If there’s one marketing activity that designers seem to forget about the most it’s email marketing. Dismissed as something to do “every now and then”, I’m always floored by the number of designers who don’t have a sign up option on their websites.
The thing about email marketing is that you own it. You own those email addresses that people are sharing with you; not Facebook, not Instagram, not any other 3rd party. And in owning them, you have complete control of the how and the when of reaching out to them.
If you’re already collecting emails, I applaud you, good job. Now you know my next question, right?
Are you actually using those email addresses?
I think fear keeps a lot of us from really diving into email marketing for our fashion businesses. It’s kind of along the same lines as blogging, we think to ourselves “Why do they care?” or “What do I really have to say that useful?” You’re right to be asking yourselves these questions. In doing so, you’re taking the first step to creating a marketing strategy that actually works.
The thing is, you can’t stop there. You have to create a plan around what you want to accomplish.
Let’s back up.
You want to build relationships with your customers, right? You want them to view your brand as a brand they feel connected to, right? You want to communicate with them and share things that matter to them, right?
Then create a plan for email marketing.
Step 1: Add a sign up form to your website. And put yourself in their shoes- Why should they give you their email address? What’s in it for them? What if they don’t care about “behind the scenes and exclusive discounts”, since every brand seems to promise that.
Step 2: Create a list of possible topics, jot down ideas, think about what your customer cares about besides your brand. What can you email them about that truly matters to them? What can you email them about that gets them excited to open your emails? This is not something you can figure out in 5 minutes. Think. A lot. Research. A lot. Refer to your customer profile/market research. A lot.
Step 3: Create an email marketing calendar. How often will you email them? Really, you’re asking yourself, How often can I provide something of true value. If you feel that that’s once per month, then do that, once per week, then do that. Then be consistent.
So all that’s great but what if you don’t have anyone on your mailing list yet? Good question. Here’s your answer: you have to market your sign up button like you marketing any other part of your business.
Ways to market your email sign up button
- Add Calls to Action posts to your social media platforms. Tweet the link to your sign up page, sprinkle your Facebook page with requests to sign up. Don’t overdo it, plan it out. Use Hootsuite to schedule these so you don’t forget. Just remember to tell them why.
- Hold contests and use opt-in pages to be in the running. Maybe once a quarter you hold some sort of contest where the customer needs to supply their email in order to be considered.
- Collaborate with others in your industry. Find brands that are complementary to yours and collaborate on something- a giveaway, a download, whatever. Share the email sign ups. It’s a great way to tap into another brand’s audience.
- Experiment with Facebook ads. This requires some research but rather than trying to make the hard sale on Facebook, play around with doing a Facebook ad that drives people to your mailing list. Rather than always have to rely on Facebook to access these people, start getting them in the space you own.
- Create interesting downloads. What does your customer care about? Who is she? What does she value and how does she spend her time? What can you create that speaks to these things? Think about their lifestyle. Get creative. Then get it down on “paper”, make it look pretty, and offer it as a free download with sign up.
Folks, it’s September already. The holiday season is rushing at us full steam. You are in business to make money (that’s the only way it’s actually a business, remember) so it’s time to get your shit together.
Don’t let yourself feel overwhelmed by all that you need to do. Think about your task list in terms of revenue. What things on your list are things that lead directly to sales; focus on those. Building your email list is certainly one of them.
In a discussion and Q+A with Shannon Whitehead, founder of Factory45, we laid out all kinds of things that you can be doing to market your eCommerce website; email marketing is one that repeatedly came up. To hear all the other helpful ideas, you can check out the recorded discussion here.