Email marketing is one of the most effective, low cost ways that small independent retailers can reach out to their customers. For a small monthly fee to an email provider such as Constant Contact, MailChimp, or Robly and a few hours of time, retailers can send hundreds or even thousands of customers marketing campaigns that are eye-catching and compelling. There is, however, one catch to this wonderful marketing technique: in order to take advantage of email marketing, you must have a great email address list. Unfortunately, many small retailers don’t take the time to cultivate and build an effective email list. Here are some tips for easing the pain of building that list.
Use Social Media – Stay on top of topics that interest your customers, keep them engaged by asking them to respond to or share your posts, and always encourage your followers to visit your website or other channels where they can add their email address to your list. Make sure you make it worth their time – offer a discount or a coupon for signing up, or some other incentive that will ensure that they want to sign up to your list.
Ask for It – Always have sign-up sheets available at trade shows or any events you attend, as well as in-store. If you don’t make the first move and ASK for a customer’s email address, they won’t offer it.
Use That Business Card – Include a request for an email address on the back of your business card along with an offer or discount for doing so, and a clearly stated way for them to give you their address, such as a page on your website. Make sure to have a good supply of cards with you whenever you are out and about! Conversely, you can also place a bowl or jar prominently in your store with a sign asking for business cards. This will be more effective if you have a weekly or monthly drawing. You can even do a reciprocal business card giveaway with another business. If customers leave their card in your bowl, they might win a free haircut from the salon down the street; the salon will then collect cards with an offer from your store, such as a free product or service.
Have an Event – We have spoken of hosting events previously, and have established that they are a win-win for you and for your customers. They create good will and attract attention for your store, and they can be a great way for you to build an email list. Host a recycling event, a springtime spruce-up event, or maybe an event to promote shopping local. If you are in a strip mall or in close proximity to other stores or businesses, you could organize a group event. Have several areas set up where you ask for email addresses in exchange for a small gift, coupon or discount.
Leverage Your Newsletter – Ask to place a banner or link in a neighboring business’s newsletter in exchange for a banner or link in your newsletter. Direct your link to an opt-in page on your website with an offer for a coupon or discount to be sent to the email address they sign up with.
Customize Those Receipts – Most modern POS systems will allow you to customize receipts. Add an email sign-up to your card transaction receipts so customers will have a chance to jot down their email address while they sign their receipt, or state a clear web address where they can go to add their email address in exchange for a coupon/discount on their next purchase. You can also customize your receipts with a request to complete a short survey online. The customer will be required to give an email address to complete the survey in exchange for a discount or coupon, or a chance to be entered into a drawing for a monetary gift. This will also give you a chance to ask your customers for honest feedback!
Create a Club or Rewards Program – In exchange for a valid email address, create a rewards program that your customers can belong to that will reward them with members-only discounts and coupons. Give customers a good incentive to sign up, and keep the discounts and coupons flowing on a pre-determined basis, such as once a month. You could also offer increasing discounts to frequent shoppers who are members of your program – the more they buy, the better and/or more frequent the discounts they receive.