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Best Email Marketing Practices For Retail And Brick-And-Mortar Stores

Date published: October 15, 2019
Last updated: October 15, 2019

What makes a brick and mortar special?

Hundreds of millions of people across the world do most if not all of their shopping via the internet. More often than not online outlets like eBay, Amazon, and Overstock just offer more for less, which is really all the average consumers cares about.

However there’s still nothing the online shopping experience can do to mimic the atmosphere and person to person contact of a brick and mortar location. Shops like:

  • Williams Sonoma,
  • Lululemon,
  • REI,
  • Bass Pro Shops,
  • Whole Foods,
  • and the neighborhood coffee shop.

These have unbeatable atmospheres which make people want to partake of more than just the products these stores offer, but of the hobby or interest to which their goods relate; and make the customer want to keep coming back.

Pictured: The interior of a Denver REI, complete with indoor rock climbing wall.

Brick and mortar stores are a feast for the senses

Retail stores engage more of the senses than just sight. For example,

  1. You have the smells of freshly opened shoe boxes, or scented candles, ground coffee and industrial fibers.
  2. You have the sense of touch – incredibly important if you want to buy clothes; to try them on, to feel the fabric against your skin.
  3. You have the sounds of other people and specialized machinery like a cappuccino machine or in-store music.
  4. The sense of taste is indulged in specialty food found in gourmet bakeries, cheese shops, cafes, farmer’s markets and wineries too.

If you’re a content marketer with a physical location, these sensory experiences are your biggest ally, and part of marketing your content will be to also market this phenomenon.

By the end of this article, you’ll have a comprehensive knowledge of how to expand both an online and brick and mortar marketing operation by using the pair in tandem to support each other.

Utilizing email marketing software

To be honest, the competition within email marketing software is so meaningful that it’s hard to pick a bad one. Any plans you have for an email campaign or newsletter, I’m certain you can do with Active Campaign, Aweber, Constant Contact, MailChimp, Mailer Lite, or Drip.

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MailChimp might be the best of the lot because the postcard feature would be especially relevant to a physical store, as it adds a personal touch to any correspondence that’s particularly reminiscent of the postcards that veterinarians, dentists, orthodontists, and doctors’ offices send out to their patients when it’s time for them to come in for a cleaning or checkup.

You can ship them out fairly inexpensively, and it’s something which people expect from a physical store but that delivers an enchanting sense of inclusion to the recipient.

PICTURED: A typical MailChimp postcard campaign.


It isn’t super necessary to buy the best email marketing toolkit and you’re probably better off just picking the least expensive option (which is also probably MailChimp) considering the overhead of running a store. 

Email content marketing for a physical location

Over the internet, content marketers promote their goods and services with content, a broad-spectrum word which could include such varied mediums as

  • Videos or vlogs,
  • Blog articles,
  • High quality custom images like infographics,
  • Podcasts,
  • Product reviews,
  • Newspaper-style editorials,
  • Listsicles
  • eBooks,
  • And anything else that is both engaging and that offers viewers a chance to come closer to the product or service thus offered by the business.

From behind the counter of a retail location, the content marketer has much more content at his or her disposal.

For example, along with a web presence that could contain any amount of things listed above, they have the capabilities to engage walk-ins with the décor of their store, the atmosphere, the music, conversation, and more.

“The physical store has the opportunity of expanding on content marketing strategies online by inviting online guests to visit the location – thereby exposing them to both channels; and it’s this strategy that retail stores use to flourish.”

Utilizing both channels – Digital and Physical

Whether it’s at the front desk, on a podium near the entrance, or part of the checkout process, leave a physical way for those who are really enjoying visiting your shop to sign up for your email newsletter or mailing list (whatever you want to call it). Now you can engage them through both channels – online and in store.

If you run a boutique or apparel store, you could offer those on your email lists your thoughts and commentary on how you put an outfit together, what you look for when you bring items into your store, and news related to special offers, new inventory, store closures, and more.

In the same vein, if you run a local coffee roasters your emails could explain,

  • How you select beans,
  • What traveling to coffee plantations across the world is like, (if you are so lucky)
  • When people can come to see you operate the coffee roaster in store,
  • Special offers, and even if you are hosting any traditional extra-café activities like open mic nights poetry readings, etc.

Through utilizing your email content marketing plan, you engage the customer on the first channel. With any luck, your content will get them to partake of the second channel whereby they are almost certain to make a purchase of some kind.

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One way to do this is to offer through email, something the customer can bring into the store that you might verify their place on your mailing list (for instance a MailChimp postcard) and that entitles them to a special deal, reward, etc. This could be a printable coupon, or something else like a password, a random unguessable phrase that when spoken grants them some kind of reward or discount.

Being part of a group or club is something that all humans, on a primal level, yearn for. How could a coffee connoisseur resist visiting a local café after being given a secret club password?

What else should I do?

Make sure to have an email signup sheet everywhere you go. If you are attending conventions as a store, or a local craft or farmers market, bring one with you.

PICTURED: Most websites have an easy way to change slugs. This is the page edit screen in the Squarespace design interface, reachable simple by clicking the gear next to the page name in the page menu.

Put a signup sheet up on your website with an easy to remember slug like /subscribe, /signup, or /newsletter so you and your employees can recite it easily from memory if the signup sheet is full, or not responding if maybe you use a tablet.

In store exceptionalism

If you have it within your means to make your retail outlet just scream out at people to make a purchase from a combination of touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing, you should make every effort to do just that.

The content marketer in a brick and mortar location should take every aspect of planning a store into account.

On the internet, digital marketers use advertising “funnels” to channel prospective customers through a series of pages that will result in them making a purchasing action. Every effort by the digital marketing team is brought to bear in attempt to make the funnel as “water tight” as possible, meaning that once a prospective customer embarks on the advertising funnel journey, they won’t leave at any of the steps.

The retail content marketer must imagine their store like an advertising funnel.

They should imagine that a native ad or Facebook ad is the equivalent of their front door.

As soon as someone enters that door, they should have a latent path they are likely to tread – a physical funnel – taking them from point to point to point where each point has a view of all the products available if they just get their wallet out.

Here’s the way top interior marketing designers make their stores water-tight

The REI near me is a perfect example of this. As soon as you open the door, you see a great single isle painted to look like a hiking trail that bisects the showroom.

Aquatic items hang from the ceiling on the far right side, whereas bicycles hang on the far left, insinuating a split between water-born and earth-born hobbies.

The store is telling me something; it’s a call to adventure.

The cheese shop I worked in as a youth was much the same. As soon as the customer opened the door they saw a massive refrigerated case running along the left hand side of the showroom, and handmade wooden shelves stocked with all the accompaniments cheese deserves. I can still remember the look of wonder on the faces of first time guests.

Having gone through the process of engaging with your content on the internet, going in store will hopefully confirm the guest’s impressions of your exceptionalism, taking them in to the last stage of the funnel, browsing your products and picking out what they like.

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Engaging your audience via email marketing is always important for any online enterprise, but when you have the added option for in store participation, you have so much more potential for driving ROI and conversions.

Always include signup sheets everywhere, add the address, or better yet, a Google Maps link to your store in any email correspondences you send out.

Likewise in your physical location, include signup sheets and make sure your staff is encouraging people to join your mailing list. Add incentives for them to do so like special offers and updates to in store events like classes, talks, shows, sales or tastings.


  1. If you marry an email content marketing strategy based on driving in store sales,
  2. With an in-store funnel to drive people onto your online presence,

You stand to marry the best of both worlds, boost your ROI, and run a profitable physical business that can remain part of your community for years to come.

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