How to build great relationships with dialogue marketing

You’ve probably heard a lot about “joining the conversation” and “building relationships” in the context of social media, but have you considered how these ideas could apply to your email marketing strategy? It might be time to give it some serious thought.

Periodic emails updating your subscribers about what you and/or your organization have going on may no longer be enough to get you the results you want. You need to start engaging your customers and prospects in an ongoing dialogue in order to create lasting relationships.

Dialogue marketing, as it’s called, offers a great way to engage with your customers and prospects by inviting them to connect with you by joining your email list (and of course, your social media channels). This approach is mutually beneficial, because your subscriber enjoys receiving relevant information and compelling perks such as free trials, tips, discounts and other offers, while you gather important data about their behavior, such as buying patterns, product preferences, etc. You can then use this data to further customize and personalize your email marketing messages.

Trigger-based emails are a great way to engage your subscribers in these kinds of conversations. They are messages that are sent out automatically, generated by specific subscriber actions, patterns, or events. Here’s how it works:

A prospect visits your company’s web site and notices that if they sign up for your newsletter, they’ll receive a free report. The report is interesting and relevant to her, so she signs up. This action triggers a welcome email that arrives in her inbox immediately, and includes a link to the free report. A few days later, another email is automatically generated and sent to the new subscriber, to check in and see how she liked the report, and to offer her a one-time only, new subscriber discount on a related product or service. From this point on, the following communications are triggered based on how she responds to the offer.

A few other examples of trigger-based emails are as follows:

  • Cross-selling or up-selling based on a recent purchase
  • Telling customers you miss them if they haven’t made a purchase in a while
  • Reminding customers to reorder products or renew a maintenance contract
  • Notifying a customer that they are now VIPs (after reaching a designated purchase threshold
  • Inviting them to complete their purchase when they’ve left items in their shopping cart

Lots of planning and forethought are necessary in order to make these types of relationship building programs work. You must be absolutely clear on the goal of the program and what you want the customer to do, and of course, determine multiple dialogue tracks before the first email ever goes out. That said, it can absolutely be worth your while, because the returns are exponentially higher than traditional batch-and-blast approaches.

A recent article on stated that “triggered email messages had 96% higher open rates and 125% higher clickthrough rates than ‘business as usual’ messages in the fourth quarter of 2011.”

Interestingly, however, triggered email only represented 2.8% of the total email volume measured in the Q4 2011 North American Email Trends and Benchmark Results study. 

Using this approach could certainly help you stand out from the crowd, along with helping you build lasting relationships with your customers and prospects, and improving your bottom line.

We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below! Tell us why you would (or wouldn’t) give a relationship building email program a try.

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