Part 3 in our series on building your business is all about using email. You’ve already built your email list from connecting with businesses directly and contacting them via phone. You should also have emails from your current customers as well.
Now that you have a list of email addresses – no matter how small it is to start – you want to build yourself a plan to stay connected to those contacts.
There are two different types of emails you need to consider:
Taking a step back and looking at the customer connection flow, you should be sending your prospects a direct email after you’ve met with them in person and/or after connecting with them on the phone. This email should be sent within a few days of your initial conversation with that customer, to ensure they remember who you are and what you talked about with them. You may even want to send the email the same day – the longer you wait the more likely they are to forget their conversation with you.
“Hi so-and-so. It’s Marc from the embroidery shop. It was great chatting with you today about x, y, z. Just wanted to send you a quick email to ensure you had all my contact information.”
In your email you also want to set the next action. If when you were chatting with them they mentioned they may need custom apparel in two or three months from now, let them know that you’ll reconnect with them closer to that date. “You mentioned that you may need some printed shirts for your corporate fundraiser in September, so I’ll connect with you again at the end of August.” If there wasn’t any upcoming event they mentioned, still let them know you’ll connect with them again in a month or two to check in if there’s anything you can help them with. If this prospect is a referral or one you only connected with over the phone, use the email to ask if it’s okay to drop by in a week or two to drop off a sample.
Some people and businesses will be easier to connect with over email, so don’t just rely on the phone, use email as well to ensure your prospects are receiving your messages, and are more likely to order from you.
Sending emails is not intrusive – if a prospect or customer doesn’t want to read the email, they simply won’t. On the other hand if they’re interested in custom apparel and you made a great impression, they are likely to read the email and even potentially respond. While people do tend to get a fair number of emails every day, they still read the content that interests and matters to them.
As we mentioned above, so many small businesses collect email addresses, but don’t do anything further with them, so there is a high likelihood that your competition is not sending out these emails. By sending emails to prospects and customers after you’ve connected with them, it ensures that your business stays on their mind. So the next time they need to order they’ll be more likely to remember you and give you a call.
We recommend doing follow-ups with your customers via the phone. It helps ensure you get feedback on their order after it’s been delivered. However, people are busy, your customers are busy and they may not have time for a chat over the phone. So, if you can’t get a hold of your customers via the phone, or they do answer and let you know they don’t have time to chat, respect their time, and simply let them know you’ll send them a quick email/survey and that you’ll follow up again with them in a week or so.
Working with the numbers we talked about in the previous blog posts, if you’re going out on a regular basis and collecting customers’ and prospects’ email addresses, you are gaining almost 80 new contacts each month. These email addresses can then be used in your marketing emails.
A very important thing we want to highlight with marketing emails is that you need to use an Email Service – not simply building them in your business email. There are a number of them, two of the more popular services are MailChimp and Constant Contact. Email services are important for a number of reasons: they have designed templates to help you create professional looking emails; they allow you to send bulk emails to pre-built mailing lists; they allow you to track open and click rates.
Using your business email address to send bulk emails is the quickest way for your emails to get marked as spam. Plus there is the issue with confidentiality – while your email gives you the option to send emails via “blind cc” there is greater room for error and the likelihood that you’ll accidentally send the email with other contacts’ information.
Tracking the open and click rates will help you understand if your emails are being read. No use in sending emails on a regular basis that no one reads. By monitoring open and click rates you can start to understand your market and what types of emails they’re more interested in. It also helps you play around with email subject lines – what information in the subject line has a better open rate. Email services allow you to test different versions of the emails, so you could be sending one email with a subject line of “20% this week only” and another with “Embroidery special – 20% off all polos” and see which one has a better open rate. You can also test different emails to see what promotions your customers are more interested in. Example: “20% off patches” versus “Free cap with every order”.
You can also see additional information about what time of day people are more likely to read emails. As an example some people may have dedicated time to read emails first thing in the morning, this allows you to schedule emails so that they arrive in inboxes when they’re more likely to be read.
When building your marketing communications, keep the body of the email simple and clean. This is where the pre-built templates come in handy, they allow you to have separate sections and input pictures and copy. Keep the copy simple and to the point – too much information in an email will make it less likely to be read. What is the point of your email? Stick to that.
Lastly your email should have a call to action. What is it you want your customers to do? “Call now to get your free hat with purchase,” “Visit our website to learn more,” “Email us to get your free quote.”
The great thing about email is that you’re able to reach a lot of people really quickly. When creating your marketing emails, it may take you an hour or so to draft something up, but if you’ve been building your email list from all your customers, prospects, and other contacts, in a few months you could have nearly 200 contacts. And with marketing emails, even if all of them don’t read the email, you’re still reaching a significant portion of your market within a small amount of time.
The main point of the emails is to remind your customers that you exist. People sign up for mailing lists and newsletters because the sender/company has something they are interested in. While they may not purchase anything right away, sooner or later they’ll give you a call because they saw your email and need some customer apparel and so you’ll have a customer you wouldn’t have gotten if you didn’t send those emails.
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