One of the most powerful tools in your digital marketing kit is email marketing. But how do you break through the clutter that exists in your customers’ inboxes these days? More bars and nightclubs have discovered the power of digital media. They post events, promotions, messages, photos, and videos in a variety of places (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Vimeo) and, most recently, tell stories on Snapchat. All of those media channels depend on your customers and prospects to find you on their “streams.”
Communicating directly to customers can be a great way to build a one-to-one relationship. But more than 200 billion emails are sent every day, and the average employed person receives 121 messages each day, according to the latest statistics. Why should they read yours?
Who’s on Your List?
The first (and most important) step in building an effective e-marketing program is gathering and growing a database of loyal customers; people who like your establishment and want to hear from you. No one will willingly give you his email address if he believes you will simply be bombarding him with endless promotional messages. You need to give those customers a reason to sign your guest book or subscribe online to your e-news. Sweepstakes, invitations to exclusive events, and VIP status are all great incentives to get people to subscribe. Be sure to add a “sign-up” button to your website and social media sites too (again with clear language that explains what you’ll send them, how often, and why they should sign up). But never simply add someone to your e-mail list without express permission.
Another way to expand your email reach is to collaborate with other local businesses on their email promotions.
If you have more detailed information on your customers, personalize your messages. For example, if you know which people come to your live music night, you can use that information to alert them to upcoming bands. Or, alternatively, inform them that you also serve Sunday brunch. (“Beer on Saturday night…Bloody Mary on Sunday (late) morning!)
What’s Your Message?
Make sure your subject line is compelling and the “from” line is recognizable (i.e., a person’s name as opposed to “info@xyz”). The first thing someone sees in his inbox is the entryway to your brand; it should look inviting. Here are some great examples of retail subject lines.
Once you’ve drawn someone into reading on, make sure he isn’t faced with a big blob of copy. The human’s average attention span is a mere 8 seconds. Use colorful graphics and short text. Mix it up. Keep your brand consistent, but change colors with the seasons. Give the reader something he hasn’t seen a million times before! For example, in my company’s monthly e-blasts, I include historical fun facts and videos. Read through your message as if you are receiving it as a customer. Do you really want to read about what Nick the bartender did every day of his summer break? But if you showcase a 30-second video of Nick surfing, maybe you’ll grab the reader’s attention. Don’t just tell someone you now have autumn craft beers on the menu – include a picture and a fun caption.
Make sure your email is easy to share with others. If you’re running a great special or have a terrific event happening, you want your readers to be able to easily share the email with their friends and on all the social media sites. Many current email marketing platforms (like Constant Contact and Mail Chimp) have this functionality built in. Share your messages on your own social platforms too. If someone likes what he sees, he’ll consider subscribing.
Test Before You Hit Send
Most people read their emails on smartphones or tablets. Your messages should be easy to read on any device. Proofread, proofread, proofread. Check any hyperlinks too. The quality of your communication reflects on the quality of your brand.
Send messages at a time when people are most likely to read them. The data on this keeps changing, but you’ll be able to learn the best time for your readers simply by experimenting with different options.
Analyze and Fine-Tune
Most email platforms give you great analytics. You’ll know exactly who opened your emails (and when). If your email included links, you can see what content people clicked on and viewed most often.
If you don’t have the time and resources to create your own e-marketing program, consider hiring a professional to do it. Because results are measurable, you’ll see precisely what it’s bringing you in terms of new views and new customers, and can justify the expense.
How much is too much? If you’re “doing it right,” you’ll find that people rarely unsubscribe and you might even get notes from delighted readers sometimes. In summary:
- Know who you’re sending messages to.
- Make the messages fun, interesting, brief and compelling (because your reader will be thinking, “What’s in it for ME?”)
- Measure, perfect, repeat!
Presto! You’ll be performing e-marketing magic in no time!
P.S. For a FREE evaluation of your current e-marketing campaign, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m not a magician, but I can help you grow your business!