If you’ve ever wanted to sell anything online and done any research about it, I’m sure you’ve heard that you need an email list. You’ll commonly read and hear:
- The gold is in the list.
- The first thing you need to do is set-up your email list.
- You can’t run an online business without an email list.
- The only thing you own is your email list, customers from selling platforms and social media do not belong to you.
- If you ever want to sell your products away from Etsy (or any other platform) you can only do that if you’ve been collecting email addresses.
- What if you got permanently suspended? What would you do, just lose your income? If you had a email list, you could restart on your own website.
- Social media doesn’t belong to you, you could be removed from the platform. An email list is YOUR property, no one can take it from you.
- And on, and on.
I’m sure you’ve heard a few versions of all these as well.
But how do you collect those email addresses when you’re selling on Etsy?
Etsy’s Terms & Conditions – Seller Policy
When you’re selling on a platform that doesn’t belong to you, you need to be sure you follow their terms & conditions. If you don’t, it’s very likely you will be permanently suspended, if not at first, then later when they catch you. And sometimes violations can cost you if it leads to a law suit against that platform.
Getting suspended is the last thing you want, in the case of Etsy, they give you a constant stream of potential customers and that’s hard to come by if you start a new website. Believe me, I’ve tried more websites than I care to mention and the only way to get any traffic for the first couple of years is to pay for it.
Etsy’s Terms of Service do allow you to send emails to customers, however, those emails can only be about “transactions” or other business related to a sale. Any other emails you want to send will need the permission of the customer.
The following is copied from Etsy’s Seller Policy:
For example, you may receive a buyer’s email address or other information as a result of entering into a transaction with that buyer. This information may only be used for Etsy-related communications or for Etsy-facilitated transactions. You may not use this information for unsolicited commercial messages or unauthorized transactions. Without the buyer’s consent, and subject to other applicable Etsy policies and laws, you may not add any Etsy member to your email or physical mailing list, use that buyer’s identity for marketing, or obtain or retain any payment information. Please bear in mind that you’re responsible for knowing the standard of consent required in any given instance. If Etsy and you are found to be joint data controllers of personal information, and if Etsy is sued, fined, or otherwise incurs expenses because of something that you did in your capacity as a joint data controller of buyer personal information, you agree to indemnify, defend and hold Etsy (and its employees, agents, consultants, subsidiaries, partners, affiliates, and licensors) harmless against any claims, costs, losses, damages, liabilities, judgements and expenses (including reasonable attorney fees) in connection with your processing of buyer personal information.
So, what does that say?
Basically, you can’t just send emails to your customers unless it’s about Etsy business or a specific transaction. If you want to send an email, you first must get permission from the customer.
It specifically says you cannot send unsolicited commercial messages. It also says, “without the buyer’s consent” you may not add any Etsy member to your email or physical mailing list, use that buyer’s identity for marketing, or obtain or retain any payment information.
And it says “you’re responsible for knowing the standard of consent required in any given instance” in order to collect that email.
This means that WITH the buyers consent you CAN add them to your email list as long as you know how to properly get their consent.
How Do You Get Consent to Add an Etsy Shopper to Your Email List?
Email marketing has been around for a long time and is a mature market. There are companies called “email service providers” that can help.
An email service provider (ESP) will help you collect and store the email addresses you collect. They will help you get the proper consent from the owners of those emails and keep the information stored with the email address in their system. Then you can use their platform to send emails to those addresses. And, a good ESP will keep you on the good side of the law every step of the way.
In order to collect email addresses from Etsy, you need to get consent from the shopper BEFORE sending that first email. You will need an ESP to do that.
Etsy has integration with an ESP called Aweber. I used Aweber back in the day but had to leave when they were unable or unwilling to stay up with the their competition. It’s been several years since I used them but more recently I’ve heard reviews saying that newer ESPs have left them in the dust.
The email service provider I use is ConvertKit. Their platform is easy to use and allows you to tag all your subscribers with information that will help target your emails. They also have automations so you can set-up a series of emails to be automatically sent to subscribers.
ConvertKit allows you to set up a new account and get up to 1000 subscribers for free. After that it will be $29 a month and goes up as your list grows. The free account does not allow automation but it will allow you to set up a landing page and collect emails while getting that subscriber consent you want.
One other service that is fairly new but a lot of people like is Flodesk. I haven’t used them but my daughter uses them for her volleyball club business. She likes that you can create beautiful emails with their templates, however, she says the automations in ConvertKit are much easier to use. They cost $39 for unlimited subscribers.
How Do You Set It All Up?
Once you’re set up with an ESP you now want to collect emails. But how do you do that?
Well, your ESP should provide an area in their system where you can set-up a landing page. This is a webpage where you can collect emails. Basically, you will need to offer Etsy shoppers something in return for their email. On the landing page you describe what you’re giving them and put a form for them to fill out.
I like to give a coupon code for the shopper to get a discount. You set-up a coupon code in Etsy, then when the shopper enters their email, you send them the code.
In Etsy, you can add a photo to each listing that says, “Want to get an extra 10% off this item? Go to “landing page” to get your coupon!” You put the web address of your landing page for the shopper to follow.
You can also put your landing page address in other places in your shop:
- in the banner on your shop,
- in the announcement,
- in the description of each listing,
- in your About Me area
- and, if you actually ship an item to your customer, you can put a card in your shipment. With print-on-demand we don’t ship our own items, so we can’t do that.
If someone is interested in buying your item, they will go to your landing page and sign-up. And, that gives you permission to email them outside of Etsy.
What Could Go Wrong?
Not much could wrong, you collect email addresses and they become your subscribers. You can then email them as often as you like letting them know about new products, sales, or just letting them get to know you. Believe me, it works.
The one thing I found that is a little messed up is the coupon code. Most shopping carts allow you to limit codes to one use, but not Etsy’s. Etsy’s coupon codes can only be limited by date. But if you use a code to get an email address, it would be hard to put a date limit. Unless you have an elaborate scheme to change the code daily and limit how long it is good, your subscribers will able to use it over and over and over.
So, there’s a trade off. Is it okay to allow someone a “forever discount” in order to market to them? I think so. First off, most people won’t know they can use the code a second, third, or fifteenth time, so they won’t, and you’re not going to tell them. But even if they do, you got another sale, right?
I think it’s a fair trade-off.
Where Am I in Setting Up Email for Our New Etsy Shop?
Well, I haven’t done anything… YET. But I’m going to get started setting it all up today. And in doing so I will take screenshots, and maybe some video, and work up a tutorial, so keep checking back to see just how it’s all done.
Until next time,