Are you a retailer? Have you ever said that you don’t have the time to come up with a marketing plan? Do you feel that developing a plan is too complicated, time-consuming, and frustrating?
Maybe you want to develop a plan but don’t know where to start?
Those are questions that we tackled in the first session of our new Virtual Workshop Series for Retailers: How to Increase Sales with Email Marketing.
During the workshop, we focused on how you can spend 15 minutes to build a list of marketing opportunities for your business, and then add them to an email marketing calendar. If you missed our live session, you can watch a recording here.
Here’s the 3-step process we covered:
- Lay out the important dates and holidays that your business celebrates throughout the year. (Download our 2016 Marketing Opportunities Worksheet)
- Fill any gaps with timely initiatives — like inventory clearances or new product showcases — and even little-known holidays that can create fun engagement with your customers.
- Using that plan, focus on each individual month and schedule your email communications for that month. (Download our 2016 Email Marketing Planning Calendar)
We also took some time to answer questions from our audience. Here are some of the more popular ones we heard:
1. I’m worried about overwhelming my contacts — how do I know how much and how often to email them?
In our broadcast, we showed how a store could promote a Valentine’s Day sale with three emails: an announcement of the sale, a reminder, and a last chance email. In addition to these promotional emails we suggested sending a regular non-promotional store newsletter later in the month.
Four emails in a month from a retailer may sound like a lot, but remember your customers signed up for your list so they could receive messages about upcoming sales, tips on your products, and insights into your business. Research firm, MarketingSherpa, recently found that 91 percent of consumers like to receive promotional emails from companies they do business with.
If you still worry about overwhelming your audience, check the number of unsubscribes you’re receiving in your email reports. If sending more frequently results in a spike in unsubscribes, it might be time to scale back.
You can also go directly to the source and send a quick online survey to ask your customers how often they want to hear from you.
2. Can the ideas from this workshop be applied to nonprofits or B2Bs?
Absolutely! There’s no secret sauce in this approach that only works for retailers.
Even if you’re not focused on selling a product, you can follow the simple steps we laid out. Use the same approach to come up with a calendar that features important fundraising dates or networking events for your organization, and build your communications around those marketing opportunities.
If you’re marketing to other businesses, your promotion could be focused on exclusive content to help clients learn more about the services you offer.
3. Should I use the same timing of communications for all of my promotions? Can or should the emails overlap for multiple promotions happening at the same time?
Running multiple promotions can get tricky. Try to separate the audiences you’re sending to — especially if you’ve kept good contact records and you can target your messaging based on their interests.
To be safe, try to put 3-4 days between the mailings so your readers don’t start to feel overwhelmed.
4. Should I change the look of my email based on the holiday or event, or should I use a template and just change the message?
A little variety is always a good thing, but for the most part you want your emails to reflect your brand and the personality of your business.
The colors you use, the images you include, and the style of writing you employ should all consistently reflect your business. Your readers will come to expect and appreciate that consistency as their relationship with your business grows.
We’ll be talking more about simple design tips and tricks in the third part of our workshop series. The date for that workshop will be announced in our next event on February 25th. Until then, check out our Email Design Guide.
5. Should I always be “selling” with my emails, or directing my customers to my sales or other events?
Your readers will expect to get more promotional emails from you than they do from other types of businesses…that’s why they signed up for your list. But you should also offer them valuable and interesting content that goes beyond asking for the sale.
We recommend you develop an 80/20 blend: 80 percent of your content should be educational and informative — sharing your expertise or making them smarter about the products your business delivers; 20 percent can be focused on sales and “buy now” messaging.
Even if you’re sending a promotional email, look for opportunities to add in valuable content before going directly for the sale.
If you want to learn more about what to write in your emails, join us for the next workshop in the series, “Write Your Email in 15 Minutes or Less,” on February 25th from 2:00-3:00 PM EST.