Guest Columnist

Column: Turn email marketing into sales

Guest columnistApril 28, 2014 

Jennifer Gregory is a business writer who lives in Wake Forest. Find her online at jennifergregorywriter.com.

COURTESY OF JENNIFER GREGORY

Before Triangle Wine Co. opened in Morrisville in fall 2011, the business already had about 1,000 people signed up for its email newsletter. And over the past three years, they have collected many times more than that amount.

“As a small business, we didn’t have a huge marketing budget in the beginning and have found over the years that email marketing is the most cost effective way to keep in touch with our most dedicated and excited customers,” said Christopher Roche, managing partner of the wine and craft beer store.

The company has an email subscription option on its website, and employees ask each in-store customer whether they are interested in registering to be on the list as a way to get special offers and information about upcoming events.

Many small- and medium-business owners have found email marketing to be an effective strategy; however, it’s important to understand laws and the CAN-SPAM Act, said Andy Waldrop, director of digital strategy at COCG, a digital marketing agency in Raleigh.

“Basically, the law says that you are only allowed to communicate by email with people who have opted in to receive your communications, and that you cannot buy a list of email addresses for marketing,” Waldrop said. “You also have to put in specific information that identifies your location, as well as why the person is receiving the email.”

Since do-it-yourself email marketing software programs comply with the law, Waldrop recommends using one such as iContact or MailChimp to send marketing emails.

“If you are new to email marketing and want to be sure you are not violating the law, using a software program is a great way to go,” he said.

Once owners are certain they are complying with email laws, they should focus on how to convert emails to actual sales. Roche offers the following tips:

Provide value in your emails: Roche said that when a new craft beer arrives or a popular event is coming, he shares the news first with his email subscribers before putting it out on Twitter or Facebook. “We send everything through email first because we want to reward our loyal customers first,” Roche said.

Be prepared to deal with email issues: One of the biggest problems Roche encounters is customers not receiving emails. “First, make sure that the email was entered in correctly. If that is not the problem, have the customer check their spam folder. The next step is to then have the customer use a different email address, since different programs have peculiarities,” Roche said.

Customize your email lists: Not all customers are going to be interested in the same content. If you target multiple audiences or carry diverse products, consider having separate email lists so that each person is getting the information most pertinent to them.

“We have an email list for those interested in beer and another that is devoted to wine. Customers can sign up for just one or for both,” Roche said.

Jennifer Gregory is a business writer who lives in Wake Forest. Find her online at jennifergregorywriter.com.

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