One of the biggest mistakes businesses make with their brand new leads is that they have little or no follow-up with them. Many businesses send a single email to new leads… then nothing. Zip. Zilch. Quite often they have no idea when to send a follow-up email.
Or they send nothing for weeks, or even months, after that initial email and then suddenly email their leads with their latest special offer. Then they wonder why there’s such a low response, if any, other than unsubscribes or spam reports.
Just sending one email is not enough, and this, unfortunately, is one of the biggest mistakes that businesses make when it comes to emailing their leads. Instead, a strategic follow-up email series can more efficiently transform leads into qualified prospects.
So, when is it appropriate to send a follow-up email?
According to follow-up best practice, there are three specific phases in the follow-up process and for best results, you need to implement all three phases every single time someone subscribes or opts in to your list:
Each phase has its own distinct purpose, which we’ll go through in more detail.
Phase One: Action
The action phase begins as soon as someone opts in to your list or your database. Regardless of what they opt in to receive, this triggers the action phase immediately. They may have subscribed to receive your newsletter or perhaps a particular gift as an incentive, often referred to as a lead magnet. This lead magnet could be a free eBook, report, template, checklist, webinar or video training.
So you send them an email with a link to access whatever it was you promised to give them. That's your action-based follow-up. Easy, right? The best part is, this can be automated. We’ll go into more detail on that shortly.
You may now be wondering when to send the second follow-up email. This depends on what your prospects opted in for – what you promised them – but generally it should be sent the day after the initial email. This is when you move into the next phase of the follow-up.
Phase Two: Trust
The next step is that you want people to know, like, and trust you. That’s the ultimate goal for this second phase of your follow up.
The aim of getting people to opt in to your list, or your database, is that potentially they could become a customer. Eventually.
Now this is where so many businesses go wrong. They usually have no trouble with the action phase of following up, but then they stop. They leave it at that one follow-up email – the one that delivered what was promised. Then they wonder why so many of their leads don’t buy from them.
Here’s the thing… in many cases, these leads simply aren’t ready to buy yet. Or they don’t yet know if you’re the business they want to buy from. You need to build trust first. Do you think you’re going to get their trust just from sending them one email? Absolutely not!
So in the trust phase of the follow-up, your goal is to earn more trust. So you’re going to give your subscriber more than what they signed up for.
But you’re not going to bombard them with irrelevant information. You’re going to stay aligned with what they requested, but you’ll go deeper and overdeliver, in a way that is helpful rather than overwhelming. For example, perhaps they opted in to receive an eBook. In the first follow-up email you delivered this eBook, which is great. Now you might record some training videos about the information that you give them in the eBook. Usually you might break an eBook into three parts and record a short 3-5 minute video for each of those three parts. Then over the next few days you send three emails giving subscribers access to each of those three videos. These three emails then become the trust building phase of your follow up.
So you have the action phase, which is to reward subscribers. For this you send one email. And then you have the trust building phase, which is three emails at a minimum. You break down the eBook into three parts and you get in front of the camera and teach the information that's in the eBook. You then send each email – scheduled to be sent a couple of days apart – to tell subscribers to watch the video on your web page.
Here’s an example of a trust building email:
When subscribers click the link in the email to watch the video, they’re directed to a landing page like this one, from where they can watch the video training:
You’ll notice that below the video there’s a ‘call to action’ (the button asking viewers to register for the next live training). We'll talk about that in a minute.
Then email number two is another component of the eBook. It goes to a similar type of page where subscribers can watch your second video where you teach the second part of the eBook for three to five minutes. And you include another call to action on that page.
And then the third email is another breakdown… the third and final part of that eBook, where you teach and then have a call to action as well.
So not only are you giving the eBook, you’re giving video training of the same content that's in the eBook. By doing this you’re reinforcing the training at the same time as you’re developing more of a relationship.
Most people will opt in for an eBook and then think, “I don't want to read this.” Or they’ll save it for when they have time to read it. (Most likely never!) So you’re going to give it to them in another format, and video is that format.
Why video? For the voice and image interaction. You’re using two senses – sound and sight – to increase engagement. Plus, you get to spend more time with your subscribers on your site. Therefore, they get to spend more time listening to you.
By doing this you start to develop a relationship with them that’s a bit more personal and they get to see the person behind the content.
Phase Three: Conversion
What do you think we're trying to do in the conversion phase? Once you have earned your subscribers’ trust, what do you want them to do? You want to get them to do something in particular. You want to persuade them. You want to convert them to whatever your call to action is.
Here’s the important part: you need to be direct here. You need to tell your subscribers exactly what you need them to do. Do you want them to book a call? Do you want them to register for our webinar? Or buy a product?
Whatever it is, you need to be crystal clear in stating what you want them to do as well as how to do it. For example, “Click the button below to order now” or “Enter your details here to register.”
Remember in the earlier example we directed our subscribers to a landing page to watch the video training based on our eBook? Below each of the videos we included a call to action. In those examples, the call to action was to “Register here for the next live training.”
Hopefully you now have a much better understanding of when to send a follow-up email. If you're not already including all three of these phases in your follow-up campaign, set aside time this week to set this up. Keap has several follow-up templates that you can copy and swipe into your series for free.
Anyone who tries to manage the three phases of the follow up manually will soon find themselves completely overwhelmed.
But here’s the good news…This entire system can be easily automated. Set it up once and then it pretty much looks after itself. You can test and tweak as you choose to, but all the basics will be in place.
Sales and marketing automation software like Keap is perfect for this. Not only can you create your opt-in forms with Keap, you can also manage all of the follow-up emails, making sure they’re sent at exactly the right time. You’re not constantly trying to remember when to send an initial follow-up email, then when to send the second follow-up email, and so on.
Once you’ve set up your follow-up process, you’re likely to be pleasantly surprised by the massive difference it makes with increased conversions (and therefore income) from these leads. Start a free trial to try sending automated follow-ups now.
About the Author
Jason Buckner, founder of Automation Made Easy, is known as the secret weapon desperate businesses call in to “clean up the mess.” And he loves it. Where most people would run away, Jason is quick to roll up his sleeves and find the holes and fix them. Running a chain of retail stores in Sydney for 7 years and working for the World Internet Summit for 8 years gives him great empathy for fellow business owners.