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This is a community of business owners, entrepreneurs, and influencers that get together to share their best tips and ask questions.

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“If your business is out-of-sight, it’s also out-of-mind and that’s not a good place to be.”

- @SandyBarris
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One of the great books on relationship marketing is called Hug Your Customers by Jack Mitchell (affiliate). Jack is the Chairman of Mitchells, Richards, Marshs, and Wilkes Bashford, a high end clothing retailer famous for their customer service and customer love.

In his book, Jack makes the case that you need to “hug your customers” by providing exceptional customer service. He demonstrates their commitment to customer service through a story he calls the escapade of the navy blue cashmere topcoat.

In essence, a customer of his needed a navy blue cashmere topcoat for an important meeting the next day. However, when Jack Mitchell called the store he learned that they were all out of navy blue topcoats in the man’s size. They did have a grey topcoat in his size so Jack rushed over to the man’s office with the grey coat and some other accessories.

When Jack arrived at the man’s office, it struck him that his topcoat was navy blue in the man’s exact size. He told the man to put his coat on and it fit perfectly. Two days later, they delivered the man his own navy blue topcoat.

Jack Mitchell literally gave his customer the coat off of his back! That’s how committed he is to customer service. This may strike you as a lot to please a customer but that’s what hugging your customers is all about.

Jack Mitchell describes hugging as, “getting everyone on your team to sell with passion so you develop long-term loyal relationships with your customers.” This story is just one of many that Jack gives in his book, Hug Your Customers, but it gives you an idea of the things you should be doing if you truly want to improve your customer service and customer relationships.

Let’s do great things together,
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Consumers want real human connection, the kind they can only get from other people - not a soulless corporation #H2H
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The very first thing that needs to be done before you start sending emails for your relationship marketing strategy is to sign up with an email service provider.

What is an Email Service Provider?

An email service provider is a software tool that allows us to send emails in mass sendings. I’m sure you’ve seen all the emails in your inbox with an unsubscribe button at the bottom… those are sent using email service providers.

People also refer to email service providers as ESP’s. So when you see someone mention ESP you’ll know they’re not referring to Extrasensory perception.

Side note: It is required to put the unsubscribe link at the bottom of every email you send out according to the CAN SPAM act. Don’t worry, it’s super simple to add one of those as you’ll see. Plus, an unsubscribe button is a good thing. The point of these emails are to build relationships with our audience. If they don’t want to receive our newsletter, we want them to unsubscribe so we don’t completely tarnish that relationship.

Why do I need an email service provider? Can’t I just send these out on my own?

You could theoretically send mass emailings using the bcc feature on your personal email account (like gmail). However there are a few reasons I don’t recommend this:

- Most personal email accounts don’t let you send out more than 500 emails per day

- You want to have that unsubscribe button like we mentioned before

- It’ll quickly become difficult to maintain a spreadsheet of 100’s of email addresses and copy and paste them every time you want to send an email.

- Not to mention that email service providers give you all sorts of cool features to save time like automation, scheduling, and analytics (we’ll get into all of this later).

Which email service provider should I choose?

There are dozens of email service providers to choose from. I’ve done a lot of research to find the most effective yet simple to use email service providers. So to help with information overload, I’ve narrowed down your choices to two main options:

MailChimp: The free (yet still effective) option

MailChimp is a great option because they are Free up to 2,000 subscribers. So if you’re looking to just get your feet wet, MailChimp is probably your best bet.

The only thing about MailChimp is that I find it a bit cumbersome and confusing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s awesome for being free but it’ll take a little bit of time to get used to it.
On the plus side, they are now offering automation for their free accounts which is awesome because it’ll save us loads of time!

ActiveCampaign: The future proof (yet still easy to use) option

ActiveCampaign is my go to email service provider. I’ve used a lot of other ones and they provide the best mix of features with ease-of-use. Their platform can do anything you’d ever want it to do but at the same time it’s intuitive and the user interface is awesome!

As of now the basic plans tarts at $9/month which is all you’ll need for now. And what’s great is that you’ll be able to stick with ActiveCampaign as your list grows and you want to do more complicated email sending techniques.

So if you have a small budget, I definitely recommend ActiveCampaign. It’ll save you a major headache in the future.

Both MailChimp and ActiveCampaign are hugely supported so you’ll be able to find loads of tutorials and help on Youtube and Google. Plus, they’re supported by all types of widgets and plugins for your website and sales process (if you don’t know what that means, don’t worry about it yet).

If you’re more of a do it yourself and you’d like to research some other email service providers, here is a list of the main companies for you to check out:

- MailChimp (The free option)

- ActiveCampaign (My recommendation – Simple yet powerful)

- ConvertKit (My 2nd favorite email service provider)

- AWeber

- Infusionsoft (For advanced marketers only)

- Drip

So there you have it! That’s how to get started with email service providers. It may seem a little overwhelming but just take 2 hours to sit down and play with MailChimp or ActiveCampaign and you’ll quickly see that it’s not that difficult.

Head over to my blog to check out a full list of resources like these in the "Resources" section.

If you have any experience, thoughts, or questions on email service providers drop them in the comments section below and I’ll be there to answer them for you.

Let’s do great things together,
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This Word of Mouth Marketing Manifesto from Andy Sernovitz is awesome! This list perfectly encompasses Relationship Marketing too 👌🏼 ... See MoreSee Less

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“Staying at the forefront of your customers’ minds is vital – when they’re ready to buy, be who they think of first”

- Lucy Adamson
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Here's a quick tip to always think about before you post anything to social media:

Ask yourself, "Is this content native?"

Native content means it looks, sounds, and behaves like any other content on the platform for which it was created.

For example, an animated .gif does well on Tumblr. A saturated sunset fits right in on Instagram. A boring tweet of "We love our customers!" isn't going to do much on Twitter.

Have you ever seen an article on a website but noticed it says "ad" in the upper righthand corner? That's native advertising! It blends right in with the platform it's on.
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“Now hear this: it’s cheaper to keep a customer than to go out and get a new one. It’s a widely held belief that in many industries it costs five to ten times more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an existing customer.”

- Janet Granger
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“Your customers will quickly lose interest if you have a great, engaging, content-rich week, only to be followed by two weeks of nothing but cricket sounds. Post regularly. Comment regularly. Interact regularly. You get the idea.”

- Brittany Sampy
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Have you guys tried out the headline analyzer? It gives you a score and tells you how to improve your headlines!
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