Email marketing can be daunting for retail store owners, especially on top of everything you do to run your business. But with 50% of people buying something from marketing emails each month, having an email list is worth investing your time, energy, and marketing dollars in.

Read on to learn why you should use email marketing, how to start your email list, what to write, and how to formulate a plan for your email marketing efforts.

Modern Shopkeepers Should Use Email Marketing

Trust me; I get it: adding email marketing to your never-ending list of tasks doesn’t sound fun! But it is SO worth it to connect with your audience over email. Here’s why: 

Emails Are More Effective Than Social Media

Only 6% of your social media followers see your posts. The average open rate for retail industry emails is 18%! 

That’s 3X the eyeballs—without having to dance, film, or design a post. 

And when more people see your marketing materials, more people buy. In one study, email marketing generated 174% MORE conversions than social media. 

It’s Free or Affordable to Start

Many email marketing platforms offer free plans, so if you’re just starting, it’s not an additional expense you need to worry about. It usually isn’t until you hit thousands of subscribers that the cost associated with email marketing starts to increase.

Personally, I use Flodesk. It’s easy to use, and you can create beautiful, branded email campaigns. You can get 50% off Flodesk for your first year here

There are lots of other email service providers that might be a good fit for your store, such as Klaviyo, Active Campaign, ConvertKit, or Mailchimp. You’ll need to do a little research to find the one that works best for you.

Email Marketing Has a High Return on Investment

Researchers have found that email marketing has an average $36 return for every $1 spent.

If you’re wondering how this return on investment is calculated, it’s easy for businesses with websites and e-commerce stores. Email service providers can track who clicks the links in emails and which of those clicks result in sales. 

It’s harder to calculate the ROI for brick-and-mortar businesses drawing in foot traffic unless you use coupons or specific discount codes.  

But let’s walk through a hypothetical example: as a brick-and-mortar store owner, I pay $19/month for Flodesk. That’s $228 per year. Based on the average $36 ROI, I can expect $8208 in sales due to emails we send out.   

I can’t say for sure that we generate that in sales at our store directly from email. However, customers regularly mention our emails when they shop with us!  So even if I can’t calculate my ROI perfectly, I do know that email marketing is working with our customers.

Your Customers Want to Hear From You!

If someone takes the time to sign up for your email newsletter, they WANT to hear from you! You aren’t forcing people onto your email list.  

Why would you want to miss out on the opportunity to reach out to them?

How to Grow Your List

Growing your email list doesn’t have to be complicated. Shopkeepers tend to overthink the process, but good old pen and paper still work! 

Have a clipboard with a sign-up list at your cash wrap. Bring that clipboard with you if you’re at a pop-up or market event. You can even offer new subscribers a prize, raffle, or giveaway. 

If you have a website, you need to have a way for people to join your email list on your homepage. Pop-ups are the most effective, but an embedded sign-up form can work, too. 

You want to ENTICE the customer to sign up, so just asking them to signup for your newsletter most likely won’t be enough.  Offer 20% off their first purchase when they sign up for your emails. If you teach readers and subscribers how to do something, offer them a free tutorial.

What Content to Write for Your Subscribers

There are two main types of emails to consider for a retail store: broadcast emails and triggered emails. 


Broadcast emails include information you want to share with your customers. Some examples include offering a new promotion, hosting a new event, listing a recent workshop, launching a big clearance sale, publishing new blog posts, telling a good story your customers would appreciate, or sharing a tutorial.

Triggered Campaigns

Triggered emails are a bit more complex. A welcome or nurture sequence is the most common form of a triggered email. It’s a series of emails automatically sent to a new subscriber, spaced out over several days. The series is triggered by them signing up for your email list. 

Our welcome sequence has three emails: #1 thanks the subscriber and introduces us, #2 gives them more information about our store, and #3 includes a discount offer for shopping with us. 

Another example of a triggered email is an abandoned cart sequence. Suppose someone enters their information to purchase something in your online shop but never hit the “purchase” button. Your eCommerce system can automatically send an email to entice the customer to come back to their cart to buy. If you’ve shopped online, you’ve probably received a similar sequence. 

Even receipt emails are an example of a triggered email, with the trigger being the purchase. I recommend including an offer to shop again in receipt emails, such as 10% off if they buy something within the next seven days. You want to have a deadline on the offer so you can create a sense of urgency.

Create a Personalized Email Marketing Plan for Your Store

If the thought of sending a weekly email overwhelms you, then don’t do it.  Maybe bi-weekly feels more manageable, or even one per month.  Just be consistent—you can always grow from there! 

You could create a NEW calendar for email marketing, but I feel like it makes sense to pair this with your marketing/promotional calendar. This might be a digital planner or paper calendar; it’s entirely up to you.  But doesn’t it make sense to add emails to that calendar based on what is coming up in your shop? A content or planning calendar is something you should definitely have in place, as it keeps you from getting stuck on what to write about.

Once you’ve laid out a calendar with promotions, new line releases, holidays, shopping events, markets, pop-ups, and blog posts, then your content plan won’t seem so overwhelming. You’ll have a game plan! It makes the “what do I write??” piece much more manageable. 

The Best Time to Start Your Email List? Now.

Simply put, an email list and newsletter for independent retailers is worth it. 

If you want to get started, don’t overcomplicate it. Find an email service provider to begin with, such as Flodesk. Put out a clipboard sign-up sheet at your cash wrap. And once you have a few subscribers, commit to emailing them just once a month. You can always increase to bi-weekly or weekly emails from there! 



  • [02:28] Modern Shopkeepers Should Use Email Marketing
  • [09:12] How to Grow Your List
  • [11:13] What Content to Write for Your Subscribers
  • [15:52] Create a Personalized Email Marketing Plan for Your Store
  • [16:49] The Best Time to Start Your Email List? Now.

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