Email marketing is relationship marketing

Two e-newsletters are waiting for you when you turn on your computer. One is from a company that you don’t know and its subject heading is “update on our products”. The other is from a company that have helped you with your business for years and you know that their e-newsletters are full of interesting news and helpful advice. Which one do you open?

People tend to only read emails if they know the sender and are interested in the content. It is best to create your own email marketing list with clients, former clients, prospects and networking contacts. Email marketing rarely works when it is just the electronic equivalent of a cold call.

Build your list as you work

“I use my intuition to guide me as to whether I should add a new networking contact to my e-newsletter distribution list” says Keith Hern, a freelance photographer. “If we make a connection, I ask them if I can add them to my list. If we don’t click, then I don’t ask.”

“I never add someone to my e-newsletter list without their permission” says Sandy Rerksasut, the owner of Chang Thai restaurant. She collects email addresses by giving customers a paper form with the bill and having an opt-in form on her website. In only a few months, she has collected over 200 emails.

Interesting and useful

“You cannot bore people into doing business with you” advises Drayton Bird, one of the UK’s leading direct marketing gurus. Your e-newsletter should not just be an opportunity to buy something from you. It should give immediate value to the person who receives it.

Aim to be useful and interesting. What does your audience want to hear about from you? Would they like something seasonal? Sandy includes a Thai recipe-of- the-month in her newsletter. Would they like a sample of your work? Keith showcases some of his latest photographs. Perhaps your audience would appreciate industry news or a tip about how to do business better or a book review or even just a link to a funny video.

Timely reminders

I opted out of the e-newsletter from one fashion retailer because they emailed me every day. Now, I rarely think to look at their website. I prefer stores to email me when they have news – new stock or, best of all, a sale. Then, I not only read their email, I visit their store or website to see what is on offer.

How often is too often for your customers? How long is too long for your business? Essentially, it will depend on the natural rhythms of your business.

Keith sends out his e-newsletter once a quarter to remind his contacts that he is a good person to call when they need photography. Sandy sends out e-newsletters every month. She focuses on a special event, like Valentine’s Day and uses vouchers to bring in customers during the slow months.


Sales are the only true measure of a marketing campaign for most businesses. This is true of e-newsletters as much as any other promotion. Sandy credits her email marketing for helping her restaurant to get through the difficult months of January and February. Keith says that he won two new pieces of business from two new clients through just one of his newsletters.

E-newsletters are a bit like networking. If you focus on sales then the relationships will wither. However, if you focus on the relationships, then the sales will come.


Learn how to create your own e-newsletters with Women Unlimited:

DIY email marketing workshop – 28 July in London from 10:00 – 13:00

Create your own email with Constant Contact – 28 July in London from 14:00 – 17:00

Drayton Bird, direct marketing guru
Keith Hern Photography for people, commercial and travel photography
Chang Thai Restaurant for delicious Thai food in Wimbledon


About the author: Margaret Webster,

Margaret Webster is a freelance copywriter. She helps companies to communicate with their customers, employees, investors and other key audiences by writing their websites, intranet sites, brochures and other promotional material. She also writes articles about marketing and corporate communications.

Margaret’s approach is to begin each project by understanding the client company, its objectives and its audience. This has enabled her to write engaging, results-oriented copy for a wide range of audiences as diverse as CEOs of large organisations and track workers on the railway. Margaret wrote Network Rail’s website and an intranet site for one of their employee programmes. She is currently writing a website for an eLearning company.

Margaret Webster
Margaret Webster

Margaret Webster is a freelance copywriter. She wrote Network Rail’s website and an intranet site for one of their employee programmes. She has just finished writing a new website for Epigeum, an eLearning company.

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