The most valuable asset in any business is their book of business, or customer relationship. Whether a product or service based business, this is essential
I think that most small business owners know that this is true; however, many times it appears that this key factor is left out of their marketing strategy. If they have a written marketing campaign, often it is a schedule of promotions and ads targeting new customers, completely ignoring the old. Even worse is when thousands of dollars are spent on an ad campaign and absolutely no focus or attention is placed on tracking the response or getting those new customers/contacts on a contact list (email, text, Facebook, etc.)
Growing Your Assets
If the most valuable asset in your business are your current clients and customers, each and every marketing effort that you make should reflect that.
What are you doing to turn each and every contact from your advertising campaign into a new or potential customer?
Do you have a follow-up and development strategy for existing customers or those potential customers that are on your list (do you have a list?
What efforts are you making to connect with current clients, particularly your best ones, to deepen that relationship?
Same Goal, Different Delivery
I think sometimes business owners can get overwhelmed with the constantly changing options for promoting their business. Traditional and online methods intersect and merge.
But while the delivery method may have changed from 30 years ago, the goal remains the same, to connect with customers.
If you keep that in mind, it is easier to focus on what is most effective for your business.
Today on Twitter, I will be spotlighting ideas for lead generation and ways to improve customer loyalty. Follow us on Twitter or join us on Facebook to catch the conversation.
Today’s email marketing tip comes from Tom Kulzer, CEO of Aweber. Aweber is one of the leading email marketing subscription services, the email service of choice for the top internet marketers.
Your web business probably gets product inquiries from potential customers around the globe. Inquiries come via e-mail and your web site, and you try to send information to each hot prospect as quickly as you can. You know that you can drastically increase the likelihood of making a sale by satisfying each person’s need for information quickly!
But, after you’ve delivered that first bit of information to your prospect, do you send him any further information?
If you are like most Internet marketers, you don’t.
When you don’t follow that initial message with additional information later on, you let a valuable prospect slip from your grasp! This is a potential customer who may have been very interested in your products, but who lost your contact information, or was too busy to make a purchase when your first message reached him.
Often, a prospect will purposely put off making a purchase, to see if you find him important enough to follow up with later. When he doesn’t receive a follow up message from you, he will take his business elsewhere.
Are you losing profits due to inconsistent and ineffective follow up?
Following up with leads is more than just a process – it’s an art. In order to be effective, you need to design a follow up system, and stick to it, EVERY DAY! If you don’t follow up with your prospects consistently, INDIVIDUALLY, and in a timely fashion, then you might as well forget the whole follow up process.
Consistent follow up gets results!
When I first started marketing and following up with prospects, I used a follow up method that I now call the “List Technique.” I had a large database containing the names and e-mail addresses of people who had specifically requested information about my products and services. These prospects had already received my first letter by the time they requested more information, so I used the company’s latest news as a follow up piece.
I would write follow up newsletters every now and then, and send them, in one mass mailing, to everyone who had previously requested information from me. While this probably did help me win a few additional orders, it wasn’t a very good follow up method. Why isn’t the “List Technique” very effective?
- The List Technique isn’t consistent. Proponents of the List Technique tend to only send out follow up messages when their companies have “big news”.
- List Technique messages don’t give the potential customer any additional information about the product or service in question. He can’t make a more informed buying decision after receiving a newsletter! If someone is wondering whether your company sells the best knick-knacks, what does he care that you’ve just moved your headquarters?
- List Technique messages convey a “big list” mentality to your potential customers. When I used to write follow up messages using the List Technique, I was writing news bulletins to everyone I knew! I should have been sending a personal message to each individual who wanted to know more about my products.
What follow up method really works?
Following up with each lead individually, multiple times, but at set intervals, and with pre-written messages, will dramatically increase sales! Others who use this same technique confirm that they have all at least doubled the sales of various products! In order to set this system up, though, you need to do some planning.
First, you’ll need to develop your follow up messages. If you’ve been marketing on the Internet for any length of time, then you should already have a first informative letter. Your second letter marks the beginning of the follow up process, and should go into more detail than the first letter. Fill this letter with details that you didn’t have the space to add to the first letter. Stress the BENEFITS of your products or services!
Your next 2-3 follow up messages should be rather short. Include lists of the benefits and potential uses of your products and services. Write each letter so that your prospects can skim the contents, and still see the full force of your message.
The next couple of follow up messages should create a sense of urgency in your prospect’s mind. Make a special offer, giving him a reason to order NOW instead of waiting any longer. After reading these follow up messages, your prospect should want to order immediately!
Phrase each of your final 1 or 2 follow up messages in the form of a question. Ask your prospect why he hasn’t yet placed an order? Try to get him to actually respond. Ask if the price is to high, the product isn’t the right color or doesn’t have the right features, or if he is looking for something else entirely. (By this time, it’s unlikely that this person will order from you. However, his feedback can help you modify your follow up letters or products, so that other prospects will order from you.)
The timing of your follow up letters is just as important as their content. You don’t want one prospect to receive a follow up the day after he gets your initial informative letter, while another prospect waits weeks for a follow up!
Always send an initial, informative letter as soon as it is requested, and send the first follow up 24 hours afterwards. You want your hot prospects to have information quickly, so that they can make informed buying decisions!
Send the next 2-3 follow up messages between 1 and 3 days apart. Your prospect is still hot, and is probably still shopping around! Tell him about the benefits of your products and services, as opposed to your competitors’. You will make the sale!
Send the final follow up messages later on. You certainly don’t want to annoy your prospect! Make sure that these last letters are at least 4 days apart.
Following up effectively seems complicated, but it doesn’t have to be! So many potential customers are lost because of poor follow up – don’t you want to be one of the few to get it right?
Did this article inspire you to add email marketing to your marketing campaign? Try out the features and power of Aweber for only $1. Want to plan a campaign? Contact us for a customized marketing plan.
In a previous post, we discussed common email marketing mistakes that small businesses make with their email marketing. Today we are going to cover some best practices for email ads and newsletters for your business.
Affordable Email Newsletter Programs and Services for Small Business
I know that in today’s economy, every business owner is watching the bottom line and if your company does not already have an email campaign integrated into your marketing plan, it may not seem like now is the time to add another expense. However, as you are reading over the options for starting an email campaign, I want you to keep in mind and compare the costs to the same effort if you were sending it by direct mail (design, printing, and mailing.)
Step 1: Choosing an Email Platform
An email mailing platform will allow you to compose your email and then will automatically merge it with your mailing list. As each email to each subscriber is mailed individually, the chance that your email will be caught in a spam filter is much lower.
There are two types of options for a platform: self hosted and subscription based services.
Self Hosted Email Software
With a self hosted version, you obtain the email software, install it on your own web server, and then create your list(s) and send the emails.
Pros: There are no restrictions or additional charges for the number of lists and/or subscribers.
Cons: Installation and maintenance of the platform itself requires expertise. Mailing capabilities could possibly be limited by email restrictions of the site host.
Self Hosted Solutions:
Subscription Based Services:
There are countless email subscription services out there. A few things you want to look at when comparing services are:
- The monthly subscription price.
- How many lists are allowed at each pricing level.
- If the sender can be change for the mailing and/or for each list.
- The pricing levels per subscriber
- If the list owner can add subscribers or if the subscriber has to opt in on their own.
- The reporting and statistics available.
- The subscription process: does it look seamless to the end user.
- Are both lists and autoresponders (preset sequential mailings) available?
- What effort does the company providing the service take to ensure the sending IP addresses are not blacklisted?
- What is the service’s delivery rate?
As I said, there are many email marketing services available. Here are a few of the more popular ones:
- Aweber: the email service of choice for many internet marketers
- Constant Contact: an easy-to-use service used by both email marketing newbies and experienced users. Try it FREE for 60-Days.
- iContact: Provides a Fully-Loaded Product at an Affordable Price. Click here to start your free trial now!
- Get Response: GetResponse’s competitive advantage is offering a turn key solution for email marketing including email templates, custom field options, autoresponders, and tracking.
Other Tools: DeliveryWatch allows self email publishers to measure the success of their email campaign by tracking the deliverability rate.
Step 2: Create Your Email Template
The next step in getting your email marketing campaign off the ground is to get your email newsletter template created. If you have signed up with a subscription service, generic HTML email templates will be available and most also offer the ability to use an HTML email template that has been custom designed for your business.
Creating an HTML based email is different from designing a web site as well as different from creating a flyer in Word. Each email client and web based email service renders HTML based email slightly different (Microsoft Outlook 2007 being the biggest offender.) So specific guidelines must be followed when designing for email.
When setting up an email campaign for my clients, I like to create an email design that complements the business’s other identity pieces to continue the branding.
Once you have the template set up you can reuse it again and again, changing only the current message.
Step 3: Compile Your Email List
Once you have your service and email template set up, the next step is to compile the list of your email subscribers. Most email services allow you to import a list; however, you will need to check on the required format.
Normally, this is done by creating an Excel file with a each subscriber on a row and each field for the subscriber in a separate table cell. The file is then saved as a CSV file, and then imported into the email platform.
In order to maximize the distribution of your newsletter, integrate a newsletter sign up box on your web site and provide a link to the newsletter in your signature on all of your outgoing emails.
Step 4: Plan Your Email Campaign
Now that you are set and ready to go, it is time to integrate your email newsletter schedule into your marketing campaign.
Need help starting an email marketing campaign for your business? Contact Carla at Legacy Marketing Services today at 281-305-9157 for a free consultation.
I get a lot of emails . . . and I mean A LOT. Some are mailing lists I have signed up for, others are emails with product updates from online merchants I have purchased from, and of course there is always the ubiquitous spam.
However, one type of email that I always pay particular attention to are those from local small businesses. For one, I like knowing when merchants I shop with on a regular basis are having sales or special events going on. Second, I am always interested in watching how the independent business owner is actively marketing and the tools that they use.
What Not to Do in Business Emails and Newsletter
- Don’t send emails from your desktop application. I get emails like this frequently from local businesses. They create a distribution list in Outlook, create their email, and then send to their list directly from Outlook.There are two problems with this. First, many times the recipient’s emails aren’t event listed as a blind carbon copy (BCC), and they are displayed to the entire list. Second, most internet service providers restrict the number of emails you can send to in one email. So if you have an email going to 100 recipients, maybe only ten or twenty will actually be sent. Also, that is the quickest way to get your email and/or IP address blacklisted as a spammer.
- Don’t send attachments in Word. I also get a lot of flyers sent as an attachment in Microsoft Word. While the ideal is to create an email ad that includes the promotion, if you absolutely must send an attachment, send it as a PDF.There are several reasons for this. Some people don’t accept email attachments. Some people don’t have Microsoft Word, and if they do have Word, older versions won’t open the latest Word format. Also, a file may look one way on your computer and totally different when opened by someone else due to fonts and formatting.Adobe Acrobat Professional is the program most businesses use to create and edit PDF files. However, if you don’t have the program, CutePDF is a free PDF driver available for download that will create a PDF out of any file. Simply download and install the driver, open the file you would like to convert to a PDF, and go to print and select CutePDF instead of your standard printer. A save dialog box will appear allowing you to name the PDF file.
- Don’t design your emails in Microsoft Word. Another common mistake is designing the email in Word. Microsoft Word is not an HTML program. Microsoft Publisher is not an HTML program. I’m not even that fond of FrontPage. Anything that has Microsoft in the product title, in my opinion, should not be used to publish on the internet (although I do like Live Writer.)Why all this animosity towards Microsoft? Anything Microsoft puts out is a big bloated mess. Have you ever copied an article you wrote in Word and published it on the web? Have you ever looked at the code? It is a huge mess. Lines and lines of pseudo code which only serves to slow down file transfers.When you create an email in Word, what you are sending is a message that is proprietarily coded by Microsoft. Yes, it will display as you want in Outlook, because Outlook is a Microsoft program; however, that is all you can count on it displaying correctly in.
I came across this video today and just laughed and laughed and laughed.
The video is by Scofield Edit, a boutique agency in Indianapolis that provides editorial and editing services. The video perfectly captures some of the outrageous attitudes that clients sometimes have towards service based businesses. The only thing that they don’t reference is where they want you to work for free in exchange for a “partnership.”
For all of my service based clients, the next time someone tries to beat you down on price: step back, watch this video again, laugh and go back and hold firm.
I just got a call from my printer and they are running an amazing special on brochure printing and I am passing that savings along to you.
Save $100 on brochure printing from now until July 10th.
The special offer is on 8.5″ x 11″ trifold brochures, full color on both sides, on 100 lb gloss book paper.
With this promotion, it is a great time to stock up for your marketing efforts for the rest of the year.
If you would like to take advantage of this offer, your order needs to be in no later than the 10th to get the pricing of $229 for 1000. To get the best results, your brochure file should have a resolution of at least 300 dpi.
If you would like me to design a new brochure or make changes to an existing one, please let me know as soon as possible because we have to have everything completed by the deadline of the 10th.
Either give me a call at 713.289.0819 or you can order online as well. Click “Update Cart,” and at the next screen enter the promo code, JULY09, to get the savings.