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  • Writer's pictureJoshua Harmening

Step 4: Automate Your Follow-up with Marketing Automation

Let's recap. Four Step Marketing businesses realize the importance

of their marketing message. They study their customers and gather

feedback through surveys. They compare themselves to

competitors and look for ways to do things better. Innovation leads

them to identify or create powerful Unique Selling Points , which

become their overall marketing message. They create free Offers

that are shared on their Platforms , or everywhere the business

comes into contact with its prospects and customers. The Marketing

Arsenal is launched with purpose. It is carefully measured. Any form

of marketing that doesn't generate a return is scrapped. Wasteful

marketing dollars are then allocated to marketing with a better

return on investment. The Marketing Arsenal drives sales, but it also

points prospects and customers to the company's free Offer . As

prospects and customers request the free Offer , they consent to

receiving communication from the company and their personal

contact information is securely stored in the company's database.

That leads us to step 4, Marketing Automation , and the systematic

process for how we'll follow-up in the future.

In step 4, Marketing Automation , we'll implement a communication

system, ensuring no one slips through the cracks. The truth is, most

businesses know they should be doing a better job following up

with prospects and customers. The reason they don't follow up is

because they simply don't know where to start. The first obstacle is

building a database. We covered that in chapter 2, Platforms and

Offers . We learned by giving away a great Offer , customers and

prospects will be willing to share their personal contact

information. Now, everyone who requests your free Offer will be

added to your database. The second obstacle that businesses face

is how to manage, segment and automate their communication.

That's what we'll cover in this chapter.

Marketing Automation Doesn't Just Mean Email

First of all, Marketing Automation isn't limited strictly to email.

Whatever personal information that is provided when someone

takes you up on your Offer can now be used for follow-up

communication. In other words, if we have their email address,

obviously we can email them. If we have collected their mailing

address, we can follow-up by sending direct mail. If we have their

phone number, we have the option to send texts and voicemail

messages. Remember, they gave us this permission to

communicate when they requested our free Offer . Even though we

own this information in our database, we realize that if it is abused,

we'll ruin the relationship. So, we won't email them every day. If we

do call or text them, we'd better have something very good to say.

If we're sending direct mail, our message must be precise and on

target. Regardless of our communication method, it is critical to

remember that they gave us permission to reach out. Whenever we

communicate, we must provide value or they'll revoke our

permission to communicate. What then will we be saying? Ah—

remember chapter 1? That's right! Whenever we speak we'll be

sharing exactly what prospects and customers care about with our

Unique Selling Points .

At this point, you might be shaking your head in disbelief. In fact,

some readers don't follow up with prospects and customers on

purpose. Your excuse is that you believe that they don't want to

hear from you. The truth is, you're right, not everyone wants to

hear from you. However, don't throw the baby out with the bath

water. If you've provided value with your free Offer , then the law of

reciprocation is already at work. Most good hearted people will

allow you to communicate with them if your communication is

personal and continues to provide value or information they care

about. Believe us! We've heard all of the objections and excuses

before, and we know that proactive communication is like walking a

tightrope. It must be done correctly or you'll plummet to your

death. That being said, if you have objections to following up, it's

because you've probably been on the receiving end and have

experienced it being done incorrectly.

The Two BIG No-No's in Marketing Automation

The first no-no that most businesses are familiar with is over

communicating. Though we have their contact information and

permission to follow-up, we won't abuse it or use high pressure

tactics to get them to convert. Just like in any relationship, acting in

this manner would hurt our chances and drive them further away.

In fact, when we do communicate, we'll be abundantly clear that

they can STOP us from communicating if they're sick of hearing

from us. That's right. We'll openly give them the option to reject us

and break off the relationship through an OPT-OUT mechanism in

each piece of communication we send them. Because they can opt

out through email, direct mail, voicemail, and every other type of

communication, we must be precise in what we share. This sounds

like common sense, but we're always amazed how billion dollar

businesses allow their marketing teams to send out emails every

single day. Though each industry's follow-up schedule will be

different, please realize that your business should NEVER use

automation to contact their database every single day.

The second no-no is ignoring your database. Remember, they gave

us permission to follow-up and shared with us their personal email,

cell phone or perhaps even their mailing address. This is the

honeymoon stage! We've provided them with something valuable

and it is our window to engage them. If we neglect the relationship

and seldom communicate with them, we're showing them that

they're not that important. Worse yet, if we don't communicate, we

risk that a competitor who is communicating, will court our

prospects and customers. So failing to follow-up with our database

is almost as bad as over communicating. Both will damage the

relationship and actually have a negative impact on your business.

Having a Plan in Place: The Marketing Funnel

So what's the balance then? The secret is planning out your

communication ahead of time. If we're going to follow up and share

our Unique Selling Points , we'll need a plan of action. This plan is

called a marketing funnel and it is the communication plan your

business will follow. Your marketing funnel will nurture prospect

relationships with your Unique Selling Points until they become

customers. If your business only has a customer list, or prospect list

converting to customers, we'll also create a plan. The customer

marketing funnel would carefully communicate new special offers

and other customer benefits. Our goal is to encourage them to stay

committed to the relationship and become lifetime customers. A

marketing funnel is simply an outline of your company's

communication. Here's a sample Marketing Automation plan for a

company that has prospect relationships.

Sample Prospect USP Campaign

Instant Delivery - Email - Thank you & Offer Delivery

Day 4 - Post Card - USP 1 - Special for New Customers

Day 5 - Email - USP 1 - Special Bonus Postcard Reminder

Day 9 - Voicemail - USP 1 - Special Bonus Voicemail

Day 12 - Email - USP 2 - Company Comparison Chart

Day 13 - Letter - USP 2 - Company Comparison Chart

Day 17 - SMS Message - Personalized Text Message

Day 21 - Email - USP 3 - Our Technology is Better

Day 25 - Personal Call - Sales Call Follow-up

Day 27 - Email - USP 4 - Personalized Service

Day 31 - Post Card - USP 3-4 - Technology

A Call to Action for All Communication

We're not communicating just for the sake of talking. Remember,

we're following up because we want prospects to buy and

customers to buy more often. Marketing funnels can be longer or

shorter depending on your industry's buying cycle. If your business

model only has customers then you wouldn't need a prospect

funnel as well. The main point is that all communication is timed

out in advance with crystal clear objectives. Every time we

communicate, there should be a visible call to action. When we

communicate with prospects, we'll share our Unique Selling Points ,

but also point them to the next step in the relationship.

Communication for customers might include specials on new

products, services, and perhaps even asking them for an online

review. No matter who we are communicating with, there should

always be a clear next step, which is your call to action.

The Who, What, When and How of a Marketing Funnel

So how do you plan out your marketing funnels? It really comes

down to your business model. However, in every Marketing

Automation campaign, you'll need to clarify and understand four

key components before getting started. These four components

will help you build your marketing funnels and ensure you're saying

the right things, to the right people.

The Who - Who is receiving the automation? Is it prospects?

Customers? Depending on the business, this could become very

complex. For example, are we communicating to prospects

interested in red widgets? Or perhaps communicating to customers

who bought blue widgets? In our sample marketing funnel, we

created a campaign that was targeted for general prospects. While

each industry and business is different, the main point is to realize

that each marketing sequence and marketing funnel must have a

target audience.

The What - What are they receiving? In our example, we listed out

what type of communication was being used and what was being

said. For example, the "what" might be an email with the

company's second Unique Selling Point. Each marketing funnel

documents what will be received. It is important to note that

Marketing Automation may include various forms of communication

as listed in our example. However, you'll only be able to

communicate by phone, direct mail, and email if you have collected

that information.

In other words, you can't send direct mail if you don't have the

prospect's mailing address. Obtaining that information is handled

in step 2, Platforms and Offers . Prospects and customers will only

give up their personal information if the Offer is valuable. The more

personal information you request from someone is directly

comparable to the value your Offer must provide.

The When - When will the communication be delivered? What is

acceptable in one industry might not be acceptable in another.

Every business model will have a different timeline for follow-up

with prospects and customers. For example, the first couple weeks

of prospect follow-up might be more intensive if that is typically

when a buying decision is made. The sequence might then slow

down substantially after that period and become less intrusive.

Customer follow-up sequences will also be scheduled according to

the industry. For example, it may be perfectly fine for a coffee shop

or retailer to communicate every week because their customers

buy more frequently. However, if a real estate agent sent out

weekly or daily updates, it wouldn't be received well because

buying a home isn't a weekly event. Obviously, scheduling your

follow-up is more of an art than a science. Minor changes and

tweaks will be required based upon feedback. Every business

should measure their churn rate, or the rate at which their

database is adding and losing subscribers.

The How - How are users moved to different marketing funnels?

Remember, every time we follow-up with a prospect or a customer,

there should be a clear call to action. For example, when we

communicate to one of our prospects with a Unique Selling Point,

we'll point them to the logical next step. So what happens when the

prospect buys? Obviously, they should no longer be treated as

prospects or receive prospect communication. Instead they should

now be treated as customers and go into the customer marketing

funnel. For Marketing Automation to work effectively, the how must

be clearly defined. When a prospect buys, how are they removed

from the prospect funnel and added to the customer funnel? Is this

an automated process? Is it manual? Regardless of how it happens,

it must be consistent so that everyone receives the correct

communication. Without getting into the technical weeds of

automation, remember that the "how" will be the trigger that

moves them from one marketing funnel to another.

Simplifying the Marketing Automation Solution

We realize there's a lot of misconceptions and confusion when it

comes to Marketing Automation . Few businesses realize how

powerful and personal it can really be. Marketing Automation also

doesn't have to be complicated to be effective. Think of your

database as a bucket that's hosted on the internet. When prospects

and customers request your Offer , their personal data is

automatically stored securely online. Additionally, it's very easy to

automate the delivery of your free Offers . Think of this system as

rules that are programmed ahead of time. When someone joins the

database, they're scheduled to receive communication according to

your marketing funnel plan. The technology is actually fairly simple

and there's dozens of mainstream and affordable applications that

will help you communicate. For the sake of simplicity, we call it

Marketing Automation and it includes the database software that

sends the emails, letters, postcards, SMS messages, and even

pre-recorded phone messages. When used correctly it makes your

follow-up process bulletproof and ensures your prospects and

customers can clearly see your Unique Selling Points.

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