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Timing Your Stay-In-Touch Messages

Aug 17, 2007
If we look at marketing as a three-pronged initiative, the main components are 1) Lead generation 2) Lead capture and 3) Stay in touch.

Staying in ongoing contact is often the most difficult component of the process. Part of the challenge is uncertainty. How often should I be in contact? What should be the content of the messages? How does the frequency of messaging change over time?

Here's an approach, which may be helpful to you in developing a strategy of your own.

It's often helpful to segment the stay in touch sequence into two large groups. 1) Messages that are sent in the first 90 days and 2) Messages that are sent beyond that point.

Before we discuss how to set up the messaging system let's make sure that we are on the same page regarding exactly what autoresponders (or stay-in-touch systems) are all about.

An autoresponder system is first and foremost a database of contact information. The database is populated either by inputting information about your contacts, or automatically when people fill out a form in order to get your free information report.

Messages that are subsequently sent are referred to as either Timed or Broadcast. You will want to use both methods for staying in touch.

Timed messages are emails that are sent out based on the number of days that have elapsed since the person initially signed up for your free report. For example you might set up a schedule so that one-day after the report is requested the reader gets a Thank You email. Then two days later Email Message #2 goes out asking them if they have any questions. A week later they get Email #3, and so on.

You can set up a Timed series of emails on any frequency you desire. (I will share with you a sample strategy in just a moment.)

The advantage of the Timed sequence is that you can write the series of messages once, and then they are sent out automatically with no further effort on your part.

Not surprisingly you'll need to make sure that these messages are either somewhat generic in content (Thank you for requesting) or address issues that are "Ever-Green". By this I mean you want to focus on client problems that were problems yesterday, problems today, and likely to be problems for the foreseeable future.

The second types of messages are called Broadcast. These are messages that are sent to everyone in your database. The advantage of this type of message is that it can be topical and timely. For example they might reference a current business article or mention something else that is time-sensitive.

Both are powerful tools, and when you are setting up your stay in touch strategy you will want to incorporate both of them.

Here is an example of an autoresponder sequence that is fairly aggressive.

For the first 90 days people who request a free report get a sequence of Timed messages that are sent out every 3 days.

I know most of you would never consider sending out messages that frequently, but many marketers have come the conclusion that this sequence works the best for them.

Here is why they came to that conclusion.

First, it's obvious that there is an enormous amount of Clutter out there. Far too many messages chasing far too few eyeballs. Thus the majority of messages just get ignored.

A common strategy in the initial stages of marketing is to cement in the reader's mind who the writer is and what they stand for. Quite frankly in order to accomplish that one needs to be communicating very frequently.

It is important to keep in mind that the goal is to convert a high percentage readers into paying clients. Most highly successful business people have little interest in having a large group of readers who will never actually take the next step and invest in their success.

From a practical perspective, whether your readers continue to read your messages has far more to do with the content of what you are communicating, than the frequency of the messages.

Is it possible to overkill with frequency? Absolutely. But unless you are communicating more than once a day, you probably will not fall into this camp. It gets back to the content and to what extent you are writing messages that are of interest.

The frequency with which you communicate with your audience also has to do with your attitude. (Quite frankly attitude has a lot to do with your overall success in marketing your services.)

When you sit down and write something for your readers, your assumption should be that this will be of interest to them. Although you may communicate frequently with your readers, you never want to communicate for the sake of communicating. You communicate because you believe that you have something that will be of relevance and interest.

Rather than worrying that someone may not like you message, or that you're communicating too frequently, you should consider it Their Loss if they decide to unsubscribe.

That's the beauty of having a marketing system. That way there are always new people entering into your stay-in-touch system.

It's this attitude (which granted if taken to an extreme can become arrogance) that is enormously liberating. By having a marketing system that enables you not to Need new clients, you can confidently position yourself without fear that you may offend someone. (Also from a practical perspective there is almost always someone who won't like your opinion, frequency of messages, tone, color of eyes, ect.)

If you approach your follow up communications with this appropriate attitude, I think you will find that the issue of-Am I communicating with my readers too often?-quickly falls by the wayside.

But the reality is that yes, you will get Unsubscribes from your list, but as I said before, the likelihood of these people actually hiring you is somewhat remote.

If the idea of communicating with your prospects every three days is something that you just cannot imagine yourself doing, then you may want to develop a more modest schedule.

An example of this sequence would be.

-Thank you email sent 1 day after report is requested.

-Follow up email asking them for feedback 3 days later.

-Next email 7 days later asking them if they have specific questions about the type of work you do. (Best if you suggest some possible questions.)

-Next email 7 days later. (This 7-day sequence continues for the next month.)

-Ongoing emails every 20-30 days until 90 days are reached.

This sequence will work. The only disadvantage is that it will take longer for the imprint of who you are and what you do to be lodged in your reader's mind. Since it is likely that your reader has an interest in your services, my personal advice is to communicate as often as possible in the first few weeks of the relationship.

After the first 90 days, the frequency of my messages changes. This is when I shift my messaging from Timed to Broadcast.

Many marketers send their broadcast messages once a week. (You may want to use a longer time frame, but try for every 20-30 days rather than once a quarter.) Often these messages will reference an article in the newspaper or some other timely message. The advantage of broadcast messages is that they allow the writer to communicate time sensitive information. The disadvantage is that they cannot be created too far in advance.

However, what I've just described to you is just one system. Your approach may be different. We know of a woman who sends out a message every 20 days as a part of a Timed sequence and the schedule is two years (and counting) in length. She's a therapist and her Timed messages are derived from chapters of her popular book. This strategy yields her 3-7 new clients a week.

So there are lots of variations on this theme. What's right for you will naturally depend on a variety of factors but hopefully this gave you some helpful food for thought.
About the Author
Mark Satterfield is the founder of Gentle Rain Marketing. The firm specializes in helping clients get more business Quickly, Easily, with No Cold Calling. Get the FREE report that describes the system you can implement in less than 30 days at http://www.gentlerainmarketing.com
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