People do not love being sold to.

Whether it’s hanging up on a telemarketer, slamming the door on a salesman, or driving their car until the wheels fall off in an effort to avoid the sales pitch at the car lot—most people don’t respond well to sell, sell, sell.

But there are things they do love—or at least love more than being sold to. And those things can actually be used to improve your chances of making the next big sale and driving business results for your brand.

Here are seven things people love and how they can be used to get more results from your email marketing.

1. People love pets

Some of your customers may be “dog people” and some may be “cat people,” but very few of them will be neither. The fact is—people love pets. They love hearing about them, they love seeing them, and they even love getting life lessons from them.

“We always end our newsletter with a word from our store cat, Basil,” says Lowell Steinberg, owner of Floral & Hardy of Skippack, a garden center in Skippack, PA. “I think some people may read the newsletter just to hear from him.”

With an average open rate of 57%, he might be right.

Basil is a source of inspiration for customers and a source of open for Floral & Hardy’s email newsletter.

(And for all the “dog people” like me, check out Second Bloom Design for lessons from their dog, Otis.

2. People love to be rewarded for their hard work

People love small businesses because of the hard work they do day in and day out, but they also love small businesses that recognize their own hard work and reward them for it.

Take The Basketry, a New Orleans gift shop and online gift basket company. They reward hard work in the classroom with discounts up to 20% for straight A’s.

“Our goal is twofold. We want to stay interesting and top-of-mind with our customers, but we also want to show them how much we appreciate their business,” explains Amanda Bourgeois. “It’s a small gesture that keeps people coming into the store during some of the slower seasons.”

Apparently, people appreciate the gesture. A few weeks after starting the campaign, The Basketry had over $25,000 in sales from just one email newsletter.

The Basketry shows its appreciation by offering big savings for good grades.

3. People love a good party

Who doesn’t love a good party?

For Art Impressions, Inc., an online retailer of handcrafted rubber stamps, their type of party is one where their customers can be inspired. So in May, a few months after getting started on Pinterest, they decided to throw a party (on Pinterest at least) and invite their fans.

“Our customers love looking at pictures and seeing visuals, so Pinterest is perfect for us,” explains Kate Swanson, customer relations manager for Art Impressions. “So we sent out an invitation to all of our subscribers and invited them to a “Pin Party.”

Today that party is made up of over 430 followers, more than triple the size it was in May.

Being creative when inviting people to join them on Pinterest has helped Art Impressions build an impressive following.

4. People love to be inspired

I think it’s safe to say; sometimes we can all use a little inspiration.

This is especially true for people who have a passion for arts and crafts, like the customers of Bead Shop Scotland. Once a month Jo Lochhead, owner of the Bead Shop, runs a promotion giving her email community exclusive access to a free “inspiration pack” of beads.

The 24-hour promotion is valid for any customer spending at least $10 online at their retail store. It helps drive sales while providing inspiration for her fans.

The Bead Shop of Scotland inspires its customers and helps drive sales with a special promotion.

5. People love pictures

Log on to Facebook, open an email, or check out a website, and you’ll find  more and more companies are using pictures to market their brand. People can’t get enough of them and when it comes to social media, posts with pictures are driving some impressive engagement.

But pictures can also add a little bit of personality to your retail newsletter. Just ask Hillary Tattersall of Chick’s Picks by Hillary. Her visual newsletters, which use pictures of new products, new accomplishments, or even new customers, see open rates of over 34% and help sell out her boutique events each month.

Hillary Tattersall uses what she calls the “People Magazine Mentality” by showing pictures of customers with her products.

6. People love stories

Every small business has a story— and people love to hear them.

Second Bloom Design, a handcrafted furniture business in Dorchester, Ontario, uses their newsletter to tell their story and the story of the pieces they construct from reclaimed wood and architectural salvage.

Each newsletter starts with a personal story from the owners, Sue and Dave Bedell. Since first starting this in 2010, business at their retail shop has doubled, and their email list has grown to over 400 subscribers.

Opening each newsletter with a personal note helps give Second Bloom design a special connection with its readers. 

7. People love you

Without getting too sappy, it’s important to remember  your customers really do love you and the work  you do at your small business.

Marcia Feller, owner of the Couleur Collection, a women’s clothing store in Falmouth, ME, always gives her emails a personal touch. Whether it’s saying, “Marcia just added …” or “Marcia has a new idea …” the Couleur Collection adds personality simply by referring to their owner and their employees by name.

Including a little bit more of yourself in your email newsletter is a great way to not only show a little more of your personality, but it also gives your readers the personal connection they look forward to. It works for the Couleur Collection, and it’s a big reason why their emails typically drive over $600 in sales.

Marcia Feller and her team use their personality to add personality to the Couleur Collection newsletter.

What do your customers love?

As you can see, there’s a lot  people love and a lot  they love about small businesses. If you’re a retail store having trouble finding the balance between “sell, sell, sell” and showing your personality, think about what your customers will love to see, and try to create an email marketing strategy around it.

What personal touches have you added to your email marketing that people have really responded to? Tell us in the comments below.