When it comes to marketing your self-service laundry, there are plenty of ways to go. Don’t be afraid to explore new marketing tactics. Times are changing. Have you thought about e-mail marketing?A basic tenet of e-mail marketing is to ensure that you have permission from the individual you’re sending the e-mail to; otherwise you’ll run afoul of some very strict federal laws.In a self-service laundry setting, there are many ways to get that permission: you can set up a form on your bulletin board asking your customers to fill in their e-mail addresses, ask customers while they’re waiting for their loads to finish, or, for more enthusiastic responses, run a prize giveaway requiring customers to place their e-mail addresses in a ballot box for a draw. Make sure that you clearly state that the e-mails will be used to contact them for promotional purposes.Harvesting e-mail addresses in your own facility is great for encouraging repeat business, but since you want to bring in new customers, you’ll have to reach out to them. Seek out any current events or entertainment websites that deal only with your neighborhood or area and discuss taking out an inexpensive banner ad that will encourage web-surfers to provide their e-mail for discounts or special offers.PARTNER WITH LOCAL BUSINESSES You might want to partner with other area retailers. You could print your ad on the back of the receipts at the local grocery store, asking the customer to fill in their e-mail address and bring it in for a free wash. Students are always looking for a deal, so you could place a similar ad on tear-off sheets in the student union or on cafeteria boards. Look around you to determine where your prospects are; you’ll be surprised at how many ways exist to capture their e-mail addresses.Once you have your e-mail address list, don’t fall into the typical neophyte trap of pasting the entire list into the "cc:" box of your e-mail. Not only will your customers be angry since you’ve revealed their e-mail addresses to everyone else, but your e-mail will likely just end up in their spam folders.A CONVERSATION, NOT A BROADCASTYour e-mail campaign must tie in with your customers’ information that relates to your business but is also interesting to them. Steer far away from hard-sell techniques. Remember that e-mail marketing is a conversation, not a broadcast, so build a relationship by demonstrating that your business can make their life easier.If they don’t have their own washer, you can promote the quality and economy of your machines. Even if they do have a washer, you can drive home the message of how much easier it is to do the whole family’s laundry at once by using several of your higher-capacity machines at once.Your customers will spend an hour or two in your location, so your e-mail should point out how pleasant your facility is, as well as highlighting the comfortable seating, refreshment vending, TV, newer magazines, and the overall cleanliness of your store.IDENTIFY PROSPECTS, TRACK RESPONSESTracking the responses you receive is vital to discover the effectiveness of your campaign. Determine who is responding and why in order to fine-tune your e-mail marketing efforts and boost your laundry traffic.Staying in touch with your prospects is necessary to build loyalty, but don’t swamp them with e-mails. A monthly e-mail highlighting special events and promotions in your facility is far preferable to weekly nag-fests. Market segmentation is the heart of e-mail marketing, so target your content specifically to the individual — busy mothers have different lifestyles than college students. Speak to your customer in a voice they can relate to.The e-mail itself has to be strategically composed as well. E-mails can be received in HTML format that will show lots of images and colors, or in plain-text format that will only show basic text. You can send both formats in one e-mail by creating a multi-part alternative, but this generally requires some fairly advanced coding skills.TAKE THE HASSLE OUT OF MARKETINGTo avoid dealing with expensive web designers and consultants, you might turn over the nuts and bolts of your e-mail marketing to established, reputable companies that specialize in providing e-mail marketing services. These companies provide ready-made professional e-mail templates, list-management tools, a wealth of tips on how to improve your campaign, and can even supply tracking reports so you know exactly how your e-mails are working. Most importantly, they adhere to the standards set by the leading industry organizations, which ensure a much higher delivery percentage than you could likely achieve on your own. Many of these companies are affordable, as their services generally cost about a penny per e-mail!E-mail marketing is not just for national brands and chain stores; it can be just as effective for self-service laundries. Exploring the potential of e-mail marketing can increase your traffic and keep your machines humming all day long!