3 tips to engage with customers through email

Posted on April 21, 2016
4 min read


About a year ago I gave in to my curiosity and put my name on a waiting list to join the latest hot website everyone was talking about. I didn’t really have a need for it, but everyone was talking about it, and when my name finally came up on the waiting list, I wanted to see what all the chatter was about.

After logging in just once or twice I quickly forgot about it. I barely heard from the company after that, except for a few random privacy notices and the like and, not surprisingly, I completely forgot I still had an account.

Until I suddenly started getting emails from the company over a year later. Out of nowhere—or at least that’s how it seemed to me. They just picked right back up as if we’d been interacting happily this whole time.

I immediately hit the “unsubscribe” button.

For marketers, capturing your audience’s attention through email isn’t easy—especially if you haven’t interacted with them in a while. Re-engaging with your customers is a delicate art. Simply blasting out a bunch of emails when you’ve got some exciting news probably won’t generate a lot of new business, and it may even lose you some.

You can’t afford to lose customers. Research shows that it costs companies between 5 to 25 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one.

So what’s the solution?

As the saying goes, prevention is the best cure. And just like counting calories and exercising regularly isn’t the most glamorous topic, being consistent with your customers isn’t too flashy either. But it will pay off in the long run, so it’s worth investing in now if you haven’t already.

If you’re currently trying to re-engage with your customers, or better yet, trying to stay engaged with them, keep reading. We’ve got some tips for you!

1. Establish trust

If you’ve ever had a colleague or friend you can’t rely on, you’ll understand the value of consistency. Dependability is a major factor in establishing trust, and that’s exactly what you’re doing with your email campaigns. Oddly-timed, sporadic emails to customers don’t establish anything except surprise—and usually, not the good kind.

But a regularly scheduled communication? That’s valuable. I’ll give you an example. My husband bought my wedding ring from an online vintage jewelry store. And although we obviously already had the ring, he ended up on a mailing list for vintage jewelry (which I happen to love). Every week they send him an update on the new vintage pieces they’ve received. Although he hasn’t yet purchased another piece (at least that I know of) I’ve now also joined that list and actually look forward to their weekly email.


Why? Through their consistent, on-brand, targeted emails, the company has established that they know what we want, and who we are. And that goes a long way in establishing trust. We know we’ll hear from them every week, so when that email pops up in our inbox, we happily open it. That company has proven to us that they’re consistent, and we can trust them to reliably provide us with the information we want.

But that doesn’t mean that you’re forced to send an update at regular intervals. You can also establish trust by reaching out to your customers consistently when you have something to share. For example, I know that Sephora will always give me a heads up before a special sale. And while these emails don’t happen often, the company has been so consistent in sending them that I trust I’ll never miss a good sale.


2. Provide value

But reliability isn’t quite enough, is it? Sending information that isn’t targeted or useful to your audience won’t be valuable. And consistency won’t matter one bit if what you’re offering isn’t making your customers’ lives better.

If you haven’t engaged with your audience in a while, this might feel a bit intimidating. But the reality is that this is a huge opportunity for you to show them why they should stick with you. Think about what would make their lives easier. How can you help them or make them smile?

I’ll give you an example. Usually, I cook at home, but occasionally my husband and I will throw caution to the wind and order out. Yelp’s Eat24 app has us nailed down on that front. Every Friday afternoon they send not only a clever and funny email but a discount coupon, as well. The fact that April Fool’s Day happened on a Friday was just good luck. (And the following week’s coupon is equally delightful.)


3. Educate and delight

We all like to think that we know everything, but the reality is that we don’t. And that creates a delicate situation. You may have valuable information to provide, but how do you share it in a way that’s not condescending or remedial?

First and foremost, you need to know your audience. You may need to segment your distribution lists into several different segments to appeal to varying levels expertise. But if you’re not quite ready for segmentation, don’t worry. My favorite example of educating and delighting comes from a company that uses a tiny bit (or maybe it’s a lot) of personalization to teach me something—while still making me feel smart and offering a few educational elements as well. And while my editing activity and occasional diversion from all the standard style manuals may skew my stats, I still can’t help but read this entire email every week. (Even if I don’t know what a faulty parallelism is.)


A long-term engagement

Engaging with your customers shouldn’t be a one-off endeavor. Commit to consistently interacting with your customers via email campaigns to establish a real, valuable, long-term relationships.  

In this Article

    Related Blog Posts

    • A/B test your mobile apps and websites for quick UX wins

      Every product designer or developer needs A/B testing in their toolkit, including those who...
    • Website checklist: Test and optimize your website before launch

      Pre-launch tests enable you to evaluate whether your website can withstand real-world usage scenarios...
    • Researcher's guide to customer personas and creating detailed buyers

      How well do you know your customers? If you’re like most of us, probably...