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On Following Up and Working December

December is a weird month for small business owners. I have been known to describe it as the Month of Fridays. But this year, I’m declaring December the Month of Following Up. I am all Business During the Holidaysabout finishing 2016 strong and hitting the ground running in January.

And judging from the number of emails I’ve gotten from prospective clients saying they are ready to work with Spring Insight in the New Year, I’d say many of you are feeling the same way. Consider this your official nudge to put your follow-up plan into motion.

What does a good marketing follow-up strategy look like?

Following up is key when you want to keep your sales funnel full. But did you know that one big mistake that small business owners make is not following up enough? Studies show that 80% of sales happen only after 5 follow-ups and most salespeople give up after one or two. So, persistence pays off.

A good marketing follow-up campaign has three features:

1. It should be systematic, meaning that you follow the same steps each time.

2. It should generate consistent and predictable results.

3. It should require minimal interaction, meaning it should be mostly automated.

It might sound like a dream—imagine making sales with little effort—but with today’s technology, the dream can become your reality. In fact, at Spring Insight, we have been testing and considering adopting automated marketing software to offer to current clients looking to jumpstart their sales in 2017. Stay tuned!

Who should you follow up with?

Once you have a working follow-up system in place, you’ll want to figure out who to funnel through the system. There are three types of people you should follow-up with.

1. Prospects in your target audience. These will be contacts you exchange business cards with at a holiday party, networking event, or conference, for example. Ideally, you should follow up with these types of leads within 24-48 hours of meeting them with something to entice them to call or visit your store or office. But even if it has been longer, there’s no harm in reaching out, especially if you had a conversation that went beyond a few introductory sentences.

2. Warm leads. These are people who have responded to your marketing collateral, but haven’t yet purchased anything. Suppose you add 20 names to your email list after an event and 4 of them click through on your newsletter. You can set up a database to keep track of these stats to make your follow-up strategy more effective. Your goal, then, is to persuade them to make their first purchase.

3. Current customers. These are people who have already purchased something from you. Your goal here will be to convince them to buy from you again or refer your business to others.

How should you follow up?

The primary means for following up with any of the above groups are email, phone, or direct mail. And which method is right for you will depend on the norm in your industry, your specific goals, and even the type of lead you want to nurture.

However you choose to follow-up, set building a relationship of trust as your intention. For example, if a local prospect has been cyber-stalking your business for months, why not send them a personal invite to one of your speaking engagements and chat with them afterwards?

Take the time to personalize your follow-up. Each new email or conversation should reference past communications to show your prospect you aren’t simply going through the motions with them.

Also, make sure your method provides value for you and for your prospect. There’s nothing worse than taking time away from other priorities to compose and send a follow-up email and having your open and click through rates fall below expectations.

Tools that make following up easier.

This is where you start creating that automated system I mentioned above. There are a number of online tools that make it easier to follow through on your follow-up campaigns:

1. Contactually automatically builds a database with your email contacts and allows you to easily file contacts into “Buckets” and set the frequency with which you’d like to stay in touch. Contactually then automatically generates your follow-up list, so you can easily build those key business relationships.

2. Boomerang turns Gmail into a customer relationship management (CRM) system. With Boomerang you can make sure that nothing falls through the cracks because the system notifies you when someone doesn’t respond to your email after a certain amount of time. Another feature of Boomerang is that it allows you to schedule emails to go out at a later time. So, if you compose an email at 10pm tonight, but would like it to go out at 7am tomorrow, before you wake up, you can tell Boomerang to send it at 7am. This is especially useful for catching prospects when they are likely to respond.

3. Mailchimp allows you to create, manage, and deliver professionally designed email newsletters. It automatically generates analytics and reports that are easy for even non-math nerds to understand. The key to improving your open and click-through rates on email campaigns is having a clean email list and Mailchimp makes this housekeeping item as easy as it can be.

So, now that you have everything you need to create a smooth follow-up strategy, here’s my challenge to you: follow-up with 5 people each week for the rest of the year. You’ll be amazed at the results!

Of course, if you are overwhelmed keeping up with all of the demands on your time, the best follow-up strategy might be to outsource your marketing. Have you been meaning to follow-up with me? Remember that Spring Insight’s marketing team is here to give you more time to work on your business.

Do you have a marketing follow-up strategy?

Let me know in the comments or on social media via Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.