6 Ways to Create Better Email Lists That Will Have Your Customers Wanting More

by | Jan 25, 2016

Are you getting the best return from your email list possible? Have you ever really thought past the idea of getting more and more subscribers to your “I’m interested in your garden center” list? In this post we’re sharing 6 ways to curate your subscriber list to get greater engagement from your clientele.

With every year that goes by, all those emails your store fought so hard to collect will begin to degrade and become less relevant and valuable. Over time email addresses will change, and unless you stop treating your emails as one gigantic list you will keep running into this problem over and over again. The reality is that the success of your email newsletter and marketing campaigns doesn’t rest on one gigantic list; success hinges upon a collection of individual people with specific interests and demographics. Ultimate success depends on how well you engage every one of these very unique subscribers.

The best way to improve the health of your email campaign is to create multiple lists to better target individual groups of consumers. In doing so, you will increase your open rates and click rates while decreasing the number of unsubscribers or inactive users. You will save money by eliminating underperforming or absent subscribers, and your subscribers will come to value your highly individualized content even more.

Email List 1: Four and Five Star Users

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If you use an email marketing software like MailChimp or Constant Contact, you will have the ability to rank your individual customers by how well they respond to your email campaigns. Your 4 and 5 star users are your cream of the crop users, the die hards, the groupies. They wait every week for that email newsletter to hit their inbox, check out what’s new, and hope to see coupons or other pertinent sale information. They are probably your most active customers or the ones most likely to be swayed by discounts or sales. Use this list to reward loyalty and engagement. A quick email saying “thanks for your loyalty and support, here’s x% off” is one way to maintain this existing relationship. However, rewards don’t just have to be coupons. You can also give secrets into an upcoming event and “first know” groups.

Email List 2: Two-Star and Under Users

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MailChimp and other similar email clients let you look at your lowest performing users which usually have a rating of two stars or less. These users have disengaged. This could be because they’ve changed email addresses or they just signed up to get a deal at the store and don’t want to connect anymore. These users are hurting your business in several ways. Email clients usually charge you by the number of subscribers. Inactive subscribers aren’t reading your content and are costing you money. Chances are they make up over 50% of your email list. Another reason they are costing you money is they are bringing down the efficiency and quality of your email subscription list. These users damage your open rates and click rates and could be skewing your overall metrics.

One way to re-engage this group is to reach out and ask them to reconnect with you. Many companies, Starbucks for example, will reach out to customers who have neglected their email campaigns with a “we miss you” email headline and offer an incentive like a coupon. These types of emails can do more for you than just re-engage your underperforming email accounts. Once you have this “2 star and lower” list created, take everyone who didn’t engage with your email account off this list (export to a separate file on your computer then delete them from the email service). They just don’t want to hear from you and they are probably costing you money.

Email List 3: Purchasing Habits

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This list is probably the most important but also one of the more difficult and labor-intensive lists to create.  People are more prone to clicking on email content that is tailored to their specific interests.  If you’re using a modern-day point of sale (POS) system, you can track purchase history with email addresses.

In her study on consumer preferences and purchasing behaviors, Dr. Bridget Behe (Michigan State University) identified specific groups of market segments for garden centers. We have modified her original list to make it more effective for email campaigns.

  • Segment 1: Purchasers of herbaceous plants and not woody plants
  • Segment 2: Customers who have purchased multiple types of plants
  • Segment 3: Vegetable Growers
  • Segment 4: Consumers who purchase perennials
  • Segment 5: Indoor Plants
  • Segment 6: Consumers who purchase annuals
  • Segment 7: Foodies / consumers who purchase fruit trees and other food producing plants outside of vegetables

Use this list to send specific sale information or updates to the corresponding lists. Your open rates and click rates should be much higher because it will focus on products your customers are already interested in.

Email List 4: Your VIP’s

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The Pareto principle states that 20% of a group or population usually does 80% of the work. We also call this the 80/20 rule. Chances are about 20% of your clients purchase 80% of your product. While these are probably your die-hard customers, you also want to make sure their loyalty isn’t forgotten and they know you appreciate them. A VIP list can be used to give them notice or invites to VIP events. Chances are coupons won’t be the best way to entice this group as they are already shopping at your store at a great rate. They are looking for experience, quality, and the best of the best. They are also wanting to feel appreciated…to be delighted.

Email List 5: Location Specific

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In 1983 the US Post Office adopted a revolutionary addition to its standard zip code rates with the Zip+4. The simple add-on of four extra numbers meant direct marketers could now send mailers not only to a specific town but also to a specific neighborhood or housing block. At the time, it was the pinnacle of direct marketing efficiency. For some reason our e-newsletters tend to be stuck in pre-1983 times in terms of location tracking and marketing. If your garden center has one location, this list might not be for you. However, for garden centers that have multiple locations or sell online, making location-specific lists can be a very effective way to make your email campaigns more personal, more relevant, and more effective. What good can come out of segmenting your email lists by location? For one, weather-related updates or warnings can be targeted to a relevant location instead of sending out emails that aren’t relevant to a massive list. Also, chances are that sales might vary from store to store. By segmenting lists by location, you can offer incentives or updates on sales to one group of customers or help promote underperforming products at one retail location instead of all your locations.

Email List 6: Millennials

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While the 65 and older crowd may give us the most business right now, millennials are our future. It may be hard to believe, but millennials are finally growing up. They’re having kids. They’re buying homes. This group will also spend money to help create landscapes or patio arrangements they found on Pinterest. Most importantly they are passionate about growing their own food purchased from local family retailers, and they will reward a good experience with intense loyalty. Millennials don’t want to be casual shoppers; they want to engage with your brand on multiple levels from coming to the store on a weekend to posting about you on social media. They’re tech savy and their green thumb has spent more time on a smart phone than in the earth. Therefore, this group needs education to be successful, especially on the first try. Use this list to share fun tips and tricks for small projects, specials on herbs, and especially basic gardening information. Consider this group an investment in the next 25 years of your business.

You already know that your subscriber list is a gold mine of valuable client information. Learning to “work” that list to create more individualized content will enhance the interaction your business has with loyal customers. After all, the goal is to have a great proportion of your list become loyal. Curate regularly; offer incentives and rewards for engaged customers; and deliver great content to targeted interest groups. And, by all means report back what you’ve learned–what worked well and what didn’t work well. We’re all in this together!