On Thursday, May 7, the American Booksellers Association presented a Marketing Meetup on retaining new customers, as stores are seeing an increase in traffic to their websites and resulting online sales. For the first in this two-part session, Jordan Brannon of Coalition Technologies, which previously partnered with ABA for an SEO session during Winter Institute, returned to offer expert guidance on this subject.
Booksellers can learn more about ABA meetups here.
Here are some of the key points from Brannon’s presentation:
Before communicating with customers through personally identifiable information (PII), which includes contacting them via phone or email, booksellers should be sure to get customer consent first; they should also familiarize themselves with privacy laws, customer legal protections, and requirements of business owners in regards to PII.
- While many privacy laws address larger businesses as opposed to smaller ones, online growth (including the number of IP addresses visiting a particular website) can affect whether or not a small business qualifies as a larger business.
Once consent is obtained, booksellers should set expectations for future communication in their first message. This can include why customers are receiving messages, when customers should expect messages, the types of messages that will go out, and how they can opt out of communication in the future.
- If offering a discount, make sure it’s made immediately available and the terms are clear and without caveats. This can affect whether customers choose to continue receiving messages or do business with your store.
Consider sending messages in a drip sequence, which sends an automated, pre-created set of emails or text messages over a specified period of time based on a customer’s actions.
- Email marketing platforms include Constant Contact, Mailchimp, Klaviyo, and Campaign Monitor.
- SMS marketing platforms include EZTexting, BirdEye, Yotpo, and Sendinblue.
- For both SMS marketing and email marketing, booksellers should be sure to segment their lists instead of sending primarily general blasts. This means creating an aggregated list of email addresses or phone numbers based on what these customers have in common (i.e., romance readers, book club members, people who live near the store). Brannon noted a 65 percent increase in clicks from emails that are sent to a segmented list.
- Be sure to keep messaging interesting. Most companies only use message-based marketing to promote buying; after a few weeks, they can be marked as spam or customers might opt to unsubscribe.
- To organize messages, keep a calendar and plan out when sales and promotional messages will go out, as opposed to messages centered on other topics, such as new releases, in-store events, interviews with people of interest, local news, etc.
- Brannon recommended booksellers create lots of content. There are many ways to get more content, including recording events, asking for contributors, and creating opportunities to interact online. He recommended cross-posting/promoting. Don’t be afraid to recap, reshare, or repost something that has been popular in another marketing channel. It saves time and energy, connects customers to more than one channel, and represents a more unique perspective.
- After sending messages, check metrics to see if there were areas that can be improved. According to Brannon, 50 percent of email recipients open a message based on its subject line, and 70 percent report an email as spam based on its subject line. Subject lines can be humorous, personal, or draw upon FOMO (fear of missing out) and pain points (i.e., boredom). Subject lines should also be 10 words or less, and can include emojis.
Brannon also shared some other general tips.
- Midweek emails in the early to mid-morning generally perform better, and emails that have one clear primary message perform better than emails without.
- Customer service text and order updates are the most appreciated messages customers receive, and text support is rated more highly than chat support.
- Text messages should be kept short, especially for promotional marketing, and fewer texts should be sent than emails. Texts should also be sent during waking hours.
Booksellers can visit the Education Resources page on Bookweb.org to view a recording of this session.