Some of the best email marketers I've met in my career are actually experts in relationships. They understand the give and take when it comes to communicating with customers and put an emphasis on thoughtfully planned strategies across the customer lifecycle. Much like a good romantic partner, these marketers understand and anticipate what their customers want. In light of Valentine's Day, let's look at how you can use relationship smarts to be a better email marketer. 1. The First Date How does one get to a first date? In this day and age, a swipe in the Tinder app, asking the person via a DM on a matchmaking site, or even asking someone for their phone number to setup a date - these are all acceptable ways to ask someone out. The common thread? All are permissions-based. One party asks the other and both agree to a date. The same goes for your potential customers. Ask for email permission during signup. And if the customer agrees, then plan on following up with a minimal amount of questions to start off on the right foot during the first key moments of the relationship. If you ask for too much up-front, it will feel pushy and overwhelming. You could end up turning your customers off if you come on too strong, too early. 2. Building a Great FoundationIf the first date goes well, more dates are sure to follow. While people learn a bit on the first date, it's really those first few months where a lot of information is exchanged. As interest grows, your date might be willing to share more about his or her personal life. You are getting to know this person and the more information you have, the more knowledge you'll have, to be a great partner. The same goes for your customers. Remember all those questions you wanted to ask up front, but didn't, so that you wouldn't appear to come on too strong? Now is the time to ask those questions. As your customer goes through your early stage programs (onboarding, first to second purchase, etc.), leverage the information you are gathering along the way to populate a profile and send more intelligent communications. This will plant the seed for future communications, because your customers will be happy. 3. Committing for the Long-TermOnce a significant amount of time has been invested, people begin to consider a long-term commitment. At this point, it's more important than ever to recognize the uniqueness of your significant other. He or she needs to feel valued and understood. Customers that have purchased, engaged, and committed to you over a period of time, need to feel important. Recognize these valuable customers through special promotions and loyalty activities such as birthday or anniversary emails. Isolate this group through an easy segmentation strategy that you can apply to all outgoing emails. The more valued these loyal customers feel, the better chances of commitment over the long haul. 4. Knowing when it's time to break upAlmost any adult can attest to having a broken heart at some point. Despite all the efforts put forth, sometimes things just don't work out. In relationships, this usually ends in a breakup. With customers, unfortunately, they sometimes don't even declare that it's over. As marketers, we must look at the data to understand who our lapsed customers are. We can try to salvage as best we can through re-engagement and win-back programs. But when it's over, it's over. We can't be afraid to remove these customers from our sends. Leaving inactive customers on your database is the quickest way to end up in the spam folder or worse. Know when to call it quits and walk away. How do you manage your customer relationships across the lifecycle? Have you experienced any "a-ha" moments along the way as an email marketer, when it comes to customer relationships? I'd welcome any comments on how you have helped your customers fall in love with your brand. Feel free to share your thoughts below. This article was originally published on MediaPost on February 4, 2016.