Local food is hard to access, and there’s only a small percentage of people who truly go out of their way to purchase the majority of their food locally. As a consumer, it’s much easier to go to a grocery store instead of ordering online and coordinating delivery with a local food producer. It is your role to communicate with consumers on why purchasing from you is worth it – whether that’s for their health, to support their community, or to help the environment.

Every marketing tool has its place and is essential for connecting with customers. Social media is great for sharing photos and content, however create too much noise, and things get lost too easily. What you need is a direct channel to customers to share your products, story, and life with them. This is where email campaigning comes in. MailChimp allows you to create demand by telling your authentic story. Instead of just sending another email, use this tool to best showcase your lifestyle and products to potential customers. They need that pull in order to commit to being a customer.

So, what is MailChimp?

MailChimp is an online email marketing tool that allows small businesses who lack high end tools and resources to access technology that helps them grow. It makes email campaigns flawless. The tool lets you use templates, fill in your business specific content, choose recipients and send! Further, the tool provides services like email automation, marketing campaigns and analytics*.  It will reinvent your emailing procedures.

*Note: Analytics is the discovery, accumulation and communication of data collected on your marketing, such as number of clicks, views, and replies.

So, let me tell you how it can help you with your food business! These are some of the best features of MailChimp, how to use them and how they can help you increase your sales:

Templates, templates and more templates!

Do you struggle with making your emails look flashy? MailChimp has pre-made professional templates that allow you to fill in the blanks with your information. These templates include different kinds of text boxes, dividers, buttons, social media links, and more. You probably had never thought of adding those to your emails in the past! It takes the work and time out of designing your own templates! You can also save templates you’ve used in the past and use them in different email campaigns. These templates make your emails look flashy and professional, while saving you so much time from having to format them time and time again.

To increase your sales, use templates to create emails that include:

  • A header that represents your business and products. We recommend using a nice photograph and placing your logo on top.
  • Photographs. Include beautiful pictures of your farm, production process and of you! Show people where their food is coming from. Also include pictures of new or featured products.
  • A link to where they can order from you and an explanation on how.
  • Any social media links where they can follow you for more information.
  • Any other content such as blog posts that you’ve written or videos that show what you do.

The power of automation.

Automation allows you to write the right emails to the right people and send them at the right time. Instead of sending individual emails, you can save time and money by letting the system do it for you. Whether your sending information about upcoming events, new products, or ordering deadlines, this system lets you customize sending lists, content and dates to a tee.

Here is some more explanation:

According to MailChimp, an automation is an email or series of emails sent to one individual based on a “trigger”.  A trigger is the event that starts an email/series. This event could be someone signs up for an emailing list to get more information or someone makes a purchase from you. Additionally, you can add a delay. A delay is the period of time between a trigger and the send. For example, when someone becomes a customer, take 2 days before sending them your welcome email. When a customer sets off a trigger, they get put into a queue, where they sit until the delay has passed. Just for reference, a queue is a group of contacts who meet the criteria and are waiting to receive their next email based on the delay.

There’s a lot of terminology – but essentially you set criteria such as purchasing a product or signing up to a mailing list, then MailChimp puts those contacts into a specified list. From that list, those contacts are sent timed marketing emails that you create and set-up only once. Think about how much time that saves you!

To increase your sales, we suggest:

  • Adding all new customers or interested people into a list in MailChimp. There are ways to have signups automatically populate into MailChimp, and the program provides detailed explanation on how to do so. If you can automate this process even further – we definitely suggest it!
  • This customer list should be sent an automated “Welcome Email”. This email should include a thank you message for joining or purchasing, information about your business and how they can easily order from you in the future.
  • A second automated email should be created and “delayed” to be sent a week after the welcome email reminding them how to order again.

You can take automation very far by adding multiple emails to a campaign that have different triggers. We recommend starting with this procedure and going from there! The more you use and learn about the program, the more you can achieve with email marketing!  

Open and click rates

Unlike your regular inbox, MailChimp tracks who opened and who clicked on the links provided in your emails. This can be a super powerful tool because it lets you know who’s interacting with what content. It allows you to give customers who aren’t opening your emails or haven’t clicked on the link to your online store a little nudge to get going. Notice someone is ignoring your emails? Maybe shoot them a call to remind them orders are due soon.

Further, it also lets you gauge which email campaigns work the best. Maybe you try one email campaign with one title versus another. The higher open rate suggests that the title works well. Additionally, you try a campaign with more photographs of your farm versus photographs of the products. The click rate will tell you which photos engage your audience more. Tracking these two rates gives you a clear picture of how to structure your emails.These numbers are easily found under View Report in the campaigns section in the program.

To increase your sales, we suggest:

Play around with these rates. When you create your first email campaign, put half of your contacts in one list and the other half in a different list. Switch up the email title between campaigns and add different photographs. By doing this you are able to compare which content or wording works better! This may take a few tries, but it’s a great way to get feedback on your strategies.

That all sounds nice, but you want to make money, not spend it on tools. So, let’s talk price.

In their pricing, they have three different options:

  • free starting at $0/month,
  • grow starting at $10
  • and pro starting at $199/month.

The main differences between the options is the extra features you have access to and amount of contacts and emails/month you can use.

For a food business, I would recommend trying the free option – yes, free! This gives you the opportunity to test the service and see the results before committing to a monthly fee. Additionally, the free version gives you 2000 subscribers (contacts) and 12000 emails/month. That’s plenty – especially if you are just starting out with email campaigning. Also, the free version still gives you access to their great features mentioned above like automation and templates. Additionally, if you’re a Local Line user, you can easily import your contacts from Local Line to MailChimp. Click this link to find out how to do this- it saves a lot of time from manually inputting!

Email campaigning strikes a great balance between the convenience of automation, while also maintaining a personal relationship between you and your customers. They are receiving specialized curated content right to their inboxes. Trust me, it will help you increase your sales! Also, if it’s free – you don’t have an excuse to not get started today!