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Get existing customers back in your retail store in 8 simple steps

If you have a retail store, your main goal is to get more sales and new customers, right? You work hard on maintaining the best stock and providing your customers with the best service. But what about the customers you already have? Many retailers spend so much time and money on getting new customers, when according to industry retail statistics existing customers are the most valuable. They spend more than twice what new customers spend, despite only showing up half as much.

It might seem counter-intuitive, but we propose you should spend at least 50% of your marketing time and money to make your customers return more often. How can you do that? It’s all about email. Using email marketing is still the cheapest, most personal and effective way to contact customers. Again, studies show that most buying decisions come from email marketing — more than 70% compared to social media. Think about it: if a customer joins your email list, it means they are interested in what you have to say - if you take the time to say it.

This guide will give you effective tips and techniques to do just that.

Step 1 - Getting started

The first thing you need to do is determine how you will gather your customers’ email addresses. There are several ways to do that, either with an online tool or with good old traditional pen and paper right there in your store.

Step 2 - Collect emails

Email inboxes get cluttered easily and people might be reluctant to give out their email address. How can you solve that? Give something back to the customer, like a discount coupon or entry into a raffle. 

Step 3 - When to ask for an email address

Timing is everything and this part also needs careful thought and planning in order to bring the best results. For example, asking for someone’s email when they’re entering the store or when they’re at the register might not be the best option. They have other things on their mind and might not be willing to stop and give you their email address.

The best place to ask a customer to join your list is before they go to the register. Compliment them on their intended purchase and make the offer. If using paper, be sure you have a clipboard and a pen or pencil ready. Or hand them the device with the screen already selected so they can input their details.

Even better, consider offering some kind of instant gratification. This can quadruple your chances of the customer giving you their information. For example, offer them a small gift or a discount that can be applied right away as they’re checking out. One good tip is to make your instant gratification offers available to your highest spending customers only.

Step 4 - Use these emails

You have collected your customers’ emails, now what? As we mentioned before, inboxes get cluttered easily and many retailers use email to showcase their stock and promote their marketing efforts. It’s important to try to stand out and not tire the customer or they might delete the email, or even worse unsubscribe from your list.

A good tactic is to take a photo of just one interesting product that you just received in stock, is moving slowly, or you have to discount. Send it to your email list first, then later (much later) you can add it to your social media.

Step 5 - How to write your message

There are simple techniques to make your email stand out and connect with your customer: 

  • Write a compelling subject for your email: this will catch the customer’s attention and make them click on the email
  • Give value: have a good reason to send the email and say why it will make their life better
  • Be emotional: have a story to tell, this will help your customers connect emotionally with your brand  
  • Use simple language: make your message easy to follow and engaging to read
  • Include the price: no one likes having to click through to another website and go digging to find the information they need
  • Use a deadline: this is especially important when promoting discounts and offers
  • Don’t forget your phone number: be approachable and make it easy for your customers to contact you if they need to

Review your message, send the email and relax. Most of your work is now done. Make sure to set up a plan for sending regular emails to maintain consistency. Twice a week is a good starting point.

What if you don’t have anything new? You can still maintain contact with your customers:  You can talk about something happening in the industry or some other interesting piece of information. For instance, if you have a dress store, talk about the new fashion happening on the runways around the world.

Step 6 - Segmenting your list

As you collect more emails and your list gets larger, a useful tip is to segment it according to demographic details. This means tagging each customer in some of the following ways:

  • Gender
  • Age range
  • Location
  • Interests

Now when sending a product update, you can send it to the part of the list that will be most effective. Studies show that segmented lists get up to 25% more response and conversions than unsegmented lists.

Step 7 - Focus on the right things

Using email lists means you now have access to a whole lot of data, like how many people are opening your emails and visiting your website. But try not to get too excited about open rates or clickthrough rates. They are about as useful as follows, likes and shares to your bottom line. The important thing is to track how many people come into your store or call your number.

One way to ensure this is to make your customers interact with your emails. You can ask them to print the email (or easier, show it on their smartphone) to get a discount or secret access to the new inventory when they visit your store.

Step 8 - Amplify with social media

Now that you have the handle on how to pitch a product to your buyers, you can use the same text to place your item in social media. The most important thing when you post is to have a CTA (Call to Action). That’s simply an encouragement for your customer to take action. In this case, to come to your store. Some things you can do:

  • Offer discounts on social media.
  • Ask people to show you the post on their smartphone or print it out and bring it to the store.
  • For people who reshare your post, offer a discount, which they can redeem in the store.
  • Come up with creative ways to harness shares, likes, comments and follows that grow your list.

Repeat customers are an important part of your business and -if used strategically- email is a powerful tool that can help you increase your sales and activity.

Our eZineit tool can automatically create and send an email to your customers without you having to do any of the work. Find out more and take advantage of our intro offer, uploading up to 2,500 customer emails for free. 


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