter and that’s a great place to start. Great content is an awesome place to start conversations and when you automate this process, you’ll be able to field individual email replies with a personal touch.

6) Be Consistent But Not Annoying

Finding the right cadence for your emails is definitely critical to ensuring that people have had enough time since your previous email. You’ll want to keep your brand in front of them, the more they’ll associate you with your services. Just don’t over do it to create the opposite effect. We can help with this too.

7) Stimulate Your Audience For More Referrals

You want to have your customers pass on your message, right? Then the content of that message has to be share worthy. If it’s not, then to the trash it goes. But if you’re sending your audience engaging content that entertains or inspires, you’ll build up your brand evangelists. This is where your content marketing will help you create increased word-of-mouth marketing opportunities.

The whole idea behind building relationships through email is that the pay off doesn’t have to be right then and there. Meaning, that just because you send an email, doesn’t mean instant business. And that’s just fine! These effective communication practices help you build these relationships over time, increasing loyalty, and nurturing these people to become even more valuable. More importantly, they’ll become voluntary marketers, recommending you to others.


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Travis Balinas

Travis is the former Product Marketing Manager at OutboundEngine. He now works in Product Marketing at BigCommerce.