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Building durable relationships through email marketing

Relationships are hard.

Image credit: 20th Century Fox


Romantic relationships, friendships, colleagues, family… the list goes on. Each one is delicate, fraught with peril, and, in its own little way, generally tough to manage.

In no relationship arena is this fact more true than when it comes to the tenuous relationship between brand and consumer.

There are many reasons for this.

People are generally much less tolerant and forgiving in their relationships with brands than in their relationships with other people. And, their expectations of other people are largely much more flexible than their expectations of brands and products are.

This is why brands invest so heavily in their customer relationship management (CRM) departments and why building and maintaining durable relationships with customers is (or at least should be) a high priority for any brand. It is why the drive to make a sale at any cost has, in recent times, taken a backseat to the much more valuable metric of customer lifetime value (CLV).

It is in CLV that the true benefit of robust, durable customer relationships can be found. A single sale can never measure up against a customer who feels a connection with a brand. A customer who returns to purchase again and again over the years, who speaks highly of a brand to their friends, and by whom the brand relationship is viewed as adding value to their life.

That’s a relationship built on a solid foundation.

Which got us here at Phrasee thinking: do the elements of a healthy human-human relationship translate to the relationship between brand and consumer? How does this dynamic play into the delicate dance that is the email marketing dialogue? Could keeping this in mind help brands build more durable relationships with consumers through email marketing?

As it turns out, the similarities greatly outnumber the differences. Let’s take a look at a few key similarities that every email marketer should take heed of…

Building durable relationships through email marketing




What would any relationship be worth without trust? A big fat nuthin’, that’s what. So’s the same with the email marketing relationship. Subscribers need to feel that interacting with your brand via email is safe, honest, and comfortable. When a prospective customer opts in (or better yet double opts in!) to receiving your marketing emails, a sacred covenant has been entered. Don’t violate it with shoddy marketing emails!


Image credit: Sony Picture


Nobody likes a liar. Repeat: nobody likes a liar. Clickbait subject lines, deceptive discount offers, and other such email marketing tripe will get you nowhere. Communicate in an honest, straightforward manner and your subscribers will reward you with long and potentially lucrative relationships that will far outweigh any short-term benefits of using dishonest tactics.



The drive to understand and be understood is a key aspect of human relationships. Understanding who your subscribers are, what they like/don’t like, and what matters to them goes a long way. Sending relevant, targeted, and well-personalised marketing emails will get you a lot further than sending bland, cookie-cutter campaigns.


Ok, maybe we already covered this in the “honesty” section, but it bears repeating: deception in email marketing will get you nowhere (except maybe the spam folder or the unsubscribe button). Letting your subscribers know exactly what a marketing email is about (ideally in the subject line) before they open it is the best way to ensure that they feel you have been honest and transparent with them. Sending an automated email today, indicating that a discount is on offer for the product a subscriber looked at yesterday, is only worth sending if there really is a discount on offer. If the price is still the same, DON’T SEND IT.



Wildly unpredictable behaviour is annoying. This fact is just as true for brands as it is for humans. Delivering consistent, on-brand email marketing messages is really the only way forward. Once you have chosen your brand’s voice, stick with it. From subject lines to call-to-actions, your brand’s voice should ring clearly through.

While remembering all this may mean more work in developing your brand’s campaigns, the effort is well worth it. Durable relationships are the fuel that propels email marketing ROI forward.

Create a brand that you yourself would like to be in a relationship with and adjust your email marketing strategy accordingly.

If you do this well, your subscribers will thank you with years of opens, clicks, and purchases.  

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