If you aren’t building out your email list and engaging your customers regularly, you are missing out on an enormous opportunity to create a relationship with your customers that extends beyond the four walls of your store.

A really great email marketing program can help establish your brand, increase repeat business, drive revenue, and foster loyalty.

So Why is Email Marketing Important?

1. It Builds Your Brand
At its core, a brand is a promise. It’s a pledge to your customers that your store is in some way unique and that you will deliver this distinctive offering consistently. Email marketing can play a huge role in conveying this distinctive ‘brand promise’ to your customers. If you sell the freshest fish in the neighborhood, send out an email letting people know how you source your produce. If you have the latest Parisian fashions, tell your customers about your special french ‘buying’ trip where you found the supplier.

2. It Grows Word of Mouth
Retailers often tell me that they don’t worry too much about any kind of marketing because they rely on having good ‘word of mouth’. If you have this, and it is driving consistent referrals, you are onto a winner. Word of mouth is really the ‘holy grail’ of marketing – a friend recommends a friend who recommends another friend and your customer base just grows and grows, at no cost to you.

The simple truth, however, is that email marketing makes this kind of growth more likely. It puts you at the top of people’s minds more regularly and thereby increases word of mouth. Customers are more likely to tell their friends if you are fresh in their memory. As the expression goes: ‘top of mind is tip of tongue’. And in addition to directly spreading the word, customers are more likely to review you online if they are prompted while online. Of great email campaigns, are awesome Yelp profiles made.

3. It Drives Repeat Business
It’s amazing how something as simple as a weekly email can drive repeat business. If you put yourself in front of people, they will think about you. And if they are thinking about you, they will be more likely to drop in the next time they are out and about. Product-specific emails are often best in this regard as you can give people a real, concrete reason to come on by (or order something online). Information about new products, (we’ve got a new fresh fish bar!) and offers on your products (50% off Popcorn this weekend – for that perfect night in with a movie!) are really great for this purpose.

SEE ALSO: Email Marketing Matters: 5 Tips for Success for Small Business Owners

4. It is Surprisingly Affordable & Easy to Use
Compared to its pre-digital equivalent, the direct-mail campaign, emails are incredibly cost effective for small businesses. In fact, for retailers who are starting out with small email lists (~2,000 Subscribers), there are even online services that will provide sophisticated email management tools completely for free. You need only pay as your list grows.

These services like MailChimp and Constant Contact make it very quick and easy to put together Emails without requiring any ‘specialist’ skills. Their intuitive, drag and drop interfaces are actually even to use than most software that retailers will come into contact with.

5. It’s Measurable
One of the things I love about email marketing is the ability to push a specific product or product range and measure the impact that this has had on sales. In every retail business, there is a core product range of top selling, high-margin items that really drive the revenue of the store. Email provides a fantastic opportunity to throw a spotlight on these items and thereby drive sales. Best of all, the impact is measurable as you can easily track month over month sales of these items.

For example, you may be a grocery store overstocked on the snack aisle. You could consider sending out a ‘Movie Night Promotion’ offering 20% off on popcorn and ice cream and then track the results. In fact, if you collect emails at the point of sale you could even track the specific customers who bought the product.

BONUS REASON: It’s The Ultimate Insurance Policy
Picture the scene. Business is good and customers are really starting to love what you have to offer.  You are building out a steady stream of regulars and you are making money. Then one day your landlord comes in and tells you he can’t renew the lease on your coffee shop; Starbucks are offering to double the rent. [Note: This isn’t a hypothetical. It actually happened to a ShopKeep POS merchant in NYC.]

How can you effectively communicate what’s happening to your customers? How can you keep them informed about when you’ll be moving and where you’ll be moving to?

Or imagine a scenario when negative press about your store starts to spread. Maybe an unfounded rumor starts that you have an unclean kitchen, or an unfair hiring policy. Having a line of communication that reaches beyond your store is crucially important when things go wrong too!

If you’d like to learn more about how to collect emails from your customers using the ShopKeep POS system, please don’t hesitate to check out our great help article on the subject.

Yamarie Grullon

Yamarie Grullon has years of experience creating helpful & engaging content for small business owners. As Director of Content Strategy at ShopKeep, a leading iPad Point of Sale System, Yamarie provides merchants with practical advice on all things related to business or point of sale.