The Single Most Effective Way to Turn Craft Show Browsers into Online Sales

Heidy Henke is the owner of Emma Alison Designs Jewelry and is a Marketing and Social Media Specialist for Wubbers University.  She loves ridiculously tiny gemstone beads, helping others maximize their jewelry sales, and learning about the ever-changing world of social media.

With as much work as goes into being a craft show vendor, it pays to take the time to carefully plan on how to turn those passersby into raving fans.

Recently the Etsy Success blog had a great post on how to turn craft show customers into online customers.  I took several actionable items away from it I know have the potential to increase sales at my next show.

Next time, I plan on keeping my online store open with my best sellers instead of completely closing up shop.  Using the Stats feature, I saw a lot of traffic in my Etsy shop while it was closed during my recent craft show.  I missed out on potential sales by not having items available.

But I was surprised to see that the Etsy blog post missed perhaps the most effective way to build your customer base, that has worked for me time and time again.

It is simple too: e-newsletters.

With all the buzz that social media gets – Facebook business pages, Foursquare check-ins, Vine, Instagram, Pinterest – it is easy to forget about good ol’ email.  But it is still relevant and the good news for those of us who just-want-to-make-jewelry-and-not-be-bothered-with-having-to-learn-how-to-be-salespeople — is that it is cheap, easy, and highly effective.

Think about it: by gathering email addresses at shows, these wonderful potential customers are inviting you into their inbox, which they most likely check daily.  It is a privilege to get such an invitation, and be sure to treat it as such.  Think of them as your VIP list.

Remember not to be spammy, send too often, or include unrelated content than what they signed up for.  With that being said, here is how to proceed.

In Your Craft Show Booth

At every show, have a newsletter sign up sheet, even if you haven’t signed up for an email marketing service yet (more on that next).  Make room for it in your booth, because it is that important.  I usually set out sign up sheets on a dressed-up clipboard that matches the style of my booth.

Mailing-List

Here’s a peek at my super-simple sign up sheets, which I created in Word.

All you technically need is someone’s email address, but I like to ask for their name as well.  Not only does it give you the opportunity to personalize their emails (Hi Amy,…) but it might help you decode their handwritten email address.  Trust me, people write quickly during craft shows.

Other things to consider:

  • Let them know what they are opting in for: occasional updates, or weekly sales?  Be upfront.  I tell my customers they are signing up for “occasional updates, such as when I have an online sale or when I am going to be at a show.”
  • Consider hosting a drawing for anyone who opts into your newsletter at a show.  Use it as an icebreaker at the show — “Have you signed up for my newsletter?  I’ll be drawing a name to win this lovely necklace.”
  • And finally, don’t limit yourself to craft shows.  Gather email addresses any chance you get, such as in line at Starbucks or on your Facebook business page.  More on integrating your email marketing opt-in form on your Facebook page in a future post.

Choosing an Email Marketing Service

Now that you have all those email addresses?  You will need to manually enter them onto the website you’ve chosen.  The three most popular:

  • http://www.mailchimp.com – It’s free up to 2,000 subscribers.  Free is in my budget, so this is what I use.  Easy to navigate, there is also great online training for beginners.
  • http://www.constantcontact.com – Starts at $15/mo.  Hundreds of templates, and the option to code in HTML, if you are so inclined.  This is what we use at Wubbers University.
  • http://www.aweber.com – Starts at $19/mo.  Founded in 1998, they’ve practically been around forever in internet years.

Sending Emails

Next, you just have to figure out what you’re going to say, and how often to say it.

Remember how I mentioned that email marketing is cheap, easy and highly effective?  You achieve this zen-like marketing state by keeping it simple.  Give your newsletter subscribers exclusive deals you don’t offer anywhere else, and only send emails when you have something newsworthy.

Consider sending an email on these occasions:

  • After someone signs up for your list.  Thank them for signing up and include a link to your website.

“It was great meeting you at my recent show.  As a thank you for signing up for my newsletter, enjoy free shipping on your first order…”

  • Right before a show.  Include all the info on the show – hours, address, website – and tell them why they need to come see you.

“Come see me at my upcoming show.  Be the first to shop many new items not available online.  Newsletter subscribers get an exclusive coupon…”

  • When you have a sale or new product launch.  Consider giving them a slightly better sale offer than the general public, or let them preview new items before anyone else.

There are many angles to approach email marketing from, and it can get pretty complicated.  But by keeping it simple and giving customers something of value in each newsletter, you are on your way to converting craft show attendees into future online sales.

I want to hear about your stories about email marketing.  What has worked for you?  What questions do you have?  Please leave a comment, we would love to hear.

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Posted in Handmade Business
5 comments on “The Single Most Effective Way to Turn Craft Show Browsers into Online Sales
  1. I definitely need an email list at my next show! And thanks for the ideas on what to send out in the newsletter.

  2. I do use an email sign up and have been successful when I have sent emails. Thanks for the reminder to be more consistent with something that works.

    • heidyhenke says:

      That’s a good point – you don’t have to use an email marketing service. I like the templates that they provide and that they keep the email lists in one place (so I don’t lose them), but they definitely aren’t necessary.

  3. heidyhenke says:

    Someone brought up a good point – you don’t have to use an email marketing service. I like the templates that they provide and that they keep the email lists in one place (so I don’t lose them), but they definitely aren’t necessary.

  4. Lynn Hill says:

    What a great article!! Always something to learn. Thank you for your tips on marketing. I have been making jewelry for years and always growing. Have graduated these last couple of years to metals and wire. Again, thank you for your knowledge and passing it on to us.
    Happy Holidays!!

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