Email marketing is the key to success for a number of industries. More than 205 billion emails are sent and received every single day. And it’s another effective way for retailers to engage with and motivate consumers.
What sets email apart from many other digital marketing initiatives is the level of intimacy. The subscribers on your list have explicitly chosen to receive communications from you. They want to hear from you.
When you compare that to social media, paid ads, and other tactics, nothing is more personal than email. You’re landing directly in your audience’s inbox, every single time. Comparatively, social media only reaches a number of individuals (not your entire audience), and paid traffic is often less qualified. Those consumers might not even know your brand yet, and you’re asking them to spend money with you.
Utilizing email marketing allows you to reach a qualified audience on an intimate level — which means they’re more likely to take action. But it’s tricky to bridge the gap between the digital world and the real world.
There are lots of ideas you can use to bring more customers in-store, but how can retailers use an online tactic like email marketing to drive more offline sales?
Here are some ideas.
What to Include in Every Email
Retailers who have brick-and-mortar stores should always include information in every email as a reminder to come shop. Here are some things you’ll want to consider:
- List of locations (plus a link to easily get directions from Google Maps)
- Store hours
- Store phone number
Take a look at the above example from apparel retailer New York & Company. Notice the language: “Your Local Store.” That’s much more personal than “Nearby Locations” or “Nearby Stores.” The more personalized the messaging feels to the customer, the more likely it will resonate.
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Beyond Simply Sending Emails
There’s more to email marketing than simply sending emails to your list. There’s a lot of maintenance, strategy and nurturing involved, too.
Building Your List
If you don’t have an existing email list, you’re going to need to get one. And if you think it’s as easy as throwing up a form on your website, think again.
Consumers sign up for email lists because they want to get something out of it. In some cases, it could be a free ebook or other useful piece of content or freebie. In other cases, they sign up because of a free gift with purchase. If you’re not sure what to offer your email subscribers, think about who your target market is and what they want. It could be as simple as a coupon code, but it needs to be appealing enough to make consumers want to give you their personal information.
Then you need to think about how you’ll get people to sign up for your list. There are many ways to do this, but again, it comes down to your target market. If they hang out on Facebook, run a paid Facebook campaign to build your list. If they’re all about Instagram, target that platform instead.
Borrow Someone Else’s List
If you don’t already have your own email list, you could leverage someone else’s to get started. There are a couple of ways to do this, one of which being a relationship with an influencer.
With some influencers, you can pay their set price to be featured in content they send out to their own email list. This can help you build your own list, as well as get in front of new potential customers who can visit your store.
Segmenting Your List
Email list segmentation is essential to any successful email marketing strategy. List segmentation is when you create lists within your list, sub-lists if you will, of customers with similar attributes. Lists can be segmented by almost anything you can think of: demographics, purchasing behavior, email engagement, and more.
If you want to use email to attract more foot traffic to your store, you want to make sure you’re only emailing those customers who are interested in actually coming into your store.
Here’s a scenario: If you’re located in Indiana, and your email subscriber is in Australia, chances are slim that they’ll visit your store. If they see emails from you inviting them to your location, they might be turned off and unsubscribe. But, if you have your list segmented, you can make sure you only email individuals within nearby proximity about your in-store happenings. So, that Australian subscriber would only get emails that contain content or information about your online store.
When you collect emails from customers in-store, be it during the transaction, a physical sign-up form in your store, or some other way, make sure they’re added to your list that’s appropriate for these types of emails.
Many email tools allow you to segment your email list, both manually and automatically. For example, MailChimp recently opened segmentation to all users, so you don’t need to meet a minimum requirement in terms of list size.
Email Ideas to Attract More Foot Traffic to Your Store
In-Store Events and Announcements
In-store events are always a recommended way for retailers to boost foot traffic. But if you really want to attract customers to come to your events, you’ll need to do more than just send a one-off email about it.
Instead, think of an email series that you can send out weeks prior to the event. This helps to build buzz around it, and your list is more likely to see it.
Not all emails are opened, so if you send five emails instead of one, you’ll have a greater chance of getting it in front of your customers’ eyes. You’ll also avoid a scenario where your customers see an email about an event after it’s over.
Here are some event ideas to get you started:
- Housewares: Host a healthy-cooking workshop, where a local chef shows your customers how to make a healthy meal while using your products. Prior to the event, share a series of emails containing healthy-eating tips, information about the chef, and similar content. After the workshop, email attendees with the recipes, where to get the ingredients locally, and a coupon for your related products (redeemable in-store only). Plus, you can create a list of individuals interested in cooking workshops, so you can notify them of the next one.
- Book shop: Have a local children’s author perform a reading of their books. Prior to the event, send out emails that talk about how parents can help their children learn to read, book recommendations for the summer, and advice directly from the author. Afterward, bundle a bunch of helpful information for parents together as a go-to resource, and offer a free children’s book with their next in-store purchase.
- Athletic gear: Have a meet-and-greet with a local celebrity athlete. Send out emails that have exclusive Q&As, the athlete’s training regimen, and videos where the athlete demonstrates different exercises. Post-event, distribute more fitness tips, coupons for any recommended gear (in-store purchases only!), and information about future events.
Not every in-store attraction is tied to an event. Perhaps you just added an interactive component to your technology store, or your pet-friendly brewery has just adopted a new shop pup. Send a blast out to your list with the announcement and talk about how excited you are. Loyal customers won’t need any other incentive to pay you a visit.
Do you have an Instagram-worthy space? If so, your customers might be talking about you online, and posting pictures of your store on social media.
FURTHER READING: Want to make your storefront more Instagrammable? Check out our guidelines on making your shop picture perfect.
Turn the social media chatter into an email tactic to lure foot traffic to your shop. Showing your email list that other people love shopping in your store is great social proof.
Consumers trust referrals from their peers far more than they trust brands themselves. In fact, 92% of consumers trust earned media (such as peer reviews). Those social check-ins serve as peer reviews for you, and all you have to do is package it up and send it off.
Every customer loves a coupon. But if you want to drive physical foot traffic into your brick-and-mortar store, coupon codes that are redeemable online may not get you closer to your goal.
Offer coupons but make it so your customers must redeem the discount in person, even if they want to order online. Tie coupons to specific events, such as holidays and birthdays.
Exclusivity is a great tactic; it makes your customers feel special and appreciated — and more willing to spend money. Exclusive events and offerings that are only available to the customers on your email list can drive more foot traffic (and grow your list!)
- Send an evite to the event: It makes the sale seem more intimate and personable. Sending a formal invitation could increase the likelihood that your sale will make it onto your customers’ calendars. “You’re invited” sounds more welcoming than “Spend money at this secret sale.”
- Bring a friend: The idea of the +1 at weddings and other occasions could inspire an idea for your own email list-only sales. Invite your email list to a secret sale, and give them the option to bring a guest. If you fear that will make the crowd too large, only invite your top customers who spend the most money. If they have deep pockets when it comes to your brand, their friends might too.
Email receipts are becoming more of a norm for brick and mortars, and many retailers miss out on the opportunity to make a further connection with customers in this step. And because it’s so often overlooked, you’re probably already way ahead of your competition.
With your email receipts, include a discount or free gift with their next in-store purchase. This works with ecommerce sales, too. If someone orders from your website, you can lure them into your store with a freebie that they can only get if they show at your location.
Build Hype Around Your Products
New arrivals? Running out of stock? Limited product drop? Or maybe you just need to move some product to make room for new items. Either way, at the end of the day, retailers need to sell products to make money.
One way to use email to build buzz around your products is to give updates on stock. Let your customers know about the status of products, but not in a way that seems desperate.
- New arrivals: When you have just received new products in stock, send out an update to your email list. Pictures of the products, or even a picture of the products still in the shipping box, builds intrigue. Make sure to tell your email subscribers that they have to come into the store if they want to purchase the featured item.
- Popular products: If there’s a product that’s flying off the shelves, amplify the popularity by sharing it with your email list. Look on social media to see if there’s any user-generated content you can use, include customer reviews about the product, or display an interactive counter to let customers know just how many are left.
- Running low: Need new ideas to move product that’s collecting dust on the shelves? Alert your email list of the scarcity to get it moving. Tell them to come into the store to snag one of the last ones left.
Celebrate Customer Milestones
Customers have relationships with brands, and the more brands nurture those relationships, the more they can expect customers to spend. Celebrating milestones of your relationship with your customers can encourage them to come into your store and spend more money.
Here are some milestones you can consider celebrating:
- Birthday: Set up an automated email to offer a special birthday gift or discount for your subscribers the next time they come into your store.
- Anniversary of joining your email list: Another automation you can set up is an anniversary for subscribing to the list. The execution can be simple: Acknowledge the occasion, offer your customer a discount or freebie, and let them know they can redeem it the next time they’re shopping in your store.
- Anniversary of first purchase: Similar to celebrating the anniversary of their subscription to your email list, you can also congratulate customers on the anniversary of their first purchase. It’s sort of like your anniversary of your relationship. A gift in exchange for their loyalty will encourage them to redeem in-store.
Email Marketing Is Only as Strong as Your Strategy
At the end of the day, a strong email marketing strategy is crucial to ongoing and consistent success. Starting out with measurable goals and a target market in mind will help ensure your email marketing is as effective as possible.