As Elana Donmoyer slowly rolled her collection of handmade clothing and accessories around the parking lot of a Phish concert over a decade ago, she never thought her humble efforts to fund her trips to watch her favorite band would someday transform into a business that would help support her family.
As a crafter and DIYer back then, Elana saw other crafters struggling to find hair accessories in the right colors and quantities.
“Folks were buying basic styles at the drugstore or supermarket and adding on to them,” she said. “But there was no source for these basics by-the-color. If you wanted 50 pink elastic headbands, you’d have to buy assorted packs and pull the pink ones out.”
Elana saw an opportunity, and with $500 and a lot of hard work and bootstrapping, Threddies.com was born.
Threddies offers an extensive in-stock inventory of basic and fashion hair accessories in a huge selection of colors.
With a background in retail, launching Threddies just made sense for Elana.
“I am fortunate to have been raised in retail, wholesale and apparel manufacturing, so I knew what to do once I had the concrete vision,” she said.
When it came to growing her new business, she knew selling from a rolling rack in a concert parking lot wasn’t realistic in the long run. So she started a retail and wholesale website and began selling to crafters and DIYers all around the world.
She also understood the value of email marketing and started building an email list early on (high five, Elana!).
4 email marketing lessons from Threddies
Here are four lessons Elana and her husband Jason (who’s also AWeber’s very own Android Developer) have learned since using email marketing to grow her business (and how you can make them work for you):
Take advantage of every opportunity to build your list.
Most of Elana’s subscribers have come organically from her website and word-of-mouth. But recently she’s found great success using AWeber’s Atom mobile app to add subscribers on the go at trade shows, fairs, festivals and bazaars (take that, pen and paper!).
Pro tip: Download the Atom mobile app and customize the design to match your brand or business.
Be genuine in your emails.
When Elana first started email marketing, she found that she was trying to sound a bit too buttoned-up in her emails. Over time, she’s learned to lighten up her tone and be more conversational.
“Be genuine,” Elana said. “We’ve found that people respond best when you’re being yourself – a bit candid, with some humor. Nobody likes boring, dry content!”
Pro tip: When writing your emails, remember that you’re speaking to a person, not an email address. Write as though you’re talking to a close friend. You’re also speaking to one person, not making a speech to a bazillion people at once, so get personal with your emails.
Deliver relevant, timely content.
Elana uses email marketing to keep Threddies top of mind with her subscribers. Although her core line of basic accessories doesn’t change very often, she does switch up fabrics, add new colors, and introduce new lines of fashion accessories, so she uses email marketing to make sure her subscribers are aware.
“Our customers like the periodic updates, but, of course, they like the sales the best! When it’s the end of the season and we’ve got inventory to move, email marketing is a great way to get the word out about special deals and make it happen.”
Pro tip: Understand what your subscribers want and deliver it. In Elana’s case, her subscribers love the seasonal sales she offers.
“Email marketing is also a great way to reward loyal customers with the occasional discount or private sale.”
Make time for email marketing.
As a mother and entrepreneur, Elana has to balance her time at home and in her business. But she doesn’t leave her time to chance. Instead, she makes sure to schedule in time for email marketing and other business to-dos.
“With so much to do to keep a business running, it’s easy to let these things go if you don’t specifically make time for them,” she said. “If you don’t make time for it, there never will be time for it.”
Elana has also found ways to squeeze in time when there isn’t a lot to go around.
“It’s all about stealing moments when you can – the mobile app has been hugely helpful for this,” she said. “Waiting in line at the grocery store, waiting for the kids to get off the bus. Five minutes here and there can really add up, if you use them wisely!”
Big plans for 2016
With 2016 underway, Elana has big plans for growing Threddies this year.
“I plan to add more colors, sizes and fabrics to our line of in-stock basics, and to expand our popular private label program.”
As Elana grows her business, she’ll continue growing her subscriber list, too.
Whether you’re just getting started with email or you’ve hit a growth rut, fear not. Growing your subscriber list and your business doesn’t have to be scary. Check out our free, seven-day email course to learn simple organic list-boosting tips.
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