Follow up campaigns can be a tricky thing for small business owners to manage. Not only do they take time and energy to create, but there’s always that nagging question: What is the line between being persistent and being annoying?
While it might seem like you’re crossing that line, the reality is that most people don’t take you up on an offer the first time you make it. So if you’re not organizing a follow up campaign, you’re losing out on converting prospects that would have become customers if they had heard from you one or two more times. Or you’re leaving behind the chance to drive customers up the product ladder.
Today we’ll take a look at the elements that go into creating an effective follow up campaign and which tools can help you get it done.
The first step to just about any marketing strategy is establishing the why behind it. The same is true for your follow up campaigns. Begin by asking yourself what you want your prospects or clients to do as a result of receiving the campaign.
Maybe it’s getting a prospect to hop on a demo call with someone from your sales team. Maybe it’s getting an existing customer to join your referral program. Whatever the aim is, it’s helpful to get specific about the action you want the person to take so that you can tailor your whole campaign towards driving that action.
Anyone who has an email address knows that there’s a lot of mail coming your way every day. If you continue to make the same ask in the same way, over and over again, that’s a surefire way to get your email filtered out or deleted.
Even though you have a goal in mind, your follow up should not just be the same content copied, pasted, and re-sent. Let’s say you own a landscaping business and you reach out to former customers towards the end of winter, encouraging them to sign up for recurring lawn care appointments in the spring and summer.
You set your goal to be having clients sign up for a full package of 10 sessions, but each email should take a different approach. The first one might be a video, showing families spending more time together at the beach because someone else is taking care of their landscaping. The next one might be a set of testimonials from customers who signed up for the lawn care package last year and loved it. The third might be an offer to package your lawn care services with managing spring plantings, and the fourth might be a request to set up a call to discuss the services.
There is a bit of a science to timing out when to schedule your follow ups. Send the communications too close together, and it starts to feel spammy. Leave huge gaps between communications and your run the risk of missing out on the opportunity to close a sale.
A good rule of thumb is giving at least two days between emails. For the most part, if someone is going to respond to your email, they’re going to do so within 24 hours of receiving it. That means you don’t want to send an email each and every day, but you also don’t want weeks worth of lag time.
The ideal timing will look different for every business. Part of getting the timing right is understanding your sales cycle and your customers. If you’re a B2B, you have a longer sales cycle, and a company’s decision to purchase your product or service likely has to go through an internal approval process. That means that you’ll want to allow more time between emails, so that your contact has adequate time to run your proposal by the decision makers at their company and come back to you—either with a decision or a request for more information.
The timing will be different for an e-commerce business who’s dealing with an individual consumer. Let’s say you’re a clothing retailer who establishes a follow up campaign that’s triggered when someone abandons a cart on your website. Those emails should be grouped more closely together, since it usually doesn’t take someone weeks to make a decision about a new pair of shoes or t-shirt.
Email is a hugely beneficial part of any marketing campaign, and it’s certainly a useful tool for follow up campaigns. However, there are other channels out there. Sometimes in our tech-saturated world we forget about the tried-and-true communication methods like phone calls or snail mail.
With so much mail hitting a person’s inbox each day, sometimes it’s taking a less conventional, more old-school approach to reaching out that can get you noticed. A great follow up campaign will include timed emails, but should also integrate other means of communication. Plus, technology allows you to better utilize old-school approaches. Some of the examples we covered here of tech-enhanced direct mailers include sending highly customized mail to prospects, which include offers specific to that individual or even unique landing pages based on their interests.
Let’s say you run a law firm. You have someone who visited your website and filled out your form, requesting more information about one of your estate planning services. While this can and should trigger an email follow up campaign, you should also aim for a phone follow up. If you’ve sent a couple emails with no response, give your contact a call, mentioning that you’re following up on the emails and are happy to answer any questions or provide additional information. You can also incorporate mailers into your campaign. A few weeks after they’ve filled out the form, send them a pamphlet on estate planning, with a personalized letter attached, offering to speak one-on-one, if they’re interested.
Using a marketing automation and CRM tool to track your interactions with prospects or customers and ensure that you’re actually following through on your follow up is a critical piece of the puzzle.
There are a number of tools out there that combine CRM and marketing automation capabilities. Consider a platform like ActiveCampaign or OntraPort to help you manage both the tracking and execution of your campaigns.
A joint CRM and marketing automation tool allows you to keep tabs on all points of contact you have with a person—whether that’s an analog form of communication like a postcard, or a digital one like an email. And the marketing automation component allows you to schedule out email follow ups, SMS campaigns, or other tactics, which can all be triggered by the client or prospect taking a certain action.
So much of making the sale or moving a customer further up the product ladder is about persistence. It’s sometimes difficult for one person to manage it all, but with the help of a marketing automation tool, you can easily set yourself up for success by establishing a campaign that, once you’ve created it, essentially runs itself.