“The week after our campaign was sent, our shelves at our three locations were emptied. Sales were up 800%! ” – Sebastien Lalande, Espace Houblon

Retailers all over the world are using email marketing to build loyalty and drive sales.

In this article, we will look at how when used correctly email marketing can bring you an enormous amount of success. We will study some concrete examples of retailers that have managed to increase their sales tremendously with the help of email marketing.

On the same breath when we talk about email marketing, it’s always important to consider the particularities of Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation.

If you’re a Canadian retailer, this article is for you! You will certainly learn some tips and tricks you’ll want to implement in your business. Ready? Let’s do it!

Growing your email list

When it comes to retail the more subscribers you have the better because you are dealing directly with the consumer. The more people you reach, the more chances you have of making more sales. It’s that simple.

Grab email addresses of customers in your store

If people walk into your store and buy something, they obviously trust you, so they are most likely going to be more open to giving you their email address. Don’t let them leave without grabbing it because you may never see them again.

Maybe pushing paper around is not your thing, so the best bet is probably leaving a tablet with a subscription form ready to go beside the cash register. My suggestion is to use a hosted subscription form. You don’t need to have any technical knowledge to do this. It’s quick and easy, and works like a charm. The people who fill out the form will automatically be added to your Cyberimpact account.

Your cashier can even fill out the form for the client. But to make sure that you are compliant with CASL, make sure to use the double opt-in. The person will receive a confirmation email and will have to click on a link to confirm their consent before being added to your email list. That way you are making it extremely easy for them to subscribe, you know for sure that they are truly interested in receiving your content, and you’re complying with CASL.

Make sure to have an intriguing subject line. My suggestion is to create an Exclusive group. That way instead of asking “ Are you interested in subscribing to our newsletter?” You could say “are you interested in joining Club Houblon (for example)?  It’s free and each month you’ll receive exclusive coupons, you’ll find out about new products, beer pairing and beer cocktail recipes”. That way you’re really selling your content, and it’s a lot more appealing.

When the person joins the club ask them for their email address. You can easily make up a paper form and make sure to include a box to check. “I give my consent to receive news and promotions from business XYZ. I understand that it is possible for me to unsubscribe at any time.”

Run contests

When it comes to the retail industry, again because you are addressing the consumer, contests work wonders. But make sure to follow these crucial details.

Ask for the participant’s email address. I see many businesses running contests on Facebook. They ask them to like the page or to share a post, but don’t ask them for their email address. What’s the purpose of that? To have more likes on Facebook? To have more visibility on Facebook? That will translate into little to no sales. On the contrary, the best way to reach people, and to build long term relationships is through email. And 44% of consumers make purchases after receiving a promotional email.

Make your contest “go viral”. The most successful contests are the ones that go viral. Which means that the participants have an incentive to share the contest on their social media platforms. That way it will be in the participant’s best interest to share the contest with other potential participants (on social media). You can invite your clients to participate, and if the incentive is interesting, (for example the more they share it, the more chances they have to enter the contest) you can rest assured that they will invite as many people as they can (people who are probably not familiar with your business yet). Which will make your audience grow.

Here are a few platforms that will help you create a viral contest.

Make the prize worthwhile! The more value to the prize, the higher the number of participants you’ll get. Which translates into the more new subscribers you’ll be able to add to your email list, the more valuable it will be to you.

Let’s look at a concrete example, Matelas Bonheur, a chain of stores specializing in selling mattresses, and sleep accessories. The prize for winning their most recent contest was a mattress worth $ 1,700. Wow, that’s definitely worth it!

Matelas Bonheur regularly adds thousands of email addresses to their email list thanks to the different viral contests they run. Below is the example of a contest that was floating around for Easter.

Once the contest is over, import only the people who have checked the box that confirms their consent. And for the people that did not win any prizes why not send a promotion (a rebate coupon) exclusive to those who participated to the contest but did not win. You will probably make a few sales! After all, you know those people are interested in your product.

Keep your subscribers engaged and generates sales

Not everyone who joins your email list will buy right away, they are not necessarily ready. The idea is to maintain communication with them until they are ready to take action. If at this point you are still fresh in their mind, you’re the one who will make the sale and not your competitor!

Ask yourself “is my content valuable?”

How do you keep your subscribers engaged? How can you make sure they’ll want to continue receiving your emails and not unsubscribe? It depends on the quality of your content, the value your content has in the eyes of your readers.

Let us look at Matelas Bonheur again. How often do you buy a mattress? Every five to ten years? Yet even if people don’t buy a mattress regularly, people still stay on the Matelas Bonheur mailing list, and enjoy receiving their emails.

It’s very simple, the content is interesting and useful. They don’t just talk about mattresses. There give tips on stress management, sleep, mental health, etc. They write about meditation, Yoga, bedroom decorating, etc. This content helps people in their everyday lives, and goes much further than the special of the month.

As we mentioned in a previous article, it is important to keep a balance between promotional content, and educational and fun content. Before thinking about the promotions you want to send to your subscribers, think about how you can educate your subscribers.

Generate sales by creating interest

Of course, you’re in the business of selling things, we can’ get away from that fact! Using your campaigns to advertise your new products, to promote your monthly promotions, to offer coupon-rebates are all good ways to boost sales.

But sometimes, it’s not quite enough! In the same email, what if you could create interest by entertaining your subscribers and generate sales by enticing them to take action all at once.

The trick is to strategically link your educational content to your promotional content.  Let me give you an example…

Let’s look at Escape Houblon again. In their campaigns,” the master brewer” gives recipes for beer cocktails perfect for hot summer days and at the end they add a rebate coupon for all the product needed to make the recipe mentioned. Boom! You’ve just created interest for the product and enticed people to buy it. It’s simple but brilliant! How can you do the same for your business?

8 Commandments of Email Marketing for Retailers

To summarize, here are the 8 commandments of email marketing for retailers:

  1. Grab the email addresses of the people who come into your store
  2. Make sure to have an intriguing subject line for your newsletter
  3. Run contests to make your audience grow
  4. Ask for the email addresses of contest participants
  5. Make the contest go viral
  6. Make sure the prize is worthwhile
  7. Send content of great value to your subscribers
  8. Strategically link your educational content to your promotional content

Follow this advice, adjust the ingredients to make it work for you, and witness your sales increase!

Good luck!

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