Most companies are sitting on a gold mine and don’t even know it. Every day you and your employees come into contact with prospects – they call, they email, and they visit your store or website yet you could be letting them slip through your fingers.
Are you collecting the contact information so you can setup an automated system that will follow-up with your leads using a systematic approach? One that will move them along the sales buying process through an educational campaign? Most businesses are not.
Yet when it comes to strategies for growing sales, few can compete with a well thought out systematized inbound marketing strategy. A customer who is on your list, not only expects to hear from you on a regular basis, but wants to. There have been cases when customers have signed up for a list and then become concerned when they don’t hear from a company on a semi-regular basis. They feel the company probably lost their email address or just not interested in them. The customer is interested in your message otherwise they would not have signed up to be on your list.
Capturing Contact Information
The best way to capture contact information is through a free offer. You provide something of value to the prospect (a free report, DVD, CD, E Book, guide, checklist, coupon etc.) and they provide you with their contact information. It could be a short opt-in form collecting only their name and email address in exchange for something they can download or be emailed. The more information you collect the greater the offer will have to be. A CD or DVD is a great offer to collect a mailing address in addition to their email address.
Email addresses may also be collected at point-of-sale and many off-line businesses take the opportunity to provide clients point-of-sale discounts or email specials if they provide their email address. Here in Charlotte, NC, a major local grocery store, Harris Teeter, launched a campaign around collecting email addresses. In exchange for giving up your email address,you receive the “E Vic” specials. These are special discounts not advertised through their weekly promotions. The only way to receive these special discounts is to be enrolled in their “E Vic” program. The incentives and specials are significant enough that their customers want to be included in the “E Vic” program and will make a special trip to one of the stores to purchase the “E Vic” special special for that day.
Some companies will opt to run a contest such as at a trade show. Raffling off a gift in exchange for contact information is a good idea since people love to win gifts and prizes. Be careful with what you request for information as a request for certain information may be a turn-off. The more information you require the less likely the individual will be to give up his or her information. This is especially true of phone numbers. Many individuals are turned off by a promotion if they have to give out there phone number.
Think time share or window and siding guys looking for a phone number. Nobody wants to deal with a hard sell. On the other hand it is easy to collect an email address. Most people have more than one email address and know they can always opt out, block you or just automatically filter your messages to trash if you are providing little to no value to them.
Sending Your Emails
Your emails cannot look or feel like spam. Best results are obtained when using a well thought out email campaign that educates and adds value to the recipient. If your email is just buy, buy, buy…well your emails will at best be ignored or worse yet reported as spam. A well thought out email starts with understanding who your buyer is (see my article on Buyer Personas), what problems they are having and how your product or service is far superior (your Unique Selling Points) from all your competitors at addressing their needs.
If your product isn’t different, if it’s a commodity they can buy anywhere you will need to stress how your company is different. Do you have an outstanding return policy that blows your competitors away? Do you provide additional custom services (white glove setup, free in-home service call at 6 months, etc.) that your competitors don’t offer? Do you have strong roots in the community where you are giving back to local causes with the purchase of your product?
These are just a few ways to differentiate your company from others.
Grow Your Sales
The key for an effective inbound marketing strategy for growing your sales is to have a systematic process behind it. Just collecting contact names and emails will not necessarily cause them to convert to sales. Before you even put together your email messages, you have to make sure you have identified your Unique Selling Points: What separates you from all your competitors? Once you determine your USPs and and determined the Platforms (where you are going to collect the contact information) and Offers (what are you going to provide of value in exchange for the contact information) you can map out your email campaign. Each email messages should be crafted with buyer in mind focusing on how your product or service will add value to the life of your prospective customer. If you have good USPs used in your marketing campaign and a strong message showing how product or services benefits the buyer, then when the prospective customer is ready to make a purchase it will be from you.
After the customer buys, you move that customer from one marketing funnel (prospective buyer) to the next (customer funnel) and continue to do after market follow-up. The objective is not just a one time sale, but rather to stay connected with them, promote other goods and service you provide, gather their feedback and connect with them and finally convert them from a customer to a raving fan.
With the right systematized inbound marketing strategy and the right marketing message using your USPs, you can grow your database, automate the marketing process and convert those contacts into not only customers but raving fans to grow your sales.