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Email newsletter formatting/general advise

I have been trying to assist a friend who set up a womens' clothing boutique in a small shopping centre in a medium-sized city. The place is on a well-trafficed road very near a large university but the centre itself is about half vacant except for a large supermarket, fast food outlets and bars. Her products are good quality, by local designers and dress makers, and very well priced ($20-$150 per item).

One thing I suggested that seems to be working well is a visitor book where people can add their email address to be on a mailing list. The first question is how to use these? My suggestion is to have a plain text newsletter with special offers and loyalty rewards, sent roughly once a month, during slow periods or when a lot of new stock comes in. She seems more interested in a fully html formatted newsletter with pictures of the clothing. I can see the point but formatting and pictures are far more likely to be spam-blocked or mangled IMHO.

What do you think would be most effective for a market that is divided fairly evenly between undergraduates and locals over the whole age range? - by theglyphon
Your idea about a plain text newsletter sounds promising. It has a kind of grass roots feel to it. - by AZBroker
She is a really engaging woman and I see her getting a really warm response from the customers. So I thought plain text would work fine with a personal sort of tone to the text. So not neutral news but almost gossipy updates about what she has in stock, fashion, gift suggestions and so on... but I am an older deomographic and she feels the undergards when pictures, a myspace page and all that. I don't know, too long since I was 20--but her older customers seem to be the ones who lay down several hundred dollars a vists arther than browsing and getting nothing or just accessories. - by theglyphon
So I thought plain text would work fine with a personal sort of tone to the text. So not neutral news but almost gossipy updates about what she has in stock, fashion, gift suggestions and so on...
That is similar to the impression I got. An insider publication.

--but her older customers seem to be the ones who lay down several hundred dollars a vists arther than browsing and getting nothing or just accessories.
Has she crunched the numbers to see which demographic provides the best ROI? - by AZBroker
She is a really engaging woman and I see her getting a really warm response from the customers. So I thought plain text would work fine with a personal sort of tone to the text. So not neutral news but almost gossipy updates about what she has in stock, fashion, gift suggestions and so on... but I am an older deomographic and she feels the undergards when pictures, a myspace page and all that. I don't know, too long since I was 20--but her older customers seem to be the ones who lay down several hundred dollars a vists arther than browsing and getting nothing or just accessories.
It's a great way to get people in for special promo's like "Meet the designer" of a particular item or a free champagne Holiday thank you night.

Susan - by susana
... or a free champagne Holiday thank you night.
I like that idea too. Every month you could come up with some type of similar event with an accompanying promotion. - by AZBroker
but I am an older deomographic and she feels the undergards when pictures, a myspace page and all that. I don't know, too long since I was 20--but her older customers seem to be the ones who lay down several hundred dollars a vists arther than browsing and getting nothing or just accessories.
I personally think both areas of marketing would be good for her to do. I have noticed lately a lot of local businesses in my small town have been starting to do the myspace thing for marketing, and I am a firm believer of having a printed out letter to send by snail mail to give a more personal touch. - by RyanJ
How about sending a plain text copy with a hyperlink that points to the online HTML version? - by SalesCoach
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