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Is It Time for E-mail Marketing (Part 1 of 2)

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(Photo: ©iStockphoto.com/Kyu Oh)

Hal Licino |

CHICAGO — 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. Time are changing. Have you thought about e-mail marketing?

A basic tenet of e-mail marketing is to ensure you have permission from the individual you’re sending the e-mail to; otherwise you’ll run afoul of some strict federal laws.

In a self-service laundry setting, there are various 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 drawing.

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-mails 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 customers to fill in their e-mail addresses 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 the cafeteria boards. Look around 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.

Make it a conversation

Your 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. E-mail marketing is a conversation, not a broadcast, so build a relationship by demonstrating that your business can make their life easier.

If people 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.

Your customers will spend an hour or two in your store, so your e-mail should point out how pleasant your facility is, as well as highlight the comfortable seating, refreshment vending, TV, newer magazines, and the overall cleanliness of your store.

Check back Thursday for Part 2 of this story.

About the author

Hal Licino

Author

Hal Licino is an e-mail marketing advocate for Benchmark Email, an e-mail marketing service, and has authored two books.

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