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What’s the most effective way for retailers to both acquire and retain customers? According to a recent survey of retail businesses by WBR Digital for Emarsys, it’s email — by far. More than eight in 10 businesses surveyed (81 percent) say they depend on email for customer acquisition, while 80 percent rely on it for customer retention. In addition, nearly three-fourths say email marketing is a priority in their marketing budgets.

How can your retail business best use email marketing to acquire and retain more customers? Here are 10 tactics successful retailers use.

Email Marketing for Retail Customers

1. Build Your Email Lists Any Way You Can

Email marketing success starts with a good list, so never miss an opportunity to get a customer’s permission to send them emails.

  • Use ads on Facebook and Google to get customers to sign up for your emails. Offer a discount in return for signing up to make it worth their while.
  • Always ask customers at the point of purchase if they’d like to sign up to receive your emails. You can make this super easy by putting a sign-up sheet at the point of purchase, or have sales clerks ask for the information and input it right then and there. If you choose the former approach, make sure your salespeople still ask for the sign-up and don’t just assume people will notice the sign-up sheet.
  • Hold social media contests to acquire email addresses. Reach out wherever your customers congregate — Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram — and hold a contest that requires an email sign-up to enter.

2. Personalize Your Email Offers

You wouldn’t send an email promoting your upcoming sale on baby clothes to a customer who has only ever bought men’s clothes, would you? Well, you might, if you don’t take the time to personalize your emails — and that email probably wouldn’t be very effective. Instead of sending out general email blasts, tap into as much data as you can collect about your customers, such as information about past purchases or data collected from your loyalty program. Use that knowledge to create different email marketing messages for different types of customers.

3. Get Recipients to Forward Your Emails

Whether you’re providing useful information, something entertaining or a discount offer, make sure there’s always a motivation for recipients to forward your emails to their friends and families. This is one of the best ways to build your email list and your customer base. Then be sure you ask for the forward — spell it out with a call to action like “Forward this email to a friend.”

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4. Provide Useful Information

Sure, you’ll want to send email recipients discounts, sale notices and promotions — but that shouldn’t be all you send them, or your emails will start to look like every other retailer’s. Mix it up by also providing useful information that’s relevant to your recipients (and, incidentally, helps motivate them to buy). For example, if you own a gardening store, your email could include an article, list of tips or a short video about how to transplant plants successfully. A clothing boutique could feature the top five back-to-school fashion trends for fall. Then include a call to action that gets readers into your store to buy those products: “Hurry in for best selection on our new fall fashions.”

Email Marketing Secrets to Acquire and Retain More Retail Customers

5. Welcome New Customers

When someone first signs up to receive your emails, they should always receive a welcome email. Explain what they can expect from you — how often you’ll send emails, how to change their email preferences, etc. — and offer some type of discount or promotion to thank them for signing up.

6. Use Email to Build a Relationship

Emails should encourage customers to reach out to your business (beyond just coming into your store). For example, include social buttons in your emails that take customers to your retail business’ social media accounts. Ask them to rate you on relevant review sites. The more they interact with your store, the more you’ll be top-of-mind when they’re shopping for what you sell.

7. Recognize and Reward Your Best Customers

Email marketing is a great way to reach out to your VIPs. You can invite them to special events, ask them to give you feedback on your business and, of course, send them unique promotions and offers tailored just for your best customers.

8. Make Your Emails Stand Out from the Crowd

Use your email marketing service’s tools and templates to craft eye-catching emails. Invest in quality photos that create the right impression. Pay attention to subject lines and copy — you don’t have a lot of time to get the reader’s attention.

9. Make Sure Your Emails are Mobile Friendly

The majority of emails are now viewed on a mobile device, so it’s a good idea to develop your emails with mobility in mind. Keep copy short, put calls to action up top, and make the layout simple. Any links or buttons that you’re asking users to click on need to have plenty of white space around them.

10. Track Results

As with any type of marketing campaign, it’s vital to track the results of your email marketing efforts. Every email marketing service has analytics tools you can use to assess the effectiveness of your emails. By doing so, you’ll be able to find out which types of emails get the best results, as well as learn from your mistakes.

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Email Marketing Tactics for Retail Customers Key Points
1. Build Your Email Lists – Utilize various methods for list growth
– Encourage sign-ups through ads, point of purchase, and contests
2. Personalize Your Email Offers – Leverage customer data for personalized content
3. Get Recipients to Forward Your Emails – Provide incentives for recipients to share emails
4. Provide Useful Information – Offer a mix of promotional and informative content
5. Welcome New Customers – Send welcome emails with expectations and incentives
6. Use Email to Build a Relationship – Encourage customer engagement beyond purchases
7. Recognize and Reward Your Best Customers – Extend special promotions and events to VIP customers
8. Make Your Emails Stand Out from the Crowd – Utilize tools, templates, and quality visuals for eye-catching emails
9. Make Sure Your Emails are Mobile Friendly – Optimize emails for mobile devices
10. Track Results – Use analytics tools to assess email effectiveness

Email Marketing Secrets to Acquire and Retain More Retail Customers

Segmentation for Better Targeting

Effective email marketing for retailers goes beyond sending generic messages to your entire list. To maximize your customer acquisition and retention efforts, consider implementing segmentation strategies. Segmentation involves dividing your email list into smaller, more targeted groups based on specific criteria. Here’s how you can use segmentation to enhance your email marketing:

  • Demographics: Tailor your emails based on factors like age, gender, location, and income. For example, send different product recommendations to male and female customers or adjust your content based on regional preferences.
  • Behavioral Data: Analyze customer behavior such as browsing history, purchase frequency, and shopping cart abandonment. Send personalized recommendations and incentives to entice customers back to your site.
  • Purchase History: Recognize your customers’ preferences by segmenting them according to their past purchases. Offer complementary products or accessories to enhance their shopping experience.
  • Engagement Level: Segment your list by engagement level, distinguishing between active, dormant, and new subscribers. Create re-engagement campaigns to win back dormant subscribers and provide exclusive offers to loyal customers.
  • Email Interactions: Track how subscribers engage with your emails. Segment based on opens, clicks, and conversions to send tailored follow-up messages that align with their interests.
Segmentation Criteria Key Points
Demographics – Segment based on age, gender, location, and income
– Customize content to match regional preferences
Behavioral Data – Analyze browsing history, purchase frequency, and cart abandonment
– Send personalized recommendations and incentives
Purchase History – Recognize customer preferences from past purchases
– Offer complementary products to enhance the shopping experience
Engagement Level – Segment based on engagement level (active, dormant, new subscribers)
– Create re-engagement campaigns for dormant subscribers
– Provide exclusive offers to loyal customers
Email Interactions – Track email engagement (opens, clicks, conversions)
– Send tailored follow-up messages aligned with recipient interests
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Email Marketing Secrets to Acquire and Retain More Retail Customers

Email Marketing Trends for Retail in 2023

Stay ahead of the curve by incorporating these emerging email marketing trends into your retail strategy:

  • Interactive Emails: Incorporate interactive elements like surveys, polls, and quizzes within your emails to engage customers and gather valuable feedback.
  • AI-Powered Personalization: Leverage artificial intelligence to analyze customer data and deliver hyper-personalized product recommendations and content.
  • User-Generated Content (UGC): Encourage customers to share their experiences with your products and feature UGC in your emails to build trust and authenticity.
  • Sustainability Messaging: Highlight your brand’s commitment to sustainability and eco-friendly practices in your email campaigns to resonate with environmentally conscious consumers.
  • Omnichannel Integration: Ensure seamless integration between email, social media, and in-store experiences to create a unified shopping journey.
  • Storytelling Emails: Craft compelling narratives around your products or brand values to emotionally connect with customers and drive brand loyalty.
  • AI-Driven Predictive Analytics: Use AI-driven analytics to predict customer behavior and send emails at the optimal times for higher open and conversion rates.
  • Advanced Segmentation: Dive deeper into segmentation by considering factors like customer lifetime value (CLV) and purchase intent to refine your targeting.
  • Email Accessibility: Prioritize email accessibility by optimizing for screen readers and ensuring that all customers can engage with your content.
  • GDPR Compliance: Stay up-to-date with data protection regulations and ensure that your email marketing practices are GDPR-compliant to build trust with your audience.

Email Marketing Secrets to Acquire and Retain More Retail Customers

Email Marketing Automation for Retail Success

Email marketing automation can significantly enhance your retail strategies, saving time and improving customer engagement. Here’s how to leverage automation effectively:

  • Drip Campaigns: Set up automated drip campaigns that send a series of emails to subscribers over time. For example, welcome series, onboarding sequences, and post-purchase follow-ups can nurture leads and encourage repeat business.
  • Abandoned Cart Recovery: Implement automated emails to remind customers about abandoned carts and entice them to complete their purchases. Include product images, prices, and persuasive copy to encourage conversions.
  • Personalized Recommendations: Utilize automation to analyze customer behavior and send automated emails with product recommendations based on their browsing and purchase history. This increases cross-selling and upselling opportunities.
  • Behavior-Based Triggers: Trigger emails based on specific customer actions, such as clicks, opens, or website visits. For instance, send a discount coupon when a customer hasn’t made a purchase in a while to re-engage them.
  • Segmented Targeting: Automate list segmentation to ensure that subscribers receive content tailored to their preferences and behaviors. This ensures that your emails remain relevant to each recipient.
  • A/B Testing: Set up automated A/B tests for subject lines, email content, and send times to continuously optimize your email campaigns for better open and conversion rates.
  • Analytics and Reporting: Use automation to gather and analyze data on email performance, including open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates. Adjust your strategies based on these insights for continuous improvement.
  • Dynamic Content: Create emails with dynamic content blocks that automatically change based on recipient characteristics or behavior, providing a more personalized experience.
  • Cross-Channel Integration: Integrate your email marketing automation with other marketing channels, such as social media and SMS, for a cohesive and effective omnichannel marketing strategy.
  • Feedback Loops: Set up automated feedback loops to collect customer reviews and feedback, which can be used to improve products and services and build trust with your audience.


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