While I was on holiday recently with friends, they found out how long I've been married and immediately began quizzing me on the keys to a successful marriage.
Naturally, being the email-marketing person I am, I realised as I was talking that the foundations of a good email relationship with your customer are quite like those of a solid marriage.
No, I won't tell you how long I've been married, but I'll gladly share my marriage theories with you and how they parallel with your email relationships:
1. Marriage is something you must work hard at every day and make a priority in your life. You can't take it for granted or let it fall into a series of dull routines.
The email equivalent: Email marketing needs to be continually worked on. The rules for good emailing are changing constantly, as are your subscribers' needs and interests. If you send out the same old offers in the same tired format time after time, you shouldn't be surprised if your subscribers get bored and look for that old zing somewhere else.
2. Marriage is a giving relationship, in which you place the other person's needs above your own.
Always focus on your subscribers, what they want and expect. Don't just guess at what they want. Watch their behavior – where are they clicking on your emails? Are they clicking at all? Ask them what they want and give it to them, as much as you can within your own business model. In return, they will reward you with loyalty and a healthy ROI.
3. Maintain respect for each other. If you respect your spouse, you can't help but treat him or her well.
You absolutely must respect your subscribers. Honour their preferences for content, frequency and format. Don't abuse the relationship by sending messages they didn't ask for, by sending more email than they expect or sharing their data with others unless they say you can.
Maintaining high quality is another way you show respect for your subscribers. No email should ever go out with broken links, spelling errors or format problems.
4. Dolphins mate for life.
OK…so maybe this has more to do with the fact when I said this I had just been swimming with Dolphins - than any email marketing correlation! In fact, one of the oddities of good emailing is that you make it easy for your subscribers to leave rather than try to hang on to them!
However, if you apply the other three precepts I outlined here, you will build a stronger tie with your subscribers, one that will stand the test of time and bring you the kind of rewards not possible with a constantly changing cast of partners