Making email work for you!

Email is the lifeblood of your business, along your equipment and clients, of course!

Let’s talk about how to use one-to-one email with different people who are connected in some way to your business!

Client Acquisition

hello-letterWhen a prospect emails you to find out about your services, your rates, your schedule etc, how you respond may be the difference between having them come on board or not. Here are my 4 recommendations for making the most of this initial inquiry:

  1. Punctuality. Respond within 24 hours, preferably before midnight the same day. This shows that you take your business seriously and that you are available for them.
  2. Answer all their questions. Addressing every question or statement in their email will avoid potential frustration on their part, as well as give you the maximum opportunity to wow the prospective client.
  3. Ask questions. Asking at least 2 questions in your response will help to keep the conversation flowing. These can be “what time would work best for you?” style or “where did you learn about us?” type questions.
  4. Offer something. This could be a complimentary phone call or consult, it doesn’t have to be anything that you don’t normally do, it just needs to be a gesture of good faith.

Once a prospective client has an email in your inbox, it would be highly beneficial to track that person and the acquisition process. In order to do so, they should be merged into your CRM (customer relationship management) system. This can be part of your email marketing system (such as the features in Infusionsoft), a stand alone system (BaseCRM, Salesforce), another program or app (Excel, Evernote) or even a spiral notebook.

The idea is to track that person and the interactions between you and them, until such a point as they become a client, move away or fall out of your market. Once you’re tracking the prospect, it will be far easier to learn how much it “costs” to acquire a new client.

Active Clients

Using email as a means of communication with an active client can include the following:

  • Email newsletters/marketing
  • Invoicing
  • Scheduling/Reminders
  • Accountability

When using email for communicating with active clients, it’s equally important to track your communication (in the CRM!!) as well as to make sure that all emails are professional and positive.

Potential Business Relationships

These are much like potential clients, but they have one big difference — the person on the other end of the email communication is LESS interested in you and your business and MORE interested in getting their message to your clients. Whether you are on the sending or receiving end of the beginning of this relationship, remember that your relationship with this other business entity should never trump the service that you provide to your clients.

The top recommendation I have for you as you work with other businesses is to set expectations. Let the other business know that you work on your business during set hours (such as T/Th 2-4pm or whatever) and that since you value your budding relationship, you want to dedicate communication with them to that window. It’s okay to respond to the initial email with this information too. And once you begin this communication, track the communications! Yup… same thing as with a client, track everything!

Past clients

When someone stops paying you to train them, they should not be removed from your client database. Instead, keeping tabs on them through email will either return them to active status or bring you additional clients.

I actually recommend an automated system for this type of communication… here’s the general flow.

(Note, the assumption is that you have 3 or more segments to your email list: subscribers, active clients and prior clients)

  • When a client cancels their training/membership/etc move them from your active client segment within Aweber, or whatever solution you’re using for email marketing, onto your prior clients.segment
  • 2 weeks after they cancel, send a short email asking them how they are doing and if they want to remain on your “regular mailing list.” If they respond yes, take them off the prior client list and leave them in the subscribers list. If they answer please remove me, then remove them from the subscribers lists, but keep them on the prior list. If neither, keep them on both lists.
  • 1 month after the initial cancellation, send an email with a checklist of things you hope they accomplished in the past month (remember this is automated, so it should be general — like exercised x days/week, consumed x ounces of water) and also include in this email a link to a video showing an exercise that you think is great to do at home.
  • 1 month later, send an email sharing a “come back to training” special or other incentive for them to become an active client again.
  • 1 month later, send a “how’s it going” email. This email is something that you will likely want to modify quarterly, so that in it you can share anything new that is going on with your business.

The idea of course, is to keep your business accessible and available to the past client without overwhelming them or causing them to be annoyed with you!

When you’re getting started with these emails, start by hand crafting them and seeing how the response goes… they can always be tweaked as you go.

Smart email practices will feel good.

Taking the time to track your communications will help you to more easily be in a position to outsource email to a virtual assistant, intern or team member as your business grows!

I wish you and your business unlimited successes!

In the comments below, I’d love to know how else you use email to interact with potential, current or prior clients, vendors or partners!