Relationship Marketing Should Start With Your First Email

It’s easy to look at prospecting and lead generation as a numbers game. You have to find and verify x-number of email addresses and send y-number of campaigns that will ultimately yield z-number of conversions for your sales team. But if all you’re doing is focusing on those numbers, it’s easy to forget about the human element: establishing connections that foster long-term brand loyalty. That’s the purpose of relationship marketing, to develop these connections and demonstrate to leads that they’re more important than simple, short-term deals. Ideally, that starts with the very first email they receive from you.

Relationship Marketing and Prospecting Email

When you contact a new lead through email, chances are that they didn’t ask for it. That means you want to start by positioning yourself as someone asking for their help, instead of pushing the hard sell.

Onboard Emails

In the first prospecting email that leads receive, ask them who the best person is to speak with about their service or product that relates to what you do. People are more inclined to help those who email them if those emails look conversational, nonthreatening, and non-salesy.

Once you’ve found the right person, let them know a little more about why you’re emailing, and ask if they’re open to a phone call. If they agree, perfect — they’re ready for you to qualify. If not…

Follow-Up Emails

Most people aren’t ready to buy immediately, much less have a call with you when they don’t know who you are. That’s why follow-up emails should be used to reach back out at a respectful cadence in case they change their minds. Typically these emails are short, and offer a little more information to leads about why you’re contacting them or how your services could benefit them.

Note: If you do mention benefits, make sure they focus on your leads, rather than simple self-promotion.

Content Emails

Content emails are the best way to show your leads who you really are, by demonstrating your knowledge of their industry, touching on pain points they may be experiencing, and prompting them to visit your website to learn more. Content emails may end with similar calls to action for phone calls, but they should begin by offering valuable information that relates to your leads and establishes trust.

Even though each type of email above could be going to hundreds or thousands of contacts, you still want to try and make them as personalized as possible. That could involve segmenting your database, as well as:

Being mindful of your tone of voice and language. Write like how you would speak when you’re having a conversation with someone. Say “you” a lot so that your leads feel like they’re being addressed directly. Try to establish emotional connections.

Avoiding the use of misleading subject lines and sales-y messages. These either violate CAN-SPAM law, or they come across as generic marketing that’s clickbait and disingenuous.

Being considerate of your leads’ time. Write brief emails that offer value without being too long for your leads to read. Include links so that, if your leads are truly interested, they can use them to view your website to learn more.

Once You Talk, Don’t Ghost Your Leads

After you’ve qualified your leads by phone, they may end up on future marketing outreach until they’re ready to buy, or be shared with your sales team to close. Either way, they deserve more involved messaging than what your initial prospecting offered.

Email them specialized content that acknowledges where they are as a customer, whether it’s still in the consideration stage or after they’ve made a purchase.

Recognize Your Loyal Customers

Although this topic goes beyond prospecting, it should be emphasized how important current customers are to your business. It’s no secret that maintaining them is easier than finding new ones.

Plus, happy customers are more likely to be brand advocates for you, sharing feedback on social media, developing user-generated content, and offering you referrals to others in their industry who could benefit from your services.

Note: Some people think referrals (especially through email) are just pushing you right back to Square One. The reality? Roughly 84 percent of B2B relations start that way, notes a Forbes contributor.

So what are the best ways you can reinforce B2B customer loyalty?

Exceptional customer service. Whenever your existing customers have questions, issues, or concerns, address them promptly and respectfully. Give people a reason to want to seek you out for guidance, rather than reluctant to do so.

Long-term strategies for success. Make sure that you have a business plan established for the quarter, half a year, or full year regarding services, support, and expectations.

Establish loyalty or partner programs. Depending on your industry, you may wish to establish a program that connects your customers and expands both their networks and yours, helping everyone grow their brand presence.

Offer specialized programs and pricing. The ability to customize your services could be a key selling point to secure partnerships. Delivering on that promised specialization is equally important, and should be outlined in your long-term strategies.

Digital Tools 

While much of this might sound like a matter of soft skills and phone calls, there are plenty of digital tools like CRMs and email automation that can also be valuable.

Customer Relationship Management

Depending on how many customers you have, the harder it may be to keep track of their information, contract renewals, and specific program requirements. That’s why CRMs are essential for maintaining thorough documentation, logs, and calendar dates that can be reviewed by dedicated Account Managers or members of your customer support team.

Email Automation

While you’ll have plenty of direct back-and-forth emails with your current customers, keeping them on automated email campaigns can ensure that they’re given broader updates on any events, programs, and services that would still be relevant to them and your partnerships.

Honorable Mention: Social Media

Depending on your industry, social media may or may not be as much of a priority for you. If it’s the latter, you may still find it beneficial to post a couple of times each week and have someone assigned to field any DMs you receive. It’s possible that these efforts will lead to new business opportunities.

Plus, you can leverage these platforms to promote your existing customers and their work, establishing strong relationships and gaining visibility for both sides.

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