Email Marketing for Retailers: Handy Tools and Techniques for Keeping in Touch with Customers

E-mail marketing flat illustration

This is a guest post by Elizabeth Beattie of MailSync.

Creating an awesome email newsletter your customers would actually open and read is a challenge for every retailer. The trick to getting this right is knowing your customers and your brand really well. You want to create a newsletter full of exciting content and eye-catching images that your customers would look forward to opening regularly.

However, with so many other jobs to focus on, many retailers don’t have time for all the writing, personalising, and designing that goes into creating an email newsletter. Fortunately though, with a bit of planning and the right tools, emailing out doesn’t have to be a difficult process. In the following paragraphs, we’ll talk about the things you can do to streamline your email marketing process so you can spend less time on the nitty-gritty details of email, and more time connecting with and engaging with customers.

 

Techniques to Speed up Emailing Out

Setting up the right systems and automating your email marketing strategy will not only allow you to save time and get those emails out much quickly, but you’ll also be able to improve open rates and CTRs.

Below are some of our tips on how to automate and streamline your email campaigns:

Segment your subscribers – Segmenting your customers means you can target them based on certain parameters, including their age, gender, location, etc. This makes your emails more relevant and targeted.  It’s also quite easy to implement. You can start segmenting users simply by asking customers to tick a gender identification box when they sign up to your newsletter, or by entering their postcode when they make an online purchase.

Use Merge tags – Merge tags are pieces of code that allow you to target different segments through customer data. This means you don’t have to personalise each message you send out. You can simply insert the tags (ex: Hi *NAME*) and the system will fill the rest.

Make use of trigger messages – Automated triggered messages are the emails that are automatically sent based on particular criteria. Such messages can come in the form of thank you emails, welcome messages, or even “we miss you” emails.

With trigger messages, you don’t have to manually keep track of customer activity and you won’t have to write a new email every time you reach out; you can simply rely on automation to keep supporting your customer relationships.

Let’s say a shopper hasn’t made a purchase from you in a while. You can set up a trigger message that automatically sends an email after a certain period of inactivity, so you can automatically re-engage them without having to do much manual work.

Plan it out early – Planning out your emails doesn’t take long and helps remove the stress of a last minute rush to quickly get together new content. Taking notes of the new things happening for your brand, inspirational messaging, quirky ideas, and feedback from your customers can all stem ideas for new newsletters. Keep a record of your newsletter plans handy, so when you need to send out an inspirational message to share with your customers, you’ll have plenty of ideas ready!

 

Getting it Working Together

Newsletters are a chance to get creative with sharing your brand. When you’re planning it out, you want to highlight what’s really awesome about your company and talk about any exciting news you want to share with your customers (including competitions and sales!).

mailsync-taylor

Taylor Boutique, a fashion brand designed and manufactured in New Zealand, is an example of a retailer that sends out excellent brand emails. When you receive their newsletters, they are every bit as stylish as their brand.

Their email newsletter is easy to sign up for, and its icon sit right beside their social login buttons.

They also include clearly visible social media share buttons so you can Like them on Facebook, Tweet them easily, or follow their Pinterest board. Their newsletter features a catalog of their products and links to their blog, shop, and new products.

mailsync-asos

Asos are another well known online shopping website that excels in email marketing. They offer the option of signing up for a Men’s newsletter or Women’s, so they can target with gender relevant options. They also instantly send out a welcome email which links to all their shopping categories, shares their social buttons, and links to information about shipping and their returns policy. This is a great example of using automation to create an ongoing customer relationship.

Think about what you enjoy about the newsletters you receive, and what details you might want to consider implementing in your own emails.

 

Helpful Tools to Use

It can be a bit overwhelming trying to figure out exactly what features you’ll need to send out your email newsletter, but the important thing is to find tools that really work for you.

Here’s a rundown of  popular tools that make the mailing out process quick, easy, and rewarding:

MailChimp – MailChimp provides almost endless possibilities to create the perfect newsletter. They offer multiple customization tools to make your content look awesome and sign up forms to match your brand specifically. They also make adding merge tags easy, and offer subscriber profiles, so you can see exactly how engaged each customer is, and what their website activity has been. Plus they have a paid-for automation feature with eCommerce360.

GetResponse – GetResponse’s tagline is “The World’s Easiest Email Marketing”. They provide 99% email deliverability and offer multiple cool features including a Time Travel option that allows your emails to reach recipients at the same local time all across the world. They also offer over 1,000 free iStock images, and 500+ email templates.

Constant Contact – Constant Contact is a great tool that highlights the importance of quantifying your customers’ responses to your emails, openings, clicks, and forwarding, thus giving you usable data about what really works. They also provide award winning customer support.

Campaign Monitor – Campaign Monitor is used around the world, from small boutiques to the big guys like Nike, Buzzfeed, and AirBnB. They offer adaptability, designs that can be used across multiple platforms, and allow you to test multiple options for effectiveness. They also have no ugly badges, meaning you’re free to completely customize their designs.

MailSync – MailSync is a tool that syncs your Vend POS and eCommerce data to your mailing list, automatically. It’s integrated with all the top email marketing platforms (including all the tools listed above) and designed to be a “set and forget” type of tool, meaning after a 2 minute set-up, you never have to worry about having to adjust settings or wasting time manually exporting and importing with CSVs .

Email is both direct and personal, and that’s what makes it so effective. When it comes to email marketing, it’s important to make sure you choose a technology that’s manageable for you.

Planning your email marketing can also be a great opportunity to involve your staff and customers for feedback and inspiration. Have a play around with what works for you, and what features you need to create the most effective newsletter for your business. For more helpful tips and useful tools, check out this helpful infographic on everything a retailer needs to know to get started with Email Marketing.

About the author:

Elizabeth Beattie is a Retail Journalist at MailSync. A keen thrift store shopper, people watcher, coffee drinker, and picture taker, with ever-growing travel plans. I like to collect the facts and discover stories. Interested in how digital communication shapes culture.

Recommended Reading

Check out our email marketing guide here for additional tips and insights on how to grow your subscribers list, increase engagement and make more sales through email.

About Francesca Nicasio

Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.