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Email as a tool remains highly effective for retail stores and serves as a crucial tool for marketing, customer engagement, and relationship building. In order to build and maintain an effective email program local retailers need to plan for different parts of email management including metrics and analytics, , different email format including content and context, collection and maintenance of emails as well as differentiation between pre, and pos-purchase email usage.  LEt's go over these in more detail.



As with any tool or strategy current data and trends are critical in assessing investment in the tool.  Here are some current metrics on how email is performing in customer communication:

Open Rates: This is the percentage of recipients who open a given email. Average open rates can vary, but they typically range from 15% to 25% across industries. For retail, open rates on the higher end of this spectrum are common, especially for well-segmented and personalized campaigns.

Click-Through Rates (CTR): This measures the percentage of email recipients who clicked on one or more links contained in a given email. The average CTR across industries is about 2.5%. For retail, effective emails, particularly those with compelling calls to action and attractive offers, can achieve higher CTRs.

Conversion Rates: This is the percentage of recipients who clicked on a link within an email and completed a desired action, such as making a purchase. Average conversion rates can be around 0.5% to 2%, but this heavily depends on the nature of the call to action and the alignment of the email content with the audience’s preferences.

Bounce Rates: Bounce rate refers to the percentage of emails that could not be delivered to the recipient's inbox. A healthy email list and well-maintained server should result in a bounce rate of less than 2%.

Unsubscribe Rates: This is the rate at which people opt-out of your email list after receiving an email. A typical unsubscribe rate is below 0.5%. High rates may indicate issues with the content’s relevance or frequency.

Engagement Over Time: Engagement metrics, such as open and click rates, tend to decrease as the novelty wears off after a subscriber joins an email list. Regular list maintenance and refreshes of email content and strategy can help mitigate this decline.

Segmentation and Personalization Effects: Emails that use segmentation and personalization tend to perform better than generic emails. According to various reports, personalized emails can deliver six times higher transaction rates.

Mobile vs. Desktop: Open rates from mobile devices have been increasing over the years. As of the last few years, more than half of all emails were opened on mobile devices. This trend underscores the importance of designing emails to be mobile-friendly.

Although thes general, industry-level, metrics provide some guidelines on where our email programs may performs it's important to remember that every retailer will need to track, evaluate and understand the metrics specific to their own store and unique characteristics of their store.



Effective email marketing takes many forms including:

Cost-Effective Marketing: Email marketing offers one of the highest return on investment (ROI) rates among marketing channels. It is relatively inexpensive to run email campaigns compared to other forms of advertising, making it a cost-effective way to reach a large audience.

Direct Customer Engagement: Email allows retailers to communicate directly with customers, bypassing intermediaries like social media platforms or advertising networks. This direct line can be used to deliver personalized messages that resonate more deeply with recipients.

Building Customer Relationships: Regular, personalized email communication helps build and maintain relationships with customers. It keeps the brand at the forefront of customers' minds and encourages ongoing engagement, which is crucial for loyalty and retention.

Driving Sales: Email marketing can directly drive sales. Promotions, special offers, and product announcements can entice recipients to make purchases. Abandoned cart emails, for example, can remind customers of items they left behind and encourage them to complete the purchase.

Personalization and Segmentation: Email allows for detailed personalization and segmentation. Retailers can send tailored messages based on past purchases, browsing behaviors, and customer preferences, which are more likely to result in conversions compared to generic advertisements.

Measurable Results: Email marketing provides actionable insights through data analytics. Retailers can track open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, and more. This data helps in refining strategies, understanding customer preferences, and optimizing future campaigns for better results.

Customer Feedback and Interaction: Emails can be used to solicit feedback from customers, giving insights into their shopping experiences and perceptions of the brand. This valuable feedback can guide product development, customer service improvements, and overall business strategies.

Integration with Other Marketing Channels: Email can be integrated with other marketing tools and platforms, such as social media, e-commerce platforms, and customer relationship management (CRM) systems. This integration helps create a cohesive marketing strategy that leverages multiple channels for greater impact.



In order to send emails retailers need to build an email list.  In addition the email list needs to be maintaine and kep clean to be effective over time.  

Some common options for capturing customer, or prospect, emails for local retailers include:

Point of Sale (POS) Requests: Train your staff to ask customers for their email addresses during the checkout process. They can explain the benefits, such as receiving notifications about promotions, special events, or loyalty program benefits.

Incentives for Signing Up: Offer customers a direct incentive to provide their email address. This could be a discount on their current purchase, a coupon for future use, or entry into a contest or giveaway.

Email Receipts: Offer to send an electronic receipt to customers as an eco-friendly option. This not only provides them with a digital record of their purchase but also allows you to collect their email address.

Loyalty Programs: Encourage customers to join a loyalty program that requires an email address to enroll. Highlight the benefits of the program, like earning points towards free products, exclusive discounts, or special customer events.

In-Store Sign-Up Forms: Place sign-up forms strategically around the store, such as at the checkout counter, on dining tables (if there’s a cafe area), or at any waiting area. Make sure the form is simple and quick to fill out.

Interactive Kiosks: Use digital kiosks or tablets where customers can enter their details to sign up for newsletters or loyalty programs. This can be particularly effective in tech-savvy or high-traffic areas.

Events and Workshops: If your store hosts events, workshops, or demonstrations, use these as opportunities to collect email addresses, either upon registration for the event or through sign-in sheets.

Wi-Fi Access: Offer free Wi-Fi access in the store but require customers to register with their email addresses to gain access. This can be an excellent way to gather emails from those who spend more time browsing.

It’s crucial to be transparent about how you plan to use these email addresses and to ensure that your practices comply with privacy laws and regulations, such as GDPR in Europe or CAN-SPAM in the United States. Always provide a clear way for customers to opt out of communications, and handle their data securely and respectfully.



Improving the quality of an email list is crucial for ensuring the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns. A high-quality email list leads to better engagement rates, lower bounce rates, and more accurate metrics for assessing your marketing efforts. Here are several strategies to improve the quality of your email list:

Regular List Cleaning: Remove inactive subscribers who haven't engaged with your emails over a significant period. This might involve setting a threshold, such as no opens or clicks for the past 6 months or a year. Keeping these subscribers can negatively affect your deliverability and engagement metrics.

Re-Engagement Campaigns: Before removing inactive subscribers, try to re-engage them with a targeted campaign. This can include special offers, updates about what's new, or a simple message asking if they would like to continue receiving emails. This gives your subscribers a chance to remain on the list if they're still interested.

Verification at Point of Capture: Ensure that the email addresses collected are valid at the point of capture. Use email verification tools during sign-up to catch and correct typos and invalid email formats. This prevents adding bad email addresses to your list from the outset.

Double Opt-In Process: A double opt-in process involves sending a confirmation email to a new subscriber asking them to verify their email address. This ensures that only interested and valid email addresses are added to your list, enhancing its overall quality.

Segment Your List: Segmentation allows you to send more targeted and relevant emails. Use data like past purchase behavior, location, or engagement level to segment your lists. This not only improves the quality of interactions but also helps maintain a cleaner list by reducing unsubscriptions due to irrelevant content.

Provide Clear Unsubscription Options: Easy unsubscription helps maintain list health by allowing uninterested subscribers to opt out straightforwardly. This improves your engagement metrics and ensures that your list consists only of people who are genuinely interested in your emails.

Offer Preferences Options: Allow subscribers to choose what types of emails they want to receive and how often. This can reduce unsubscriptions by giving control to the subscriber and ensures that you send emails that are more likely to be welcomed and opened.

Monitor and Respond to Feedback: Pay attention to the feedback from your subscribers about your emails. If you receive complaints or suggestions, adjust your content or frequency accordingly. Listening to your audience helps improve satisfaction and retention.

Educate Subscribers: Inform new subscribers about what types of emails they can expect and how often they will receive them. Setting the right expectations from the beginning can help minimize dissatisfaction and unsubscriptions.

Analyze Engagement Metrics: regularly review your email campaign's performance to identify what's working and what isn't. Look at metrics like open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, and email sharing rates to gauge the health of your list and the relevance of your content.

By implementing these strategies, you can significantly enhance the quality of your email list, which in turn will boost the effectiveness of your email marketing efforts, leading to better ROI and customer engagement.



The difference between using email for marketing and engagement in a retail context lies in the primary goals and strategies of each approach, although they often overlap and complement each other. Here's a breakdown of the distinctions:

Email Marketing

Goal: The primary goal of email marketing is to drive conversions and sales. This approach focuses on promoting products, services, and offers to increase revenue.

Content: Email marketing content is often promotional and transactional. It includes announcements of sales, new product launches, special offers, and exclusive deals. The content is designed to motivate immediate purchases.

Metrics: Success in email marketing is typically measured by direct response metrics such as open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, and revenue generated from email campaigns.

Tactics: Strategies often include segmentation to target specific customer groups, personalized offers based on past purchases or browsing behavior, and triggered emails like cart abandonment reminders and re-engagement campaigns to drive sales.

Email Engagement

Goal: The primary goal of email engagement is to build and maintain relationships with customers. This approach focuses on keeping the audience interested and connected with the brand over time.

Content: Email engagement content is more informational, educational, or entertaining. It may include newsletters, customer stories, advice columns, industry news, and updates about the company or community.

Metrics: Success in email engagement is measured by engagement metrics such as the frequency and depth of interactions (e.g., replies, forwards, and social shares), long-term open rates, and the growth of an active subscriber base.

Tactics: Strategies often involve regular communication that provides value beyond direct sales pitches. This can include content personalization to match customer interests, birthday emails, loyalty rewards notifications, and feedback requests to enhance the sense of community and belonging.

In retail and ecommerce there is synergy between marketing and engagement activities so an engaging newsletter might include a section about new products or upcoming sales, combining engagement with marketing. Similarly, a promotional email might include content that adds value to the recipient beyond the immediate call to action, such as styling tips or product usage guides, which enhance engagement.

It's important for retailers to make all email communication useful and relevant for customers or risk adverse effects in brand image and customer feelings.



There are certain misconceptions and unrealistic expectations that some retailers might have about email marketing. Understanding these can help adjust strategies for better results. Here are some common wrong expectations from using email in retail:

Instant Results: While email can sometimes deliver quick wins, especially with time-sensitive promotions or flash sales, expecting every campaign to yield immediate and significant results is unrealistic. Building a relationship with your audience through consistent, valuable communication is key to long-term success.

High Engagement with Every Email: Not every email will hit the mark in terms of high open or click-through rates. Variability in engagement is normal, and some emails will naturally perform better than others based on their content, timing, and relevance to the audience.

One-Size-Fits-All Content: Expecting the same email content to work for every segment of your audience is a common mistake. Personalization and segmentation are crucial. Customers have different preferences and behaviors, and tailoring your emails to meet these differences is essential for increasing relevance and engagement.

Overestimating the Tolerance for Frequency: Sending too many emails can lead to subscriber fatigue, increased unsubscribes, and lower engagement. Some retailers might expect that more emails will lead to more sales, but there is a balance to be found. Monitoring engagement and asking subscribers their preferred frequency can help mitigate this risk.

Underestimating the Importance of Mobile Optimization: Assuming that emails will perform well without optimization for mobile devices is a significant oversight. With the majority of emails now being opened on mobile, it’s crucial to design emails that are responsive and look good on smaller screens.

Ignoring Testing and Data: Some retailers may expect to rely on intuition or past successes without continuing to test different aspects of their email campaigns. Regular testing (A/B testing subject lines, content, and timing) and data analysis are essential to understand what works best and to keep improving the effectiveness of email strategies.

Neglecting Privacy and Compliance: Expecting that obtaining an email address is enough to start sending promotional materials can lead to legal issues. Retailers must understand and comply with regulations such as GDPR, CAN-SPAM, or CASL, which require clear consent and provide guidelines for frequency and content of communications.

Seeing Email as Only Promotional Tool: While promotions are a significant part of email marketing in retail, using email solely for this purpose can be a missed opportunity. Email is also an excellent channel for building brand awareness, educating customers, gathering feedback, and fostering community.

By setting realistic expectations and understanding the strengths and limitations of email as a marketing tool, retailers can better strategize their campaigns for improved results and stronger customer relationships.



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