A New Approach to Email Marketing

There’s a ripple moving through the marketing world, and it’s bringing change.

According to industry experts, customer service is “the new marketing“. When you take care of your customers, they feel good about you. When they feel good about you, they stick with you.

With business email marketing, thoughtlessly pushing the same message at your entire customer base is no longer enough. It doesn’t take care of them. It doesn’t show that you recognize and respect them.

Let’s take a look at how you can apply the new marketing approach to revolutionize your email campaign.

It’s About the People

According to media marketing expert Chris Brogan:

“Old marketing would be: find buyers for my product. Hunt them down and relentlessly hit them with messages until they buy. The bigger the number of prospects, the better the yield.

“New marketing is more like: find people who make more sense. Start relationships with them before selling to them. Learn more about them. Make the offer – if it makes sense.

Broken down step by step, this advice holds several useful suggestions for email marketing in ways that serve your customers.

“Start relationships before selling to them.”

Interview with Chris Guillebeau

In a video interview, AWeber customer Chris Guillebeau says about his subscribers, “I’m going to be in these relationships for years.” So he invests time courting each one.

  • He sends each new subscriber an individual message to thank them for joining. It’s quick and small, but an appreciated personal touch.
  • In his first autoresponder, he candidly expresses hope that they’ll find his emails interesting.
  • In the next few emails, he challenges readers to reflect on their lives and goals – no sales yet. A few messages in, he invites feedback. And then he responds to it.

“As you gradually introduce products and services,” he explains, “many of those people will end up purchasing and supporting you.”

“Learn more about them.”

Learn more about them

The best way to learn about your customers is to ask about them. You could:

Guillebeau suggests the question: “Why do you read my (emails)?” The answers he got from his own readers helped him entirely reconceptualize his content.

“Make the offer – if it makes sense.”

Introduce new products ahead of time

Make sure each product you introduce is something your audience wants. Then, make sure you get them ready for it.

  • Guillebeau leads up to the launch of each product or service by introducing it ahead of time.
  • Flint McGlaughlin of Marketing Experiments suggests thanking existing customers for their past purchases. This establishes a level of intimacy and reminds them that they trust you already.
  • You could also segment – split your list into new, mature and veteran subscribers. Each segment might appreciate different offers. Every few months, reset the segments.

Keep in Mind

The key to new marketing is building two-way, trusting relationships with your subscribers. You want their purchases, yes. But you also need their word-of-mouth support, their ideas and their goodwill.

“You must overcome the resistance before you can even start the sale,” says McGlaughlin. “Don’t ask me to kiss you before we’ve even gone on a date.”


  1. Codrut Turcanu

    4/27/2010 3:24 pm

    Is that video interview brand-new? I can’t see the date on its post though…

  2. Yee Shun-Jian

    4/28/2010 1:03 am

    A sure way to build trust quickly and for the long term is to keep overdelivering by sending out powerful free content on an ongoing basis (like what AWeber is doing).

    When you do that, naturally your prospects will get curious about what you’re offering… and there’s no need for any hard sell at all.

    I mean… If you’re giving away so much value for FREE then what people are going to get when they pay a FEE would be even more awesome right?

  3. Al

    4/28/2010 1:26 am

    Hey Amanda,

    Nice article. I agree that Email Marketing is no longer just sending bulk email; it is turning into a science. It is probably the least expensive among other marketing channels, however it should be done the right way.

  4. Sean Breslin

    4/28/2010 7:23 am

    Mark is a master! His videos are worth watching!

  5. Sean Breslin

    4/28/2010 7:31 am

    Sorry I meant Chris, got distracted!

  6. Kung Fu Kid

    4/28/2010 8:05 am

    Good article especially in an environment where you’ll physically meet and greet the customer . What’s an extra couple of minutes to send them a personal email (or even a phone) call depending on your line of work.

    Really like this bit "In the next few emails, he challenges readers to reflect on their lives and goals ? no sales yet. A few messages in, he invites feedback. And then he responds to it." which is hugely relevant for our martial arts school.

    Thanks for the article.

  7. Carl Juneau

    4/28/2010 8:23 am


    Frank Kern (Mass Control) and Jeff Walker (Product Launch Formula) advocate this approach in internet marketing circles.

    Over the past months, I’ve been moving away from "traditional" (hit ’em hard) marketing toward this "new" (relationship-based) marketing.

    I don’t have numbers yet, but my subscribers appreciate it. I’m getting better feedback, and I sleep better at night.

  8. Jon

    4/28/2010 9:52 am

    I think this is a wonderful article. However, if you are getting thousands of new subscribers (as we do) per day, sending a personal message is just not possible. I would love to hear alternative suggestions to creating a more personal feel to such a large number of readers. Thanks!

  9. Laura Benjamin

    4/28/2010 10:31 am

    boy, this is a timely article and well stated! I now have a much smaller list than a few years ago, but I know the folks who are on it really REALLY want to get my information. I’ve also segmented into three categories: a monthly newsletter that goes just to my VIP friends/colleagues, the blog posts for small business owners on marketing tips and the blog on generic communication skills issues. I discovered aweber after hearing good things from other bloggers and am glad I connected with you folks!

  10. nassim

    4/28/2010 1:10 pm

    Is that video interview brand-new? I can’t see the date on its post though?

  11. Email Marketing: Do Panic! korp karma, lean left & inbox 2.0 | The eMail Guide - The search engine for eMail marketing

    4/28/2010 1:38 pm

    […] has a hammer and knows how to use it. Over @ GetElastic, they want you to lean left; while AWeber sings the praises of the new approach to email marketing. Over @ ClickZ, perennial all-star […]

  12. lovie

    4/28/2010 2:14 pm

    This is good stuff since building a relationship with the customer based on
    honesty and their interest are extremely important.

  13. Darren Scott Monroe

    4/28/2010 9:46 pm

    Basically what you just wrote about was a Third Tribe approach

  14. Amanda Gagnon

    4/29/2010 8:29 am

    Codrut ~ Chris’ video interview is from this past December. It had so much helpful information that we wanted to bring some of it out again.

    Darren ~ Basically, yes. The Third Tribe follows this same line of thinking.

    Jon ~ An excellent way to show customers you’re paying attention to them (even though you have thousands) is segmenting – breaking your list into groups according to what they want, as Laura describes above.

    You can find more about segmenting on our blog here, here and in several upcoming posts. 🙂

  15. Jon

    4/29/2010 10:28 am

    Hi Amanda,

    We use segmentation currently, but we use Aweber and AOP both, and the segmentation is in AOP.

    I agree that this is a way to handle larger lists… and frankly, most customers think auto responders are still personal emails (at least on my list), especially if they are well-written.

    I’m still trying to decide to make the jump from a no-reply however. I love talking to clients, but that would become my full-time job. : )


  16. Peter Davies

    5/1/2010 4:36 am

    This pretty much fits in with what I will be doing in the coming months with my subscribers.

    The blog exists to create good content, the subscribers are directed to the blog posts when they are created. Combine this with other free content surveys etc to build a 2 way relationship and one should have a reponsive list on buyers.

    Good post

  17. Ken Rolling

    5/2/2010 3:06 pm

    You Just Nailed It Head On

    I Have Been Self Employed For Years

    Great Relationships With Your Customers Can Prove Vital To a Successful Business.

  18. James

    5/8/2010 3:31 am

    Two days ago, before I saw this page, I thought I would try writing personally to a few of my customers. Not many, but just a trial. The response was great! And, it felt good to connect with them in a more real way, not just an autoresponder.

    I do sleep audio programs, and some of my customers have serious problems sleeping. Responding to their need in a concerned way felt like a win win for both of us. I mean, yeah, i want to make money, but somehow, making that connection, and having them write back with a sincere thank you, really told me that this is the reason I am in business – to help.

    I’m going to now make this the backbone of my customer service. Thanks as well to AWeber for bringing this to business owners’ attention. The world will be a much funner place to live.

  19. Cora Cala

    5/10/2010 9:57 am

    This is very helpful to keep in mind especially to a newbie. Makes a lot of sense. If I were on the other side of the fence, of course, I would love to be treated as important person.

  20. Purushyottam Ghosh

    7/2/2010 8:51 am

    Well I much prefer the "new marketing" approach for obvious reasons, but there are many marketers who continue to follow the "old marketing" approach and (going by their own claims) make decent cash with it. I suppose both approaches have their pros and cons, and both of them may or may not work for everyone. It depends on the niche and the kind of marketer you are. Also I agree with Amanda about the ‘list segmentation" thing; I do it all the time.

    Thanks for yet another useful article. 🙂

  21. PJ Brunet

    9/3/2010 11:24 pm

    Got any good examples of how blogs can use this?

  22. Amanda Gagnon

    9/8/2010 8:37 am

    PJ ~ To apply this method to a blog, I’d suggest three things:

    1. Let readers comment on your posts, then reply as much as possible.

    2. Use those comments to determine what your readers want to hear about, then write new posts on those topics.

    3. Make sure readers can subscribe through RSS or email so they get your posts where and when they want them.

    If you have any more suggestions, feel free to share them here!

  23. Kathleen Calderon

    4/4/2011 9:03 pm

    “To apply this method to a blog, I’d suggest three things”

    Thanks for the tips Amanda. They helped me too. 😉 I must confess that I have neither heard of nor tried the “new marketing approach”, and it would have been no different even now had I not stumbled upon this useful article of yours. Keep up this standard please! 🙂

  24. T

    9/10/2011 4:43 am

    Thanks for the tips Amanda.

  25. David Anderson

    12/1/2011 3:18 pm

    You are exactly right with this approach. Having relationships is not new, it’s just that we are coming to grips with the new social media environment. Nobody has to believe that the TV channels are showing the best talent out there. We can choose who we want to watch/listen to etc.


  26. Lori

    9/11/2012 3:52 pm

    Thanks for a great article Amanda! It’s very helpful, as are your replies to the questions above.