Make Email Marketing Work for Your Store

Email Marketing is still sexy

These days email marketing isn’t as sexy as Facebook or Linkedin.  It’s been around for a very long time and, as such, was the early forerunner of ‘social’ email marketing.  The act of chatting with your customer base is about as ‘social’ as one can be.  Which is why I’m often surprised by how many small business owners haven’t:

  1. started the process of collecting customers’ email addresses or
  2. actually emailed anything to their email list

The benefits of email marketing are numerous.

  • It is such an easy way to talk to your customers.
  • It’s downright cheap and if your list is small, it is free.
  • You can segment your list so you can tailor your messages to each audience segment.
  • You can test your emails to see which subject line, which message works best with your particular audience.
  • Allows your emails to include a touch of graphic polish rather than just another boring text email.
  • Email service providers make sharing email newsletters over the social networks like Facebook and Twitter easy, which expands your base and helps you reach more potential customers.
  • Some email service providers allow you to send out event invitations and to collect RSVPs
  • You can use these services  to survey or poll your customer base and get to know them better.
  • Best of all, because email has been around much longer than some of the more sexy social tools, it has been proven to deliver ROI.

So what’s not to like about email marketing?

I think some are simply afraid of email marketing?

I’m willing to bet that those small business owners who haven’t begun their email marketing efforts are simply afraid.  Afraid of what?  I hear comments such these from the small business owners:

  • I’m not a good writer
  • I’m not that comfortable writing to my customers
  • I don’t really know what to say
  • I don’t know how to say it without coming off “salesy”

None of these are valid excuses for not initiating email marketing campaigns.  So let’s take a look at each one.

First, you don’t have to be a ‘good’ writer.  You are not in school getting graded and writing quality is very subjective.  Few of your customers are going to recognize quality writing and fewer will care.  What will register with them, however, is that you took time out to communicate with them.  That act alone makes up for any grammatical errors and misplaced punctuation I assure you.

Not comfortable writing or what to say – Good writing should be a written conversation.  So, rather than thinking of yourself as ‘writing’, think of yourself as having a conversation with one of your best customers.  Take that conversation and write it down.  If they were in your store, what items would you like to draw their attention to?  What action would you like for them to take?  What tips about your products, services or industry would you like to share?

Avoiding the salesy pit – This is so interesting to me.  When I ask the business owner what they mean by “salesy”, it seems they think they need to be as clever as professional copy writers or they need to have a catchy phrase like big advertisers.  Not so.

The truth.  Your customers don’t need you to “sell” them.  They’re already sold, which is why they are your customers.  What they would appreciate is you initiating a genuine conversation with them.  By ‘genuine’ I mean one that comes from your heart, that is an expression of your personality and your store.

Think about it.  Your store, the way it is decorated, your staff, the merchandise, the display racks, the furnishings, and lighting, the signage — when combined, send a very clear message to your customers of your personality.  In most cases, this is a message and image they like or they probably wouldn’t have given you their email address.

So, don’t try to be salesy, clever or cute unless that is who you are.  Just be yourself in your emails.

Bottom Line

There is no valid excuse to not using email marketing to communicate with your customers.

Think of yourself ‘having a conversation’ with your customers rather than ‘writing’ to them.

Be genuine and don’t attempt to be ‘salesy’.

Using these email marketing tips will deliver.  Try them and let me know how they work for you.

Sheila Hibbard

Sheila Hibbard takes the fluff, hype and confusion out of marketing and social media. She provides small business owners with straight forward, no nonsense marketing guidance and techniques that produce results based on her 35 plus years in advertising, communications, research, strategic planning and social media. Author of Marketing Online Made Simple - WHO.

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