Reopening retail after COVID-19 lockdown: Activate e-mail marketing

Retail might never be the same again. The global COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we do everything from shopping to working forever. But don’t you sometimes wish you had something that just remained a bit constant? Something that you can rely on for comfort? No, not a tub of ice cream.

We are talking about e-mail marketing, of course. If you think this is an outdated approach, lost in the era of WhatsApp, think again. According to the DMA, e-mail marketing returns a whopping US$32 for every US$1 spent on it.

Getting e-mail marketing right can be a bit more challenging than other channels like affiliate marketing and content marketing, but the payoff will be worth it.

The myriad factors involved in getting the right results from an e-mail marketing campaign can be a bit overwhelming. The right time and the frequency to send mailers can differ quite drastically by industry. Add a pandemic that’s shaken all the usual consumer habits like a milkshake and it is understandable that you might be a bit skittish about the idea.

Before you even begin with your e-marketing campaign, though, you need a list. And you need to make sure that your list complies with all the requirements of collecting people’s data. Yikes! Scary stuff again.

How to build your e-mail marketing list

But let’s break things down a bit and look at the right ways to build your e-mail marketing list.

If you have only ever had a physical store, but you have adopted ecommerce in the wake of the global pandemic, curating a e-mail marketing list will be even more important – especially because far too many bricks and mortar retailers have neglected this aspect of their marketing strategy.

If you are kicking yourself for not doing this from the start, it’s okay – things got real pretty quickly, right?

The important thing is to adapt your strategy now and get going with building out that list.

The easiest way to start building your list is to simply add an opt in form to your content and website. All reliable mailer services will do most of the hard work for you here – you just have to embed the form. Nothing special needed to get going – you might be surprised at how willing people are to sign up to something they like engaging with.

If you are reopening your retail store after the lockdown and you are not opting to combine bricks and mortar with a bricks and clicks mortar, you should still consider e-mail marketing. If you’re sticking to a physical store only post-lockdown, the approach is the same: simply ask your customers to sign up to your list. It can be as old school as putting a piece of paper down (remember the hand sanitizer for the pen!).

If you are an ecommerce retailer, you can also add a tick box at checkout to allow customers to sign up for your newsletter.

If you do not have an established base for your brand yet, you might want to consider lead magnets. Quite simply, these are calls to action that offer something in exchange for people signing up to your list.

It can be anything from a discount coupon to a special guide or a physical product of some sort. Other options are also giving away your product or service for free as a prize.

The drawbacks to lead magnet approach to list building

The downside to the lead magnet approach is that people might unsubscribe as quickly as they sign up.

One way to overcome this problem is to ask subscribers to confirm their subscription to your mailer. A study on open rates proves that customers prefer a confirmed opt-in (COI) email 2.7X more than a welcome email.

What’s the point of having a huge e-mail list if nobody is going to click on it?

Using the double opt in method is also a good way to prompt your subscribers to add the e-mail you are sending the newsletter from to their contact list.

Some inboxes will filter newsletters into the promotions or – gasp, heaven forbid – spam list. If users know that they have to look out for a mail to confirm their interest, it mitigates some of the risk of your newsletter going rogue.

When it comes to building an e-mail marketing list, there isn’t really a right or wrong answer. What works in your niche – or with your customers – might not work elsewhere.

With all of the above, one rule of thumb applies to all, though. You have to be clear in your communication from the start.

That might be stating the obvious, but the little details can get lost quite often. If you cannot communicate clearly in something asking people to sign up to…errr… communications… they’re probably not going to sign up to that communication.

People want to know what they are signing up for and how often they will be receiving your e-mails. It might even be worth sharing an example of one of your newsletters online. Remember, the average user receives almost 100 e-mails a day. You want to be sure that your mailer does not get lost in that deluge – even if we all have loads more free time with the whole working from home thing.

A solid call to action with a snappy blurb will be far more appealing than simply asking people to sign up.

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