How to bring customers back from the dead

For some time now, I’ve been preparing and presenting a range of seminars and workshops for smaller businesses. So as to ensure these are hitting the mark, I distribute feedback forms that also invite participants to ‘opt-in’ to my eNewsletters.

To ensure the participants completed the forms, I offered a prize that would be drawn from all submitted and complete forms. This approach ensured I had a healthy acceptance rate to my regular eNewsletters.

Once the recipients were in my database, they provided a low maintenance means of keeping in regular contact with them. From a new business perspective, it meant that if they weren’t ready to do business with me then, they might well be in future.

And so it turned out to be this week, when I received an email from an attendee to a seminar I delivered a decade ago!


Long time no contact


Now in an ideal world, I would have been in more personalised and regular contact with this person to see how I might be able to assist with their digital world.

But given this mainstay of sales took time and resource I just didn’t have, my eNewsletters proved the perfect way to keep in touch with this ‘prospect’ in a way that was convenient and non-invasive.

My reward for this effort was an unexpected and unsolicited invitation to pitch for the business of this ‘cold case’ prospect’s new website a full 10 years after they attended my event.

Yes after a decade, this prospect came ‘from nowhere’ to respond to my eNewsletter with a view to hiring us. That makes for very enduring return on investment.

Here’s how to make this low cost lead generator work for you.


1. Tool up


Whilst sending your eNews via ordinary email clients like Outlook and so on is better than nothing, to get the best, measurable and personalised results you need to invest in an email marketing system. There are lots of low cost tools like Mailchimp and Constant Contact out there but better still is a system that’s integrated with your website so as to integrate your data, reducing duplication and improving productivity and reporting.

Such an integrated system will allow you to track conversions from email to website visit to sale and so on.


2. Ensure they get into your database


Despite it only taking a minute or two, this is one of the most challenging parts of the entire exercise.  It never ceases to amaze me just how many business cards and contact details we collect, only to have them gather dust in a drawer somewhere.

So instead of letting this valuable source of new business go by the wayside, ensure you set aside time to enter them into your database for future eNewsletter communication. A good way to do this is to include a copy of your latest eNews when you contact them to acknowledge your initial contact, letting them know that you have put them on your list for that purpose and that they can always unsubscribe if they don’t wish to receive it.


3. Come up with regular, valuable content


Another challenge for the time poor business operator. There are numerous people who have done the right thing by adding the contact to their database, and even making an introductory email, but fail to keep in regular contact by neglecting to create useful, regular content.

There are two key ways to ensure you create compelling content. First, create a content calendar which sets out the type of content you are going to send and when you are going to send it. Second, set aside a firm and regular time when you create the content for your eNews and stick to it.

The result will be just the kind of ongoing customer magnet you are looking for.


4. Use your eNews to cross-sell


Once your eNews is open, you have the opportunity to interest the reader in other aspects of your business by including any number of side-stories or offers. The more the reader finds out about you and your business, the greater the likelihood of attracting them to one of your offerings.

For example, in my eNewsletter I feature websites we have recently completed and explain digital jargon, both of which provide new opportunities to raise our profile and promote our services.


5. Keep your recipient list up to date


A poorly maintained email list will mean that your email goes out to fewer and fewer people and reduce its chances of converting to an enquiry. Remember, it only takes one recipient to turn your email into a sale, so the more recipient details are up to date, the better the chances of extracting valuable new business.


6. Add to your website and social networks


Whilst valuable in its own right in an email format, the same content can reach hundreds or even thousands more readers by ensuring it is posted to your website and in turn, posted via social networks, particularly business groups that you are a member of.

Admittedly, the creation of great content can be time consuming. But once you are able to create and distribute it on a regular basis, you will provide a relatively low cost means of keeping new business enquiries ticking over – even after a decade or more.

In addition to being a leading eBusiness educator to the smaller business sector, Craig Reardon is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team which was established to address the special website and web marketing needs of SMEs in Melbourne and beyond.


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