Email Marketing: Best Practices For Retail Stores

Nothing offers a more reliable way to connect with your customers on a regular basis than email.

As a retailer, having a consistent connection to your customers is important for growing your customer base and building true brand advocates.

Email represents the preferred method of communication for customers, too.

According to a survey by MarketingSherpa, 77 percent of people prefer to receive promotional content via email. This contrasts with just 17 percent who prefer to receive material through social media.

 

With smart, personalized email campaigns you can speak to your customer’s most burning desires…and position your brand as a trusted partner. Strategic email campaigns improve customer retention, foster trust, and increase the lifetime value of every new customer that comes through your door. But there are a few best practices that you should keep in mind as you focus on building out your email campaigns:

Email Delivers…When You Commit

Most retailers have embraced email wholeheartedly, but smaller outfits often lag behind.

Companies embrace the medium not out of a feeling that they need to keep up with the times, but because of the ROI it provides. According to a study from DMA, every $1 spent on email marketing generates an average of $44 in ROI.

Despite the large, reliable returns there’s lots of room to grow. A survey of small and medium businesses found that only 26 percent used email marketing for sales. Just 7 percent used it as a brand-building tool.

Small retailers have an opportunity to build close relationships with their customers in a way that larger retailers can’t. But that doesn’t mean that smaller outfits can lazily send out broadcast emails and hope that the revenue starts pouring in. They still have to live up to customer expectations…which have moved dramatically when it comes to email marketing.

As technology brings better targeting and personalization, customers want companies to cater to them in their promotional content. With smart strategies, email marketing can be a reliable source of consistent sales for smaller retail companies.

Email is the First Step in an Omnichannel Experience

Retailers put a lot of effort into improving their omnichannel customer experience strategies. Bridging that gap can be difficult: especially when you don’t already have systems in place to assist with taking that step. For companies that want to begin building out their own omnichannel operations, email is the logical place to start.

Email provides a direct line to your customers. It helps you to keep your business top-of-mind, inform customers about upcoming discounts and sales, and continue to building relationships with them long after they enter your store.

Building your email subscribers offers a great place to start, but many companies struggle with this. Asking your in-store visitors to sign up for your email list is a big ask but an important one. A recent study showed that as many as 30 percent of retail email subscribers end up making a purchase from the retailer post-subscription. Most retail professionals agree that email marketing is the biggest driver of their customer retention strategies.

When a customer walks into your retail location, the hard part is done. You’ve already brought them into your store. However, the long-term focus should be on solidifying a way to contact that person moving forward to retain them as a long-term customer.

It pays to include email as part of your post-sale strategy, too. Granted, different industries have different sales cycles. However, well-planned nurturing emails present an easy way to send relevant, interesting content at opportune times.

Personalization Bolsters Relationships

Everyone knows that personalization increases ROI in email marketing. Delivering material that speaks to their interests, pains, and desires is always going to perform better than content that doesn’t. However, many companies take a strictly revenue-focused approach when evaluating their email marketing strategies, while ignoring the long-term benefits that aren’t readily apparent.

Providing your subscribers with dynamic email content that considers previous purchases, viewed items, and provided information helps to make the interaction seem more personal.

Of course, the customer may know that there are automated systems driving the interaction. However, personalization shows that your company has taken the time to learn more about them and what they like.

Over time, personalization can turn a one-time customer into a brand advocate. But building those relationships takes time and effort. When you continually impress customers with timely, personalized content, their connection to your brand will grow over time.

Dig Into Data for Smart Segmentation

In retail, the best email marketing operations segment their lists using a wealth of data. Sure, you can stick to the standard segments — location, age, gender, etc. — but everyone is doing that. It certainly isn’t going to help you stand out.

By finding ways to collect more meaningful data and input those into your email campaigns, you’ll connect with your subscribers on a deeper level. What product pages have they visited on your website? What queries have they entered into your search bar? How often do they check in on the shipping status of their order? By finding creative ways to speak to the things that matter most in the eyes of your customers, you’ll sharpen your relationship-building tools.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Luke Metcalfe

Luke is a Content Marketer at Crealytics