Customers grow and change over time; managing that change is key to keeping them interested and coming back. Tim Price, senior VP of sales and marketing for e-mail service provider YesMail, based in Portland, Ore., has these suggestions to maximize your e-mail customer lifecycle program.
1) Welcome prospects. By now, you are probably using triggered e-mails to welcome new prospects to your marketing or newsletter program, and if you’re not, you should be. “The whole concept is to send prospects a welcome message that tells them in detail what they’ve signed up for, and what they should expect to receive,” Price said.
Your next step should be feeding prospects a curriculum of information, training and special offers tailored to someone who has stepped forward and raised their hand as a potential customer. Never throw new prospects into your existing customer e-mail list, Price said.
“They haven’t been explained the value proposition,” he said. “They don’t know how to interpret your business. Send a welcome letter first. Your next message should be an attempt to explain why they should be your customer in bite-sized pieces, and how they can do so.”
2) Consider customers’ needs. The moment a prospect becomes a customer, you have a 30- to 90-day window of opportunity to sell to them again, Price said. “It’s the old vacuum story,” he said. “If your customer buys a vacuum, they are going to need vacuum bags in 60 days. You’ll want to take that paradigm and use it with your own products and services.”
Clients see these types of e-mails as highly valuable; your company cares about them and is looking out for their well-being. Send e-mails that offer additional products and services, as well as tips and tricks for getting the most out of new purchases. And don’t forget to include multiple paths to your company in the e-mail. Is there a user group or forum associated with your company? Provide links and even pull-quotes from ongoing discussions. Do you have an after-hours help hotline? Let your customer know.
3) Drop lapsed customers. E-mail is an inexpensive medium, so some companies mistakenly think they should keep sending messages even if those messages end up unread in a long-lost customer’s in-box. Not so, Price said.
“If someone is only six months lapsed, it might be a good opportunity to send an incentive e-mail to get them to be active again,” he said. Consider sending a message that takes a page from magazine publishers, giving recipients fair warning that this message could be their last unless they stand up and opt in again. If they don’t, think of it as an opportunity, Price said.
“If you’re taking off all the lapsed people and only mailing to the people who have activity, then you are going to get a much higher conversion rate and click-through rate on your list,” he said.