Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tips for a Tuesday - Keepin' in Touch

So you've set up your Etsy site, to which you regularly add new treasures and relist older favorites. You've created a blog, where you post every now and again to remind those 60+ subscribers that you're still hard at work. Perhaps you even have a more robust website with a news section where you list events coming up. But all of these methods rely on your customers coming to you to hear the latest and greatest.

Enter the email newsletter. "Oh, but I don't want to spam my customers!" you think to yourself. Or perhaps you haven't been keeping track of people's emails, which in all honesty, you shouldn't be doing without their owner's permission anyway. Enter Mail Chimp (or another contact/email system), a trusty spiral bound journal of sorts, and a healthy sense of propriety.

The skinny on Mail Chimp.
I like them because they're free, super easy to use, they have a monkey as their logo, and it says funny things to you. I'm on their Forever Free plan: send 12,000 emails per month to 2,000 subscribers. Holy cow, like I'm ever going to send 12,000 emails per month to anyone (this is where that sense of propriety comes in). But how nice to have the option. I'm sure there are plenty of other wonderful similar services out there, but I'm going to champion these guys for a little bit. With Mail Chimp, you can organize emails into different lists, create those fancy emails with the pretty pictures in them via a number of lovely templates, and then view data on the number of people that actually opened those emails, see which hyperlinks they joyfully clicked on, etc. They also offer a number of free training sessions if you want to become the resident expert.

Gathering emails. 
This can be done a number of legitimate ways. If you're a craft show person, bring a journal or a clipboard with pre-printed sheets where people can Join Your Mailing List. Make sure there's a pen with it, and that it's off to the side somewhat so people don't feel like they're in the way while filling in their info. I've found it's also helpful to fill in the first line to show what kind of info you're interested in. Do you just want their email address? Or perhaps their name so you can customize your mailings a bit more? Also, don't be shy about asking people if they'd like to sign up.

Mail Chimp also lets you create short and fancy online forms where people can enter their info and it gets automatically added to your list. See the little sign up box in the column of this blog? That's one example of the short form. I've added a fancier version to my own website, and have included a link to it in the message that gets automatically sent to my customers when they make a purchase through Etsy. In the fancy version, I've added a line where people can post comments of sorts. I've also added the short form to my own blog. 

Are you a facebook or twitter user? It makes sense to occasionally (and I'm thinking about once a month) to let people know you have a mailing list by posting a link to it there.

Ok, so you've gathered and organized your email lists. Now to determine what to share, and when to share it.

Enter that sense of propriety I mentioned earlier.
No one likes a spammer. Also, if you have too many people unsubscribing from your list on Mail Chimp, your account will get flagged. Personally, I'm fine with getting an email from a company once or twice a month. Any more than that and I get grumpy. I like to try and consolidate my announcements down to once a month. I'll list upcoming shows and announce new items that will be hitting my shop soon. It's also a nice place to let people know about discounts I'm offering for that month, which is another way to see how much traffic you're getting as a result of the newsletter.

Alrighty, I'm sure that's enough to get you started.

Good luck, and a happy Tuesday to you!

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