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How to Profit from Email Marketing for your traditional Businesses

Moving the Sale online in a Post-Covid World

Winston Ng
6 min readMay 6, 2020


As we move towards a Post Covid world, there will be an increasing number of people who would want to reduce physical contact where possible. Thus, it becomes essential for any brick and mortar business owner or sales person to hone your ability to prospect and close a sale remotely.

To be clear, this post is not about Traffic generation. This is the point after they see your brand or product, or they have previously been to your store. Imagine you are a wine shop, where people would walk in and you can make the sale, but now that customers are choosing their exposure carefully, you need to start engaging on electronic ink.

Basically, we are moving the closing funnel from offline to online. Without the facial and expression cues that face to face gives us, we are blind but there is hope because are many other cues to look for.

Photo by Nafis Abman from Pexels

Step 1 — Know your client’s online world

In the brick and mortar world, you are the single wine shop with an easy carpark and therefore you are king. However, in the online world, there could be 5 other wineshops willing to make deliveries and it is only one key stroke away. Think about it — it does not even require the client to make small talk with 5 shop owners: it just takes one click.

Hence to capture their attention, you need to know what is your customer’s world view and serve them. Client segmenting becomes exceptionally important. Here are some factors, that people look for online;

✓ i) Total Cost — Many retailers think of pricing strategies that are piecemeal, to make the buyer decision incremental. That works when your customer is holding on to a physical product. There is an attachment and you can propose another sexier, lighter, faster, and of course more expensive item. However, in an online purchase, the total commitment comes at the end of the journey, just before the customer clicks the buy button. There is a decaying impulse purchase emotion that you have to race against. Hence, manage your up-sells and cross-sells properly to maximise total wallet but also do not lose the impulse purchase.

✓ ii) Niche or commodity product — Your product shelf has to be categorised into niche or commodity offerings. These are two separate selling propositions. A case of Budweiser is definitely a commodity product, while a Pichon Lalande 2008 (wine) is niche. Typically, you would want the purchase journey for the commodity product to be frictionless (and possibly a loss leader), while the niche product to be more contemplative. The worse is to offer them side by side assuming the buyer mentality is the same.

✓ iii) Delivery Speed — There are 2 kinds of delivery expectations; 1) I want things now, or 2) I can wait for the good stuff. In a way, it is related to whether you are trying to move commodity or niche products. In the post Covid world, it would be a blend of two, so you should offer delivery solutions that cover both.

✓ iii) Your Industry’s most unique offering — The above 3 are general guides; do identify what matters most for customers in your industry. Some quick examples: groceries tend to focus on speed of delivery, food requires taste specificity, clothing is the ability to exchange and medication is safety in transport.

Step 2 — Build Rapport with Your Client

This happens even before you send your first email. Your website, your linkedin post, your social media (Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, Tiktok?), would have created a certain perception of your business. This defines whether the person likes you, hate you or does not care about you. Take a moment to review the posts and comments that you may have unwittingly left on your social platforms. Does it fit your customer segment above?

Rapport is a continuous line from prospecting; it is a loop that goes round and round. You can try to build rapport on your email but it would be attempting to play catch up. The best part to build rapport is through your social platforms and then use your email database as a way to reinforce it.

Step 3 — Your Email

Once you have defined your customer segment that you want to serve, you have to present that commitment in your email and the call to action.

In the email you have to handle objections like it is banter, but remember you cannot see their facial or body expressions. You have to communicate it in the email pre-emptively.

For example, if i want to sell you a water bottle in person, I could tell you; It is lightweight, and then wait for your facial reaction, before I also tell you it is easy to wash after use.

In an email conversation, you do not get that step-by-step cue response. Thus, you need to line up your top 4 customer objections and put it into a picture or a series of words. If I am selling a water bottle, I would say it is light, easy to watch, Environmentally Friendly, and a ton of colours (and definitely give pictorial examples!)

A cheat tip is to copy an email from an online merchant whom you recently bought from! Clearly they presented well to you.

Step 4 — Closing the Sale

The most important part that is usually forgotten is the clear description on how to buy. You can have an email that is great on all the above steps but your Buy Now button is too small, or worse still, the purchase process has gaps in the logic flow.

Most people are buying on a “drug-induced” high, thus the steps to purchase has to be crisp and simple. Any bumps will make them leave and buy from somewhere else. The easiest way to fix this is to use a shopping cart software or a direct payment gateway that is well established. In other words, use well known software like Shopify, 3dcart, Square Online, and payment gateways like Paypal, Stripe, Square. These top platforms have spent a lot of time ensuring that customers do not drop off on a journey. It is not worth saving some fees and use cheaper alternatives.

Step 5— Track and Repeat

In online selling, you also lose the ability to remember faces who walk into the store, so you would need to look at email open rates and click through rates. Similar to payment gateways; do use a reliable newsletter software like Mailchimp, which will also give you reader insights. In the online world, the same adage that it takes 8 engagements on average to make a sale still holds truth. Email management softwares is an essential tool in your journey converting from a brick and mortar business to a hybrid platform. Now all you need to do is repeat your engagements consistently.

There is a well used and understood Pareto rule in B-school that 20% of your efforts would count for 80% of your business. In reality though, it is closer to 90/10. The top 10% will be obscenely rewarding, the next 10% will get by, and the rest almost a drag.

This is definitely not meant to discourage but conversely, it is to encourage! You will definitely not have everyone responding to your online sales email, and that is perfectly fine.

The beauty of the online sale is that you can be engaging hundreds of prospects at one time, compared to a store walk-in where it is 1 on 1.

The silver lining of this epidemic crisis is that customers are now forced to evaluate how they interact with their favourite brands. For many, it will be a learning journey that will change their lifestyle for the next decades.

Personally, I believe the biggest winners will be brick and mortar shops who successfully transition to a hybrid model. These group of businesses will do better than pure online businesses in the same space, simply because customers have already built a long history of trust and connection with the brand. That is the real currency in the digital world.

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

Disclaimer: I write as a hobby on topics that I find useful to have a voice on. Nothing here represents the opinions of current or past employers, nor product recommendations or financial advisory in any form. I hope you find the writing useful.



Winston Ng

Startup Exited Founder | Author who sold a couple of books | Investor & Trader | Data Scientist in Theory | Car & Popcorn Fanatic | Singapore