The ins-and-outs of email marketing for retail business owners. Learn if, why, when and how to send an email newsletter.
Should I send out an email newsletter?
Most definitely! An email newsletter should be a central part of your marketing strategy. Not only is it a great way to share your knowledge with customers, but as a retail business owner, you can use your newsletter to regularly announce sales and promotions which will directly increase revenue.
How often should I send an email newsletter?
As a retail business, you should be distributing an email newsletter as regularly as possible, granted that you have valuable content to deliver. Take caution though not to overload your readers with emails as that can be a big turn off.
Whether you're a business with one store or several, a monthly email newsletter is a good starting point. During peak shopping times (like the holidays) you might want to send something out more frequently, like once a week. Definitely though take into consideration how much time you have to write as well as how much value you can bring to your audience.
How long should my newsletter be and what should it include?
Your readers are most likely very busy so you'll want to send them content that is right to the point. Try for short bits of information that is on target and easy to scan. If you are including a longer article, publish an excerpt followed by a "read more" link. This is also a wonderful way to get visitors to your blog or website.
In terms of content, talk about what you know best! Let's say for example you own a wine shop. Recommend a wine that goes great with fish and include a yummy fish recipe. You should also consider including a link to a coupon on your site for that bottle of wine. Alternatively, if you sell furniture, write about 5 furniture cleaning tips in your newsletter. Then include a link to your website offering 5 more no-fail tips! If you have a shoe store, talk about the new line of boots you just got in stock as well as different trends. Make sure to highlight items that are on sale in your store.
You can also share "news" as this is a newsletter! If you're a neighborhood store feel free to publish news that is relevant to your local community. If you have stores in more than one location, you'll want to focus on broader issues that affect all of your stores.
Your newsletter should have different sections, with different size headers and include pictures and if relevant, videos. This will make certain items stand out and will increase engagement. The more visually appealing you make it, the better! Most email marketing platforms (see below) have templates to choose from that make this process much easier.
How important is an email newsletter?
Your email newsletter gives you a chance to not only communicate directly with your customers but to bring them real value even when they're not shopping.
An email newsletter done right, will without a doubt drive traffic to your website and increase your revenue so take advantage of it!
How do I actually send a newsletter?
There are plenty of online platforms that not only make email marketing simple but also offer free plans. For example:
a. MailChimp (www.mailchimp.com). The free plan lets you send 12,000 emails to up to 2,000 subscribers.
b. Aweber (www.aweber.com). First month costs only $1 and they had a 30 day money back guarantee.
c. Mad Mimi (www.madmimi.com). The free plan lets you send up to 12,500 emails to 2,500 subscribers.
d. Vertical Response (www.verticalresponse.com).
e. Constant Contact (www.constantcontact.com).
Check them out and see which one you like best. They'll guide you through the actual process of building and sending the newsletter.
Who do I send my newsletter to?
Your newsletter is geared towards your existing customers. Here, the better you know your audience, the more relevant and engaging your newsletter will be.
Keep in mind that people today are very social online and like to share good content with others. So if you have a great tip, or even better, a great deal or coupon in your newsletter people will want to share it.
This gets us to a very touchy subject called spam! Not only is spam mail very annoying, and in certain instances is illegal, it can also be very damaging. Each time someone clicks "report as spam" on your email, this damages the reputation of your website and email address in the eyes of the email giants (Gmail, Yahoo, Aol, etc.) and the next time you send any email it may end up in your recipients' spam folder. Therefore, make sure you're only sending your newsletter to people who have actually signed up. Here is a more detailed compliance guide for the CAN-SPAM act:
Another important tip and great way to make sure you're not sending spam is to make sure those who do sign up, know what they're going to be getting. Be straightforward and honest about what type of content you'll be sending out and how often.
I'm not sending out an email newsletter yet but want to. What's the best place to start?
Start by building up your email list! If you have a website, Facebook page or blog, start collecting people's email address. When people walk into your store, find a fun way of incentivizing them to leave their email address. Giving away something for free is always a good place to start :-)). So are coupons and raffles.
The easier it is to subscribe, the more emails you'll collect!
I am already sending out an email newsletter? Can you share a tip or two on ways I can improve it?
You should start looking at the effectiveness of your email. Most email marketing platforms (such as the ones we list above) will share with you a wealth of statistics about your email newsletter. For example, you can see how many opened the email, how many read it and how many clicked on the links. Begin to review this information, look for patterns and see where you can improve. Don't be afraid to test new things like catchier subject lines, titles, more pictures, etc, to see if it affects your numbers.
The day and time when you send your newsletter is also very important. If you are sending out an online coupon you want your customers to be able to click right away and purchase the item so send it during the week at a time when they are in front of their computer. However if you are having an in-store sale, send it right before the weekend either on a Thursday night or Friday afternoon. All of this can change based on what you are selling so experiment a bit and see which day and time yields the most opens and clicks.
Have questions or comments about this post? We'd love to hear them! Send them directly to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.