When considering marketing channels for your craft business, you may end up focusing on social media platforms and forget to consider alternative channels of communication. This is very common in most small businesses today, as they see social media as the most important marketing channel. However, there are many other marketing channels that can be overlooked despite their potential value. One such marketing channel is email marketing.
Email marketing was once a very popular marketing channel and is still used successfully by many businesses, but the increasing pressure of GDPR compliance and ever stronger junk/spam filters mean that many small businesses tend to avoid email marketing. This doesn’t mean email marketing doesn’t have value in your craft business, but its role must be carefully considered and email marketing should be used in a targeted way rather than the more traditional blanket approach.
The key to successful email marketing is having the right audience and for some businesses, developing an email marketing list can be difficult. Ideally, you need to be able to capture customers’ details at every purchase. If you take orders in cash at events, this can be nearly impossible, but for most craft businesses, online orders and card transactions should provide a wealth of customer data to use in marketing.
You will need to consider how you remain compliant with data protection laws such as GDPR. If you are a member of FSB, they can provide advice on this, and we would also recommend further reading through the ICO website, which oversees data protection concerns for the government.
Broadly speaking, there are two main routes to being able to contact someone. Firstly, opting in, which has to be an informed decision by the individual to agree to be contacted by the business. You can get this through a tick box at purchase, a sign-up form, or in a follow-up email. Secondly, you can contact someone on a lawful/reasonable basis. For this, the person doesn’t have to have opted in, but there are limits to the type/quantity of emails you can send, and it’s generally a greyer area in terms of compliance.
The lawful basis available to your craft business will depend on who you are contacting, where you got their information, and why you are contacting them. The most common reason for your craft business is likely to be “current customer”. If the individual has purchased from you in the last 2 years and has provided their email address, then you can contact them under this lawful basis. However, once two years have elapsed since their last purchase, you must stop.
Email marketing works best when your audience feel like they are treated as VIPs. Ideally, you want to ensure you can record as much data about each contact’s preferences as possible. For example, if you are a yarn business that produces yarns in different fibres, try to record which fibre each contact has a preference for. There is no point in marketing a new wool yarn to a contact who is allergic to wool, for example.
The level of data you have will develop over time, and you can take opportunities to review and improve data by asking contacts to complete surveys or by tracking their purchases, amongst other options.
Your email marketing should include exclusive news, such as early access to sales, alongside educational contact that will engage your audience. You want to ensure that your audience sees the value in opening and reading your emails, even if they aren’t thinking of making a purchase. For example, if you offer training on a specific craft, include a mini video tutorial on a common mistake or tricky technique.
You can also use your emails to show your customers you value their opinion, for example, offering them the chance to vote on two versions of a new product line.
Email marketing should focus on increasing engagement and building relationships with your audience initially. Then once you have that data and relationship, you can use that to cross or upsell products to your audience. For example, if you know they have recently bought a specific product, you can send them an offer for a complementary product or service.
Making your customers feel valued increases brand loyalty and encourages them to promote you to others. This in turn brings in further income, but it is harder to track these increases as a clear cause and effect.
Cross- and upselling are easier for you to track and allow you to increase the value of each customer. This includes re-engaging customers who have not purchased for some time.
There is a huge range of email marketing software providers out there and each will have their pros and cons. Many people start with platforms such as Mailchimp. This is a good idea if you are new to email marketing, but personally, I find Mailchimp somewhat overpriced and restrictive. Once craft business owners are more confident using email marketing, I suggest swapping to software that offers more flexibility and clear data records; for example, we use InTouch.
We do offer email marketing training as part of Flame’s membership package and also offer done-for-you email marketing as part of our Bespoke and Firestarter packages.
Check out our back catalogue of marketing advice blogs for more advice on taking your craft business to the next level.