E-Mail Follow-up: A Secret of Success

Is your system of business contact true money-making marketing, or are you just gambling on single emails and one-time contacts without following up? Success is within your reach, but you must follow up! Dr. Lant demonstrates the pitfalls of a 'weak' follow up plan and how engaging in such lassitude can lose big bucks for businesses.

[EDITOR'S NOTE:By publishing this article, I DO NOT endorse the concept of "spamming"--sending unsolicited bulk e-mail. While Jeffrey's remarks could be interpreted as supporting spam, I am publishing it because the techniques he outlines will be effective in both one-to-one e-mail marketing and using e-mail as a marketing tool to address an "opt-in" list of people who ASKED to be sent information. Not only will spamming backfire in a major way, but your best prospects won't even see your spam because they will have sophisticated filtering systems in place. Please do not spam!

Yours for business success,
Shel Horowitz, Editor
Down to Business
[end editor's note]

One of the most important elements of business success is re-contacting prospects and customers. This, however, is precisely what most business people don't do.

They send some sales information to a prospect ... then wait.

They make a single phone call to a prospect ... but never follow-up.

They send a fax to a customer... and hope something happens, but don't send a second one.

Get the picture? It's as if millions of people had decided to stake their fate on a single throw of the dice... on sending one catalog, or one brochure, or one letter, or one fax, or making one phone call.

But this isn't the way to make MONEY!

The overwhelming majority of people do not respond to a single marketing communication... or a single phone call... or a single fax... or a single anything else.

No wonder. We're all bombarded every single day with a ton of marketing communications. You can't turn on the television or radio... or open a newspaper... or get a newsletter... or leaf through a trade publication... without getting inundated with one "get this now, this is good for you" marketing message after another. We're an "in-your-face" marketing culture all right.

Yet, in all too many cases, what's missing is the follow-up -- the systematic attempt to break through the marketing "noise" that assails all of us and get your message -- all your message -- in front of just the people you want to have it... and help them take appropriate action.

In short, all too often business people aren't marketing... they're making one-time-only presentations. And they're losing big in the process.

"I Can't Follow Up, I'm Too Busy!"

Every business person knows the value of follow-up. And, in an ideal world, they say they'd be following up to beat the band. However, without much prompting, they'll tell you all the reasons why follow-up is impossible:

* no time
* no money
* no energy
* busy with other projects, etc.

So they continue sending one of this, one of that -- nothing focused, nothing intensified, nothing part of a system, just one episodic act after another.

Take a minute to review your last marketing endeavor. Did you

* place a single ad in a newspaper without following up?
* make a single telephone call to a prospect without following up?
* send a single fax to a customer without following up?
* send a single postcard to a prospect without following up?

Then you're gambling, friend, not marketing.

Enter E-Mail, Enter The E-Mail Probe

Until now, follow-up, while essential, has been easy to put off. It does take time, money, and commitment to follow-up. When you follow up you've got to

.
* set an objective
* work hard on your marketing communications so they're all strictly based on client-centered benefits
* outline a strategy for contacting your prospects and customers not just once but a series of times, doing what's necessary to motivate their action
* review what you're doing with a view towards intensifying what works and abandoning what doesn't.

Yes, all this takes work. And it takes time and money, too.

Fortunately the advent of e-mail has changed all that, maximizing your ability to follow-up and minimizing the drawbacks which currently keep you from doing it.

E-mail gives you the ability to connect with your prospects and customers as many times as you want merely for the cost of your monthly Internet access charge -- a charge which will vary from around $10 to perhaps as high as $30, depending on the service you use.

E-mail offers these compelling advantages:

* it's inexpensive
* you can send as many transmissions as you want for the cost of your monthly access bill
* transmission is (usually) virtually instantaneous
* people read their e-mail, so you have a far higher likelihood of getting through to the person you're communicating with than if you use more standard communications tools (provided that your messages are not filtered out).

E-mail enables you to:
* connect to the people you want to connect with (so long as they themselves have e-mail)
* get back to them as often as necessary
* reuse all your marketing communications
* escalate the speed of the marketing game.

You no longer have to wait days, even weeks, between sending your initial communication and following up. Depending on what you're doing and the need for an immediate response, you might wait no more than a day or two, or even a few HOURS to get back in touch.

E-Mail Has Entirely Changed The Marketing Game

Say you've been marketing your service business by sending a brochure and cover letter to selected prospects and clients. For whatever reason, say that you haven't followed up any of these communications; you've put 100% of the burden for response on the people you're trying to do business with. This, I submit, is a very risky way to build a business.

With e-mail things change completely.

1) the essence of the game becomes re-contact, not merely contact. In other words, because you know that your response and your business will go up the more frequently you contact these prospects and customers with client-centered marketing information, you'll refocus what you do to ensure this continual contact.

2) you won't create just a single transmission to prospects and customers, as you've done before, but instead think in terms of a campaign, one contact after another during a designated period. Understanding that a single contact is completely insufficient to achieve your objectives, you'll immediately think in terms of multiple contacts.

3) because you get unlimited e-mail transmissions for the cost of your monthly Internet access and because there is no reason to wait as long as you have been between transmissions, you'll dramatically reduce the amount of time between prospect and customer contact. In other words, if in the past you've sent a brochure and cover letter on a Monday but haven't followed up for fourteen days, now you'll follow up the Monday transmission on, say, Wednesday, within forty eight hours.

4) the importance of motivational offers, always important for marketing success, becomes even more important when you're marketing more frequently via e-mail. In other words, you must continually keep before the prospect/customer the benefit of prompt response while simultaneously letting him know that if he doesn't respond promptly he's going to lose the benefit of the offer you're making him and that the number of such offers is dwindling.

Outlining An E-Mail Campaign

To show you what I mean, let's map this out in more detail for that local service business.

Let's say they have the ability to place 10 units of their service in the next 30 days. The objective then is to sell all ten units and, whenever possible, to create a waiting list for future business.

E-Mail Transmission 1 is a marketing communication composed of these elements: motivating offer, client-centered benefits, testimonials from happy customers who have benefited from this service, and a clear indication of how many units of the service are presently available.

E-Mail Transmission 2 should be sent as soon as one or more of the service units have been sold or within 48 hours, whichever comes first. This transmission can reuse all the materials from Transmission 1, merely changing the e-mail subject line ("Just 8 units currently available. Don't wait to respond!") and the line or two at the top of the communication: "Haven't heard from you yet! Act now to get (prime benefit you're offering)."

Already you should see what makes e-mail follow up (which I call "probing" since it involves sending your client-centered message into the space of the person you're attempting to communicate with/motivate), already, I say, you see the difference between client-centered e-mail marketing... and everything which has gone before:

* you're not waiting, waiting, waiting for the prospect/customer to respond. You're in charge of this marketing game, as you have never been before.
* you're not having to pay again to reprint your marketing materials as you have to do with direct mail, etc.
* you can follow up promptly without having to pay any more money to do so. In other words, you're in the superb marketing position of being able to do what is critical for marketing success -- namely follow-up -- without having to increase your marketing expenses by a penny.

Thinking Through Your Follow-Up Strategy

All too many people with e-mail are using it as if it were a standard marketing tool like direct mail, the telephone or the fax, thus completely gutting its benefits.

E-mail works because you can re-use some or all of your marketing communications without cost... can bring your message as often as necessary to the attention of the people you're trying to motivate for no more than the cost of your monthly Internet access... and can connect with your prospect/customer as often as it takes to motivate him, yes EVERY SINGLE DAY if necessary.

This is an entirely new way of marketing, necessitating an entirely new way of thinking. One crucial component of this thinking is planning through your follow-up strategy. Whereas in the past, you waited for the prospect/customer to take action, now, with the marketing game in your hands, you've got to think through what you'll do and when.

* what will you do in 24 hours after you've sent your initial communication and people have favorably responded?
* what will you do in 24 hours when no one has responded?

Both these situations are predictable. Thus, you must be prepared for both.

To be the compleat e-mail marketer means thinking through what will happen... and not allowing yourself to be taken by surprise, but rather having the appropriate response ready for immediate use.

Thus, if people have responded, either to indicate to you that they are better prospects... or to purchase units of your service, you must now both work with them and simultaneously reconnect with your remaining (so far unresponsive) prospects, letting them know that you have less of your service available (thereby increasing the pressure on them to act). This process must be continued via e-mail (and such other follow-up tools as may be appropriate) until such time as all your available service units are sold and you have begun a waiting list.

By the same token, if no one has purchased within 24 hours, you can either simply resend everything without any additional comment whatsoever, or, you can scrutinize and review your offer to see if it can be improved. Did you really make the strongest possible offer you could... or could it be improved to stimulate better response? If you decide to change the offer, say nothing about doing so. Just do it... and transmit it immediately, standing by to gauge the response and act accordingly.

Enter The E-Mail Listserver

Until now, we've been discussing marketing with smaller prospect/customer lists, lists under 100 strong. These are the lists maintained by micro businesses. If your lists are over 100 then you need to add another tool to your e-mail arsenal: the listserver.

A listserver is a vital piece of software which enables you to send an identical message to every single person on a particular list, a list maybe of prospects or customers or newsletter subscribers or donors to your nonprofit organization; a list which may have up to 20,000 e-mail records on it. A listserver enables you to contact these people an UNLIMITED amount of times for one set (usually annual) fee. Thus, you pay less per contact to reach the people on this list more rather than less frequently. This is the complete reverse of traditional direct mail, telephone, and fax marketing where the more you market, the more you pay.

A listserver is astonishingly quick and easy to use. Both the addition and deletion of names is automatic. What's more when you add or delete names from your list, the act of doing so enables you to send an automatic message of 5 pages or so, a message which can include detailed information about your company, its products and services.

You use a listserver to send a given message to a coherent group. As people respond to that message you can deal with them on a one-to-one basis, following up with appropriate probes to motivate faster action, ascertain where the prospect/customer is on the matter at hand, and what it will take to motivate him.

It's Time For You To Use E-Mail, A Listserver, And E-Mail Probes

Business is always about thinking smarter, shrewder, clearer than your competitors. E-Mail enables you to do just that.

When your clueless competitor sends out marketing information and waits for the prospect to respond, if your list is more than 100, you'll send out your comparable information in under a minute to the hundreds or thousands of people on your list... all for the cost of your monthly e-mail hook-up.

You can follow up this information immediately, within 24 hours, using your listserver to resend your updated message to your entire list... while using probing to communicate with the people who have already responded to your first communication and need one-on-one attention.

Now the game becomes sending your general communications to everyone on your list... while using e-mail probing to connect with individuals and do what's necessary with them, as often as necessary, to get them to purchase what you're selling.

Importantly, all this can easily be going on even before a single piece of direct mail sent by your competitor has even been received or while he is waiting for his prospect/customer to call him back or answer his fax.

The Choice Is Yours: The Future, And Profit, Or The Past, And Shrinking Market Share

When a paradigm shifts, you'd better think fast about what you're going to do about it. With the advent of e-mail marketing, a major paradigm has shifted. If you continue to engage in one-shot marketing, sending one piece of sales literature, making one phone call, sending one fax, and doing no follow up you are going to be adversely affected when competing against businesses which can so easily use e-mail to continually stay in touch with prospects and customers... and follow-up at will FOR NO ADDITIONAL COST.

By the same token, if you use standard marketing and follow up, you are still going to be adversely affected. Every time you make a follow-up mailing, fax, phone call or visit, it costs you time, money and energy -- resources always in short supply. While you're spending your resources, your smart e-mail based competitors are simply following up instantaneously, systematically FOR NO ADDITIONAL COST.

The choice, therefore, is stark: integrate e-mail marketing and, importantly, e-mail follow-up marketing into your marketing mix and work hard to increase the number of prospects and customers whose e-mail information you have. Or hand your business on a silver platter to your more with-it competitors who are using e-mail every day, both with listservers and individual follow-up probes, to make more money, while spending less. In other words, support the past, and fail, or hitch your wagon to the future, and succeed.

Dr. Jeffrey Lant is the internationally known marketer who is co-founder of the 10 Worldprofit Malls at http://www.worldprofit.com now getting over 6 MILLION visits a year. To put your web site in or link the Worldprofit Malls to your existing web site, visit http://www.worldprofit.com, use 24 hour a day fax on demand (403)59-2829 document #1, or call (403) 459-4746. To get your own listserver from Worldprofit and use it to send UNLIMITED non-spam e-mail transmissions, visit http://www.worldprofit.com. You can also get your own domain for as low as $25.00 a month. Visit http://www.worldprofit.com. To visit Dr. Lant's Sure-Fire Business Success Catalog, go to http://www.worldprofit.com or call (617) 547-6372 for a free subscription. Finally, get a free subscription to his daily Marketing Hot Tips newsletter.

  

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