Do’s and Don’ts of Asking for a Customer’s Email

Email is one of the best methods for getting in touch with your customers again – in fact over 70% of consumers preferred to hear from brands via email. Email marketing still offers small and local business a cost-effective way to create sustainable, high-value relationships with consumers. In order to build an effective email marketing program, you have to start collecting your customer’s email.

But the art of asking for someone’s contact information is complex and sometimes tricky. There are plenty of opportunities and ways to ask for a customer’s email and keep in touch – the question is which ones are the best for you and where to start?

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Do’s and Don’ts of Asking for a Customer’s Email

Do: offer an incentive.

As you can imagine, people are willing to give you information if they believe it will benefit them down the road. Offering simple incentives like special offers and promotions, early access to your services, and birthday and anniversary gifts is a particularly motivating way to get people to sign up.

Don’t: ask for an email address by promising things you can’t deliver.

No matter your offer, it’s incredibly important to keep to your promises. If you say you will send special discounts and offers but only use your email list to send product updates and newsletters, your customers will be frustrated and have a bad association with your brand. Even if they do enjoy the content, the fact that you’re delivering something other than what was promised and expected creates a poor user experience.

Do: take it offline.

Keep physical sign up forms near the check-in and check-out points. For most businesses, this can look like a clipboard at the front desk or maybe a fishbowl to collect business cards. Think about where your customers are most likely to have the time to sign up (waiting for paperwork, waiting for a table, etc) and keep your sign up forms near by.

Don’t: be too aggressive.

It’s great to be upfront and ask several times over (after all, it is said that people need to see something 7 times before they recognize it and become familiar with it). Don’t be shy about having a sign up form when they check in and when they leave. But there is a fine line between getting your message in front of your customer and being too aggressive.

In my opinion, a business is too aggressive with asking for my email when it is required to do basic  transactions such as paying for a good or service in store (online purchases are okay and even required as most receipts and confirmations need to be sent to the customer) or visiting your website.

Building a positive relationship with your customer is a holistic experience that is often measured by the smallest of interactions.  Even something as simple as making the transaction of sharing an email can be the difference between a customer choosing you over your competitor.


How to Turn Daily Deal Shoppers Into Loyal Customers

There are many pros and cons to running daily deals for your business. On the one hand, you’re guaranteed lots of visibility to new customers in your area. On the other hand, daily deals can be expensive and these customers can come in once only to never been seen again.

The big question then is, once they’ve stopped in to redeem their offer, how do you keep daily deal shoppers coming back time after time?

You should know, however, that there is no magic formula to retaining daily deal customers. People move, change email addresses or change their interests and needs – what one customer wants this month is very different from what they want next month. Regardless, there are a few tactics you can employ to turn one-time shoppers into frequent customers.

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How to Turn Daily Deal Shoppers Into Loyal Customers

1. Get Their Contact Information

The most important step to customer retention is finding ways to keep in touch. In today’s digital world, email is the best format to stay top of mind. Depending on how your daily deal is formatted, chances are you’ll already have their email. If not, ask for it when they register at the front desk. Build a list in your email provider titled “Daily Deal Customers [Month/Year]” to keep track.

2. Follow Up Right After They’ve Come In

Screenshot 2014-11-24 16.05.15In order to keep the momentum moving forward, follow up immediately after they’ve come in with a relevant email. Sometimes a simple “Thank you!” is enough. You can also ask for their feedback or a Google+ or Yelp review. Be sure to include links to your social media profiles – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ – so that they can keep up to date on relevant company news.

3. Keep In Touch.

It sounds obvious but the most important step to getting your customers to come back again is to proactively ask them to. Send them compelling information like updates on sales and new products. And even if you no longer offer the same daily deal, send them offers and specials that are similar to the original deal. It can even be as easy as “25% your purchase – this weekend only!” that asks them to print out the email in order to redeem.

4. Keep In Touch – But Don’t Always Sell.

As important as it is to get your customers to make a purchase, it’s also important to remember that not every customer is ready to make a purchase. That being said, you can still keep in touch in a way that ensures you are the first one they think of when they’re ready to make a purchase. This is called nurturing and is just as important as selling.

Original and creative posts like this one generate more likes, shares, and comments because they make people laugh.

Original and creative posts like this one generate more likes, shares, and comments because they make people laugh.



There are a few strategies you can use to nurture a prospect from one-time shopper to loyal customer:

  • Share fun photos of your staff or space on social media asking questions that involve the viewer in the photo
  • Send newsletters containing helpful tips and tricks related to your industry (“The Top 10 Best Moisturizers for Winter” is a good example of a helpful newsletter that a spa could share with their email list)
  • Offer to send them special discounts for their birthday or anniversary. To do this, ask for their birthday or anniversary when they register their email.


Even if you don’t run daily deals, these tips can help create a better, more sustainable business model where customers are naturally coming back time after time. These marketing efforts will build customer relationships naturally and effectively and make the most of your time spent on daily deals.


The 3 Best Emails to Send for Holiday Season Sales

Whether you’re ready or not, the holiday season is just around the corner. Besides extra staff on site, what are the best ways to make the most of the record-high number of shoppers?

Sending the right message at the right time is one of the best ways to capitalize on national trends like holiday shopping. Here are three of the best kinds of emails you can send to get more people coming in even as the temperature drops.

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The 3 Best Emails to Send for Holiday Season Sales

1. Purchasable offers like gift cards and discounts

The best email businesses can share with their customers are offers that they can purchase for their friends and family. Almost everyone is looking for gifts for friends and family – take advantage of these opportunities to sell by sending gift certificates or offers they can share as a gift.


2. Gift guide newsletters

If you’re trying to steer clear of sending too many offer-like emails, another great alternative are newsletters that point your customers in the direction of excellent gifts they can buy for their friends and family. List your top 10 favorite products of the year or special local events that you’ve heard about for the holiday. Just remember to keep the information useful – what is something you could share that your customers wouldn’t know?

3. New product announcements

The holidays are also a great time to announce any new products or services. People are looking to give gifts that are new and exciting, making the next few weeks a prime time to release and share any new offerings you have.

If you don’t have any new products or services, this is a good time to brighten up some of your old offerings. Send out a newsletter with your most popular services that feature a customer testimonial. Think about promotions that link back to the holidays, like a “12 Days of” promotion featuring a new discount for the first 12 days in December.

The holidays are often the busiest time of the year for businesses and consumers alike. It’s more important than ever to give some extra time and effort to a dedicated holiday marketing plan that puts your business top of mind.



Are You Ready for Small Business Saturday?

For a few years in college, I had a weekend job at a small gift shop in downtown Ann Arbor. Between the Michigan football games and our prime location on Main Street, we always had plenty of foot traffic. But nothing could compare to the huge volume of customers we saw around the holidays, beginning with Small Business Saturday.

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Small Business Saturday is a national holiday founded by American Express dedicated to helping small businesses with their biggest challenge – getting more customers. The official celebration includes rebates for American Express cardholders, promotional material for registered businesses and day-of local events.

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A map on the official Small Business Saturday website, showing all participating businesses.

Unofficially, Small Business Saturday is the counterpart to Black Friday which is often regarded as the beginning of the holiday shopping season. Even if you don’t register with American Express, you can still take advantage of the fact that many consumers are now out and about looking for holiday deals and offers by adding extra staff to your front desk and running big purchase promotions that feature new holiday product (“15% a purchase of $50 or more! This weekend only!” or “Free Holiday Gift Set with a purchase of $30 or more!”)

To learn more about getting registered for Small Business Saturday, visit the official American Express website.



Why Nobody Is Opening (Let Alone Reading) Your Emails

Sending emails to your customers can sometimes feel like shouting out into a big, black abyss. When no one comes in excited about the discount you just emailed out it begs the question, “Are people even opening my emails?”

A good first step to understand and resolve this problem is by checking something called your email open rate. This is the number of people who open an email out of the number of people who received your email. If you’re using an email provider like MailChimp or Constant Contact you can view your email open rate from your dashboard.

Healthy email marketing plans that drive revenue and retention clock in at an open rate of 20% or higher. If your open rate is below 20%, there are a few quick fixes you can address to get people opening and reading your emails.

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Why Nobody Is Opening (Let Alone Reading) Your Emails

1. Your Emails Aren’t Optimized for Mobile Devices

In 2013, more than 50% of all emails were opened on a mobile device. This means that it’s more important than ever to write and design emails that look good on a mobile phone – otherwise they’ll go right in the trash. Keep your subject lines short (about 30 characters or so) will make sure that your customers can easily read the whole thing on their minimized screens.

2. It Looks Like Spam

It’s tempting to try and create a sense of urgency with email subject lines like “FREE gift today only!” or “HUGE sale!!”. How could someone not open that email? In today’s world of email spam, these subject lines look suspicious and unverified even if they’re from genuine subscribers. The problem is that spam senders use titles like these all the time and will create a false sense of confidence with your customers.

There is still some value to sending emails with subject lines like these but you should make sure to provide more context around what it is that you’re provide to demonstrate that you’re a legitimate business. “FREE gift today only!” could be “A free birthday gift from [your business name]”.

3. Your Email List is Bad

A bad email list is one that is bought or collected without the permission of the email address owner. As you can imagine, people are very reluctant to open emails or let alone read emails from people they don’t know or have ever given their information to. Not only will your email go straight to the trash, but you may face some brand tarnishing or even legal issues.

For more information on bad email lists read:

6 Reasons Local Businesses Should Never Buy an Email List

The Three Tell-Tale Warning Signs of a Bad Email List

When you’re not seeing the results you want, it’s easy to throw in the towel and believe that email marketing is simply not worth the time or effort. It turns out that email marketing is still one of the best channels out there for communicating with customers – 77% of consumer prefer to hear from a business via email. Combine that with the fact that more than 90% of consumers check their email every day and it becomes hard to say no to email marketing. Even if it’s a simple newsletter or annual discount, email marketing is an important and beneficial strategy to growing any small business.