3 Online Follow Up Tools Your Small Business Needs

If you could talk to successful salespeople from all ages throughout history, I guarantee you they would all rank “follow-up” as one of the most important strategies in their sales arsenal. There are certainly other factors that are important, like clearly outlining benefits, cultivating desire, and so on. But for all of the skill and knowledge that can be gained when it comes to selling, there is a certain aspect of the process that is a numbers game. The more opportunities you give prospects to respond, the more likely you are to get a response.

Let me give you this example. When new prospects call into PostcardMania, about 6% of them buy on that first phone call. Of course, we are always trying to figure out ways to improve this number, but I'm pretty happy with it. Now, for those who do not purchase right away, we have a follow-up system in place to keep the subject of marketing, and specifically PostcardMania, on the mind of the prospect. After a month of follow-up, the number of closed leads jumps from 6% to 16%. That means almost twice as many leads close during the follow-up system than on the initial contact. So this is really important stuff we're dealing with in follow-up.

But today's follow-up takes a much different form than the follow-up of the past. It used to be a thank you letter or maybe a phone call, but today there are so many more options. Here are three forms of follow-up you can't live without these days…

1. Email Newsletter
I'm sure most of you are familiar with email newsletters. Of three strategies I am highlighting, this is definitely the most common. Basically, an email newsletter is an email you send out on a regular basis (weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc) to keep your customers and prospects up-to-date with the happenings of your business and also provides helpful, informative content.

Every business should have an email newsletter. They keep your business in front of prospects and give you a forum through which you can build credibility and trust. There are a number of good email marketing companies that can help you get a professional newsletter up and running, but this doesn't have to be expensive, so make sure you look around and find a company you are comfortable with.

2. Autoresponder Email Funnels
Email funnels are not the newest strategy I'm covering (that honor goes to Remarketing), but they are probably the least understood because they are the most intricate. An email funnel is a series of emails that are pre-written and set to go out to a prospect on a particular schedule, once that prospect's email address is entered into the database.

To help you get the idea of a “funnel” for marketing purposes, imagine creating a campaign that drives 1000 prospects to your website. Your site is a now a funnel. The page they land on is the big opening at the top of the funnel and the form (that only a small percent of those 1000 will fill out) is the skinny tube at the bottom of the funnel. For the prospects who do go through the funnel, you have their contact info and you can now send them a particular communication – via email or direct mail, etc. Now THAT new communication is the top or mouth of the funnel with, say, 100 new communications going out. Whatever new call to action you provide in that follow up communication is the new skinny bottom of the funnel.

For example, someone calls into your business for the first time and you get their email address. You would then add that email address and other contact information into the email marketing database, and based on where that person is in the sales cycle (i.e. called in, but didn't buy), they would automatically begin to receive the “called in, but didn't buy” email funnel. This funnel could be anything from 1 to 50 emails, and they all drive the prospect to take the same action, which will move them to the next funnel. The idea is that they are receiving emails that are custom-tailored to the part of the sales cycle they are in at the moment. This gives you the best chance to close them.

Image of a Sales Funnel

Since email marketing funnels are an advanced marketing strategy, I do not recommend that you try to go this one alone, unless you are a large company with a large marketing staff. To give you some perspective, I have a full-time employee who does nothing other than manage my email marketing campaigns. Once again, find an email marketing company you can trust and go with them. Email funnels are more labor intensive, but they are worth the payoff in terms of return on investment.

3. Google Remarketing
Recently, Google launched a new service that works in tandem with pay per click. It's called Remarketing, and it is an incredibly valuable addition to their marketing services. Remarketing allows you to have specific follow-up ads appear on the internet to prospects that visited your site but didn't take the action you wanted them to take.

For example, when you set up your Remarketing campaign, you can tell Google what you want people to do on your site (fill out a form, buy something, etc). Then, Google will give you a code to put on your site that will track whether or not new visitors take that action. If they do not, Google will have your ad appear to that prospect wherever else they go on the Google Display Network (which includes thousands of big name sites like CNN.com and Dictionary.com) after they leave your site.

The best part about this service is that, just like pay per click, you only pay when the prospect clicks on your ad. So, theoretically, and often times in practice, your ad can get thousands of FREE views. That's a whole lot of exposure to an audience that has demonstrated interest in your business for not a whole lot of money. And since you set the maximum amount you are willing to spend, there is literally no risk. The other really cool thing about Google Remarketing is the perception it creates about your company. When folks start to see you on these major website it gives the illusion that you are HUGE and this builds amazing credibility for you!

Remember: MOST sales come through persistent, strategic follow-up. Notice that I didn't say annoying follow-up. You don't need to be annoying. However, it is super important to your success that you are willing to stay in front of prospects. If I didn't, I'd miss out on almost 2/3 of my sales per month! So don't let this overwhelm you; use it to motivate yourself to seal up the leaks in your follow-up and improve your overall revenue stream!

Joy Gendusa

Joy Gendusa founded PostcardMania in 1998 with a phone, computer and no capital investment. Since then, she has grown the company into one of the nation's most effective direct mail marketing firms, specializing in postcard marketing for small to large-sized businesses. Over the years, she expanded to offer mailing list acquisition, website development, email marketing–all while continuing to educate clients with free marketing advice.

She has been named Tampa Bay CEO of the Year, Business Woman of the Year in Tampa Bay and has been featured on MSNBC's "Your Business." PostcardMania is an Inc. 500 and 5000 company and has won awards for creativity, best business practices and leadership. Find Joy on Google+

If you would like to interview Joy or book her as a speaker, please email joyspeak@postcardmania.com or call 1-800-628-1804 ext. 281.

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