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10 Email Marketing Secrets to Acquire and Retain More Retail Customers

What’s the most effective way for retailers to both acquire and retain customers? According to a recent survey of retail businesses by WBR Digital for Emarsys, it’s email — by far. More than eight in 10 businesses surveyed (81 percent) say they depend on email for customer acquisition, while 80 percent rely on it for customer retention. In addition, nearly three-fourths say email marketing is a priority in their marketing budgets.

How can your retail business best use email marketing to acquire and retain more customers? Here are 10 tactics successful retailers use.

Email Marketing for Retail Customers

1. Build Your Email Lists Any Way You Can

Email marketing success starts with a good list, so never miss an opportunity to get a customer’s permission to send them emails.

  • Use ads on Facebook and Google to get customers to sign up for your emails. Offer a discount in return for signing up to make it worth their while.

  • Always ask customers at the point of purchase if they’d like to sign up to receive your emails. You can make this super easy by putting a sign-up sheet at the point of purchase, or have sales clerks ask for the information and input it right then and there. If you choose the former approach, make sure your salespeople still ask for the sign-up and don’t just assume people will notice the sign-up sheet.

  • Hold social media contests to acquire email addresses. Reach out wherever your customers congregate — Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram — and hold a contest that requires an email sign-up to enter.

2. Personalize Your Email Offers

You wouldn’t send an email promoting your upcoming sale on baby clothes to a customer who has only ever bought men’s clothes, would you? Well, you might, if you don’t take the time to personalize your emails — and that email probably wouldn’t be very effective. Instead of sending out general email blasts, tap into as much data as you can collect about your customers, such as information about past purchases or data collected from your loyalty program. Use that knowledge to create different email marketing messages for different types of customers.

3. Get Recipients to Forward Your Emails

Whether you’re providing useful information, something entertaining or a discount offer, make sure there’s always a motivation for recipients to forward your emails to their friends and families. This is one of the best ways to build your email list and your customer base. Then be sure you ask for the forward — spell it out with a call to action like “Forward this email to a friend.”

4. Provide Useful Information

Sure, you’ll want to send email recipients discounts, sale notices and promotions — but that shouldn’t be all you send them, or your emails will start to look like every other retailer’s. Mix it up by also providing useful information that’s relevant to your recipients (and, incidentally, helps motivate them to buy). For example, if you own a gardening store, your email could include an article, list of tips or a short video about how to transplant plants successfully. A clothing boutique could feature the top five back-to-school fashion trends for fall. Then include a call to action that gets readers into your store to buy those products: “Hurry in for best selection on our new fall fashions.”

5. Welcome New Customers

When someone first signs up to receive your emails, they should always receive a welcome email. Explain what they can expect from you — how often you’ll send emails, how to change their email preferences, etc. — and offer some type of discount or promotion to thank them for signing up.

6. Use Email to Build a Relationship

Emails should encourage customers to reach out to your business (beyond just coming into your store). For example, include social buttons in your emails that take customers to your retail business’ social media accounts. Ask them to rate you on relevant review sites. The more they interact with your store, the more you’ll be top-of-mind when they’re shopping for what you sell.

7. Recognize and Reward Your Best Customers

Email marketing is a great way to reach out to your VIPs. You can invite them to special events, ask them to give you feedback on your business and, of course, send them unique promotions and offers tailored just for your best customers.

8. Make Your Emails Stand Out from the Crowd

Use your email marketing service’s tools and templates to craft eye-catching emails. Invest in quality photos that create the right impression. Pay attention to subject lines and copy — you don’t have a lot of time to get the reader’s attention.

9. Make Sure Your Emails are Mobile Friendly

The majority of emails are now viewed on a mobile device, so it’s a good idea to develop your emails with mobility in mind. Keep copy short, put calls to action up top, and make the layout simple. Any links or buttons that you’re asking users to click on need to have plenty of white space around them.

10. Track Results

As with any type of marketing campaign, it’s vital to track the results of your email marketing efforts. Every email marketing service has analytics tools you can use to assess the effectiveness of your emails. By doing so, you’ll be able to find out which types of emails get the best results, as well as learn from your mistakes.