Editor’s note: In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve updated this post to add helpful information that you can implement during this period. We know that email marketing will be an even more important piece of your retail strategy, particularly during this time when shoppers are exercising social distancing. If you need more resources on how to minimize the impact of coronavirus on your business, visit Vend’s COVID-19 Retailer Action Plan.
This is a guest post by Peter Davis.
Email marketing is one of the most valuable piece of your online marketing puzzle.
An eMarketer survey of small and medium businesses found that 81% and 80% of respondents, respectively, said email marketing drives customer acquisition and retention. Email’s usefulness was followed by organic search at 62% for acquisition and social media at 44% for retention—both rated effective by far fewer respondents than those who chose email.
Moreover, according to Litmus email analytics, email marketing commands more focus compared to social content, and small and medium-sized brands can get open rates of over 20% (compared to social media where the percentage of people who see your content pre-boost on Facebook is now 1-3%).
Clearly, email is still essential to your marketing toolkit, so strive to get the most value out of this channel.
In this post, we’ve put together 7 email action steps you can implement within a week.
Have a look.
1. Get your website visitors onto your mailing list
If you’re not capturing email addresses on your website, it’s high time start. Every visitor is worth capturing, so come up with a creative or compelling offer that would get people to hand over their email address.
Take a look at what others are doing and let them inspire your efforts.
Allbirds, for instance, keeps things simple and asks users to sign up to receive product news and updates:
Little Printables, on the other hand, throws in an extra incentive, by giving a 10% discount to users who sign up for their emails.
2. Still trading offline? Sign people up to your database in-store
If you’re still trading in-store, it’s time to ramp up data collection. Gathering email addresses at your location will help you grow your database so you can communicate with shoppers beyond the four walls of your shop.
The best way to do this is collect email addresses at the point of sale. Ideally, your POS solution has features that let you capture customer details at checkout. For best results, use your loyalty program as a means to encourage customers to give you their details.
Easily grow your email database and drive customer engagement with Marsello, a solution that lets you implement customer retention and customer marketing via email, SMS and loyalty like no other and plugs into Vend perfectly. You can get going really simply and start engaging with your customers.
3. Get your social followers to sign up
The easiest way you can do this is to “tease” your latest email newsletter on Instagram Stories and put a link in your bio where your followers sign up. Most email marketing solutions will have this capability, so grab your sign-up link, and get the word out on socials ASAP.
4. Send emails that people actually want to read.
Don’t wait until you have a massive list. You can get started with email marketing whether you have 10 people or 10,000 people on your mailing list.
The key to success is to figure out what types of messages resonate with your audience. The right approach will depend on your business and customers, but here are some factors to consider:
Let’s look at these components one by one.
Your messages must be relevant with what’s going during a particular time of the year (or what’s happening in the world in general). So, if people are celebrating a particular holiday (Mother’s Day Christmas, etc.), you messages must reflect that.
In the case of COVID-19, you’ll want to send out messages that your audience will find helpful during this time. You could send words of encouragement, relevant offers, and company updates. You know your audience better than anyone, so craft an email that you think they’ll want to read.
One retailer that did this well is Everlane, which sent an empowering “We’re All in This Together” along with launching a weekly promotion to make the brand’s products more affordable.
Send emails that offer value — be it something informative, entertaining or both.
Here’s a great example from StitchFix. Rather than a big “buy now!” button, StitchFix created a gorgeous email that contains useful style tips. And while they included a call to action within the message to get people onto their site, the bulk of the email adds real value and provides excellent information.
You still have to drive sales, so make sure most of your message stil have a revenue-driving component to them. Going back to the examples, both Everlane and Stitch Fix have done a wonderful job here. While the emails are not “in-your-face” sales-y, they still have a strong call to action inviting subscribers to check out their website.
5. Choose the right type of email to send
Mix up your email content. Make sure you don’t focus on one area all the time and test different ideas. See what works the best and combine messages to really drive those clicks.
Here are a few ideas:
- Company announcements – This is critical particularly when there’s a lot of uncertainty. Keep your customers updated on any changes you’re making to your company, so they know the best way to do business with you.
- New products – Show off everything that is new and get you recipient excited to come into the store or to hit your website. Try to plan these campaigns out, and send them whenever you have new merchandise that you want to show off.
- Promotions – Running a promotion? Be sure to let your subscribers know. Try it out and kick your database into action, just be careful not to do this too often as you’ll tire your database out.
- What’s new on social – Using social media content in email campaigns can be great for showing customers what other people love. These emails can also give subscribers a bit of validation if they’re on the fence about purchasing your products.
- Product advice or reviews – Rather than just sending “Buy Now!” messages, you may find that you have success with emails that talk about the benefits and use cases of a product in a more fun way. Mix this up with product reviews and you’ll find the perfect formula for that soft sell!
We’ve picked out some of our favourite customers at Postie, that we think are doing a great job in different areas.
The Scarf Company takes a narrow product range and explored it in-depth in this campaign.
The Supercool nails the mix of a newsletter with new product drops — we love how they sign off with their names, combine lots of product shots and drop in when they were recently interviewed for a blog.
6. Pay attention to timing
Email timing can get tricky. For instance, while some people recommend sending emails on Tuesdays, Wednesday, and Thursdays (while avoiding Saturdays), we at Postie are seeing trends like:
- Sunday at 8pm is the best time to send an email if you’re targeting young parents.
- 11:55am on a weekday is perfect for professionals (whether they open emails at their desk or on their lunch break, your email is right at the top of your inbox).
But at the end of the day, the “right” answer depends on your shoppers. Are your customers active during business hours or wrangling young children while working from home? Do your emails prompt calls, and if so, should you send emails at a time when someone will pick up the call?
Only you can pick the best time to send your emails, but if you need any help, drop us a line.
7. Send emails more often
Don’t shy away from emailing your customers weekly or once every two weeks.
We saw the value of increasing send frequency with one of our customers recently who used to send email campaigns monthly with some good success. Their open rate was over 40% so it felt like they didn’t want to rock the boat.
We convinced them to trial sending campaigns more often, first every couple of weeks, and now weekly
The result? They’re now sending just as much traffic to their website in a week that they used to send in a month.
|SENDING FREQUENCY||AVERAGE CLICKS PER CAMPAIGN||APPROX TRAFFIC TO WEBSITE EACH MONTH|
|Every 2 weeks||866||1,732|
Here’s a look at one of their recent campaigns:
Email is the best thing for you to spend your time on next. You’ll drive traffic to your website and if you do it with love you’ll build stronger relationships with your customers.
We can’t wait to see your first campaign.
Peter Davis is a socially and digitally minded entrepreneur. In 2009, Pete founded Get Glossy, a digital agency that he grew to 20 staff working in 6 countries. He sold that business in 2016 and Pete is now CEO of Ampjar, a platform that improves internal and external communications by leveraging validated Instagram content into email. Ampjar is used by SMBs all over the world. Pete also mentors start ups through the globally renowned accelerator program Techstars.
About Francesca Nicasio
Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.