Back when jWAG was formed in 2010, the common mantra touted by many online marketers was that "the money is in the list." The list, at the time, was a reference to the number of people on your email list. Since then, we now have the ability to reach customers through many other list methods, including Facebook retargeting lists, Google AdWords remarketing lists, and even push notifications through custom apps that people download. So many online marketing opportunities exist now that it doesn't seem worth the time to manage, grow, and produce emails for your own list when it's much easier to create a targeted ad through Facebook.
I say the money is still in the list as long as you correctly target your customers with segmentation.
However, long before you can segment different customers on your list you have to convince people to sign up for your list in the first place. This is a common struggle that retail jewelers face all the time, but you have to start somewhere.
Here are some ideas to help with collecting emails...
Collecting The Best Email Addresses
Customers are fatigued by randomly giving out their email addresses and are looking for more than just another special deal. Many even set up special junk email accounts and give those addresses out freely, but then rarely read what they receive.
Recently, I've noticed a new online marketing trend where an email signup form asks for "your best email address" as a way to ask for non-junk email account. Instead of begging for a non junk address, you should simply tell the customer exactly what they should expect from your email newsletter and then follow through.
Let them decide if they want to sign up for your newsletter, but don't hold any hard feelings if they choose not to.
Create a Hook That They Need
My mother likes to crochet, and she recently learned how to knit. She had been crocheting the same few baby blanket patterns for 30 years until she discovered a local fabric store and a few yarn websites that offered newsletters. She usually doesn't give out her email address, but she signed up for newsletters from 4 different yarn stores because they send her unique crochet and knit patterns at least once a week.
A few months back, she asked me to help her organize her emails because they were overloaded. Sure enough, when visiting one evening, I found that she had collected hundreds of crocket/knit pattern emails that she didn't want to delete. I had to organize her email account with subfolders and create message filters for each of the companies.
Being the pragmatist that I am, I asked why she didn't simply unsubscribe from a few of these lists, and that's when I found out what was really happening. She discovered that each of those yarn companies would occasionally send a discount code to order yarn online at a discount. The discount codes are only good for a short amount of time, so she doesn't want to miss one in case she needs to buy more yarn unexpectedly.
She originally signed up for these emails because she wanted free crochet patterns, but she also wanted the occasional discount. She receives the crochet patterns once every week from each of the companies, but the online ordering discount is only offered every 5th email or so.
How can you apply the same technique to your own business? Can you write something interesting every week? Share a how-to educational piece? Show a video? What would keep their attention so they will wait around for another 4 or 5 weeks until they get that next discount offer?
Master The Solicitation
Collecting the emails is probably the most difficult part. The emails that you collect during the checkout process at your store are not allowed to be added to your email list unless the person is opting in for them. You could manually add them to your newsletter list, but you must allow them to confirm their newsletter subscription through a double opt-in method.
Many salespeople have asked me for my email address at different stores. You'll find it very difficult to grow your newsletter email list if you simply ask them for their address. Instead, you have to make it really sound like it will be worth their while to sign up. Here are some random examples:
You: "Would you like to sign up for our email list?"
Customer: "That's okay."
You: "We have a regular newsletter with home tips for cleaning your jewelry; would you like to sign up for it?"
You: "We send out regular emails with videos showing how-to and jewelry tips. Every once in a while it also has event invitations and notices when items are on closeout. Would you like to sign up?"
You have to make your newsletter sound like its unique, and worth receiving. When was the last time someone offered to send you how-to videos in an email? My local Petco keeps asking me to sign up for their email list, but I refuse all the time. However, if they offered to send me cute cat or puppy videos, I'd sign up... because that would get my attention.
Soliciting the email sign-ups in your store isn't something you can just ask your sales associates to do for you. I suggest creating a real training exercise to make sure they know what to say and how to say it.
Website Signup Boxes
If you take my advice and work hard at requesting people in your store to sign up for emails, you should then extend that convincing approach to how you ask them to sign up on your website. I dislike the simple posted "sign up for our newsletter" message with a single email address field.
Those simple signup boxes do not offer any real reason for me to sign up, other than to invite more potential spam into my inbox. I want more information. You have to explain what you will be sending; better yet, show them in a video.
It will take quite a bit of website testing to find a good headline or signup pitch. I suggest you figure out which sales pitch works well in your store and apply it to your website. You might even need a special landing page to get them to sign up instead of a simple signup box in your footer.
Above everything else, remember that your newsletter needs to prove its value every time you send it. Funny stories, heartwarming stories, engagement announcements, how-to videos, and tips for matching jewelry with the newest fashions could keep them interested.
Segmenting your list for specific sales offers takes a lot of time, so much so that most people throw up their hands and walk away from their newsletters, leaving a lot of money on the table. Consider that a general newsletter with basic jewelry tips wouldn't need to be segmented heavily, if at all. It's only the sales pitches that need segmenting.
Don't give up on your email newsletter. Figure out how to present fun, educational, and information news that your customers will enjoy reading. Then throw in an occasional offer to give them a reason to return to your site or your store to make their next purchase.