Are you using the best automated follow up strategy?

Or are you letting business slip away?
You have a new contact. A new customer. A new lead. This is the moment when someone is most interested in what you have to say.
When people want to hear from you.
An effective follow-up sequence is a crucial tactic for your business. And when you can automate that sequence, it becomes even more effective.
Once you set it up it runs—and nurtures leads into customers without any extra work.
Whether you are in the process of creating your first follow-up sequence or you’ve been at this for years, your follow up sequence needs to be strategic. It should be the result of a specific plan designed to achieve a specific goal.
Unfortunately, follow up is often created on a whim or pieced together bit by bit over time to fill in gaps. That means most sequences aren’t created to achieve specific results—and in fact don’t achieve much of anything.

An introduction video to the topic of marketing automation

How can you make automations that tackle your specific business problems? This video, from the free course Getting Started with ActiveCampaign, shows you where to begin.

As importantly, a lot has changed since you created first created your sequences. There are powerful new marketing tools out there.  You know more about your customers. Your product line has changed, or you’ve learned more about effective online marketing.
Your follow up sequence needs to be updated. This post is about how to re-envision your follow up—and implement everything you haven’t gotten to but should.

Your follow up is begging to be updated

(but your website gets all the attention)

Your automated follow up is the neglected workhorse of your online marketing… which is a shame because it’s one of the most powerful tools at your disposal and pretty much all your leads and customers will experience it.
We obsess over the smallest detail of our website and might go months without even thinking about our automated follow up marketing.
Day in and day out, your automated follow up brings contacts back to your site, builds a relationship with them, creates and nurtures qualified leads, drives conversions, contributes to customer satisfaction, and saves you untold time.
Automation is one of the best ways to follow up with customers—so it’s certainly worth the effort it will take to make it better at doing all those things.

Creating your best follow-up sequence ever…

What follows is a 7 step process that will produce a unique follow-up strategy for your business, make sure you are automating and accomplishing as much as possible, and improve the overall experience for your contacts.
Any time you spend on this will pay dividends over and over as your automated follow up is experienced by each new contact. In fact, you aren’t spending time at all, you are investing it in one of the highest-leverage activities in your business.

1. Get a fresh start

To develop a new, improved strategy, forget your old follow up sequences. Mentally set them aside and start over from scratch with a fresh perspective.
We are shooting for a complete, “top to bottom” overhaul of your automated follow up. Modifying or adding to what exists would only lead to incremental improvements.
Instead, we will create something entirely fresh and inspired to achieve a major leap in performance.

 2. Pick your destination

We are going to develop two separate follow up sequences — one for our prospects and one for our customers — because our focus changes after their first purchase.
At that point we shift from helping a contact understand why they should do business with us, educating them, and building trust, to customer service, encouraging repeat purchases, and getting referrals.
As you create your new follow up strategy, you want to be guided by a clear picture of the ideal experience you want each contact to have before and after they make a purchase.
This “perfect” customer experience won’t happen on its own… we are going to make it happen by envisioning it, defining it, and then working toward it.
So imagine the ideal experience you want each contact to have, and create a short summary describing the experience you want them to have as a prospect and then the experience you want them to have as a customer.
Keep these descriptions short (2-3 sentences, tops). It’s okay to strive for a multi-faceted experience, but don’t go overboard. Focus on just a couple important things you want them to get out of your follow up marketing.
This isn’t making a plan, just picking a destination so you can be sure you end up where you want to be.
Think of this as the mission statement for your automated follow up marketing—it should be inspiring, but not specific.
Here’s an example of how yours might look:

As a prospect:

  • I want to “wow my new contact from the moment they confirm their subscription. I want to provide such great content they are excited to see emails from me. I want them to think of me as a friend, ally, and expert.

As a customer:

  • I want to provide such excellent service to my customers they feel obligated to share our website with their friends and family, won’t hesitate to purchase again, and wouldn’t consider using another company

When you are satisfied you’ve captured the essence of the experience you are striving for move on to the next step…

 3. Know what you’ll do along the way

If the summary statement you just created is your destination, now we are going to choose all the stuff you’ll get done en route.
Really spend some time considering… “Ideally, what would my automated follow up do for me?”
List of goals for automated follow up sequences
Would you like your automated follow-up to:

  • Increase referrals?
  • Increase repeat visits?
  • Create trust?
  • Strengthen your relationship with prospects?
  • Create testimonials and review?
  • Collect feedback and experiences?
  • Reduce refunds?
  • Educate on benefits?
  • Describe available product options?
  • Increase order frequency?
  • Establish you as an authority?
  • Encourage upgrading?
  • Increase order size?
  • Create more affiliates and resellers?
  • Increase your social media following?
  • Position you as “best of breed?”
  • Increase big ticket backend sales?
  • Reduce customer support requests?
  • Shorten the buying cycle?”
  • Turn customers into evangelists?
  • Increase engagement?
  • Education on industry?”
  • Develop a community?
  • Make repeat sales?
  • Identify and assign “hot leads?”

This is where you pick the results your follow up produces so take your time.
These goals shouldn’t be specific or measurable. In fact, it’s better if they aren’t. We are just creating a wish list. In the next step we’ll focus on how you’ll achieve these goals and we’ll make them specific and measurable then.
Don’t concern yourself with how you are going to accomplish any of this, at least, not yet. That will only stifle your creativity and needlessly lower your ambition. Instead focus on what you’d like to do without limiting yourself to what is feasible or realistic.
As ideas come to you, write them down in a big, unorganized list. The more ambitious the list, the better… stretch the limits of what is possible so you’ll create an automated follow up sequence that does everything it can for you and your contacts.
When your list is done let’s organize it a bit…
Separate your goals by whether they are pre-sale (prospect) or post-sale (customer). Then put them in chronological order as well as you can (you probably won’t be able to do this perfectly).
So, your list might look like this (but much longer):

Goals for prospect follow up:

  • Establish value proposition
  • Position us as the premier solution
  • Segment contacts by persona
  • Segment by product interest
  • Get contacts back to website
  • Assign top leads to salespeople

Goals for customer follow up:

  • Motivate them to upgrade their order
  • Give a free gift as a “thank you”
  • Send postcard in mail with a customer discount code
  • Collect reviews and testimonials
  • Measure customer satisfaction
  • Encourage word of mouth and referrals
  • Increase repeat orders and frequency

If you feel you are done with this step, check your goals against the experience you defined. Are enough of these goals centered on the customer and creating a good experience for them?
If you feel your goals reflect the needs of your business and the needs of your contacts you are ready to move on to the next step…

4. Get there “by…”

Now that you know what you want to d