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Learn the Basics of Building Profitable Email Autoresponder Campaigns

Marketing Strategy Tarun Gehani todayJuly 20, 2015 15

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What is an email campaign? An email campaign is basically a string of related messages aimed to bring a recipient to a specific new action step.  These may be triggered automatically i.e. upon purchase or opt-in, or manually, which you might use if you have specific considerations such as customer geography or the launch of a special campaign.

Initial Prospect Campaigns (Do’s and Dont’s)

Initial prospect campaigns are designed to take a lead from information received after a customer fills out a web form (for a white paper, a webinar, an appointment form, etc.), and then convert that customer into a sale i.e. via eCommerce or appointment.  If you have free software, this strategy may just encourage activation or use. Bear in mind that a good prospect campaign, like any other basic e-mail campaign, consists of 3 key ingredients:

  • Education – Teaching about benefits of your app or service; the current state of the industry; etc. The emails should answer the question, why is this product or service useful for decision-making?  This aspect is very important in building trust before getting to the next step.
  • Social proof/testimonials – Divulge your product’s major results, major media coverage, or validation by experts, etc.  Has the product or service gotten amazing results for others, or been validated by noteworthy figures? This component will lift response to those initial e-mails.
  • Call-to-action –  Make the call-to-action obvious over the first 3 to 6 e-mails.  This message should get the prospect on the phone for that appointment.  Ensure to provide the specific benefits along with clear next steps.

Handle issues of greatest importance first in your e-mail sequence. Get into the mind of the customer and map out your sequences per their priorities, not based on your random ideas. Gleaning prospect priorities through market research is a critical first step in the creation of a successful initial campaign.  There are  multiple ways to source this information, including customer/prospect interviews, polls, and user testing, to name a few. Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 4.31.55 PM The above table is a following example of priorities gleaned from market research via calling customers. Aim for a dozen, but don’t settle for less than 6 tangible benefits and objections. The next step is to rank benefits and objections, and to continue to rank these over time. Scrutinize the benefits (what is likely to get prospects to invest) and the objections (what could prevent buyers). This example is based on selling financial training software. The initial prospect sequence needs to hit very hard on the first one or two benefits.  Your first major campaign should also discuss and combat the top objections. Priorities one and two take should be present in your first six to 12 emails in order to yield the most revenue. This type of research and defining is a business exercise that has allowed many of my clients to refine their front-end prospects and campaigns, and in turn maximize conversion rates! Most sequences fail for the same basic reasons:

  • Lack of segmentation (by industry; geography; level of experience – whatever is relevant).
  • Not long enough.  Extend the front-end campaign.  I had an eCommerce client who, after finishing an interview with me, realized the value in this point and extended his front-end from 8 to 24 emails.  The additional emails weren’t pushy, but they added more education, additional social proof…and he ended up with a lot more converts.
  • Feeble calls-to-action.  Maybe the front-end emails are heavy on the education, or they’re just giving updates, but they’re not driving the prospect to that first appointment, first activation step, purchase, etc.  If you read the first 12 emails of  a campaign and don’t know what the company really wants the customer to do, there’s a problem. The benefits need to be provided, but there should always be a strong and clear “here’s what to do next”.

“Last Swing” Prospect Campaigns (Do’s and Dont’s)

If a prospect does not take a conversion action initially (after 16 to 30 emails), they shouldn’t necessarily be relegated to the “newsletter only” or “useless” category of your email buckets. There are a number of factors that might be contributing to a non-conversion earlier on – no permission from boss; minimal current budget; on vacation and didn’t see emails; didn’t like previous offers; etc.

  • Maintain a less frequent pace with unconverted leads, but pursue them with specific content and calls-to-action that confront their potential objections and present new potential benefits.
  • The initial prospect sequence should directly address the main reasons a prospect should convert, and combat primary objections; you want to continue to pull information out of the customer, to make the calls and gather the quantitate and qualitative data to find out what factors will or won’t convert.
  • A less frequent, ongoing “last swing” campaign should address other potential benefits and combat other potential objections (such as complexity of product, addressing market competitors, etc.).

This is the point at which you take a look at priorities lower down the totem pole.  Some people might have priority #6 as their first priority, as compared to the average consumer.  At some point, you will want to address all your priorities, the benefits and objections, in e-mail campaigns that include the 3 key ingredients i.e. education, social proofs, and calls-to-action.

Stick to the Principles

  1. Make initial campaigns at least one month in length, emphasizing objections and benefits in order of importance from early in sequence to late in sequence.
  2. Be explicit and direct about call-to-action messaging. Stress the benefits and point them in the right direction.
  3. Extend additional “last swing” emails to a monthly or bi-weekly email, extending out another four to six months after opt-in.

Written by: Tarun Gehani

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