Email marketing is one of our most useful (and often overlooked) tools for promoting our shops. And while there are scores of companies to choose from (to find the most popular services google "email marketing"), my favorite is Constant Contact. A free 60 day trial drew me in initially, but it was their easy-to-use format and super-reasonable rates that kept me on.
Benefits of email marketing include:
*Increased sales -- Let customers know about new products, promotions, etc. Also, the "forward to friend" link in each email lets you reach friends of customers.
*Generating repeat sales -- Customers already know to come to you for your great products. By sending emails you stay fresh in their minds and encourage them to revisit your shop.
*Cross sell products -- By featuring complimentary items your suggestions make shopping for additional items easy on your customers.
*Get feedback from visitors -- By reviewing the statistics on who opened your email, what they clicked on and what led to sales, your customers are telling you volumes about effective strategies.
It's important to remember to be selective when collecting email addresses. Spamming is a big no-no and a practice that will result in account cancellation by your service. A good habit is to only add customers to your list who have shopped with you or who have asked for updates/correspondence.
It's also important to decide how often you want to correspond with your email list. I like to keep in touch about once a month, or when running special promotions, around holidays with holiday specific suggestions, or as new specialty items come in.
If you've been wanting to try email marketing but have felt hesitant, don't wait a minute more: jump in and sign up with a service you like. It'll be one of your best and most effective shop decisions.