How to Design an Effective Email Follow Up Campaign

Written by  May 3, 2008

Building a sustainable online business often involves solid customer retention strategies combined with new customer acquisition strategies. You build a sustainable base and add new customers on top of that to grow the bottom line.

Whether your business lends itself toward repeat orders (customers coming back to buy more from you) or seems to be more of a “one time” purchase, keeping yourself in front of past customers is an important step toward growing your business.

Here is one phrase I’ve heard from store owners time and time again. “My customers only buy one time from me so there is no reason I need to follow up with them.”

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

If your business lends itself toward repeat orders from past customers, the answer is pretty easy to see. If you’re not keeping in contact with your past customers, you are missing out on additional sales. It’s that simple.

If your business sells products that tend to be more of a “one time only” purchase the answer is not as clear but it is there. If you are not keeping in contact with your past customers, you are missing out on potential referrals (which can translate into sales) of others they may encounter which have a need for a similar product.

Having said that, there should be no excuse for not staying in contact with your past customer base as part of a strategy for growing your online business.

Choose a Qualified System

There are plenty of email systems out there that help you develop super campaigns. I prefer and recommend Constant Contact myself. Great system, easy to use, nice reporting capabilities, import / export features, and more.

Using its import / export features, I have integrated Constant Contact with a number of shopping cart systems and have used it very effectively to keep in contact with past customers and potential prospects.

Planning the Campaign

When planning your campaign, here are some things to consider:

  • Frequency. How often will you contact your list? I’ve seen weekly follow-ups work wonderful in some markets, daily contacts in others, and monthly, bi-monthly etc.. in others. You’ll have to determine what works for your market. Oftentimes this can be determined by the type of follow-up you are planning.
  • Which day(s) of the week will you be sending your email out? Some days are better than others, and you’ll have to determine which day or days are best for your market.
  • Are you going to do a “blanket” campaign (follow up with all customers at the same time) or send out follow-ups based on customer segmentation factors?

Planning the campaign alone will not ensure its effectiveness. It doesn’t matter who well planned a campaign is if the email layout does not persuade action.

Here is the order of focus you need to think about when developing the email.

  1. Gain interest and get them to open the email.
  2. Confirm Interest and present offer.
  3. Get the action (persuade them to click).

The above elements all must begin with the email subject line of the email.

Crafting an email can be compared to writing an ad for a paid search advertising campaign. You’ve first got to gain interest through an effective headline (the subject line of the email). You must then confirm that interest through a brief description (in the case of an email, this comes with the initial headline of the email that can be found after the email has been opened.) Then, finally, you must get the click.

The key is first to get them to open the email. Then you must quickly convince them that what they thought they would find upon opening (based on the subject line) is exactly what they will get if they “click a link” in the email. Relevancy is key. Very much like one would expect in search engine marketing.

Proper calls to action in the email are of top importance.

Closing Thoughts

If you run a “standard special” then don’t forget to always remind them of that and mention it in each email. It pays to keep that “forever special” in front of your customers.

Don’t forget to ask for the “referral”. You can often time pick up additional customers by simply asking your current customers to forward the email to a friend that may also be interested in your products.

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2 Responses to “How to Design an Effective Email Follow Up Campaign”

  1. Money Making Surveys on February 17th, 2009 11:51 am

    I wonder if you could share some insight.

    Obviously you need to test your campaign. When it is an email sequence that is delivered over a period of time e.g. 2-3 weeks.

    How long should you wait before you make changes?

  2. Eric on February 18th, 2009 8:32 am

    As far as setting a “definite” testing period, I think that is tough. Why? Because testing periods should depends on the amount of sample data you receive during the test.

    You may know the answer after the first send or two if your list is big (providing a large enough sampling of data to warrant a winner.) On the other hand, if your list is smaller it may take quite a while to find out a true winner.

    You can end a test at any time but keep in mind that if you end it too early the margin of error will be larger and thus the quality of the decision to name a “winner” is at risk. Ideally you want to run a test until you gather enough data to decrease the margin of error. What that time frame is can be different (and often is) depending on the business and list.

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