Email Marketing for your Local Business

Email marketing. It’s a relatively simple concept, yet it’s widely successful. In the broadest sense, it’s just sending your marketing content directly to prospects’ email inbox.

Perhaps you’ve heard how companies like Buzzfeed or Warby Parker have grown their business with the help of email marketing. And now you want to do it as well.

There’s only one problem: your business is a local one. Every email marketing success story you’ve heard is of a company with customers all over the country—or even the globe. After all that’s what’s so great about the internet, right? It can build communities full of people spread across the globe.

In order for you to make a sale, you need to focus on people who live in your zip code, or at least close to it. So I guess you can’t harness the power of the internet to grow your business, right? Wrong.

Sure, the internet is great for e-commerce companies and other ones that don’t require people to physically enter their store, but that doesn’t eliminate it from helping you. There are plenty of email marketing strategies that local businesses can use, so let’s take a look at some now.

One of the things you might notice immediately when starting your local email marketing initiative is that the traditional strategy for building a list of contacts won’t work for you. You can’t just take anybody who’s interested in what you’re selling—they have to be both interested and local.

One of the ways to overcome this is to come up with creative ways to add people to your list when they visit your store. If they are visiting your store, it’s a pretty safe bet they’re local (in most cases, at least).

Let’s use a wine shop as an example of how you might get visitors to sign up for your list. You can host a tasting of one of the wines you sell, and in order for patrons to have a taste, you can ask them to sign up for your newsletter. Or perhaps have the free tasting, but offer an extra discount on a bottle of the wine for customers that sign up for your newsletter.

The point here is that getting people to sign up for your list will probably take more than simply asking them at check out.

Chances are, getting people to sign up for your list will be a quid pro quo proposition, but there’s nothing wrong with that, and it will be worth it in the long run.

What to put in your local emails

As you continue to build your list, you need to make sure that the content of your emails is strong so as not to lose contacts currently on your list. Your instinct might be to look at some of the big e-commerce companies and emulate them, but in fact, being local is an advantage here. You can do things with your emails that non-local companies can’t do.

Tie in events

As a local business, you have one major and definite advantage over internet companies. You can use your store to build a community, and foster positive relationships between your company and your community.

Events are one of the great ways to go about this. Events not only draw in people who aren’t already familiar with your business, but they also give an excuse for people who are already customers to stop by.

To continue the example of the wine shop, one obvious event is a tasting. With this event, you’ll naturally attract people into your store who are just passing by, but tie the event into your email marketing, and you’ll see tons of people come in who maybe otherwise wouldn’t have that day.

Add a personal touch

One of the huge advantages of having a storefront is the fact that you have people in the storefront. Use this same advantage in your emails.

When I receive email marketing messages from big companies, those messages are not from anybody in particular. Sure, at some point somebody had to write them, but I wouldn’t know the difference between Steve from marketing and HAL 9000.

You, on the other hand, are a person. You own the store, and all of the people you email on your list have probably seen you before, if not talked to you. Take advantage of this in your emails.

Write the email in a similar tone as you would speak. Make it conversational, and be sure to sign-off using your name. When people come into your store and notice that the same person ringing them up is the same person they receive their emails from, those emails will become much more impactful and feel much more genuine.

Make your subject local

One of the problems with email marketing is its saturation of the marketing landscape. Nearly every company does it, and people are bombarded by email marketing messages on a daily basis.

This is why subject lines are so important. A strong subject line is often the difference between someone opening an email and immediately discarding it. So, effective subject lines mean good open rates.

The problem with so many subject lines is they’re impersonal and feel salesy. When I get an email from a company I’m already on guard a bit, so unless the subject line is compelling, I’m subject to toss that thing in the trash.

This is why local subject lines are so effective. If I see a subject that references my neighborhood, I’m naturally more inclined to think the email may actually apply to me and open it.

Don’t totally ignore the big guys

A lot of what I’ve talked about here are things you can and should do differently from big companies that can’t implement local email marketing strategies, but that doesn’t mean you should totally depart from what they do.

These companies are successful, and they do a lot of things right. The key for you is to figure out how to blend traditional email marketing strategies with local ones. If you can manage to do this effectively, you’re sure to see success.