Sue Smith,
CBA Board Chairman

In the age of the chaotic, oftentimes unsecure data super highway, we’re all concerned with data breaches and leaks. Given that, our customers are more cautious than ever to reveal personal data, even their contact information. Their caution can make our efforts to capture that information feel like an invasion of privacy. But to further our business in equipping the church, we need that data. Success will not be found without it.


We’ve been asking ourselves how a Christian store should approach the collection of data and taking an honest look at our daily practices. There was room for improvement.

My managers and I were not making it a strong priority to capture emails and addresses at POS. This is the most important—and the easiest—practice to improve via retraining and reworked policy.

A fellow retailer in New Mexico revealed that he requires all his staff at POS to ask for updated contact information. Every time. His implication was clear—do it, but make sure that your staff are trained so the exchange is warm, not forced.


When we began our retraining, one staff member told a positive story of how he was given a coupon for his updated information during a recent Costco run. We were inspired and replicated the practice during our customer appreciation weekend. By offering a giveaway for a $100 shopping spree via a form dropped into a fishbowl, we gathered over 600 new email addresses. We also cleaned up many old phone numbers and outdated addresses.


With all this fresh data, our email strategy of being consistent, targeted, and valuable to our customers has taken on new importance. It’s our job to make sure our digital marketing strategies aren’t just serving us; they also need to serve our customers.

Teach your customers that they can count on you—send a monthly events email on the first day of every month. Segment your email lists by audience to increase the open rates. Church staff and fiction readers are easy lists to build. Give them a reason to come back into your store—add value to the effort of opening an email by including a coupon.

The feedback we’ve received has been positive, so we press on. The lifetime value for customer data translates to a patient, consistent email marketing strategy. As retailers, we need to push back on that feeling that we’re invading our guests’ privacy. The more specifics we know about our customers, the better equipped we are to serve them.