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Here’s an important question for you: When you set up at a craft fair to sell your products do you collect the email addresses of your customers and potential customers? What about of the customers who place orders online? How do you stay in touch with them after a sale? If you aren’t regularly touching base with your customers through direct email marketing, then you are missing out on the opportunity to build a relationship with your customers and gain repeat business throughout the year.

Many crafters think that having an email newsletter isn’t worth the time if they do not have the names of thousands of people to email. This is simply not true. When I first started my email newsletter, I had about 25 people on my list. They were all my closest friends and some family, but I was ok with that and they were all ok with being my test subjects. Over the last year and a half, my list has grown from the small 25 friends to over 600 people. With one simple email, I can now reach out to 600 people. If I add the link to the newsletter on my Facebook- well, there’s another 600+ people. Tweet it? Another 600+. So, with one email I can quickly update and reach out to over 1,800 people and let them know what is going on with Sunday Afternoon Housewife. To me, that is worth every minute.

When it comes to down to it, the most important thing you need to know is this: Sending out a regular email to your customers is worth your time. You can decide how much time you want to spend on your email marketing and how often you want to send emails, but I will promise you that good marketing will engage your customers, blog readers and social media fans, start a conversation (or keep one going) and it will help you have more steady sales.

The key to choosing an email service provider, just like a blog, is to pick the email service provider (ESP) which you like best and find easiest to use. When I first started my email newsletter, I signed up with Constant Contact The reason I chose Constant Contact might be different than you’d expect. I was impressed with all the underwriting they did on my local NPR station. I figured if they were awesome enough to underwrite on NPR, then I would pay for their service to help encourage that kind of community support. That may not be the most logical reason for choosing an ESP, but over the last year as I have grown, so has Constant Contact. I found it very easy to use as a beginner, and it was very easy to grasp their process right away. They have added many premium services and options, and their customer support simply cannot be beat. They are, by far, my favorite ESP.

That being said, Constant Contact does not offer a particular type of service I needed recently when I launched my free blogging e-course for crafters.  I had to look around and find a new ESP to help supplement the service. This is when I began using Mail Chimp.  Basic services on Mail Chimp are free and it is a highly popular ESP, especially among those in the craft world. Both Constant Contact and Mail Chimp have pay-as-you-go types of services and premium services, and you can try both for free initially, so check both out and see which you like best. Both Constant Contact and

Mail Chimp also has awesome referral programs which earn you free money in your account!

For me, sending out an email to customers and blog readers is an exciting part of my week.  I really enjoy it most when people take the time to respond and let me know they like what I said or made. It’s great to see a boost on my blog hits for the day, and a few additional sales in my shop for the day. There are a few bummer things though. Sometimes people unsubscribe. Occasionally they will report my email as spam! In the beginning these negative things really irked me! I would think to myself, “Don’t you remember? You signed up!” Luckily I came across a good bit of advice about email marketing that wisely said people who unsubscribe aren’t my customers and aren’t ever going to be.  That made me realize I shouldn’t be upset. You’ll learn to expect people will unsubscribe. I might have one or maybe two people unsubscribe each week, but I normally have 5-10 sign up just on my website, not counting all the names I might gather at a fair. I have now reached the point where unsubscribers don’t bother me anymore.

When I first started my email marketing, I was creating more of an email newsletter than anything else. I sent it out once a month and it was full of every bit of information I wanted to share for a whole month. It took me a while to figure it out, but I finally learned I was simply sending out too much information at once. Since this revelation, I started sending out a weekly email. It contains less, so it’s easier to for the reader to scan through, it has more bullet pointed information, and I get twice as many click-throughs back to my blog and shop. It might take you a while to find a format (or template) you like, but once you do, it should be easy to update and it shouldn’t take you to long to create. If you would like to sign up for my newsletter to get a peek at how it looks, click here.  You’ll get your first email the following Monday after you sign up.

I hope that you will begin collecting email addresses from your customers right away. Don’t think you have to have thousands to start. You could have 10, and as long as you keep them engaged, they will stay with you and maybe help your list grow by forwarding your email. Remember, it is a really good idea to keep your emails personal and friendly. Don’t try to blitz readers with product all the time. Think about emails you delete right away without reading. Don’t write those! Share news, special stories, and give your email readers a special coupon code as a thank you just for being subscribers. You’ll quickly find email marketing can enjoyable part of small business ownership with several rewards!

My name is Martha Latta and I own the small business Sunday Afternoon Housewife. I am a handmade artist who creates Scrabble tile pendants, glass tile pendants and silk screened tees. I‘m also the author of the new e-book The Blogging Adventure: Tips and Prompts for Crafters by a Crafter. On my blog, Sunday Afternoon Housewife I regularly write about crafting, running a craft business, and taking a craft business on road. I am also a writer for Handmadeology, I’m the Regional Craftologist for Indianapolis, Indiana on Unanimous Craft, and I’m thrilled to be a guest writer here on Handmade Success!

 

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3 comments on “Engaging Your Customers with Email Marketing”

  1. Such wonderful advice about email marketing, Martha — thanks! I particularly like the fact that you used examples from your own email efforts to tell us what has worked for you.

    I really like Mail Chimp, too. I’ve recently started using their autoresponders for my free 7-day e-course about writing better product descriptions, and it works like a charm!

    Thanks again for a great post!

  2. Julie- Thanks for your comment! I just signed up for your e-course. I am using Mail Chimp for my e-course too and love it! I am excited to get through your course. I will share it in my link love this week and write a review after I finish it! It is great so far and I am just on day 3!

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