Developing a Sales Funnel to Prioritize Leads

Posted on Oct 22, 2013 by Michael Herman | Posted in Email Deliverability, Email Marketing, Social Media

In basic terms, the sales funnel describes the sales process from first content to purchase. It is used as a visual aid and resembles a leaky funnel where sales opportunities are dropped into. There will be occasions when these opportunities need to be taken away from the funnel because the customers are either uninterested or deemed to be outside your target audience. The stages of the funnel refer to the likelihood of a customer making a purchase and the sales opportunity increases the further down the funnel you go.

Developing your Sales Funnel

When a sales opportunity presents itself, your goal is to remove all road blocks preventing a possible sale. After removing this barrier, you move on to the next stage and closer to the final goal. These issues include customer uncertainty about your brand, the value of your product and whether or not it is within their budget. By developing sales metrics appropriate for your business, you will be able to manage the sales funnel.

Sales Funnel Stages

  • Lead: This refers to someone that fits into your target audience but you have not yet been in contact with.
  • Prospect: This is a potential customer that has expressed an interest in what you have to offer. This means you have had a conversation and the prospect has been given information on what to do next in the process.
  • Qualified Prospect: This is the most testing part of the funnel as it involves you verifying that the prospect has a need for your product, has the budget and sees value in what you sell.
  • Commitment: By now, the prospect is a committed customer and has made verbal agreement to make a purchase.
  • Transaction: This is when the deal has been signed, sealed and delivered!

Lead Prioritization

Going back to the qualified prospect part of the sales funnel, you need to use lead scoring in order to rank and prioritize your leads. For example, you may find that those who register for your webinar are more likely to pay for your services than those who sign up for email newsletters. In this case, you will pour more resources into the webinar than you would have done otherwise.

Basic personal information is necessary of course but you should also look to get details of the professional occupation, location, company size and budget. ‘Score’ each visitor’s interaction with your brand; the closer someone moves towards a purchase, the more points you assign to that customer.

With a well-drawn out sales funnel, you can quickly get rid of irrelevant leads that will end up costing you money in marketing and focus on those who are likely to become paying customers. This reduces costs, increases ROI and allows you to become more dedicated to prospects that will prop up your business.

History of Email Marketing & How it Continues to Evolve

Posted on Oct 14, 2013 by Michael Herman | Posted in Email Deliverability, Email Marketing

Electronic messaging changed the way we communicate forever. It made it possible for companies to conduct business all over the world and was the catalyst for global expansion for an innumerable amount of organizations. It was only a matter of time before emails were used for marketing purposes and so it came to pass in the 1990s.

Before Email

It was a godsend for companies because it was cheaper, easier and more all-encompassing that traditional forms of marketing. Before email, bricks and mortar salespeople waited in stores trying to sell goods to customers. The problem with this was getting people to enter the store in the first place. Then there is direct mail which involves sending countless magazines and brochures to people’s homes. Consumers quickly grew tired of this junk mail and it was costing businesses far too much money.

A New Marketing Method

With email marketing, sending messages to prospects took a fraction of a second. Instead of having to spend time and money designing a catalog or traditional letters and finding the names and addresses of people to send this material to, it was now possible to buy email addresses and start sending marketing emails.

Clever businesses created websites and landing pages designed to capture these addresses. This increased the likelihood of sending an email to a person that was actually interested in what they had to offer. It was possible to send thousands of emails for the equivalent of peanuts and a profit was guaranteed even if the response rate was miniscule.

Personalized Emails

The trouble was, open rates and click-through rates were usually abysmal. The vast majority of companies tried mass marketing and sent emails to everyone they could find. Most of these emails ended up in a junk folder or were deleted without being opened. Yet email marketing had another step to take in its evolution: Personalized or ‘triggered’ emails.

These are emails sent to customers only when they perform a certain action on the company’s website or landing page. It is assumed that the prospect has a real interest in a specific product/service so the content of the message is tailored accordingly. As recipients feel like they are being spoken to as an individual and not part of a generic collective, they are more likely to respond with a purchase. Best of all, these emails are completely automated so once they are set up, the sender has little work to do.

Companies that use personalized emails are already experiencing a major increase in sales revenue. Thanks to the evolution of email marketing, even small businesses can grow into giants as they have the ability to reach potentially millions of people around the world.

Analyzing Email Content & Clicks With Heat Maps

Posted on Oct 8, 2013 by Michael Herman | Posted in Email Deliverability, Email Marketing

There has been a lot of talk about heat maps and email marketing. Does Heat Mapping actually work in email? Not in the traditional sense, but more like link tracking. However, I have written a few things you can expect from heat map analysis.

You can spend as much money as you like and work 80 hours a week on your email marketing campaign but at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is ensuring that the content and format of your emails is eye-catching and gets those clicks. The traditional form of testing works well and has stood the test of time but modern technology continues to improve our understanding of visitor behavior. If you want to achieve success, you need to keep up with the times and the latest innovation for email marketing, heat analysis, promises to take things to another level.

What Heat Map Analysis Does

Traditionally speaking, it uses sophisticated cursor-tracking software to find the areas of the page which are most prominently scanned by visitors. With heat map analysis in your corner, it is possible to find out the best location for your most snappy content. Have you ever wondered where your call-to-action should be placed for example? Most marketers place it towards the end but this may be a waste of time. Therefore, if your email marketing campaign is floundering, you can analyze the problem and fix it before it’s too late. You don’t even have to change your content for better results, just its location! Again, though the only accurate way of displaying a map based on eye catching content in emails is through links.

Using Heat Map Analysis To Your Advantage

Instead of completely tearing up your existing email marketing strategy, use heat map link analysis to tweak it. You can find out where links should be placed and find out if the most important information in the emails is getting the attention it requires. Heat map analysis has already been carried out in great detail and shows overwhelming evidence that the top left hand corner of the screen is the most viewed location.

Analysis Instead of Guesswork

Now that heat map analysis has changed the landscape, you no longer need to adhere to generic email marketing tips you read on the Internet. One thing that is becoming apparent from heat map analysis is that readers respond favorably to lengthy copy as long as it contains important information explaining why the product/service in question is so beneficial. It is also clear that placing navigation bars at the end of emails can generate additional clicks from readers who didn’t find anything of interest on the main page.

We can also see that heat map analysis proves the importance of a headline’s first word so don’t include bland or irrelevant words at the beginning of your main title. Now that heat map analysis is available, it is a valuable string you can add to your bow and it is a necessary addition for the sake of your email marketing campaign.

Should You Choose A Fixed Rate Plan Or Per Transmission For Your Email Marketing Campaign?

Posted on Sep 30, 2013 by Michael Herman | Posted in Email Deliverability, Email Marketing

In your current email marketing plan, do you pay your email service provider (ESP) per month or per transmission? It is pretty common for email marketers to look for the lowest price point and immediately consider that to be the best value when this may not be the case at all. It is fair to suggest that the industry has failed to quantity what ‘good value’ actually is. In most cases, email providers are lumped together and the point of comparison is their per transmission rate only.

The Importance of Price

Email marketing is an industry worth billions of dollars per annum. The landscape of the industry has also changed dramatically over the years, especially with the challenge of deliverability and trying to get past spam filters. An EmailStat Center survey showed that only 40% of marketers were getting over 90% of their emails delivered for example.

With so many companies in the email marketing business, competition is fierce and prices have fallen accordingly. Certain experts suggest that the difference in service, features and quality of infrastructure is not much different so price ends up being the decisive factor in most cases.

Price Differential

Clearly, the aforementioned experts have not viewed too many email service providers because there can be huge differences in the standard of service and features. Most pertinently perhaps, there is a massive gap in prices depending on the provider. ESPs that focus on businesses looking for less than 100,000 emails per month will occasionally lack some of the features offered by companies like Response Wise that allows large organizations to send an almost limitless amount of emails. Therefore, ESPs offering cutting edge features may charge a little extra (though not always).

Which Option is Right for Your Company?

If you run a relatively small business, it may behoove you to stick with a per transmission plan, especially if you are not entirely sure how many emails you intend to send each month. If you plan to expand your email marketing campaign or are already sending a large amount of emails, common sense suggests you stick to a fixed plan as long as you know your ballpark monthly figure.

For example, you get plenty of leeway at Response Wise where plans are available up to and beyond 100,000 emails per month. A business with a larger database sending volumes of email each month at a per transmission rate, can get astronomically expensive. A flat rate can help control and predict costs.

The bottom line is that fixed price is best for growing businesses with an increasingly large email list. Smaller companies unsure of their monthly strategy may choose per transmission for the sake of flexibility. Flat rates for small business are also good, particularly for consistent senders, as the costs are fixed and no surprises each month.

5 Video Landing Page Tips To Boost Your Email Marketing Campaign

Posted on Sep 23, 2013 by Michael Herman | Posted in Email Deliverability, Email Marketing, Social Media

You simply cannot ignore the popularity of video online. By the end of 2012, it was estimated that over 180 million Americans watch online video and engage in over 40 billion video views PER MONTH!!! Proponents of video marketing suggest that its biggest plus point is that it adds a human side to a business. Therefore, you need to consider leveraging its power when conducting an email marketing campaign. Below, we offer 5 important tips to help you get the most out of this awesome marketing tool.

1 – Embrace Brevity

We live in the ‘fast food’ generation where attention spans are limited. Research has already shown that marketing videos that last longer than 60 seconds lose effectiveness. Offer a clear and concise message to your viewers and do it before they switch off! It is also a good idea to mention video length in the landing page copy. Explain that your video is just 53 seconds long and more people will watch it.

2 – Be Clear

Using video during email marketing campaigns is a great way to engage prospects but its effectiveness is measured by the clarity of the message being conveyed. Always include the main message or special offer for your products/services at the very start to engage the audience. This is proven to increase conversion rates.

3 – A/B Testing

You should use your video as an important element of your landing page’s A/B testing. By adding the location and other elements on the video player thumb image and landing page, you give yourself several options when it comes to discovering the perfect layout to improve your conversion rate.

4 – Analytics

Do whatever it takes to gain the analytics from video viewership as this could prove to be of huge strategic value to you. Pay special attention to time viewed, video views and traffic sources to help you determine if your video is actually effective. If it isn’t, at least you know that changes are necessary and can act immediately.

5 – Specificity

Doesn’t waste this golden marketing opportunity by creating a generic company video. Instead, focus on crafting a video specifically for your marketing program. The graphics and voiceover script should match the core messaging and call to action. Without this form of targeted marketing, your video is just another dull corporate mouthpiece.

Now is the time to add video to your email marketing plans. Every study and all forms of research suggest that video marketing will only rise in popularity so get on board before your rivals leave you trailing in their wake.

Benefit From An Intelligent Email Campaign

Posted on Sep 18, 2013 by Michael Herman | Posted in Email Marketing

Virtually every email marketer worth his salt knows that the face of the industry has changed so that successful campaigns launched today are unrecognizable when compared to email marketing attempts of a few years ago. Yet online businesses are still guilty of failing to take advantage of trigged emails with an estimated 75% of email marketers falling into the generic message trap. Below, we look at a strategy that involves email marketing and your website. Follow it and you could wind up with emails so targeted and personalized that you won’t believe your conversion rate.

Collect Information

This involves collecting raw data and can be quickly and easily achieved via the traditional route of including an opt-in form on your website where leads can sign up by giving you their email address. Offering an incentive at this point should prove fruitful. Most businesses offer a discount, an e-book, white paper or PDF document containing information that should prove useful to the consumer.

Store & Access Information

A centralized database enables you to run all your systems from the same source thus ensuring you receive up to date information. It is also necessary to make the information accessible to your staff in a useful format to make it easily available.

Analyzing Customer Behavior

A mistake made by email marketers is to immediately send autoresponder emails to those who have subscribed. As you don’t have a huge amount of specific data, these messages tend to end up looking generic and provide little value to the recipient. Choose a high quality Customer Relationship Management (CRM) package to help you by providing sophisticated ways of identifying customer trends and behavioral patterns. The information you have gathered will include:

  • Demographics: Age, gender, income, address.
  • Behavior: What they buy, where they purchase it from and how they pay.
  • Psychographic: Opinions, beliefs and interests.
  • Firmographic: Business and sector demographics.

Effective Marketing

For many companies, triggered email campaigns can provide more than 20% of their email marketing revenue despite taking up less than 5% of their budget. With a greater understanding of the needs, self-perception and desires of your customer base, you can target and reward your most valuable customers. Triggered emails can consist of:

  • Post-Purchase Series: Thank the customer for their purchase and invite them to fill in a survey about their experience shopping online with your company.
  • Abandoned Shopping Cart: A simple reminder that their order is ready to be completed.
  • Welcome Series: The most important campaign that sets the tone for your relationship with the customer. In this email, you deliver on the incentive/promise, explain the benefits of your products, progressively profile the customer and introduce the subscriber to new ways to communicate with your brand.

Instead of setting up an email campaign and hoping for the best, link it with your website to learn more about your customers. Use this information to send triggered emails and benefit from a much higher conversion rate. It is a lot of work but well worth the effort.

 

 

Develop A Drip Marketing Campaign With Emails

Posted on Aug 6, 2013 by Michael Herman | Posted in Email Marketing, Social Media

While email marketing may not be as ‘sexy’ as social network marketing, it is a tried and trusted affordable method that gets results and regularly leads to an incredible ROI for users. Drip marketing is named after the Automatic Drip Coffee Maker because it keeps on dripping regularly no matter what you do. In terms of email marketing, it involves sending emails spaced several days apart. It is automated, inexpensive and can produce remarkable results. Below, we look at 3 drip email marketing campaigns you could implement in your business for maximum impact.

Topics

This essentially means creating a campaign based on topics involving your business. You would be amazed at how often a company adds irrelevant information to their marketing drives. For example, if you run a fitness company, your emails should cover topics like weight lifting, Crossfit and nutrition. Begin by creating content assets such as ‘how-to’ guides, videos and webinars that can be offered to those willing to give you their email address. Once a user downloads the material, you can start drip, drip, dripping!

Engaged Contacts

This is an overlooked email campaign despite the fact that it is incredibly important and can produce amazing results. A high percentage of the people on your list will read and enjoy your material but will not necessarily become paying customers. Is this a waste of time? Not at all!

How about creating a drip email marketing campaign where users receive great content that they feel obliged to share with others? Think about offering exclusive special offers to tempt them into travelling a little further down your sales funnel than usual. Even if they don’t bite, they will probably end up sharing the content with friends that share the same interests and this could result in a new set of customers.

Renew Activity

Every business has inactive contacts and in most cases, companies write these individuals off which could be a major mistake. Let’s face it, life can get in the way and your customers may simply ‘forget’ how brilliant your company is. Begin by deciding on the criteria that defines ‘inactive’; for instance, you may focus on people that haven’t opened one of your emails in 3 months. Separate these people from the rest and concentrate on including special offers that are limited to inactive contacts. It is an inexpensive exercise that pays for itself if only a small fraction of the recipients become active again.

In order to get the best out of drip email marketing, you need to continue sending targeted emails that offer genuine value rather than bland blanket emails that fail to inspire the modern consumer.

 

Using Email Marketing To Close The Deal

Posted on Jul 17, 2013 by Michael Herman | Posted in Email Deliverability, Email Marketing, Social Media

When it comes to transforming an interested party into a customer, few tools are better suited to the job than email marketing. Although salespeople have incredible tools such as LinkedIn, social media networks and mobile apps at hand to seal the deal, email still reigns supreme as the most effective method of building and maintaining a dialog with customers. You can use email to send a brief personal message that can be tracked and measured.

It seems incredible but according to statistics, less than 50% of sales leads are contacted by the business! Why a company would go to the trouble of running a Google Ad and capturing a lead if they don’t bother following up is peculiar to say the least. Perhaps these businesses don’t want to make money, maybe they are lazy or else they don’t know how to use email marketing to their advantage?

Why You Need An Email List

The vast majority of people who visit your website browse but are not willing to part with their cash just yet. Even when a prospect gives you their email address, you are only a little closer to getting paid. Do you expect them to wait by their computer for further communication from your end? When you create an email list, you can automate your follow up emails thus saving time and frustration while continuing to have a flow of qualified leads. When you decide to go down the email marketing road, you need the following:

  • A website
  • Bait – This is a special offer or information that captures the reader’s attention
  • An opt-in form
  • Follow-up system

Your 24/7 Response Tool

The best thing about email marketing is that it serves as your tireless assistant that never gets bored, look for better working conditions or asks to take a break. Once you have crafted your marketing emails and used your autoresponder system, qualified leads will immediately be contacted. Best of all, you can simply press a few buttons in order to send timed emails. Through this process, you could send several emails to the same person over the course of a month. Each email can provide more information and customer benefits until eventually, the recipient caves in and becomes a paying client.

In the modern era, emails needs to be targeted and personalized so don’t waste your time sending generic emails. Once you capture a lead, you can begin the process of gradually transforming them into a loyal customer using email marketing and patience. It is a system that guarantees you never lose a lead again because you forgot to follow-up.

 

Combining LinkedIn, Email Marketing & Salesforce

Posted on Jun 25, 2013 by Michael Herman | Posted in Email Deliverability, Email Marketing, Social Media

 

 

 

 

Thanks to the myriad of technology at our fingertips, even small businesses can compete with the big boys if they utilize all the tools at their disposal. In the modern era, companies that embrace all the marketing, advertising and sales tools and techniques on offer will thrive while those that don’t will struggle to survive. As such, you need to combine your sales and marketing strategy by using LinkedIn, email marketing and Salesforce. Do this correctly and there is no telling how successful your company will become.

LinkedIn For Contacts

LinkedIn Groups is one of the best ways to use your social media engagement time and while it is possible to join up to 50 groups, it is best to focus time and energy on a narrow approach to increase your influence on this professional social network. Pick groups that have several hundred members and focus on a maximum of 5 groups that give the most accurate representation of your target audience. Visit each group 2-3 times a week and discuss industry news with group members. Target the most popular discussions, start your own discussion, follow up on these conversations and start your own group while inviting members of your other groups.

Email Marketing To Follow Up

Once you have made contacts in LinkedIn, your company’s name will become known and you will be in a position to gather more email addresses from interested parties. You can encourage LinkedIn group members to sign up for your company’s newsletter to find out more information about your company’s products/services. Once they agree, you have a readymade group of prospective customers that are genuinely interested in your company, know all about you and have some element of trust in you.

Salesforce For Growth

Salesforce is an application hosted on the web that keeps a database of the names, email addresses, phone numbers and other contact details of customers. The single license user option costs around $70 a year and is the ideal way to manage existing customers and grow your business. It offers a huge array of options such as mass emails, product tracking, analytics snapshots, contract management and much more. Those who already use Salesforce say that it has improved their sales productivity, enhanced customer connection and increased revenue.

If you are not already combining the power of LinkedIn groups, Salesforce and email marketing, you are lagging far behind rival companies that have their finger on the pulse. Using all of the above is relatively cheap and is just a matter of spending time and making the effort. The ROI can be incredible but only if you combine the three and put in the effort.

 

Is Email Marketing Best For Prospecting Or Following Up Leads?

Posted on Jun 5, 2013 by Michael Herman | Posted in Email Deliverability, Email Marketing

Email marketing seems like the ideal way to look for new business. It is easy, cheap, fast and if your campaign is successful, you could have hundreds of new leads because it is possible to send thousands of emails per month. Email is also deemed to be a fantastic method of following up on existing leads such as subscribers to your newsletter or existing customers. Again, it is an inexpensive and fast reminder to leads that your product/services can cater to their needs. But is email better as a means of prospecting or should it be confined to contacting leads only?

Email For Prospecting

On the face of it, there appears to be no better method of attracting new business than through email marketing. Most companies hate cold calling but sending emails to random people is much easier as there is a level of informality attached. While it hurts to have someone hang up the phone on you, not receiving a response from an email doesn’t matter as there are loads more to send. Additionally, you can send an almost limitless amount of emails a month while spending a fraction of your marketing budget.

Yet statistics show that it takes 9 emails to get a response on average. That equals a total of 27 days on average and new companies especially can’t wait that long for a potential lead. An even bigger issue is that of sending unsolicited emails. Modern email programs can be ruthless when it comes to deciding on spam. If someone decides to complain about your company on social media networks, your reputation could be in tatters.

Email For Following Up

Things are much different when it comes to following up on a lead. In this instance, you are dealing with someone that has already shown an interest in your company and they are less likely to see your emails as spam. Research shows that companies get the best conversion rate when they send 5 emails to leads in the space of 21 days. Oddly enough, studies show that up to 40% of prospects with a valid email address do not receive a single email from businesses! You can also take the opportunity to even contact the lead by phone if you have a phone number. The sooner you contact leads the better which is why you need to have autoresponder emails for rapid replies.

It is clear that email marketing is by far and away one of the best strategies when it comes to getting in touch with leads. However, most people don’t appreciate receiving unwanted emails and the conversion rate from such an endeavor is low so it’s best not to bother sending random emails.

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