Electronic Marketing Secrets
Electronic Marketing - The Secrets the Techies Don't Tell You
Let me just get straight to the point: electronic marketing is the perfect marketing tool for retailers. It is an incredibly cost effective way to increase customer loyalty, increase the number of transactions you get from each of your customers and it’s an effective way to get new customers.
The Truth about Web Sites
Regardless of what the techies and web gurus say, as a small retail store your website isn’t going to bring you vast hoards of NEW retail customers, let you compete with the “big boys” in your industries, or make you rich.
It’s just not true.
What your website and your social media sites can and should do, however, is be a wonderful tool to market to your existing retail customers and hottest prospects.
More and more customers are going to go online to find out questions to the commonly asked retail questions: What are your store hours, if you’re open on Sunday, if you carry a brand of products they are looking for, what’s new at the store this month, or even what your phone number is!
Every business should have at least a “brochure” type website with 3-7 pages about their business. It’s just good customer service. If you’re not making it easy to shop with you, your customers will eventually go elsewhere.
Which brings us to the very interesting subject of how to get people to visit your site in the first place...
The “If You Build It, They Will Come” Myth - Revisited
Just like opening the doors to your store and doing very little marketing, merely creating a website or starting a Facebook Page and doing nothing to entice people, will get you very few visitors.
There are lots of search engine optimization strategies and fancy marketing maneuvers you can use to drive online traffic to you, but these are not usually tactics that are feasible for small business owners.
The best, easiest, most sure-fire way to get your customers to visit your site is to use email marketing, and if you have the time, combine it with an active presence on social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter.
This e-marketing strategy is so important, easy, and inexpensive that I think everyone ought to be doing it!
Electronic marketing is quite simply the cheapest, easiest, and fastest way to stay in touch with your retail customers. Here’s why:
Almost any message you decide to send to your customers via snail mail can also be sent via email and through social media sites – and you avoid the printing, materials and postage costs! It’s definitely a big savings.
Sending an email and posting to social media sites is easier than sending regular mail. You don’t have all the hassle of designing, printing, stuffing, stamping, and hauling. All you do is write your message and click send!
No more waiting around for the postman to deliver your letter. When you send it, it gets there immediately! This is great if you have time sensitive retail offers, like a special price only good through the end of next week or a last minute event reminder.
Here’s one of the biggest plusses with electronic marketing – your customer has an EASY, IMMEDIATE way to respond to you. All they have to do is hit reply, write a comment, or click a link to your website. They don’t have to decide to pick up the phone, they don’t have to put anything in the mail, and they don’t have to wait for regular business hours. Making it easy for your customer to do business with you is very important.
All this adds up to one thing. You can – and are much more likely to – communicate frequently with your customers and build great “Top of Mind Awareness.” As a result, you’ll get stronger, deeper, better customer relationships.
Here are ways you should be using electronic marketing in your retail store:
Notify your customers about sales, special events, and promotions.
Email marketing and online social networking are a perfect way to notify your customers about promotions, seminars, sales and special events. In fact, if you really want to push an event you can send a series of emails to promote it. The first would be a “mark it on your calendar” message about 4 weeks out, then a “don’t forget” reminder about a week and a half out and finally a “it’s happening this weekend” reminder a day or two before the event.
Every event doesn’t warrant a series of emails, but your major events certainly do. Generate immediate interest in your products or services. During the shoulder seasons, or if you get a big order of new items in, post it to your Facebook page, or send an email and fill your store fast. These types of messages are generally more “off-the-cuff” but can still be very successful.
There are two tricks:
- Make sure your message puts the “Law of Scarcity” into play (“one day only," “for the first 27 customers,” or “just three more ultra widgets left”). This makes taking action an urgent priority.
- Give them a special offer if they do take action quickly.
This example does both: “My pain is your gain – UPS dropped off 47 boxes of new holiday decorations today and I don’t have quite enough room for all these beautiful garden gifts in the store. So to make extra room, I’m offering you a special two day deal. On these two days ONLY, get 25% off any purchase in the store. Plus I’ll throw in a bottle of tree preserver ($11.95 value) as a special thank you.”
Time Sensitive Offers
Email marketing is very effective for perishable items or for any weekly/daily specials that are only available for a short period.
For instance, if you’re a garden center and have a weekly plant special, post it online or email your list the day before it arrives to generate interest and remind people to stop in. You could even post care instructions and a picture of the plant!
Inform your customers about changes that affect them.
Electronic messages are an easy way to get the nitty-gritty details about your business out to your customers. It’s quick, easy, and inexpensive.
If you hire a new employee, let your customers know. If your fax number changes, blast out a short message. If you change your store hours, get the word out. It’s important information – plus it’s one more communication from you that keeps your name at the top of your customer’s mind.
Also if you ever plan on moving your retail store, posting that information online, plus having a solid list of your customers email addresses allows you to make the move with minimal interruption to your customer base. If you can’t contact them and notify them of what’s happening you will surely lose a lot of them with your move.
Establish yourself as the expert.
Email and online forums are a great format for sending out a weekly or monthly tip, article, or idea – something that will position you in the mind of your customer as an “Expert.”
Regular communication reinforces your position as the expert and does an awful lot to keep your customers loyal. Note that this kind of message is not exactly like a newsletter – these should be short and have one simple point, not try to do too much.
Drive customers to your website
Email marketing and online communication via social networking is the best way for small businesses to drive customers to their websites. Not search engines.
In the text of your email message and in your online posts, just include a link with an invitation to get more information on your website. Like this: “Just click here www.yourwebsite.com for complete information about...” Facebook has easy to use applications to allow you to put a “badge” or “like box” on your emails and your website.
Get that traffic going both ways, and get your customers used to visiting you frequently online! The more they visit the more likely they will use you and you alone as their favorite retail store.
This strategy of using email lists and social media as actively as possible; sending a short, informative e-mail every week, and posting to social media sites like Facebook every day, combined with having an information rich, customer-friendly website, can take the place of thousands of dollars in traditional media advertising.
Using this strategy of getting the absolute most from your existing customers through electronic marketing diminishes your need to constantly find new customers through advertising. It adds up to more loyal customers, more efficient marketing and more money in your bank account.
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