Paulette Kirk Kasmer, owner of Polka Dot Parlor, encourages her customers to express themselves through fashion. “The store is all about looking good and feeling good,” she says. Based in Bristol Borough, Pennsylvania, the quirky boutique boasts an eclectic mix of vintage clothing and kitschy accessories. Although Kasmer is a whiz at curating inventory — there truly is something for everyone at Polka Dot Parlor — getting new customers into the store was a challenge. During her first year in business, she relied solely on word-of-mouth to promote the store and wasn’t seeing as much foot traffic as she would’ve liked.
As the recipient of a Small Business Revolution makeover, Kasmer partnered with Deluxe to build a marketing strategy that would grow her customer base. One key element of that plan was her new email marketing program. In a few short months, she was able to build a contact list from scratch and is now connecting with more customers than ever — all while staying true to Polka Dot Parlor’s mission and voice. Here’s a look at her email marketing strategy in action.
Launching an email marketing program
Initially, Kasmer, like a lot of business owners, hadn’t embraced email marketing because she was afraid of spamming her customer base with messages they didn’t want. But the truth is that consumers want to hear from companies via email. According to recent research, 91 percent of Americans want to receive promotional emails.
To kick off her email marketing program, Deluxe encouraged Kasmer to put a pen and notebook next to the cash register, so she could collect email addresses from her customers. Because all successful email strategies start with an email list, getting new subscribers was — and continues to be — a priority.
Deluxe created a promotional calendar that integrated the store’s merchandising plan with Kasmer’s email schedule. During the winter months, for example, her window displays and featured inventory would be thematically linked to her email promotions by the holidays, the colder weather and so on:
Since the Small Business Revolution revitalization, Kasmer has maintained the promotional calendar, finding a cadence that works best for her and for Polka Dot Parlor’s customers. She sends at least two emails a month to her subscribers, making sure to incorporate seasonal content and promotions. To keep subscribers’ attention, she varies the topics she covers. Messages about upcoming workshops at the shop and local events are incorporated into the calendar along with promotions.
Maintaining a strong brand voice and image
Paulette brings her exuberance, passion and positivity to every aspect of her business — and her email marketing is no exception. Her email subject lines are light and playful, and she doesn’t shy away from emojis. Recent examples include:
- What’s up at the Polka Dot Parlor?
- Did someone say 50% off?”
- Super Duper Sales This Week at the Polka Dot Parlor ????
- June Happenings at the PDP
- New Spring Goodies arriving daily
Email images showcase the fun offerings at the store and run the gamut from photos of window displays to photos of merchandise to photos of Kasmer herself. Since Polka Dot Parlor is all about self-expression, it was important for Kasmer to carry that through to her marketing as she established her brand voice.
Growing an email list
Kasmer continues to grow her subscriber list. Not only does she collect email addresses in-store, but her website has an email sign-up form. She has also experimented with new ways to build her list, like attending off-site events and handing out business cards and postcards that direct people to her website and sign-up form. Her efforts have paid off: Polka Dot Parlor recently surpassed 500 email addresses.
Kasmer is now entering her second year in business with a strong marketing strategy. Her contact list is growing, and her emails are giving her a platform to promote her business while encouraging customers to be their most authentic selves.
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