How to Maintain Contact with Your Prospects Automatically

  

I am sure you get inquiries from all over the world - from your website, direct promotions, advertising, sales leads, and phone calls etc. all the time.

And if you are like me, you would have setup a good follow-up mechanism. I have ready made letters saved as drafts in my Outlook, for each of my Key Services at Brand Rich - Email Marketing, Search Engine Optimization Services, and Search Engine Friendly Web Design. I take out one of these standard template emails, customize them to the queries of the prospect, add some personalization, and off it goes… all within a few minutes. But this is not enough.

Your Prospects Have Questions…
Once that initial email is sent out, do you have a mechanism to follow-up with your prospects? Do you actively seek them after two, three or five days of sending out your initial email? What if they don’t come back to you? Does it simply mean that they are not interested?

Maybe they have a pricing question, maybe you seem too big or too pricey to them, or maybe they are expecting that you will call them to get their business. You may be having all the right intentions of following up with them in a few days, but most of the time, it does not happen… you get caught up in the issues of the day, following up on the new inquiries coming up all the time, making sales presentations, proposals, invoices and doing the actual work for your clients.

And I know that most of you keep asking this question - How do I get more leads? Well, answer this first - Are you doing all there is to woo, romance and convert the existing leads that are coming to you?

What is an Auto Responder
The answer lies in automating some of the follow-up process. The automation is made possible by a smart piece of software called the Auto Responders. There are many companies that offer auto responders on the web. This means that there is no software to install, and you don’t have to check with your ISP if you can run auto responders. Anyone can… as long as you have a need to maintain and build regular contact with your prospects, customers and partners, without spending huge amounts of time!

Let’s say you are running a training institute. So how can you use Auto responders?

Here’s the step by step Process to build and Maintain Regular Contact With Your Prospects

1. Open an account with one of the top Auto responder companies like Aweber or iContact. These are online services, and there’s nothing to install. These companies give you a free 30 day trial, and if you don’t like it you can cancel anytime. After the trial period, they charge a flat fee of $10 to $20 per month. This is good enough and small enough to get started.

2. Create a Email List in the software once you get the login information from them. This step is easy, and there are detailed instructions available on the page itself. You can add the leads who enquire about your courses, fees or timings.

3. Create your first message in the auto responder, and set an interval of when should the message go out. Generally you set the interval to 0 for it to go out immediately, once the prospects email address is added to the subscriber list. Or you can set it to 7 days, to follow-up with them after a week. The message itself can be all text, or HTML. If you are not familiar with HTML formatting, it is ok to stick to simple, plain text first. You can always experiment with HTML formatting, pictures and fonts etc. later on

So the first message can be about the course, its key features, what the student will learn, and pre-requisites.

The second message ( which goes about a 3 days or a week later ) can talk about your training school - its excellent facilities, proximity to transport, affiliations with training partners etc. to build more trust and loyalty about the school.

The third message ( which goes after another 3-5 days ), talks about the experienced trainers, and feature testimonials from some past students, showing the prospect more about the courses, and its benefits ( remember - showing versus telling: showing has much higher value, rather than just telling them)

The fourth message can tell them about the job opportunities or career enhancements possible as a direct or indirect result of doing this course.

All showing them that you care, your training institute is great, the job opportunities are great, the trainers are experienced, and past students all rave about you and your training institute.

I hope you get the idea by now…

4. These auto responder services offer customization & personalization - so the first message to Henry will go as Dear Henry, and another message might go as Hi Julie. Once the message is setup, you don’t have to do anything else.

The best thing is that this system runs on auto pilot. So if Henry was added to your subscriber list on a Tuesday, he gets the first message on next Tuesday. And if Julie joined on a Thursday, she gets the message on the next Thursday. The auto responder will keep track of which message was sent to whom on which day, and it is sophisticated enough to send the right message to the right prospect all the time.

Advantages of Auto Responders
There are many advantages of Auto responders. Some of the most prominent ones are

For more insight into the advantages of Auto responders, review these articles
a. Written by Nelson Tan
b. A Very long and detailed article by Mukti Effendi
c. Articles and Resources from Aweber’s site

Conclusion

Email Marketing is about the cheapest way to market, and maintain contact with your prospects and clients. Use the automation offered by Auto Responders and run your marketing on auto-pilot. This quick and simple way will save you enormous time, and will give a great experience to your clients, building trust and loyalty. Ignore this excellent medium at your own risk.

Get started now with the best tools like Aweber or iContact.

And let me know your experiences. Share your findings, so we all can learn from it. Post a comment below.

Cheers,
Vinai
Chief Strategist - Brand Rich Marketing in Singapore, Asia.

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Comments

Excellent post, I have to agree , autoresponders are a great and very powerful tool for marketing but also more so for customer loyalty programs and relationships.
Some other ideas would be using a helpdesk software or service, and even an 800 number. Keep your existing customers happy and loyal as it is typically cheaper to retain existing clients than it is finding new ones.

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