How to use email marketing to delight & retain customers after the sale.

These days, it’s common to view email marketing solutions through the lens of lead generation and brand promotion. The cold hard truth is the days of simply emailing your entire customer and prospect list are coming to an end. Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of VaynerMedia and long-time critic of automated email blasts, recently eviscerated one such company for sending bulk, unsolicited and impersonal email.

Despite the language he uses in the video, I’m sure we’ve all felt the same way when we get emails of this kind. Vaynerchuk’s advice is simple and direct: Don’t send emails to people who didn’t sign up for them. It’s impersonal and often doesn’t speak to the customer’s needs.

To leverage email marketing to its fullest, you must consider the entire customer experience. Just as we’ve all been frustrated by unnecessary, impersonal emails, we’ve also all enjoyed getting an email that arrives at the perfect time to answer a question or save a few bucks on a purchase.

So how can you start delighting customers through email marketing? Let’s dig in.

At Infusionsoft, we call the process of process of communicating to customers through the various stages of their experience Lifecycle Marketing. No matter what you call it, it involves methodically planning out the optimal prospect-to-customer communications, events and activities people will experience.

When creating a new customer communication sequence, put aside what you think is important—this should be all about the customer. Review your website’s searches, your support emails, listen to your sales and customer service teams, even call new customers to conduct interviews into their challenges. Once you have this information, organize it into a series of steps that aim to educate customers on, and engage them with, your product. Keep in mind, every interaction with a customer—from the website, phone, registration process, support process—is an opportunity to deliver value and earn trust. When building your customer lifecycle email campaigns, you need to be intentional about the story your customer experience tells from prospect, to purchase, and beyond.

To illustrate an example of this, I’ll share my experience with GoPro. Many months ago, I purchased a GoPro HERO3 video camera. While I knew it was a very capable product, I haven’t done much with it. I’ve found it a bit challenging to download videos to my computer and found the accessories I bought confusing to use and set up. As a result, the GoPro sits in a drawer collecting dust. For GoPro as a company, this means I’m not buying upgrades or additional accessories, and am quickly falling into the “disengaged” camp of their customers.

This experience has nothing to do with the product itself; in fact, I would say the camera is nothing short of amazing. It has to do with what I need. I need tips and advice designed for me at my early stages with the product. While the GoPro website does have an option to sign up for an email newsletter, it focus on deals, news and giveaways—not tips.

To address this case of customer disengagement, I would suggest GoPro provide a “Creators” email list filled with tips, examples, Q&A and tutorials to inspire me to use the camera to its fullest. Email is perfect medium for this type of campaign, especially since GoPro has a wealth of experience working with successful customers. Here’s what I would like to see from this campaign:

1. “Welcome to the Community!” (Instant) – This email reinforces my expectations for the product. Additionally, it states how often I’ll receive their emails and thanks me for signing up.

2. “Five Minutes to Set up Your GoPro” (2 hours after signup) – This should point me to video examples of how to set up the GoPro the first time including the assembling the camera itself, and connecting to my Mac or PC. Also, a link to an accessory guide so I know what each accessory does and how it’s used.

3. “Securing Your GoPro” (3 days after signup) – Provides suggestions on best practices for securing my GoPro when recording—tripod, suction mounts, and more. This helps me feel confident setting up the camera, therefore encouraging me to use it more.

4. “Shooting Like a Pro” (7 days after signup) – Covers the different recording modes, different frame rates and aspect ratios, as well as provides examples of each.

5. “Editing Your Shots & Uploading Your Videos” (13 days after signup) – By now I’ll most likely have some footage, so this email should explain how to install the right software on my computer, links to codecs (if required), and advice on how to upload videos to YouTube or Vimeo for the best quality.

6. “Join our Creator’s Community!” (21 days after signup) – This email serves two purposes. First, it should conclude my new customer email experience with a quick recap and links to resources. Second, it should reset communication expectations from a weekly email to a monthly newsletter with tips for creators, by creators.

The purpose of a customer engagement email campaign is to gently, but confidently, lead the customer towards success so they will enjoy using your product and be willing to purchase more from you later. As you create a customer success campaign, you will naturally foster up-sell opportunities that serve the needs of your customer. Plus, when customers are delighted from using your product, they tend to spend more and refer others your way.

Of course, customer engagement email campaigns aren’t exclusive to consumer products like GoPro cameras. In fact, it can be just as critical to use this when onboarding new B2B clients. Service clients will want to know who their point-of-contact is, what support resources are available, and an outline of the next steps for fulfillment. If you own a service-based business, begin collecting data on your client’s current challenges and personality from the very first point of contact. You’ll get into the mind of a new customer and understand their concerns through each step of your service. As a result, you’ll better serve your customers and they, in turn, will become much more invested in your company.

Email marketing is here to stay, but its value decreases the more we use it poorly. The more more emails we send, the fewer emails we enjoy; that should be reason enough to compel you to send fewer, but more meaningful email messages to customers.

Joe Manna is the Developer Partner Program Manager at Infusionsoft, where he helps small businesses succeed by attracting partners and developers to create powerful integrations with Infusionsoft. He enjoys supporting entrepreneurs in Phoenix and taking road trips in his lightly-modified Mustang.

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