If your small business wants more customer conversions (i.e. sales), then learning when and how to use autoresponders is a step in the right direction. These pre-scheduled emails, usually one or more in a series, are triggered by customer behavior and can be used to target, engage and convert prospects to buyers. An individual autoresponder can even become a standalone product by itself.
The first autoresponders were created within mail transfer agents that found they could not deliver an e-mail to a given address. These create bounce messages such as "your e-mail could not be delivered because..." type responses. Today's autoresponders need to be careful to not generate e-mail backscatter, which can result in the autoresponses being considered E-mail spam.
Use personalization. Personalizing the content of your emails (depending on your segment from Chapter 3) will make it infinitely more relevant and valuable to them. Personalization is so much more than inserting your subscriber’s first name into the email. You need to tailor the actual content of the email to address their needs. For instance, an online retailer will find it much more valuable to read an email with the subject line, “How to build backlinks to your eCommerce store” than just a generic subject line, “How to build backlinks.”
Several vendors offer computer programs designed to assist businesses in lead generation. Ethics are an important consideration in the choice and implementation of such programs. The use of spyware, Trojans or other intrusive means of gathering information without the knowledge or consent of targeted individuals or entities is frowned upon. Mass unsolicited e-mail advertising (or spam) is also considered unethical by many, and it can result in electronic blacklisting.
Because search engines equate high-quality content with a high-quality website, creating content with value is very important. Conduct a content audit to see how many of your assets fall into the thought leadership vs. promotional category. That means making sure that your thought leadership content has substance to it. Lots of companies are jumping on the content bandwagon, so do it right: focus on quality over quantity, and on providing useful – not promotional – information.
Lead Qualification and Filtering is the process of determining whether a lead is ready to be passed on to sales based on things like customer demographics and behaviours. Some leads will be filtered out, because they are not yet at that stage or appear less promising than others – focussing on unqualified leads is a waste of time and resources. Customer relationship management (CRM) software can be used to track and evaluate leads before distributing them to sales.
This is probably the most common use of the Autoresponder feature, or really any auto-responder functionality, in general. When something exciting happens (someone subscribes to your list), you want to react (send them a welcome email)! Who doesn't? In order to make sure that your Welcome Email campaign sends automatically to your new subscribers, you just have to connect your signup form to the same list that is associated with your Autoresponder. (For details about signup forms, see Signup forms .)
Unsubscribe rate. Unsubscribes are always going to happen no matter what, and that’s usually OK because those people probably would never have bought from you anyway. However, a high unsubscribe rate can indicate that you are losing potential customers. Check the following: Why did people subscribe to your list in the first place, and are you delivering on that promise? Is the content of your autoresponder highly relevant to the segment it is being sent to? Are you sending too many sales emails with too little value emails?
Autoresponder makes it easy to send a welcome email to new contacts—and make your first impression count. You can also set up an email series for similar customers, like contacts in the same area or customers who attended an event, and even segment contacts based on the content they click to create more targeted lists and send more relevant emails.
How do you do that? You need to create interest by offering a relevant mix of informative and entertaining content that builds a meaningful relationship with your audience. And you have to make sure that you are distributing your content through all the right channels – where your buyer spends time. This section goes into a bit more detail on some of the common tactics for inbound lead generation.
Crafting your brand voice in your email marketing messages will let your business show some personality and create engagement. Remember to think of your emails as a conversation and simply not a place for you to blast your message through a megaphone. You’ve received permission to send to your subscribers. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to nurture a relationship with them.
Purchased lists are ineffective, and they impact everyone else who uses Mailchimp, too. If you send emails to a list of people whose contact info you bought, many of the emails will get identified as spam. Some spam filters will flag a campaign if anyone with the same IP has sent spam in the past. When you use Mailchimp, your email is delivered through our servers, so if one person sends spam, it could prevent other users’ emails from reaching inboxes. But by forbidding Mailchimp users from using purchased lists, we increase deliverability for everyone.
In dividing your list in this manner, you give yourself the ability to send more targeted communication. Some customers want both product and sales updates, while others might only want to hear about new versions. If you don’t give them the chance to choose, you risk losing them all-together. Since customers make the best buyers, it’s fairly obvious why you want to keep them subscribed to your customer email list.
Use it to make sales on autopilot. Creating a sales funnel out of an email autoresponder sequence is a widely adopted strategy used by information marketers, but it can also be used by software companies, eCommerce businesses and service providers. For example, it could consist of a series of educational videos, a sales video and follow-ups to sell your information products. Or, you could create a sequence of free educational emails, and then invite them to a live or recorded webinar where you make an offer. For eCommerce businesses, your sales sequence could include promo offers for products your subscriber has just viewed on your website.
Journalism students quickly learn how the inverted pyramid style of writing gives readers the most important information first. The rest of the paragraph or article supports the initial information or offers additional details. Your email marketing customers will respond to the same style of writing. They want the big news first because they’re often reading your email while they’re commuting or at work. If they want the details, they’ll read the email again just before they buy.
The digital age has also made it easier for companies to research and understand their perspective leads. By understanding the wants and needs of their target customers, companies can tailor information to better draw them in, as well as qualify any potential leads based on a variety of factors, such as engagement and demographic information. It is increasingly important for companies to not only generate new leads but also develop and nurture relationships with them.
As far back as the days of Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press or Henry Ford’s implementation of the assembly line, businesses have had to adapt to the introduction of new technologies; what’s happening today with the rapid advancement and acceptance of technology is nothing new. (Check out this infographic from GroSocial for a quick history lesson.)
One of the first lessons that I learned about email marketing campaigns is to give sincere thought to how a customer perceives every component of the email, starting with the subject line. Media headlines grab your attention and get you to listen longer or read further. A meaningful subject line for an email offers the same punch. Subject lines should be relevant, interesting and genuine.
Once you have a good mix of high-value content, including visual content, start promoting it on social channels. The more engagement you get, the more Google considers your content to be of high value, which in turn boosts your SEO rankings. Search engines look for natural links, so the more informative your content is, the more likely people will link to it naturally.
Because lead generation is the first step of the sales process, both quality and quantity are important factors. Quality leads are leads that a salesperson has a good chance of closing, which means they must at least have the potential to become customers. Every lead list will have a number of junk leads – people who are not qualified to buy the product for some reason – but the smaller the percentage of bad leads, the less time salespeople will waste while processing that list. Quantity is also important because even a salesperson with a list of 100% good leads won't be able to close every one of them.