Thinking Beyond the Follow-up Email

Posted by Nick Grant on May 12, 2020 2:02:43 PM
Nick Grant
Find me on:

Take a look at your inbox. How many people and companies have been trying to reach you? There are probably quite a few and chances are most of it seems like spam.
 

This is because it feels like someone is trying to get ahold of you...and realistically, it shouldn't.

 

What if you were guided to a piece of insightful content instead?

 

Communicating educational value will get you much further than repeatedly asking for a meeting with someone. 

 

As we are living through a once-in-a-lifetime crisis, no one will easily forget 2020. The certainty of society and business changing in the aftermath is 100%. Misinformation is omnipresent and consumers are more lenient than ever to engage with companies trying to reach them.

 

Zendesk reported in a survey from 2013 that 87% of customers say brands need to work harder to create a more seamless experience. That was seven years ago and there still haven't been a paradigm shift for how companies reach people. If anything, this number has probably moved closer to 100% since then.

 

Establishing trust should now be the first and foremost priority for sales and marketing teams. Asking for a call or meeting promotes your interest and offers nothing in return for the recipient.

 

Many organizations need to redefine how they communicate value to prospects. Just because someone interacted with your company doesn't mean they're ready to buy. This is where supplying educational content can tremendously boost conversions from nurtured leads.

 

Follow-up With Educational Content

educational content

Fully-remote workforces could very well become more prevalent, meaning B2B companies will need to revise their approach for reaching potential customers. Check out our eBook on How to Connect With Customers in the Remote Era for more insights on this.

 

What worked for companies in the past to connect with customers will have to be reformed in this age of digital hyper-connectivity.

 

Historically, marketing owned the majority of outbound activity while sales monitored inbound leads. Advertisements from marketing were aimed at directing leads to the sales team.

 

However, in recent years, many companies have shifted to a structure where sales owns the top of the funnel while marketing focuses on an educational inbound content strategy.

 

Having a diversified content strategy in multiple channels is what will set companies apart from competition.

 

The Dwindling Success of Outbound Digital Strategies

 

The success of outbound emails and paid advertisements are at all-time lows. While they'll always have a place within most organizations, 72% of B2B buyers expect companies to personalize communication in a way that suits their needs. B2B companies who are successful this year will have education at the core of their strategy.

 

So what are the steps to educating potential customers? It all starts with directing outbound leads to some amazing content. Don't focus on the sale but rather the situation they are in. Use this when deciding what content to develop and eventually send.

 

The middle of the funnel needs to be as informative and helpful as possible. Nurture campaigns should communicate how your target audience can achieve their goals. Too many companies try pushing the value they offer right off the bat, which will get some to convert, but come off as brash to others.

 

Developing best-in-class content is no easy feat. This is where an omnichannel approach can flourish and help you educate through multiple channels. Hubspot found that as of 2020, video is the number one form of media leading content strategies with eBooks and blogs close behind.

 

Following-up in Multiple Channels

 

Prospects and customers alike have grown weary of the classic follow-up email that is clearly trying to drive a purchase.

 

There's all sorts of data that points to the effectiveness of a multichannel approach in sales and marketing. Yet when it comes to following-up, companies still seem to rely on targeting inboxes.

 

Woodpecker found in a study that a campaign with even one follow-up converts 22% more prospects. Modifying your follow-up strategy to leverage videos, emails, phone calls, and direct mail will provide more engagement and incentives recipients to take action.

 

Following-up With Video

 

video

 

Using video to follow-up with with customers isn't used by many but is a great way to engage with contacts. New technology makes it extremely feasible to use video across multiple channels for educational content.

 

After all, visual content is 40 times more likely to be shared on social media. When it comes to answering customer questions, using a company like Vidyard enables reps to record personalized response videos to send via email.

4 in 5 customers say a video showing how a product or service works in important. If the sales team in your organization takes the time to send personalized videos to answer questions, customers will have a much better experience.

 

Record videos where the content is targeted at specific industries or verticals using a script that resonates with your customers. You can take each script and add the name and company of your customer into the video.

 

Typically this is done with images in the video like a whiteboard and text can be auto generated to avoid recording hundreds of unique videos for each industry or vertical you target.

 

Following-up With Email

 

email follow up

 

While videos are certainly an engaging extra touch for customers, for cold outbound communication, every company uses email to start conversations or continue existing ones.

 

Dialing-in an effective follow-up sequence is a customer acquisition game-changer. In a study conducted by IKO, follow-up emails often a better response rate than initial email. The response rate to the first email was 18%, 13% to the fourth, and an astonishing 27% to the sixth. 

 

The instances for following-up with email are almost endless. Trying to cover all of them would be impossible as many situation are specific to the sales cadence of each organization. Whether it's a cold outbound follow-up, a follow-up to a warm lead, or some promotional follow-up, just keep the messaging simple and relevant.

 

Timing also plays a huge role in how effective follow-up sequences are. Mentioning the reason for engagement of the initial email will help explain your sense of urgency for contacting them. As 55% of emails are opened on mobile devices, also make sure they are mobile friendly.

 

Leveraging content marketing in these emails will show you are coming from an educational standpoint and trying to help. Content indirectly communicates the value you aim to provide. And as always, keep subject lines short and to the point. 

 

Following-up Over the Phone

 

phone call follow-up

 

92% of all customer interactions happen over the phone yet 97% of all business calls go straight to voicemail. Reaching someone over the phone for a follow-up can take time, but after connecting, you have the advantage of communicating much more.

 

There is a huge negative connotation associated with sales people who cold call. When it comes to following-up, we recommend confirming a time and date with a prospect via email.

 

Realistically, if you have to follow-up with someone in the first place, they need their interest peaked. Try to engage with them with other content online before calling.

 

If someone agrees to take a phone call but they don't pick up, always leave a genuine voicemail. According to RingLead's CEO, Donato Diorio, the chance of a call back goes up 10% with each time you leave a voice message.

 

Additionally, always call work phone numbers unless you have spoken with the prospect beforehand. After connecting a time or two, then you can start reaching out over cell as it's much easier to return calls.

 

Lastly, ensure you are prepared and have your message ready to deliver with minimal fluff.

 

Following-up With Direct Mail

 

direct mail follow up

 

Calling someone or emailing them to follow-up is certainly easier than creating a video or sending a piece of mail. The same concept as the video follow-up applies here - creating a meaningful experience to explain or educate.

 

Sending a 'Thank You' note after a demo or scheduled meeting will show your appreciation for their time. Receiving a personalized letter is something that will only enhance the customer onboarding experience.

When dealing with high-value targets, sending direct mail is a realistic approach to follow-up with contacts who ghost you. However, for lower-value targets, an email would probably be the best bet.

 

40% of US consumers purchased something more expensive than they originally planned because their experience was personalized. Follow-ups don't always have to be a digital interaction. For less than a dollar per contact you can get the same message across in a far more engaging channel.

 

Educate Through Multiple Channels

 

Every business has room to improve. Following-up is an area commonly overlooked because of how easy it is accomplish through email and phone calls.

 

Trying to get in touch with someone shouldn't be the goal of a follow-up. Instead, educate with valuable content to guide the recipient towards the issue they are having.

 

Automated follow-up sequences that rely on email to convert leads probably won't change for a while. Yet technology now exists for organizations to utilize video and direct mail as part of their follow-up process.

 

There is no better time than now to rethink how your business can deliver a more engaging experience for leads, prospects, and customers.

 

Topics: Marketing Automation