Retailing 114: Digital & Email Marketing

As the handheld digital devices revolution has exploded, specialty tennis retailers’ use of email marketing to reach their customers will also have to evolve and change.

A new group of service providers has cropped up, specializing in modifying retailers’ websites to be more compatible with the variety of handheld digital devices consumers are using. Another group of new service providers will help retailers modify and craft email or develop a proprietary application to make retailers’ email marketing more compatible and effective on handheld devices.

The great news for specialty tennis retailers is TennisConnect (www.tennisconnect.com) can provide all the support and information they need to initiate and update websites, find the service providers they need and catch up to the handheld digital devices consumer revolution.

Email Best Practices
But, before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s look at some important best practices for email marketing, which apply to both the more traditional as well as the emerging mobile and digital forms:

  • Only send emails to persons who have requested to receive them! This means you need to set up the means to ask and receive permission beforehand. A sign-up form on your website is a great place to do this.
  • Use an email service—like IContact, ConstantContact, or TennisConnect—to ensure you don’t get tagged as a spammer.
  • Be consistent with your sending frequency—particularly with newsletters. Whether weekly, biweekly or monthly, pick a schedule and stick with it.
  • The best time to send consumer emails is between 5 and 8 p.m.—Tuesday through Thursday, or between Friday evening and Sunday afternoon.
  • Add a line at the top of your emails, requesting that your email address be added to the recipients address book.
  • Make the “from” name on your emails your store brand, or the name of a person at your store. Once you choose a “from” name, keep it consistent. In the split second before deciding to open or delete, the most important factor is whether the recipient recognizes the name on your email.
  • For your newsletter, include both a plain text and HTML version. If you don’t, about 5 percent or more of your recipients will see a message with nothing in it.
  • Don’t use all caps or multiple exclamation marks within your subject line or body. If you do, you will trigger spam filters.
  • Build your email list at every opportunity. In addition to your website, a standard request for an email address and permission to send your newsletter, special events and promotional information at the time every transaction is completed, no matter how small, should be part of your store operations. Add an email sign-up form to your customer satisfaction survey and as a part of every special event and promotional activity your store participates in.
  • Maintain your email list and keep it current.

Mobile Compatibility
The rapid pace of change in digital, handheld technology has impacted the process of email marketing, and today all size retailers, including specialty tennis stores, are being challenged to provide web-based mobile connectivity, including website and email compatibility.

The TennisConnect website nicely illustrates and provides a solution for this challenge with TennisConnect MobileBuilder, a tool that converts a specialty retailer’s website into a mobile-compatible site, while not changing normal website functionality. The objective is to make standard websites, which don’t really work on handheld devices because of sizing issues, compatible with the smaller viewing size requirements of digital, handheld mobile devices, like smartphones and the new generation of flat screen personal computers.

With the tools available from TennisConnect, specialty tennis retailers of all sizes now have the help they need to not only develop competitive commerce-enabled websites, but also digital, mobile device compatible websites.

This circles back to allowing specialty tennis retailers to continue and extend their email marketing programs from their customers’ home computers to include their customers’ smart phones and personal flat-screen handheld computers.

While other small to mid-size specialty retailers in the U.S. are going to be scrambling to find service providers to help them become multichannel retailers, and catch up to the rapid pace of changes in hand-held mobile technology for consumers, specialty tennis retailers have a huge advantage in the established and very affordable source for all their mobile compatible website needs at TennisConnect (www.tennisconnect.com).

All they have to do is take full advantage of the opportunity TIA has provided for them.