Copyright (c) 2012 Ted Hurlbut
Email marketing is now the primary marketing vehicle for many independent retailers. It has replaced more traditional forms of advertising, like newspapers and magazines, as those mediums reach fewer and fewer readers. And, as we move into this new era there’s an important distinction to make between email marketing and those more traditional forms of advertising.
Advertising in newspapers and magazines sought to broaden the customer base, to bring in new customers to purchase the things that you sell. Email marketing, on the other hand, focuses on known, proven customers, who have been in your store and have demonstrated with their business that they value what you carry, and have shared their email addresses with you. The emphasis shifts from generating new customers to existing customers, and finding more items and categories that they will buy from you, and growing your customer base organically.
With that, here are 6 tips that will help you increase the effectiveness of your email marketing:
1. Build relationships. The objective of email marketing is to strengthen and deepen your relationships with your existing customers. Those relationships are built around the shared passion and lifestyle that is the animating principle of your business, that draws your customers to you every time they visit. It’s these relationships that strengthen your business, and leads to growth.
2. Market what’s new in your store, not what’s on sale. Customers respond to “new”; new stores, new experiences, and new products, programs, and seasons. “New” breeds interest and excitement, and creates a greater sense of urgency. Marketing what’s on sale trains your customers to wait for things to go on sale, rather than visit your store frequently to see what’s new.
3. Make it interesting. Customers will eagerly open and read your emails when they know they feature interesting content. They are looking for information, but they also want to be engaged and entertained. Include stories and features that you know will be of interest to your customer because they’re of interest to you. That said, keep your messages brief. 200 to 300 words is a good rule of thumb.
4. Include photographs. Many people respond better to a picture than they do any number of written words. By including photos of your store and your presentations, you send important messages about your style, your taste level, the animating passion of your store, in ways that can’t be fully communicated in words. And, including photos of you and your staff give your customers the chance to deepen their connection with you, and in a very subtle way remind them that you value your relationship with them.
5. Be regular, but be relevant. It can sometimes be hard to know when to send something. Send it when you have something to say. Customers only want to hear from you when you have something important or interesting to share. A good rule of thumb is no more frequently than every other week.
6. Be conversational and personable. If the goal of your email marketing is to deepen relationships, make sure your tone is relaxed and genuine. These customers have already been in your store, they know you and the personality of the store. The email messages that you send out must be consistent with what they experience in your store, and extend that experience. Your emails are an important way for them to reconnect with you, your store, and all that they value about the relationship.
One of the great things about email marketing is that it’s so cost-effective. It enables independent retailers to communicate with their customer base far more frequently, and creatively. So, if you’ve been collecting email addresses from your customers all along, that list is one of your most valuable assets. And if you haven’t been collecting addresses, it’s never too late to get started!
Ted Hurlbut is a retail consultant, coach and speaker who helps independent retailers increase sales, profitability and cash flow by leveraging his deep expertise and proven retail know-how, Get his FREE report “The 16 Essential Elements of a WINNING Independent Retail Strategy“.