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Becoming a Teacher-Author Entrepreneur Step 11 - Customer Databases and Email Contacts

Congratulations! You own a business, albeit a small one, but the largest business in history began with a single person or group with a vision of what could be. Your small business may only have a couple dozen products at the moment, and may not have yet generated any income, but that is all right. Some people who begin a teacher-author entrepreneur journey never plan to have it get big. Suzanne and I said, "You know, if we only make $50 a month, that's gas for the car." Thankfully, we haven't seen $50 months in a long time! Our first month, though, was less than $8.00. My point here being that you have the ability to grow your business to what and where you want it in the future. Suzanne's sister has built her store to the point that she has replaced her teacher's salary completely with her early retirement and this income. But how?

Customer Lists

Build your customer list and following. Regardless of the sales platform, everytime you post a new product, your followers are notified - unless they opted out. Additionally, you have the ability to send your followers (not necessarily your customers) an email from your store platform, usually once a month. Utilize this, but do so in a meaningful way. Make sure you have something to say other than, "hey, come check out my store!" I don't know about you, but I tend to delete those. Now, with Teachers Pay Teachers, this is the ONLY way you have of reaching out to your customers/followers. You cannot get customer email addresses from TpT unless the customer emails you directly. Now, I cannot speak for all store platforms, Suzanne and I only work with 3 of them, but I can tell you that both Amped Up Learning and The Wheel Edu help you build those customer email lists. Now, how do you put them together? Want a step-by-step? Here you go, then! 

Fair warning: unless you have some kind of magic keyboard, or your platform will send you a monthly customer list and report, this will take some time. We will go through this as though you have just completed your first month on either The Wheel or Amped Up Learning.

Step 1 - Determine WHERE the Customer Email Address Can Be Located

WIth both Amped Up and The Wheel, whenever a customer places an order, the contributor/store owner receives an email notification from either Gregg Williams at Amped Up or Michael De Main at The Wheel, and a second email when the order has been completed, either through electronic delivery or the shipment of physical products; this includes FREE products, which you will not receive from TpT. With TpT, you never know who took advantage of your free products unless the customer contacts you or leaves feedback. 

With Amped Up, the customer's email address is on the "New Order From Amped Up Learning (#####)".  In fact, here is a video of Gregg from Amped Up Learning walking us through the step-by-step!

To find the customer email address with The Wheel, you need to go to your account on thewheeledu.com, click on "Sales Reports" from your menu, then click on each individual "View Order" in the report.

Now that you've found the email addresses, minimize your browser and open an eXcel spreadsheet (or a blank sheet if you are using Google Drive).

Step 2 - Set Up Your Spreadsheet

I use the following headings for my spreadsheet columns:
  • Last Name
  • First Name
  • Email Address
  • Date of Purchase
  • Sales Total of Purchase
  • Items Purchased
  • Date of First Email Contact
  • Date of Most Recent Email Contact
  • Blog Follower?
Now, I assume that most of these are self-explanatory. And not all of them are necessary for a "customer contact list"; however, I prefer to have one file instead of multiple files if at all possible. And knowing what each customer purchased can help me know how to entice the most people with my next email.

Step 3 - Begin Filling In the Spreadsheet

So, using a fictitious person but a real order for a free item, "Power Words! Vocabulary Building and Word Wall Introductory Set", here is what my sheet will look like when I fill in the information from the order form (Note: this customer is in New Zealand, so across the date line...):

  • Smith-Jones
  •  Sally
  • sally.smith@school.some.com   
  • 2 May 20    
  • (Blank - Free item) 
  • Power Words! WW Intro Set
  • 2 May 20
  • 2 May 20
  • No (See what she's missing?)
If you have had a busy month or so, and have not started this yet, it may take you an hour or more, so plan for that. However, once you have it going, your email contacts will be easy to keep up with. I tend to update them by bringing in my new orders every 2 months.

A small reminder...SAVE after every 10 or 15 customers. Trust me. I put in 93 customers on a sheet, was only 3 from finishing...and accidentally closed without saving. Yeah. I screamed.

Step 4 - Sending Your Emails

When you write your email, do so in Word or Doc first. Get it right. Then go into your email and open a new blank email. Copy and paste the email you wrote and put it into the body. Now, open your spreadsheet. Highlight column 3. Click "Copy" or control C, whichever you prefer. On your email, in the "To" box, click "BCC" for "Blind Carbon Copy". This way none of your customers get each other's email addresses. Now, click "Paste" or "Control V"; again, your preference.
    As I said above, make sure that your emails are meaningful. Think about it. How many emails do you see on a daily basis that you see the sender, you know it's marketing, and you circular file it in the electronic trash heap without opening? I get about 20 a day to my school email alone. Our goal here is not to join that electron heap! To do this, I have a three part plan.
    1. A welcome email. This email is sent the first of the month to all new customers since the first day of the prior month. This is why I have the "Date of First Email Contact"; I can track who has or has not received this email. The email introduces Suzanne and myself to our new customers, thanks them for their patronage, and tells them a bit about ELA in Middle School.
    2. A mid-month email to ALL customers. In this email, we again thank our customers for their patronage, and then we promote new items in the store that they may be interested in. This is why I track what products have sold. If a lot of people have gotten the Power Words! Vocabulary Building Flashcards and Word Wall Introductory Set, a coupon for 10-20% off a the purchase of other sets could well build momentum! Or "$X off any purchase of $XX or more". Additionally, with both Amped Up and The Wheel, we can send an electronic coupon to our customers for a discount! A sale and savings just for them, that we don't advertise to anyone else! In order to do so, we create a code, email the code to either Michael or Gregg, tell them what discount we want the code to be good for, and a start and expiration date. Another option you could do with this email is to include a free product, such as our eBook, Becoming a Teacher-Author Entrepreneur: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating and Establishing an Online Business for Teachers. Now, I am not including that one, but I could. I will talk about it, and put a link to it on my store, though! Drive customers to your store!
    3. Special SALE notices. Emails go out from me to all of my customers whenever we have a site-wide sale. 
    Once you get going with the customer emails, it becomes easy. Remember, though, when you mass email your customers, make certain you BCC EVERYONE! Do not accidentally send all of your customers your customer list!

    Our Welcome Email

    The following is our welcome email to new customers. Feel free to plagiarize, er, I mean, borrow the wording!

    Welcome Newsletter from ELA in Middle School

    Greetings, fellow educators!

    I would like to take this opportunity to extend a welcome to you from ELA in Middle School on (Store Platform)! Please allow Suzanne and me to begin by saying thank you to each and every one of you for your becoming followers, as well as for your patronage to date! It has been an exciting time for us to see the welcome and acceptance you have all shown us!

    Suzanne and I also started our own blog on 26 March! Please stop by and check it out! It will be dedicated to Teaching, Classroom Management, and a BALANCED LIFE! We have special guests lined up to offer their expertise and insights as well! You can find us at https://www.elainmiddleschool.com/.

    If you would like to opt out of our email list, please send me a line and I will remove your email address. Otherwise, I will be emailing you a monthly newsletter, and an occasional coupon for additional savings!

    For now, that's all folks! Please, stay safe and healthy!
    Matthew and Suzanne
    ELA in Middle School

    Email Service Providers and Limitations

    A couple of things to remember. Most email service providers, like gmail and hotmail, have a limit on the number of emails you can send in a 24-hour period from your personal email account. Gmail is 500. Fortunately, there are services like Mailchimp and FloDesk that are available. However, these are subscription-based, so you may want to wait until your revenue will support them!






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