If you find yourself complaining that your emails never do their job in converting recipients into customers, ask yourself whether you’re really doing everything in your power to close the sale. Do you follow up on email for example? If not, you need to start immediately.
There’s one key component to trying to close a sale via email that 48% of salespeople never bother with: the follow-up. If you fall into this demographic, you’re making your work harder than it is. Often times takes more than one initial email to close the deal. Need more reasons why you must follow up on email? Read on.
1. People Get Busy
You may think your email is the most important thing in the world, but let’s face it: your leads probably don’t. They might open your email and leave it in their inbox to deal with later or never open it because their inbox is flooded with hundreds of more pressing emails.
So, you absolutely must follow up! It’ll simply remind the recipient of your previous email. If you’ve gotten pushed to the bottom of the list, this second email will put you top of mind and increase the likelihood of getting a response…or a sale.
2. Your Email Might Have Gone to Spam
Sadly, a large chunk of emails sent from legitimate businesses ends up in the Spam folder. This may be no fault of your own: each email client has different levels of sensitivity to what triggers a spam filter. It might be a word you used in your subject line or the fact that your email is coming from a generic email address like Gmail rather than a business email address.
The best thing to do if you worry people aren’t seeing your emails because they’re being rerouted to Spam is to send a followup email. If you refer to the first email (“I wanted to make sure you received my first email”) and the recipient didn’t get it, she’ll let you know and you can start the dialogue again.
Also if she replies to say she didn’t get the first email, take note and keep records of how many emails are getting sent to Spam. You might try a different email marketing platform that is recognized by more email clients or don’t CC multiple people with the same email.
3. People are More Likely to Respond to a Second Email
Sometimes all it takes to get people to take the action you want (sign up for a demo, make a purchase) is to light a fire under them. A second (and sometimes third and fourth) email can do that. Studies show that email campaigns with 4-7 emails per sequence got three times the responses of campaigns that had only 1-3 emails. This applies to both personalized emails you send individually as well as automated emails you send your subscriber list.
4. A Customer Might Be Unhappy
Let’s say you’ve already closed the deal. You’re happy, and you assume the customer is, too. But unless you follow up after the sale, you won’t really know what her experience with your brand was. If she had a bad experience, she might leave a nasty review on Yelp or complain about your brand on social media. You may not find out until it’s too late.
On the other hand, if you make a point to follow up after a sale, you can get valuable insight into your customers’ sentiment. If there is an issue (which she wouldn’t have reached out to you on her own to complain about), you can rectify it before it becomes a PR nightmare.
Also, following up after a sale shows your customer that you value her and that you want to extend the relationship beyond that initial purchase. As an added perk, that creates strong brand loyalty.
5. Following Up with a Lead Quickly Can Close the Sale
Sometimes you need to follow up from one channel on another. In the case where a lead downloaded a free whitepaper on your site, watched a demo video, or requested information on your product, you can follow up via email to close the sale.
Here’s something interesting: nearly half of all sales are made by the person who reaches out to a lead first. And if you respond within five minutes (the new norm for successful sales practices), you can guarantee that that “first responder” will be you.
6. Your Email Might Have Gotten Deleted
Don’t take it personally: the average person deletes about 48% of the emails they receive. Some of these emails are bound to be ones that are useful to the recipient, but that just got bundled away with the rest of the deleted emails.
If you follow up, this removes the barrier of hoping for a sale from someone who trashed your email. It’s their second chance to make the right decision, and your second chance to show value in your email.
7. Your First Email Might Have Been Sent at the Wrong Time
How much time do you spend thinking about when to send your emails? Likely you just send them when you write them. But sending them at the wrong time might mean fewer people open them.
Consider how you feel about the huge pile of emails waiting for you on Monday morning. Aren’t you more likely to not read and just delete any that don’t seem to have immediate value?
While it may vary depending on what industry you’re in, most businesses find success emailing prospects between 8-10 am or 3-4 pm. Test out your email timing and look at open rates to find the sweet spot for you.
8. You Want to Show That You Were Listening
Let’s say you have a conversation with a lead who made a few suggestions for your product or had requests for more information. If she’s wary of you as a salesperson, she might assume that your promises to look into it are just empty. So surprise and delight her by following up with answers to her questions, more information, or even to let her know that you took her suggestions to heart and made changes for the better with your product.
All people want is to feel understood and acknowledged. Smart sales practices involve treating people as individuals and valuing their time. If you come off as a robot in your emails, you won’t warm their hearts. But if you show that you take their feedback and requests seriously, you’ll win them over.
9. You Don’t Want Your Recipient to Think Your Email Was Impersonal
We’re all guilty of using email templates from time to time, and while they can be useful when you have a lot of people to reach, they can get in the way of closing a big deal if they feel too impersonal.
That’s why it’s important to follow up in this situation. Even if your first email was a template that you customized for the recipient, your second email should be a personal note from you. Go beyond just using the lead’s name, though. Make a reference to something specific and personal to show that you’re really paying attention (“When we spoke on the phone, you mentioned your son’s tennis match. How did it go?”)
10. You Might Just Get a Referral
Another perk from sending a followup email is to encourage happy customers to refer new business to you. In fact, 83% of happy customers are willing to give them and 29% give them without being asked. How many more could you get with a gentle nudge or even setting up a customer referral program where customers get discounts and free products for referring others to you?
11. You Might Need a Better Subject Line
If you didn’t get a response from your first email, it might be because the subject line didn’t do its job. It’s probably the most important component of your emails: more than 30% of email recipients decide whether or not to open an email based only on the subject line.
Your email subject line can also put your email in the Spam folder if you use all caps or words like “free” or “buy.”
Your subject line should be short and should immediately explain the benefits of opening your email. Here are some examples:
Need a coffee break? I’d love to treat you to a latte.
I need your expertise for a research project
Are you still looking for a business software solution?
12. You Might Have Sent the First Email to the Wrong Person
It happens a lot: you find a point of contact online (or else you pull from a database that’s who knows how old) and you send an email only for it to go into a black hole. Most companies will set up an autoresponder letting you know that this person is no longer at the company and referring you to the right person. But that doesn’t always happen.
If you aren’t sure that your contact is up to date, go to LinkedIn and look that person up to see if he still holds the same role at the same company. If not, search his title and company to see who has it now. You can also call the company operator to ask. Just don’t send your email to the generic company address.
The key to successful email follow-up is…actually sending a follow-up! You can’t complain that you aren’t driving sales through email if you aren’t adopting best practices to ensure that your emails are getting read, staying out of Spam, and engaging your leads. Pay close attention to what the successful followup emails you send look like in terms of subject line and content so you can use similar strategies in future emails.
Susan Guillory is the President of Egg Marketing, a content marketing firm based in San Diego. She’s written several business books, and frequently blogs about small business and marketing on sites including Forbes, AllBusiness, and Cision. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.