Setting up and using an email marketing platform for your company is a simple and inexpensive process that, if done correctly, can generate long-term repeat customers. Since the recipients of your emails have opted in to receive them, email marketing speaks directly to a loyal audience that wants to hear from you. This holds true for any industry, but in the cannabis industry specifically it is important to build loyal customers now before the market in your area gets even more competitive.
Creating or compiling content that is enticing to your subscribers is the most important part of the equation, otherwise you may lose them via the unsubscribe button. Serving your subscribers good content on a regular basis will keep your company in their mind while making purchasing decisions. Established companies usually have marketing budgets and, in many cases, will hire an agency to manage their various marketing channels including email. This guide, however, assumes you will be building your email strategy & managing your campaigns in-house.
What should your email newsletter contain?
Put yourself in the shoes of your average customer: what would entice you to read an email newsletter each week from a dispensary, grower, medical clinic, or B2B service provider? Good original content will help you build your brand, and will increase the odds that people will remember you when making purchasing decisions. If that means you need to hire a copywriter on an ongoing basis, then invest in a good one to help you get your point across most effectively.
Some Ideas for Email Newsletter Content:
New product announcements, discounts or specials*
Local in-store or community events that you are involved in or support
Interesting educational articles on cannabis culture, local laws, industry news, etc. that you have written, or linked to via a third-party site
Ongoing columns like “Budtender of the Month” or “Shout-Outs to Our Favorite Producers & Processors”
If you already have a blog on your site, that’s great! Include a summary of your latest blog post and provide a link so that users can read the full post on your site.
Social media links, hours of operation and contact information should be included in the footer of the newsletter
What to avoid: irrelevant information, duplicate content, links to old blog posts or articles
How often should you send your newsletter?
Well, this depends entirely on what you are offering. If you send out daily emails that are essentially the same, nobody will open them. On the other hand, if you only have one announcement every six months, people may sign up and then forget who you are by the time you send them your first message. Weekly and bi-monthly are good options for small businesses, depending on how much effort you want to put into your updates. Also keep in mind that while regularity is good, you don’t always have to follow the same formula. It’s a good idea to try a one-off promotion or announcement occasionally, and see how these campaigns compare to your regular updates.
How should you go about building your list?
First of all, NEVER buy an email list to send out mass emails. This is spam and it most likely won’t convert any new customers. Worse yet, it could even get you in legal trouble. Always remember that the best email subscribers are the ones who “opt-in” to receive your updates. To get people to do this, consider putting a clipboard at every point of sale with a well-designed cover sheet explaining what the newsletter is and possibly showing an example issue. Another good option is to embed a sign-up form on your website so that your visitors will sign up directly (and you won’t have to manually input them from written lists each week). You should also regularly post about your newsletter on social media to remind people that it is available and draw in those who have recently followed you.
How to setup your email list, and which software to use?
There are plenty of companies out there offering email marketing services at a variety of different price points, some even offering a free service if you have a small list. Here are some of the most popular and highest-rated services:
MailChimp: MailChimp, the most popular email marketing service on the web, is a great place for businesses who are growing a new list since they offer a free service to get started. Please note, however, that you will need to upgrade to a paid account once you wish to send more than 12,000 emails per month or have more than 2000 subscribers on your list. The subscription cost rises as your list gets larger and you are sending more emails, so you can grow at your own pace and reevaluate on a regular basis if the service is valuable enough to pay for. MailChimp makes it easy to send out well-designed email newsletters while also offering many advanced features including A/B testing, triggered emails, segmentation and more.
Benchmark: This service’s pricing plan works just like MailChimp, including a free service for up to 14,000 emails per month and to 2,000 subscribers. They offer 24/7 service and support with an online chat desk, so help is always a few clicks away. Both free and paid accounts offer features like a drag and drop editor, responsive templates for mobile devices, signup forms for new subscriber acquisition, and real-time reporting.
Emma: Emma is a great choice for your organization if you are already convinced that you want to invest in email marketing to help grow your business. Offering three different price levels ($89, $369 or $779 per month), they also offer unique hands-off services like custom email designs from their design team. They offer a risk-free trial, but the site lacks details as to what is included with the trial.
There are dozens of other platforms out there to explore as well. Whichever service you choose, keep in mind that you are investing in the success of your business by engaging in email marketing. If you put in the time and effort, it can be an extremely effective and affordable way to reach your audience, bringing customers back again and again.
NOTE: Depending on where you are located, there might be strict bans on giveaways, freebies, discounts, etc. Please check with your attorney regarding your local cannabis advertising laws.
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