Effective Email Marketing

Direct marketing via email is an ideal communication method for any small business that relies on its repeat customers for much of its business. Email messages can highlight special offers and new products and then prompt recipients to click through to the website or visit your shop.

Email marketing done badly does present some pitfalls, however. Indiscriminate emailing will be seen as spam. Responsibility and relevance are the watchwords. You must have permission to email the recipient. And if you want them to respond positively, you must send messages that are genuinely of value to them.

Building Your Email Marketing Lists

An up-to-date database is the starting point for your permission-based email marketing strategy. Your contact list must have all the necessary information about recipients so that you can target your messages.

Avoid sending commercial emails to recipients who have not agreed to receive them and ensure that each mailing includes an 'unsubscribe' option so people can opt out if they wish. Printing a small sign up form and keeping it by the till is a good way to expand your emailing list.

Group your customers according to what they have bought in the past. That way you can send targeted messages about specific product ranges to the right people. For example, create a list with all your customers buying Michael Miller Fabrics, so when a new collection arrives you can let them know.

Data Protection

It is illegal to reveal recipients' details on your emails, so you need to create a mailing group that sends a blind carbon copy (bcc). All commercial emails should be clearly identifiable as such. At the same time, you must not conceal your own identity.

Creating Your Marketing Emails

Whether you send regular email newsletters or occasional offers, the content of your marketing emails must be relevant and useful to the recipient. Send one or two irrelevant messages and your prospects may start deleting all your emails, or even unsubscribe.

To ensure relevancy, target messages to specific groups of your database rather than the whole list.
There are lots of ways to make your email stand out. Grab attention with a compelling subject line, but don't use exaggerated claims - they can look like junk mail. Keep the text simple and give a clear call to action and a reason to respond. For example: Christmas Fabrics now available!

Use positive calls to action to encourage recipients to go to your shop or to click through to your website.

Before pressing 'send', always review the email and put yourself in the shoes of the recipient. Is it really relevant or useful?
Yes, emails look better if you have an image, however a clear message will bring your customers to your door when you want them.

Measuring the Response to your Emails

Tracking the results of your email campaigns will enable you to establish what's working and what's not.
There are different tools you can use to measure success. One way to do this is by adding a gift code to the email and offering a small prize to the first 20 customers to quote the code – for example a free Michael Miller pattern, some small cuts of fabric or a discount on their next purchase. The number of customers getting in touch to quote the code will give you an idea of the level of engagement with your emails.

Please keep in mind that the response rates for email marketing are often higher than for other direct marketing methods. If you send emails to a large mailing group, you could be inundated with enquiries. Make sure you can you handle them and fulfil the orders.