You take good care of your customers, selecting just the right merchandise that will delight. Your store is a labor of love: you’ve invested in displays, furniture and perhaps a shiny new point-of-sale (POS) system. Employees are trained carefully to welcome store visitors and assist them with their purchases. Your website is easy to use; optimized for mobile and you’ve even tried out some paid search ads.

But do you really know your customers? If you wanted to tell them about a new product or sale by email, would you be able to? For many local businesses, the answer is “no.” They simply do not collect email addresses from customers. But there’s revenue in email marketing. A recent study found that 44% of email recipients made at least one purchase last year because of a promotional email (Source:

No matter what you’ve heard, email isn’t dead. People like receiving emails from brands they know and trust. According to a study by ExactTarget, 72% of consumers prefer to receive permission-based marketing communications through email. (Pro-tip: Never sign up a customer for emails without their permission. You can read the Federal Trade Commission’s CAN-SPAM rules for sending emails here.)

Below are four ways to collect email addresses from your valuable customers and grow that valuable email list.

1. At Point of Sale as Part of the Transaction.

You will need to train your salespeople to request emails as part of the transaction. Simply asking, “Can I have your email address?” makes it too easy for the customer to say “No way!”  Instead, try to make it part of the transaction:

 “I’d like to send you a coupon for $5 off your next purchase. What email address should I send it to?”

Many POS systems have data collection; if yours does not, you can use a tablet with an app such as MailChimp. Use a paper and clipboard as a last result. Even if you collect email this way, someone still has to enter it into a database later, upping the chances of data error. Also, handwriting can be hard to decipher.

2. At Special Events.

At your store’s next special event such as a wine tasting, new Fall collection, holiday trunk show or free cooking demonstration, make sure to let customers know they can sign up for special offers, coupons and other news. Use your POS system or a tablet to capture emails.

3. On Your Website.

Asking website visitors for their email addresses seems like Marketing 101, but many businesses simply don’t bother. Buck this trend by making sure there’s a call to action (CTA) on your site. Offer a 10% coupon or a free gift for signing up for emails. Make sure the CTA is placed prominently on the page.

4. On Social Media.

Your social media platforms are a great place to collect emails from already interested and loyal fans. Post a Facebook status update or tweet a link to a MailChimp email signup page. Or consider contests using a service such as Votigo or ShortStackTwitter Lead Cards are another way to collect emails as part of your overall marketing strategy.

Of course, once you collect email addresses, you need to use them! Make sure to have an email marketing plan in place. This sounds complicated, but it’s really just a schedule of what you want to communicate and when you want to communicate it. Good luck and happy emailing!

Alex is Connectivity’s VP of Marketing.