1. Build an Email Contact List. Forget about the benign little guest register book on the counter---it is too passive and quickly becomes invisible. Train your staff to effectively gather this information from your customers on a consistent basis. Many shopkeepers are surprisingly reticent to ask for this information. Don't be! Most folks will be happy to give up the address provided you offer value for the sign up by way of great newsletter content, sales information, free tutorials, etc. One surefire way to update your email list is to offer to email a coupon for a free gift later that day.
This works on a number of levels: the retailer has an opportunity to verify the validity of the email before giving up any goodies and the customer makes a return trip to the store to redeem the gift---an additional sales opportunity!
Remember to use your website to capture email addresses. An attractive sign up box for visitors to register for newsletters, product updates, etc. is a painless way to grow your contact list. The coupon give away works just as well online.
2. Divide and Conquer. It is a good idea to divide your list into groups, so that the emails can be narrowly targeted. For example, I have a Master Contact List, which includes my entire customer list. However, I have subdivided the list into several smaller groups: Bead Store Owners, Yarn Store Owners, Needlepoint Store, Spinners, Felters, Jewelry Designers. A carefully targeted email will increase the odds that the recipient will be happy to receive it because it is relevant to her.
3. Make it a Habit. Your customers will get used to seeing your missives and-- if you have quality contact--- they will build you into their daily ritual. Despite what many retailers think, once a week is not too often. A recent study reported that the unsubscribe rate actually increases with the infrequency of the email! If folks aren't used to seeing you, they will delete you! The Crafty Retailer should send out a weekly email filled with pictures and links. The more pictures, the more interesting. Crafting is all about the visual. I am always kind of blown away when I see a craft retailer who advertises classes without posting any project pictures: SERIOUSLY? How can you excite and inspire without the eye candy? Pictures are a no brainer. Additionally, the more links within your email, the higher the click through rates and the lower the unsubscribe rate. Remember...your customers like to craft and you sell product they love. Your email is like comfort food!
5. Use the Subject Line to Hook your customer! You know the drill...it is all about Salesmanship. "Newsletter Update from the Bead Barn" might get put on the back burner, while there is a greater sense of urgency to read "Just In! New shipment of Gemstones at 2005 prices! Get 'em while you can!"
6. Offer High Value Content to Improve your "Click Through" rate. Art/Artist related newsletters typically garner a 17.53% open rate, and a 3.54% quick through rate. How do your newsletters compare? I keep a newsletter cheat sheet near the computer so that I can jot down notes when I come across an item of interest while surfing the net. That way, when I am ready to sit down and actually start typing I already have an outline. You can download a newsletter cheat sheet here.
"What Not to Crochet," while a bead store owner could give directions on how to clean Swarovski crystal. Consider including a favorite seasonal recipe, or note that your best customer's son just made it to the Little League All Star team. It is all about building community!
In the Studio:
The recent fiber earring challenge left me very inspired! In fact, we are working on a line of Felted and Embellished Earring kits that are wonderfully easy and delightfully inexpensive. Here is a sneak peak at one of the designs...whuddayathink?
Update: Cooper the Demon Dog
I lost my glasses.....and then I found them....sort of.
Cooper - 1, Glasses - 0.
Nonetheless, Cooper and I seem to be making our way. Only two accidents this week and no dead chickens...it is all good!
Of course, we had to restock our chicken family after the most recent massacre and the new girls are happily nesting in the studio for now. I am hoping that familiarity will encourage Cooper to feel more protective than predatory!