Using Email Marketing to Grow your T-Shirt Business

Email is a great way to reach out to your customers and others who are interested in your business. Email marketing is still thriving and a lucrative way to grow your t-shirt business.

Recently, digital marketers rated email marketing as being the most effective for digital media channels.


email marketing effectiveness

Image Source: Smart Insights


If you’ve never used email to market your business, there can be a lot to know to get started.

But let’s walk before you run. In this post, we’ll go over some of the basics to get started with email marketing for your t-shirt business, along with plenty of tips to help you along the way to have success.

This will help get you started and get on the right track.


What You Need to Start Emailing Customers

Before you send out a single email, you’re going to need an official way to send emails.

Typically, using a Gmail account is not going to work for sending large amounts of emails, like sending to a list.

This is because you need a way to manage your contacts and let them opt out if they no longer wish to receive emails from you. Letting people on your list opt out is a legal requirement for sending emails.

While we won’t get too much into detail on the legal side of things in this post, allowing users to opt out is a must.

Therefore, using a company set up to handle contacts and marketing is the right way to go.

You’ll need an email marketing platform.

There are lots of players out there in this arena, many varying in features and pricing. When choosing one of these email service providers (ESP), you’ll want to consider your budget and what you’ll need out of your email platform.

Many platforms also provide automated messaging systems you can utilize for your marketing efforts as well.

A few examples of email marketing platforms are MailChimp, Constant Contact, GetResponse, Campaign Monitor, ActiveCampaign, and many, many others.


email marketing platform examples

Image Source: Tinuiti


If you are just starting out, some even provide a free plan to users with small subscriber lists.

When you choose a platform, they will be able to walk you through the setup for their particular platform and ways to benefit the most from their features. Most will have a blog with guides, etc.


Who Do I Send to?

After you have chosen an ESP and have it all set up, you’ll be able to start sending to, or growing, your email list of subscribers.

Just like having the ability to allow your users to unsubscribe and opt out of receiving your emails, your list needs to be comprised of people who have opted in or subscribed to receive marketing emails from you. This is important.

If you already have a list of customers that you have emailed before, regarding order questions, invoices, etc., contact them and ask if you can add them to your email list. That way, you are getting permission from all people on your list.

As part of growing your list, which we’ll cover more below, you can use an opt-in form that you can send to your current customers which they can use to opt in if they choose to.

[Related Content: How to Create a Website for Your T-Shirt Business Using WordPress]

Don’t stop at just current customers, though. As part of starting your email list, get permission from others whom you have contact information for, such as people who have submitted price inquiries, or if you’ve collected contacts from a show or contest, too.

Just because they haven’t bought from you yet, doesn’t mean they may not in the future. As long as you’ve gotten permission to email them and they’ve opted in, you can email them to try to win their business.

[Related Content: How to Market Your T-Shirt Business Online]


What Do I Email to My List?

So now that you have an email service provider and started a list of subscribers to send to, you’ll now be ready to actually start sending emails.

But what do you want to send?

Don’t just send promotional emails. While these can be helpful at times and people do like receiving deals, that’s not all they want.

Instead, have a healthy mix of content that you send to subscribers.

Subscribers have invited you into the home of their email inbox, so give them content that won’t overstay your welcome.

Email is a great way to build trust and deepen relationships with customers and prospective customers.

Highly targeted, relevant, valuable content will help to build that relationship.

[Related Content: 9 Reasons Content Marketing Can Help Your T-Shirt Business]

Instead of emails getting deleted as soon as they come in, (I think we’ve all done that, right?) it will be a little excitement when your subscribers see your email.

Depending on your t-shirt business, is there educational content you can provide around your niche? Is there anything helpful that can clear up any confusion customers may have around your products or services?

These are great email topics you can send between promotional types of emails.


How to Maintain a Good Send Reputation

Maintaining a good reputation is key to email marketing.

While not specifically referring to your reputation to your email subscriber list, it is more referring to your reputation as a sender to email service providers.

This affects which inbox your emails arrive in for users, such as your inbox/primary inbox, promotions tab, or even spam/junk folders.

The good news is, there are ways you can keep a good reputation for both your users and email service providers and avoid the promotions tabs/spam/junk folders.

Whereas you definitely want to avoid ending up in spam or junk folders, promotions tabs are a little different. The promotions tab was designed to catch, you guessed it, promotional emails. So if your emails are promotional in nature, then theoretically, that’s where they belong.

However, as a sender, avoiding the promotions tab will help in your email marketing success. Let’s face it – we often ignore and forget about the promotions tab in our own email. It’s the first step in the downward spiral.


email inbox promotions tab


So let’s look at a few tips on ways to avoid the promotions tab and stay in the primary inbox.


List Hygiene

Regularly managing your subscribers helps keep an up-to-date list.

An outdated list is of no benefit to your marketing efforts, and can actually hurt your deliverability now and for future campaign sends.

You’ll want to remove any bad email addresses that “bounce”. Essentially, a bounce is when an email address doesn’t work.

There are two types of bounces, a hard bounce and a soft bounce. The reasons are different for each.

An example of a hard bounce is that the email address just doesn’t exist. This could be because of a typo in the address.

An example of a soft bounce is an email that couldn’t be delivered temporarily, maybe because the inbox was full.

Some ESP platforms will automatically remove hard bounces from your list. And after so many soft bounces, it may remove those as well.

Besides removing actual bad or incorrect email addresses, you’ll also want to manage emails that don’t engage over time.

For example, it’s good to remove subscribers who haven’t opened an email for several months.


email list cleaning

Image Source: Acoustic


There are several factors that determine your “reputation”, and open rates are one of the many, many factors. An ESP can see how your send list interacts with your emails. If you have large amounts of unopened emails over time, that is a trigger saying that your emails are not valuable or important.

Have a plan to sunset subscribers to let them know you are removing them. There are lots of ways you can do this. A search on Google will give you plenty of ideas.


Email Formats

Besides making sure your list is up-to-date, there are also lots of tips for formatting your emails for higher deliverability as well.

Basically, as a easy rule of thumb, the more your emails look and act like a “normal” email, the higher chances your emails will land in your subscribers’ primary inbox.

Keeping images to a minimum, especially at a good text-to-image ratio will help. You can apply the 80/20 rule here to be safe – 80% text to 20% images.


email marketing good text to image ratio

Image Source: Email Uplers


When using images, make sure they add value or complement your text. Don’t just add an image to have an image. Keep in mind, too, that some email providers don’t show images by default.

Make sure your image sizes are not too large, either. Large dimensions get clipped or make an email harder to read by forced left-to-right scrolling, which is never fun to read.

In addition to images, keep in mind of the html you are using to format your emails.

We mentioned above that “normal” emails reach a primary inbox for frequently. What do I mean by “normal”? An email you would send to a family member or friend – a regularly styled email.

So try to get your emails to look like those. When’s the last time you sent an email to your grandmother with an H1 or H2 heading in it?

In the same thought, try to minimalize the amount of links you include. This is for two reasons. More links will more likely fit a promotional email. The other reason is that it’s good marketing to focus on one call-to-action at a time. Choose what you want your audience to do for that email, and stick to it. This helps limit the amount of distractions someone is looking at.

Human psychology also shows that when you have too many choices to choose from (even starting as few as 3 choices), many people will not choose any at all – it’s called analysis paralysis.

Again, sticking with the idea of emailing your grandmother, you aren’t stuffing an email with a lot of links.

As a final thought to email format, keep in mind of the actual words you are using in your copy/text. Words or phrases that are overly promotional will also be a trigger for the promotions tab. Examples include “sale”, “buy now”, “save money”, etc. It’s best to avoid these types of words and phrases.


Engagements are Important

Another tip for long-term email marketing success is good engagement.

As we mentioned above, email is a great way to establish a relationship with your list.

Email service providers are looking at how people interact with your emails, especially over time.

Are people treating it like a promotional email, or do they treat it as more important?

Not only are they opening and clicking, but do they reply or forward the email. Replies and forwards are standard behavior of emails.

This shows that there is, in fact, a relationship between both parties. You want two-way communication.

Those are some examples of positive interactions and engagements.

The opposite is also a factor. How many negative interactions do your emails get? These may include unsubscribes/opt outs, and even worse, spam complaints.

Managing your list, as we talked about previously, will help here, too.

Having a steady frequency and cadence of your emails is also important. Don’t over send too many emails in a short period of time. This fatigues your list.

If you have a regular day or time you send, this can develop predictable and desired emails. Every audience is different, so you’ll need to test what your list likes. Tip: you can even ask them in a survey how often they would like to hear from you and on what topics.


Ways to Grow Your Email List

As a final thought, we wanted to include ways you can grow your email list.

If you have a website, add sign-up forms in strategic areas for visitors to subscribe to your email list.

[Related Content: How to Engage Users on Your T-Shirt Website]

Use “lead magnets”, as they are commonly called, to entice visitors to sign up as an added incentive. A lead magnet is something like an ebook, for example, that someone can download. All they need to do is submit their email address and it will be delivered to them.


email sign up form examples


Most email marketing platforms have some sort of sign-up form builder that you can then embed the form on your website. If you have an ESP that does not have this as a feature, you can also find other sites where you can create forms, as well, that will integrate with your ESP.

When someone signs up via an opt-in form, that email address automatically will be added to your email list of subscribers.

As part of the process, through most email services providers, you can also set up marketing automations that will automatically send an email with the ebook or other asset you choose to those who subscribe.

In addition to your website, you can also get new subscribers through social media traffic to your site.

If you attend live events like craft fairs, for example, have a place where attendees can sign up for your email list there, too.

[Related Ebook: Selling T-Shirts at Craft Fairs]

At the end of the day, email marketing is a very viable way to reach out to customers and prospects, and be top-of-mind with them.

Make sure you give them value for being on your list. And don’t be afraid to share deals with them, too. Just make sure to have a good balance.



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