Your customers are more engaged with the internet and social media than ever, and they have easy access to a vast number of online booksellers. What is a bricks-and-mortar indie bookseller to do? Growing your customer email list is essential to keeping your store at the top of your customers’ minds and on the tip of their tongues (and fingers).
If your customers aren’t responding to your email newsletter sign-up efforts the way you thought they would, don’t despair! We have some tips and tricks to help you catch—and keep—your customers’ attention.
1. Plan Your Email Collection Campaign
Not sure where to start? Get some ideas by signing up for as many other store email newsletters as you can. Before long, you’ll have a good sense of what you like and dislike from a consumer’s standpoint, which will make it a lot easier to lay the foundation for your own campaign. Don’t expect to get it right on the first try—it is a learning experience for you and your customers, and you may go through several different strategies before you find one that is effective.
2. Incentives Are Your Friend
Your amazing product and great customer service might not be enough to convince your customers to part with their email addresses. After all, they can visit your store whenever they want without any strings attached or personal information given. Promising your new newsletter sign-ups perks like a percentage discount off of their next purchase, a free book on their birthday, or advance access to sales and promotions shows that you’re in it for them and not just your bottom line.
3. Information is Crucial
While some customers will willingly divulge their email addresses at the last minute at checkout without a second thought, you’ll get more sign-ups if you provide information your customers can reference ahead of time while they shop, or take with them when they leave your store. This can be in the form of strategically-placed posters or flyers that advertise the benefits of signing up, to cards your employees can include in your customers’ shopping bags at checkout, or even a website address printed on your receipts.
4. Make it Fun
Go beyond the standard sign-up sheet at cash and make things fun and interactive for your customers. Hold a draw or contest for merchandise or store credit and place ballot boxes throughout your store so your customers can sign up themselves. Start an incentive program like a stamp card for free books, or an avid readers’ club. You can even host book club meetings, talks, or workshops that your customers must sign up for to join in on. The possibilities are endless—if your customers are engaged with you and your store, they are likelier to want to sign up for, and will look forward to, your newsletter updates.
5. Don’t be Annoying
Your customers get lots of emails every day. Sure, you have to stand out from the pack, but be respectful and don’t be that store that bombards them with too many messages or irrelevant content. That is a sure-fire way to land your emails in their junk mail folder, or worse, prompt them to unsubscribe. Your customers gave you their email addresses in the confidence that it would benefit them just as much as your store. Keep their attention with bold, visually appealing graphics and photographs, new product updates, store news, and of course, information on upcoming sales. It won’t hurt to throw a contest or giveaway in every once in a while either. Invest in good email marketing software and know how to use it—this will help ensure the content you’re sending out is always professional-looking.
So how often should you send emails? One to two times a week seems to be the standard for many stores, but you can adjust this once you begin receiving feedback from your customers. You can also increase the frequency leading up to “big deal” sales and promotions. The trick is finding the right balance—you don’t want to send updates out too often, but at the same time, you don’t want your customers to forget about you. Choose a day and a time that works and stick with it so your customers know when to expect your next newsletter.
6. Know Your Customers
At the end of the day, you will have a better knowledge of your customers’ likes and needs than anyone else. Design email collection campaigns that are specifically tailored to their interests and monitor the results and any feedback you receive closely. After a while, you will get a feel for what works and what doesn’t, and you will be well on your way to growing your email list, but also more importantly, strengthening your rapport with your customers.
Need more guidance? Want to talk strategy? Feel free to leave a comment below or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org