Retailers have heard the often-repeated message that they should collect e-mail addresses of willing customers, then regularly stay in touch with these customers via e-mail.
Well, it’s easy enough to collect e-mail addresses. Many retailers simply ask customers at the cash register if they would like to give out their e-mail address so that they may receive special notices. Another method is to ask customers who make online purchases.
But once the addresses are collected, how shall a retailer communicate with customers? That’s a more complicated question.
One way to use your customer email addresses is to send out an e-mail newsletter. There are several ways to go about this. The L. L. Bean newsletter is an example of a great vehicle for customer communication. It is nothing more than advertising, but it is attractive and probably effective. It illustrates the qualities of a successful customer newsletter:
1. It is one page long.
2. It downloads quickly, meaning there is nothing too fancy or too complicated.
3. The format is simple.
4. It prominently features one item.
5. Two additional items are featured below the main item.
6. Four more items, with smaller placement, run down the lefthand side of the page below a menu where readers can click on various L. L. Bean departments for continued shopping.
7. All featured items are seasonal, so that in the current edition of the newsletter the main featured item is warm dog beds. Underneath that are ads for women’s fleece jackets and kids’ winter outerwear.
8. The items featured on the lefthand side are, in order: a tote bag, straight-leg pants, warm underwear for kids, and a snow tube for sledding.
9. And, of course, there are directions for unsubscribing at the bottom of the newsletter
A newsletter like this is deceptively simple because it takes just seconds to absorb, yet there are seven items with pictures and descriptions. That is a lot of information.