We’ve already touched on two ways to grow your business: going out and talking to businesses, and phoning existing customers, prospects, and likely customers. And while you were doing that you should have been collecting emails. Which is the topic of this post: Using email to generate profit.

Whether you’re in the t-shirt transfer business or the embroidery business, maintaining your connection with your customers is so important. We’ve mentioned this before – it costs more to acquire a new customer than it does to maintain an existing one. This is why an email address is so important.

While you’re collecting all of these email addresses you need to have a plan. What are you going to do with them?

There are two different areas you need to focus on when creating email communications plan:

  1.  One-on-one communications
  2. Marketing communications

One-on-one communications

There are different aspects of one-on-one communication: existing customers and prospects/referrals.

When you were out collecting all those contact names, phone, numbers, and emails, you’re building a list. The day after you talked to those customers you’re going to want to follow-up with an email. This email has a couple purposes:

  1. Remind the potential customer of who you are and what you do. “Hey this is Stephanie, I own the embroidery business / t-shirt transfer business just down the street. It was great meeting you the other day.”
  2. Set the next action. In sales you always want to have a follow-up action with any customer or prospect (until that customer is considered lost). If when you talked to the customer they said they didn’t need anything right away (because if they did you’d be phoning and getting the details for the order), but perhaps they mentioned they have an event coming up 3 months from now, that’s your action item: “When we talked you mentioned you had a company event coming up in May, so I’ll touch base with you again in about 6 weeks.” Or if they didn’t mention any upcoming event you can just let them know you’ll shoot them an email in the next month or so.

Don’t think of sending an email to be intrusive. If the customer doesn’t want to read it they won’t. But if they’ve expressed interest in getting custom apparel, or even if you simply made a great impression, they’ll be more likely to open your email and read it.

Just like so may other aspects of the customer experience, chances are your competition is not sending out these emails. So if you’re doing it, you’re going to be at the forefront of your customers’ minds.

While it’s a better idea to phone your existing customers – to ask them how their recent order was or to follow-up and see if they need anything – people are busy. Your customers may not answer the phone or might not have time to talk. If you get through to them and they’re busy, or you have to leave a voice mail, just say something along the lines of: “That’s great to hear you’re busy. I’ll just send you a quick email so that you can read it at your convenience and maybe we can touch base next week.” You’re honoring their time, acknowledging that they’re busy, and you’re giving them an expectation that you’re going to follow up (again, setting up a follow-up action). They’ll be more likely to read the email if they know you’re going to call them back.

Marketing Communications

If you’ve been going out on a regular basis, collecting email addresses, within a few months you should have a fairly large list of names. So now you can use those email addresses to build out your marketing communications.

Before we get into what to do with these marketing emails we need to touch on Email Services. Email Services have huge benefits to any business. It allows you to:

  • create templated/designed emails
  • send bulk emails
  • track open and click rates

If you’re not familiar with email services there are a number of them out there on the market. Two of the more popular options are MailChimp and Constant Contact. Essentially, with an Email Service you are hiring a company to help you manage your emails. They provide you with templates to design your emails in. Because humans are visual people, creating clean, visually appealing emails means that your content is more likely to be opened and read.

They also provide you with analytics. Your open and click through rates are two of your most important stats. Are your emails being opened? And are your customers clicking on any of the links you input into the email? What they also provide is the time of day that your customers open the emails. You may be asking why this is important. Most people don’t stay glued to their email, opening them up as soon as the email came in. Especially business people, who work with employees and customers, and have meetings. Chances are there is specific times throughout the day that they dedicate to reading email. By knowing when that time is and sending your emails out just before or during that time, the more likely they are to be read.

These analytics will also help you understand what types of emails your customers are attracted to. If one email has a subject line “20% off all polos” and the other has “20% off all caps” and one of the emails has more opens, you know what your customers are interested in. You can use email to see what kinds of promotions your customers are interested in, what would entice them to buy – free shipping, percentage off, gift with purchase.

Email Services are not expensive and if you sit down and calculate the profit that even one successful email campaign could have for your business, you’ll find you’re more than making up for the cost of the Email Service.

Your marketing emails should contain a catchy subject line, but make sure that it reflects what in the email. If your subject line says “20% off everything”, you better be able to honor that, and have the information in the email. Think about your own email inbox. What emails do you not open? What emails do you open? Why?

The main content of your email should be short, to the point, and enticing. What are your customers interested in? They’re probably not interested in the latest embroidery machine you bought – unless it’s going to reduce their cost, or make it so you can deliver orders faster, or perhaps you were simply doing t shirt transfers and now you’ve expanded your business. Those are things to tell your customers. Promotions are more likely to engage your customers.

Create a call to action. What do you want your customers to do? Do you want them to phone you? Do you want them to visit your website to learn more? Do you want them to ask for a free quote? Give your customers an actionable item, and a reason to talk to you.

Here’s one final thing to consider. Getting on the phone is a great way to make personal connections with customers, and we want you to do it. But how many people can you phone in a day? In a month? Let’s say you are able to speak directly with 100 people in a month and you get $1,000 worth of orders. That’s great. But how big is your email list? 200? 500? If you email those 500 people, and you get $1,000 worth of orders, you’ve spent significantly less time getting that $1,000.

So while we want you to hit the pavement and physically meet potential customers and we want you to call up customers, we also want you to consider the return on investment of creating an email list and sending out a newsletter once a month.

Start doing this right away.

Start sending out personal emails to your customers. Send follow-up emails to prospects you met within the last few days. Get on an Email Service and start learning how to use it to create newsletters. Even if your email list is a few dozen people, start sending them a newsletter every 2-4 weeks. Get your name in front of them and you will be the person they call the next time they need custom apparel. And your business will grow!