Relationship Marketing – The New Way to Sell

March 16, 2016

You may never have heard the term Relationship Marketing, but I believe that once you finish reading this post, it will change your idea of how to sell online in 2016. We know that people buy from other people they trust and like. Well, selling online demands the same kind of trust, and trust results when you build relationships with visitors to your website.

In this post we’ll look at how the new Relationship Marketing works online, and specifically, how to:

  • Build trust
  • Build your email lists
  • Approach email campaigns
  • Write your emails
  • Encourage interaction
  • And finally, ask for the sale

Relationship Marketing Builds Trust

Building a relationship in the real world happens over time. The same is true in Relationship Marketing, but it takes place online. The difference is, online relationships are built through a sequence of value exchanges that occur in emails. Huh?

In other words, you build trust by providing value in 3 ways:

  • Education – provide readers information that will help them do something better
  • Belonging – encourage readers to feel they are part of an exclusive club
  • Connection – interact in a very personal way to make people feel a bond or relationship is forming between you, your company, and your reader

How to build relationships through email

The process of building relationships starts with understanding who your readers are and what they value. Begin by creating an outline of what your typical prospect likes and cares about. Building this “persona” gives you an idealized description of your target audience.

Now that you have a persona in mind, you can start to create content that your different audiences will find helpful and valuable. You’ll know your content has the right kind of value if your prospects give up their email information in order to consume it.

Communication that creates trust

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The old adage says people hate to be sold to, but they love to buy. If you want to build trust, speak to your audience in a conversational way, as if you’re speaking with a friend. Your content should communicate with your audience in the same way you would speak to someone in the real world, in a personalized, one-to-one conversation.

As with any relationship, be real and open about who you are and how you relate to the product or service you’re trying to sell. Ask for feedback to initiate a two-way exchange—something we routinely do in real-world conversations. It could be in the form of a reply, a survey, or by participating in an online forum or social media group, as long as you remember to keep your request short and sweet.

How Do You Ask for the Sale?

In his book titled Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, Gary Vaynerchuk explains how to use a two-to-one ratio to compete in online sales, giving twice as much information that is non-sales as information that makes a direct pitch.

Just as you recommend favorite things to your friends, you can recommend products or services to your readers. After all, the purpose of Relationship Marketing is to make a sale. The difference is how you approach the offer. Relationship Marketing uses the law of reciprocity, in which you give something to people and they typically feel obligated to give you something back. In online sales, that something is the purchase of your product or service.

Building Your Email List

Relationship Marketing online depends on building an email list.  Every interaction with your web visitors is an opportunity to capture their email addresses. It’s not enough to direct them to sign up. Offer a significant enough benefit so that they’ll gladly exchange an address for it.

Ideas for effective value offers that get a response include giveaways in the form of eBooks, presentations, videos, contests, infographics, and tips-and-tricks sheets. The common denominator, the thing that makes these offers work is building quality content with the kind of information your readers will want and care about.

Landing page offers

When putting together an offer—or value exchange—to capture emails, tailor your promotion closely to the needs of your audience and remember your persona. Here’s an example: if you’re selling painkillers online, offer different benefits on different landing pages. Each landing page can be dedicated to helping people who have headaches, or back pain, or tennis elbow, or knee pain.

All your web visitors have pain issues, but each one perceives their needs a little differently. The more personalized your message, the more successful your conversion rate will be. Read up on other important ways to make your landing pages convert, like resisting the temptation to add fluff that wastes the visitor’s time. Get right to the point while you have your reader’s attention.




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Popups might seem annoying, but there’s a reason you see them all over the web: they work. At National Positions, adding popups to our website increased our leads list by almost 10 percent. Popups should have a simple value proposition with a really obvious reason for the participant to respond and provide you with an email address. In fact, asking a simple yes or no question often elicits a yes. Above all, keep it brief and don’t expect a visitor to spend more than a few seconds on the form.

More ideas

There are lots of other creative ways to capture email addresses. Here are a few more ideas:

  • Use your email signature to ask people to sign up
  • Promote your content on social media
  • Have your hotline or helpline capture email addresses
  • If you have a bricks-and-mortar business location, display a tablet where people can complete a response form
  • Have participants fill out a paper form or receipt which is later entered into your marketing automation system

Writing Great Emails

Use carefully constructed emails to communicate and build a relationship with your website visitors. Writing effective emails is part art and part science. Endless books and articles have been written about the subject, so let’s summarize some of the best ideas.

The subject line

The subject line of your email is the most critical part. It should offer readers a benefit and pique their curiosity enough so that they click through to read the email. A thought-provoking question is one of the most often-used tactics to generate action. Referencing a hot topic in your industry or signaling the specific kind of valuable information in the email is another. Other techniques include being outrageous, vague, or even humorous. Keep in mind the company brand image you ultimately want to convey as you construct your award-winning subject line.

The Body

Use the psychology of selling in the body of your email, enticing the visitor to continue reading.

Start out with something punchy to gain interest. The best emails tell a story and are easy to read. Every email needs a call to action, such as an invitation to download your content or watch a video. If you want someone to take immediate action, it’s helpful to trigger the idea of scarcity, basically a fear of missing out on an offer. Always remember to include a deadline or mention a limited supply to entice people to act now.

Think in terms of email sequences

Remember that you build relationships by consistently reaching out to prospects, engaging them repeatedly. Set up drip email queues that follow this sequence: content, content, content, pitch, content. This means that once you have educated, entertained, or informed someone, you take them to the logical sales pitch, and then close the sale.


Relationship Marketing is the new form of online marketing that uses value exchange to generate more sales. In a world where web visitors are more skeptical than ever before, it’s no surprise that building trust is the fastest way to generate more business online.

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