Tag Archives: email

Simple Drip Email Opt-In Forms in WordPress

There are many WordPress plugins for creating opt-in forms both free and premium. Those are great if you are going to be creating a lot of forms and inserting them in the middle of articles. If you only need a single form in your sidebar or at the end of your blog posts then those might be a bit overkill for you. I’m going to walk through creating a simple form in WordPress for connecting to your mailing list in Drip.

Inside Drip click on “Forms” in the top menu and then on “New Opt-In Form”.

Create new opt-in form in Drip

Type in the name of your form and click on “Create Form”.

Name opt-in form

Enter a headline and a description for you list.

Form content

We want to have the new subscriber’s first name so that we can use Drip’s shortcodes to automatically address each email to the subscriber ( {{ subscriber.first_name }}. We are going to do this by adding the field and making it required.

Add field to Drip form

Customarily people put the name field above the email address field on their forms so we are going to rearranging the fields by clicking on the three bars icon to the left of the fields and, by holding down the mouse button, dragging the first name field above the email address field.

Order form fields

Click on the “Enable the widget” checkbox so that it is unchecked. We are not going to use this as a popup form.

This will switch you over to the embedded form code that we are going to use later.

Now click on the “Rules” tab at the top followed by “Add an action…”

We are going to select “Apply a tag” and enter a tag of “blog_subscriber”.

Tag subscriber when form is submitted

You can click “Add an action…” again and then use Drip’s powerful automation features to lead them through a new subscriber workflow that you have set up:

Add new subscriber to workflow in Drip

Or you can subscribe them to a new subscriber drip email campaign that you have created:

Add email subscriber to drip campaign

Click on “Save Changes” and then scroll up and click on “Activate Now”.

Now log into your WordPress administration dashboard. Click on “Appearance” on the left menu followed by “Widgets”. Select the “Text” widget.

Add new sidebar widget in WordPress

The first opt-in form we are going to create is your Main Sidebar form. Select that and click on “Add Widget”. Leave the “Title” section blank and copy the following inside of the “Content” section:

<style type="text/css">
#sidebar_optin_form {
background-color: #000000;
padding: 10px;
color: #ffffff;
text-align: center;
}

#sidebar_optin_form h3 {
color: #ffffff;
font-size: 22px;
text-align: center;
margin-bottom: 10px;
}

#sidebar_optin_form label {
display: none;
}

#sidebar_optin_form br {
display: none;
}

#sidebar_optin_form input {
margin-top: 10px;
width: 100%;
box-sizing: border-box;
}

#sidebar_optin_form input[type="submit"] {
font-size: 18px;
background-color: #0274BE;
border: none;
border-radius: 3px;
padding: 12px 24px;
color: #FFF;
width: 100%;
background-image: none;
}
</style>
<div id="sidebar_optin_form">

</div>

Now go back into Drip and under the “Design” tab of your form select the code under “Embedded” and copy that into your form between the div tags in the above code that you pasted into WordPress.

Code for embedded form

Finally, change the following lines:

<input type="text" name="fields[first_name]" value="" />

To

<input type="text" name="fields[first_name]" value="" placeholder="First Name" />

And

<input type="email" name="fields[email]" value="" />

To:

<input type="email" name="fields[email]" value="" placeholder="Email Address" />

It should look like this when you are done:

<style type="text/css">
#sidebar_optin_form {
background-color: #000000;
padding: 10px;
color: #ffffff;
text-align: center;
}

#sidebar_optin_form h3 {
color: #ffffff;
font-size: 22px;
text-align: center;
margin-bottom: 10px;
}

#sidebar_optin_form label {
display: none;
}

#sidebar_optin_form br {
display: none;
}

#sidebar_optin_form input {
margin-top: 10px;
width: 100%;
box-sizing: border-box;
}

#sidebar_optin_form input[type="submit"] {
font-size: 18px;
background-color: #0274BE;
border: none;
border-radius: 3px;
padding: 12px 24px;
color: #FFF;
width: 100%;
background-image: none;
}
</style>
<div id="sidebar_optin_form">
<form action="https://www.getdrip.com/forms/4150534/submissions" method="post" data-drip-embedded-form="4150534">
<h3 data-drip-attribute="headline">Master Tactics Mailing List</h3>
<div data-drip-attribute="description">Get my best tactics for growing your business delivered right to your inbox!</div>
<div>
<label for="fields[first_name]">First Name</label><br />
<input type="text" name="fields[first_name]" value="" placeholder="First Name" />
</div>
<div>
<label for="fields[email]>Email Address</label><br />
<input type="email" name="fields[email]" value="" placeholder="Email Address" />
</div>
<div>
<input type="submit" name="submit" value="Sign Up" data-drip-attribute="sign-up-button" />
</div>
</form>
</div>

Click “Save” and then “Close”

Your new drip email opt-in form should be in your sidebar and look like this:

Simple sidebar opt-in form

As a bonus we are going to create a second style of form that you can use on your homepage (or you can use in your blog posts by using a plugin such as Widgets on Pages which, coupled with these forms, is a free alternative to the excellent Gravity Forms plugin).

For this form we want to have a small graphic that highlights what you are promising with the form. If you are using a lead magnet such as an ebook then you might have a physical book mocked up with your title. For “growing your business” an icon that shows a revenue graph going “up and to the right” would work.

I like to use Iconfinder and this icon by First Styles is a good one for business growth.

revnue graph icon

I am using the 256×256 version when I have downloaded and then uploaded it into WordPress. Once it is uploaded it will be listed. Click on “edit”.

wordpress upload image

On the right side of the screen is the file URL which we will need later. Copy that.

Wordpress image url

Now click on “Appearance” followed by “Widgets”. Select the “Text’ widget follow by “Front Page Area”. (You can move them to “Inactive Widgets” if you use the above mentioned plugin, or one like it, to add the widgets to your post.)

Wordpress front page form for mailing list

Leave the “Title” section blank and then paste the following into the “Content” section.

<style type="text/css>
#main_optin_form {
width: 600px;
border: 1px solid #d3d3d3;
display: table;
padding: 10px;
font-size: 14px;
}

.optin-form-left {
width: 50%;
float: left;
}

.optin-form-right {
width: 50%;
float: right;
text-align: center;
}

#main_optin_form h3 {
font-size: 22px;
margin-bottom: 10px;
}

#main_optin_form label {
display: none;
}

#main_optin_form br {
display: none;
}

img.main-optin-form-image {
display: block;
margin: auto !important;
float: none !important;
border-radius: 0px;
box-shadow: none;
}

#main_optin_form input {
margin-top: 10px;
width: 100%;
box-sizing: border-box;
padding: 12px;
font-size: 14px;
}

#main_optin_form input[type="submit"] {
font-size: 18px;
background-color: #0274BE;
border: none;
border-radius: 3px;
padding: 12px 24px;
color: #fff;
width: 100%;
background-image: none;
}
</style>
<div id="main_optin_form">
<div class="optin-form-left">
<img src="" class="main-optin-form-image">
</div>
<div class="optin-form-right">

</div>
</div>

Now paste the URL of your image inside of the “img” tag–specifically inside quotes here: src=””.

Paste the embedded form code from Drip inside the “optin-form-right” div.

And, like with the last form, make these two changes:

<input type="text" name="fields[first_name]" value="" />

To

<input type="text" name="fields[first_name]" value="" placeholder="First Name" />

And

<input type="email" name="fields[email]" value="" />

To:

<input type="email" name="fields[email]" value="" placeholder="Email Address" />

The final code should look like this:

<style type="text/css">
#main_optin_form {
width: 600px;
border: 1px solid #d3d3d3;
display: table;
padding: 10px;
font-size: 14px;
}

.optin-form-left {
width: 50%;
float: left;
}

.optin-form-right {
width: 50%;
float: right;
text-align: center;
}

#main_optin_form h3 {
font-size: 22px;
margin-bottom: 10px;
}

#main_optin_form label {
display: none;
}

#main_optin_form br {
display: none;
}

img.main-optin-form-image {
display: block;
margin: auto !important;
float: none !important;
border-radius: 0px;
box-shadow: none;
}

#main_optin_form input {
margin-top: 10px;
width: 100%;
box-sizing: border-box;
padding: 12px;
font-size: 14px;
}

#main_optin_form input[type="submit"] {
font-size: 18px;
background-color: #0274BE;
border: none;
border-radius: 3px;
padding: 12px 24px;
color: #FFF;
width: 100%;
background-image: none;
}
</style>
<div id="main_optin_form">
<div class="optin-form-left">
<img src="http://blog.engagetactics.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/revnue-graph-icon.png" class="main-optin-form-image">
</div>
<div class="optin-form-right">
<form action="https://www.getdrip.com/forms/4150534/submissions" method="post" data-drip-embedded-form="4150534">
<h3 data-drip-attribute="headline"><Master Tactics Mailing List></h3>
<div data-drip-attribute="description">Get my best tactics for growing your business delivered right to your inbox!</div>
<div>
<label for="fields[first_name]">First Name</label><br />
<input type="text" name="fields[first_name]" value="" placeholder="First Name" />
</div>
<div>
<label for="fields[email]"><Email Address</label><br />
<input type="email" name="fields[email]" value="" placeholder="Email Address" />
</div>
<div>
<input type="submit" name="submit" value="Sign Up" data-drip-attribute="sign-up-button" />
</div>
</form>
</div>
</div>

And your new form will look like this:

Simple opt-in form with lead magnet image

I know it took me a decent amount of time to create my first forms in WordPress so hopefully these will help save you some time as well as increase your subscriber count!

p.s. this next form is real and you can put your name and email address in it. 🙂

    • Engage: A Step-By-Step Guide to Growing Your Business With Email Marketing
    • The Engage Guide to Email Marketing

      Get a free chapter from my step-by-step guide to growing your business by leveraging the power of email marketing automation.

Sell more in January by asking your prospects about their annual goals

Time to set new year's resolutions for your business

Businesses often set annual goals or initiatives just like individuals set New Year’s resolutions to lose weight or read more books. A business is more likely to set goals to win more business, roll out new features or services, or improve a few key metrics. This is something that will be on the top of your prospective customers’ minds at the beginning of the year. This offers you an unique opportunity to try a different sales pitch.

When emailing prospects or making sales calls at the end of December or the beginning of January you can specifically ask them about their business goals for the year and if there is something you can do to help them achieve them:

Hey <prospect name>,

A new year is upon us and you may be setting goals to take your business to another level in 2017. If you have any initiatives for <the service or product you provide> I would love to explore helping you with them. We’ll help you achieve this goal early in the year which creates momentum for the rest of them!

I look forward to connecting with you soon.

<your name>

p.s. here is a <ebook, article, video, SlideShare, etc.> about <customer problem> that you might find useful.

Note that is email is not about you but all about your prospective customer. You are extending an offer of help and when you do get them on the phone do not launch immediately into your sales pitch. Continue exploring their business and their goals prior to offering your business as the solution. Listening to them will help you use the right language and frame your product/service as something built for their specific needs.

Like an individual who signs up for an annual gym membership but stops going in February, businesses also lose steam on their goals as more pressing matters come up throughout the year. With this in mind make sure you send the initial email in the first half of January and follow up at least twice before Valentine’s Day. Once March comes we’re already a sixth of the way through the year and we have many things vying to be our priority.

Like with anything email campaign test a couple different subjects and body content. This way when you repeat the campaign in twelve months you will get better results.

Good luck and happy New Year!

    • Outbound Sales
    • Outbound Sales Course

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Consume less. Create more.

Today is the first day of National Novel Writing Month which is where thousands of people set a goal to write a novel during the month of November. How you get there is up to you but many set a goal of writing at least 1,000 words a day.

I fully intend to take part one day but, as an underdog, right now I’m focused on my business. This month I am going to spend less time consuming other people’s content and media, unless it is for brainstorming or immediately applicable purposes, and instead spend more time creating the marketing content that will grow my business.

The Underdog Action Plan

Underdog Action Plan

I am going to challenge myself and challenge you to create at least one good new piece of content for your business each week this month. What you will end up with are four assets that you can use to build your business going forward.

My goals for the month:

  • Finish draft of Engage
  • One authoritative Slideshare
  • One new email course
  • One marketing flier
  • One landing page and video for a new feature

The first one is not part of the action plan but me hoping to really tap into my inner-author during NaNoWriMo.

Here are some content marketing ideas for you if you’re struggling to come up with four great ideas:

Ebook

Take five or more of your highest quality blog posts and bundle them up into an ebook. Think of a subtitle that will tie them all together. This guide goes through how to pick a title, design a cover, format the content, publish, and market your ebook.

Landing Page

Create a new landing page that speaks about only one feature of your product or aspect of your service. I recommend using one of Leadpages’ free landing page template and Copyhackers for copywriting ideas for your landing page content.

SlideShare

Think of one informative blog post that you have been meaning to write and create a Slideshare of it instead. Send an email to prospective clients that mentions that they might be interested in this new presentation you created.

Email Course

Think about a topic that you recently had to research that relates to your business. While it is fresh in your mind create a five-email mini-course on it. Promote your new course on social media after you have created a landing page for it (see above).

Youtube Video

What is the question that you get asked the most by colleagues, clients, or friends? Record a short video where you answer that question.

This is your month of action for your content marketing.

See you in December

Remember that all the books you read, blog posts you skim, and podcasts you listen to do not do anything to help your business without you taking action. This is your month of action!
Come December we will all start seeing the results of the hard work we’ve been doing.

Hit me up on Twitter and let me know what your four things are!

Lost Deal Drip Email Campaigns

Sales is a challenge for many of us. It is the lifeblood of our business so we spend a lot time and resources on it. But the unfortunate reality is that most leads do not turn into customers. There are many reasons for this including they might be just window shopping and gathering information, they aren’t ready to buy, they use one of our competitors, or our product or service is not a good fit.

Behind all of those is a time component. Those all might be true right now but might not be true in the future after you have improved their product, your competitor has stumbled or not lived up to expectations, or they have moved forward in the buying process. A “no” now can turn into a “yes” later.

I saw this post from Jason Lemkin of SaaStr about drip marketing campaigns for lost deals and thought I would create a few email templates for you to use based on his suggestions.

10 months out (Renewal #1). If your competitor really screwed it up.

You’re hopefully rolling out new features or services at least every ten months and this email will bring attention to that. At the same time ten months is too soon to do another hard sell so this email just tries to sell the lead on a quick chat to catch up and find out how things are going.

{{ subscriber.first_name }},

I wanted to check in and see how things are going. We talked almost a year ago about <the problem> and you mentioned that you are using {{ subscriber.current_provider }}. How is that going?

We’ve rolled out some new features <or services> but are also continually looking to improve so learning a bit about what is working with {{ subscriber.current_provider }} and what, if any, difficulties you might be having would be very helpful for me.

Do you have five minutes later this week for a quick call?

Wed @ 9 am {{ subscriber.friendly_time_zone }}
Thur @ 2:30 pm {{ subscriber.friendly_time_zone }}
Fri @ 9:30 am {{ subscriber.friendly_time_zone }}

Thanks,

{{ from_name }}

20 months out (Renewal #2). If your competitor doesn’t remain competitive and deliver enough value.

At this point your business has hopefully matured and your product or service has improved significantly while at the same time your competitors might be big enough that they are not innovating at a quick pace or are slow to respond to customer concerns.

{{ subscriber.first_name }},

I hope you are having a great week.

You have been using {{ subscriber.current_provider }} for a while now and I wanted to check to make sure that is still going well for you. We have been aggressively adding new features <or services> that have been providing a lot of value to our customers and I think we’re very competitive with {{ subscriber.current_provider }}.

I would love to have a quick chat with you to see if we can deliver a higher value to you today than when we last talked and make <the problem> a thing of the past.

I hope business is going well and look forward with connecting with you soon.

Have a great day,

{{ from_name }}

30 months out (Renewal #3). If your competitor did an OK job but isn’t loved and you now are doing something much better (one thing) than them.

As a business grows its needs change and the reasons for picking a solution in the past might no longer be valid. While your competitor might have been a better solution three years ago you might better address the pain points the customer is having now.

{{ subscriber.first_name }},

I wanted to check in and see how {{ subscriber.current_provider }} is working out for you. Since we first spoke a few years ago we have been investing a lot in improving our service and, due to those improvements, a lot of businesses are finding that we are a better fit for them now.

If you’re really happy with {{ subscriber.current_provider }} then great. If not, I would love to talk with you for a few minutes to see if we might be a better solution for you today.

Thanks,

{{ from_name }}

Implementation in Drip

Create the “Lost Deal Campaign” with these three emails.

Lost deal drip email campaign

(If you use a CRM system to track emails you have sent to your leads set the campaign up to automatically BCC yourself on each email so that it will be picked up by your CRM.)

Create a new workflow:

Lost deal workflow in Drip

  • Start workflow then the tag “not_interested” is applied.
  • If the subscriber has a custom field set with the current provider (the emails you created reference that so you don’t want to send them without that information) then send campaign otherwise exit workflow.
  • Wait ten months to start the email campaign
  • Create a goal (“customer” tag applied) so that if that happens the subscriber is pulled from the “Lost Deal Campaign” and not sent anymore of those emails.
  • I have a separate workflow (“Customer Onboarding”) which is triggered when the “customer” tag is applied.

One obvious improvement is to add a campaign that doesn’t reference the current provider so that all lost deals get follow up even if you didn’t get the information about which of your competitors they use.

When creating a subscriber in Drip (Import/Bulk Ops -> New Bulk Operation -> Enter a list of email addresses) you have to create them using an email address and then you can go in and update their fields. Be sure to set the “current_provider” customer field prior to adding the “not_interested” tag.

Close.io to Drip

If you’re using CRM software then you probably would prefer to automate this whole process–more time for sales! You can do that using Zapier so that when you mark a lead as “Not Interested” in your CRM (or opportunity as ‘Closed: Lost’) it will automatically create a subscriber in Drip, set their current provider, apply the ‘not_interested’ tag, and start sending them the email campaign in 300 days.

I use Close.io and this is the zap I created for this:

Lost deal email Zap with Close.io and Drip

The Close.io trigger:

Close.io trigger in Zapier

The filter for only status changes to ‘Not Interested’:

Zapier filter for lost deals

Setting up the contact in Drip:

Adding contact to Drip in Zapier

(edit: If you use Zapier to create subscribers from Close.io contacts then you don’t currently get separate fields for first and last name but rather a full name field. You can use the following in your Drip emails in order to address your emails to someone’s first name: “{{ subscriber.name | split: ‘ ‘ | first | capitalize }}”. Thanks to Andy at Drip for that.)

“No” means “not right now”

You put a lot of work into turning leads into customers. Don’t let the “no” be the end of your relationship. By using this lost deal drip email campaign you turn that “no” into just one step of a much longer relationship. One that hopefully includes them becoming a customer at a later date.

Email Template Roundup

I am all about engaging people for your business through email. (Literally that is what my book is about.) Throughout your relationships with your customers, prospective customers, and industry peers there are countless opportunities to reach out to someone and to push your relationship forward.

The problem with having so many opportunities is that it takes a long time to create all of those emails. Writing (and revising) a great email sequence takes time so to get a head start you can use email templates that sales and marketing masterminds have shared with us.

I have used each of the templates in this roundup in one of my businesses.

Educational Campaign Emails

Providing value to someone upfront is one of the best ways to turn them into a prospective customer. A great way to do that is to teach them something related to the product or service you sell. For example Home Depot does a workshop where they go over a different home repair each week. You can do the same via a webinar. However, an easier, and scalable, way is to create an email course around a topic.

The email marketing software Drip comes with a couple templates already set up for that: the “5-Day Email Mini Course” and the “4-Week Email Mini Course”. I like the daily course better for teaching a specific topic with the weekly course more when you are presenting more general content about your industry.

This is the first email:

Thanks for checking out my 5-day crash course on **TOPIC OF COURSE**

I’m **NAME**, the founder of **COMPANY**. My goal for this course is to provide you with new techniques and approaches for **MAIN BENEFIT OF THE COURSE**, while keeping them as actionable and succinct as possible.

And today, we start with a look at **TOPIC OF TODAY’S EMAIL**.

** PASTE YOUR EDUCATIONAL, NON-SALES CONTENT HERE FROM YOUR BLOG POST, WHITE PAPER OR EBOOK **

This email course will provide you with actionable tips on how you can **BENEFIT OF THE COURSE**. More on that later…

Tomorrow, we’ll be delving into **TOPIC OF TOMORROW’S EMAIL**.

If you have any questions in the meantime, please hit the reply button and drop me a line. I will respond personally to every email.

And if you’re ahead of the curve and want to get started, feel free to learn more about **PRODUCT_NAME** here.
Until tomorrow,

**NAME**
**TITLE**

Other email campaign blueprints they have are:

  • Follow-up (Post-Demo)
  • Follow-up (Sample Report)
  • Follow-Up (Subscription Trial)
  • Cart Abandonment Recovery

WIth their workflow feature it is easy to guide a customer through multiple email campaigns from the time they are a prospect to when they become a customer and to later upsell them based on their usage. Great for all businesses but particularly for SaaS businesses.

Sales Emails

Steli Efti of Close.io has become something of a motivational speaker for startups. You listen to him give a talk and come out of it knowing that you can take the leap today and start selling. Key to his method are to stop procrastinating and to just start sending the emails, making the calls, and to never stop following up.

This simple cold email (his example is selling Dropbox to a law firm) can be modified for any software or service industry:

Hi [contact.fist_name],

My name is [user.first_name] with [organization.name].

We help law firms store & manage all of their client data securely in the cloud. I wanted to learn how you handle data storage at [lead.display_name] and show you what we’re working on.

Are you available for a quick call tomorrow afternoon?

A great takeaway from the follow up emails is that you offer the lead a few specific times for a possible call:

Do you have a few minutes for a quick call later this week?

Wed @ 11 am PST
Thur @ 2 pm PST
Fri @ 3 pm PST

If you ask them to make the first move in scheduling a time you’re often going to wind up waiting indefinitely. Present them with a few times they can say yes or no to. If they come back saying that none will work then try three new times. And keep following up until you get that call scheduled!

A few more templates from Close.io that I use can be found here.

Customer Onboarding Emails

I love the “You’re In” Email from Groove as the first email in an onboarding sequence. I feel this one can be modified for use whether you are selling a product or a service. You’re engaging your new customer to learn a little bit about why they choose you which is very helpful when creating your customer profiles.

I really appreciate you joining us at Groove, and I know you’ll love it when you see how easy it is to deliver awesome, personal support to every customer.

We built Groove to help small businesses grow, and I hope that we can achieve that for you.

If you wouldn’t mind, I’d love it if you answered one quick question: why did you sign up for Groove?

I’m asking because knowing what made you sign up is really helpful for us in making sure that we’re delivering on what our users want. Just hit ‘reply’ and let me know’

By the way, over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be sending you a few more emails to help you deliver awesome support to your customers. We’ll be sharing some tips, checking in with you and showing you how some of our customers use Groove to grow their businesses.

I now use the “hit reply and let me know a little about you and/or your business” in most of my email campaigns. Not everybody responds but you learn so much when they do.

This sequence of onboarding emails from Baremetrics is great for SaaS companies to use throughout a trial period. Days 1,2,3,5, 12, and 14 specifically. Some of the other days are pretty specific to their app. I also hesitate as it is a lot of emails over a two week period of time but you can check open, click through, and response rates and find what works best for your business.

Failed Payment (Dunning) Emails

This one is for SaaS or other businesses that bill a customer’s credit card monthly.

Patrick McKenzie (Patio11 on the Internet) gave a talk at MicroConf Europe 2013 titled, “Building Things To Help Sell The Things You Build”. In it he brought up “dunning emails” which are the emails that a user receives when their credit card charge fails which usually happens when somebody gets a new card but forgets to update their billing information.

He brings up the point that when a charge fails the language in the notification email needs to be gentle. Use terms like “pausing your service” rather than “cancelling your account”. From Christoph Engelhardt’s notes on Patrick’s talk:

  • Everyone gets 3 dunning emails
  • Get to the point ASAP
  • Prominent link to capture updated CC data
  • Extend a 3 day grace period, try daily within grace
  • Don’t forget a “You didn’t update so we took the liberty of pausing your account” email

This post by Richard Felix shows what Drip itself does with their dunning emails. They use a series of three emails as Patrick recommended. You can see from the first email in the sequence that they don’t place any blame on the user (the card might have expired), use language that puts the blame on Drip (“will let you know if it’s still not working”), and don’t mention the possibility of disabling the account until the second to last sentence.

From: Rob at Drip
Subject: Uh oh, credit card fail – your emails will stop sending soon…

Hello,

It appears we’ve run into a problem charging your credit card on file at GetDrip.com. We’d love to keep sending emails to your subscribers – so let’s get you back on track!

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Networking (Influencer Outreach) Emails

A quote I love from Charlie “Tremendous” Jones (a motivational speaker) is:

“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”

Networking is a great way to learn and grow both your business and as a person. For many people it requires stepping outside of your comfort zone and reaching out to people with more experience than you and whom you respect.

I recommend creating a plan to reach out to ten people a month that you follow on Twitter, read their blog, heard them on a podcast, or are in your network on LinkedIn (or are one removed and you can ask somebody you know for an introduction). When you have a list of ten people for the month then drop them an email.

Number two and three of Groove’s email templates (they really do share a lot of great content) are emails you can use to reach out to influencers in your industry or people in your network (look at their profile for articles they have written, organizations they are a part of, and charities they support):

Hi [firstname],

I loved your post about [subject + authentic reason].

I wrote a post about [compelling teaser]. I know you’re an expert on this, and I’d really appreciate your feedback.

Do you mind if I send you a link?

Thanks,
[your name]

The Underdog Action Plan

Use one of these templates to create a new campaign of at least three emails for one of these stages of the customer relationship:

  • Subscriber
  • Prospect
  • New customer
  • At-risk customer (somebody who is paying for your product/service but isn’t using it)

If you are struggling for ideas just drop me an email (will at the domain) and I’ll help you brainstorm.

Remember, at the end of the day, the more great content you have created the more you will be able to engage your audience and convert them into happy customers.

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Selling to a Cold Lead

Selling to a cold lead

At some point many businesses, and most professional service businesses, will go through a phase where they try cold outreach to generate new business. Traditionally that was cold calls and direct mailings but now often takes the form of cold emails (not to mention the blind Twitter follow). It is a law of the universe that these methods don’t convert as well as warm, inbound leads but when you’re looking to grow sales you will try anything.

There are methods for increasing the odds so that your outbound sales efforts go from feeling futile to being a repeatable source of new business.

Identifying customers to target

Obviously the first step towards cold leads becoming a viable sales channel for you is finding a good source for them. The easiest, but lowest quality, source would be to buy a list of leads. Those tend to be sold many times so the people on them receive a lot of sales calls already and are even more predisposed to ignoring you. They also come with none of the background information that is helpful in making a sale.

A better, but much more time-consuming, avenue is to manually source the leads yourself. My main method of doing so is Google searches. Every month I spend about four hours on a weekend watching movies and adding to my list of people to contact. “CPA Chicago”, “CPA Memphis”, etc. I go through about ten pages of results and manually copy the contact information into a Google Sheet. It is a lot of work but I end up with a list of people actively practicing their profession and can also make note of items of interest on their website or in their bio that I can include when emailing them. Those can be:

  • Blog posts they have written
  • Newspaper articles that have quoted them
  • Conferences they have spoken at
  • Whitepapers
  • Industry accolades
  • Where they went to school
  • Interests

Including one of those in your email shows that you spent a little time researching them, that your email is personalized and not just spam, and that you appreciate them as an authority (they have worked hard to get where they are and like that to be acknowledged).

Even better than Google searches is going to where your potential customers hang out online (forums, Reddit, industry publications) and identifying them there.

You don’t want to target just any person at a company. You want to target the person who is most acutely aware of the problem that your product or service solves. If you sell time-off management software you would want to target HR. Expense reporting software you want to target accounting. When in doubt, and you’ve qualified the company as a good candidate, target the owner.

You want to target the person who is most acutely aware of the problem that your product or service solves.

Before every cold call write a cold email

My favorite tactic to warm up a lead before cold calling them is to send them an email. It doesn’t turn them into a warm lead but makes them a slightly warmer lead. When you get then on the phone, or you leave them a voicemail, you are able to reference a previous communication. Instead of just saying, “not interested” they are more likely to say, “oh yeah, I saw that email.” They will be more likely to let you start a conversation with them.

One of my templates:

Hi <first name>,

I’m reaching out to you because you are the <job title> of <company name> and think you might be the person to talk to about <the problem your product or service solves>. I would love to ask you a couple of questions about how you currently <deal with the problem> to see if it is something we might be able to help with.

Do you have a few minutes for a quick chat?

Monday at 10:30 am EST
Tuesday at 2 pm EST

Thank you for your time and I look forward to talking with you.

Will

Sometimes you might want to give an extra push with your cold emails. For small businesses one tactic is to appeal to the owner’s growth goals while recognizing their cash flow fears (every small business owner has them).

When you are growing your business every dollar counts so it is good to get <some software or service> to handle <the problem> before you have to hire for it. This way you can keep dedicating resources to your core business while keeping <people from having the problem>.

End your cold email with the assumption that you are going to talk with your lead at some point. “Looking forward to connecting with you” subtly pushes them a nudge further down the funnel as more correspondence, and a phone call, is now a forgone conclusion. “I can’t wait to talk with you and see if we might be able to help <with your problem>.”

Tracking email opens

Knowing whether or not a lead has opened an email influences my follow up course of action. If I have sent somebody an email but it wasn’t opened then I might try again a week or two later with a slightly different email and different subject line. (Some people disable read receipts so you don’t want to send the exact same email.) If they don’t open the second email, but I really think they would be a great customer, then I try a phone call. If I have no reason to believe they are any different that any other prospect then I assume they aren’t interested right now and mark them for another follow up six months out.

If somebody has opened my email, but hasn’t responded, I call them a few days later. This way my email is still fresh enough in their mind that they remember receiving it and have maybe given a few moments of thought to possibly doing something about the problem that I can solve for them.

If you are sending your email through a CRM then it should have built-in open tracking. If you are using Outlook it has read receipts built in (though a lot of people don’t respond to them). Boomerang for Gmail also offers them among many other power email features.

The sales call

Every business believes it is unique

If you get your lead on the phone when you call start by introducing yourself and mention that you are following up on the email. My two biggest tips for the rest of the phone call are:

  • Make the conversation about them
  • Use the language they use

The best way to make the conversation about your customer is to ask questions:

  • How do you currently handle <the problem>?
  • What is one aspect of that process that works the best?
  • What is one thing you would change if you could?
  • Are you using any products or services <for this problem> currently?

These questions get them talking. Shut up and listen. When they stop talking ask another question. What you learn now helps you frame your solution as the answer to their specific problem. Use the word “you” instead of “I” or “we”.

Learning the language of your customers and the industry jargon helps to show that you understand the unique problems their business faces. Every business believes it is unique but you greatly increase your chances of making a sale if you make them believe that you have a background in their industry or have more than a casual understanding of it.

After you have asked them some initial questions you are then prepared to address them mentioning an aspect of how your product or service can help them. You are not giving an elevator pitch. You are learning about their problems and brainstorming ways to help them.

How and when to ask for a close depends a lot on what your product or service is and the price point. If it is low-priced and it easy to implement then you can ask if they are interested and immediately follow it by asking what it will take to make the sale. On the other hand, if you product is high-priced, complicated or time-consuming to implement, or would be part of one of their vital business functions then this is likely one of many phone calls, demos, and proposals you make. Your goal of this call is to schedule a second call.

If you initially only asked for a few minutes of their time then it is okay to ask if they have a few more minutes or if they would like you to send them some more information. Schedule a follow up call with them right then.

Things to not do on the sales call

The first thing to not do on a sales call is to be unprepared. It is important to be prepared and be in the right state of mind before picking up the phone:

  • Be able to pronounce the lead’s name and look up their company on Google or LinkedIn so that you aren’t totally oblivious about their company (they spend at least eight hours a day working towards something and you can do them the courtesy of knowing what that is).
  • Have an answer for each of the most common objections you hear.
  • Do whatever is needed in order to get your mind and emotions ready for sales. It is often advised to put on a song that pumps you up or do some pushups. If you are having a bad day then skip the sales calls entirely. Work on something else (maybe building the lead list) and come back to the calls tomorrow.

Don’t be too direct with the qualifying questions on the initial call. When I receive a sales call and somebody asks me “how many employees do you have?” or “what is your annual revenue?” then my initial reaction is “that is none of your business”. That also suggests that they haven’t done any homework and that I am no more than a line on a spreadsheet for them.

The question that really gets to me the most is when somebody asks, “What is your budget?”. No! My thought is, “Tell me your price and let me decide if it is worth discussing further. You’re the one who called me! I know that the first one to name a number loses.”

Those are all alright questions for a second call but for the the first call they evoke the feeling of browsing on a car lot and being approached by the salesman.

Finally, throughout your life you have heard the advice, “don’t take no for an answer.” However when you are selling a definitive “no” is the second best thing you can hear after a “yes”. Embrace the no and move on to another lead.

The voicemail message

Often you don’t get the person on the phone and have to leave a voicemail. Always start and end by saying the person’s name:

“Hi <first name>”

Following the greeting I introduce myself:

“This is Will from Engage Tactics”

And remind them about the email I sent them:

“I’m following up on an email I sent you on <day of week>”

Then the meat of the call in no more than two or three sentences:

“As I said in the email, I’m hoping to ask you a couple of questions about <the problem> and how you are currently dealing with it. We <have the solution> and I would love to talk with you for just a few minutes to see if it might be a good fit.”

Your information so they can call you back (say this slowly so that they have time to write it down):

I look forward to talking with you. My number is (555) 555-5555. Again this is Will from Engage Tactics and my number is (555) 555-5555.”

And then follow that up with my ending where I again use their name:

“Thanks <first name>. Have a great day.”

Follow up

The follow up is one of the most critical parts of the sales process. People have a lot on their plate and they are always going to address the fires in front of them before investing time with you in order to keep those fires from starting in the first place. Short term needs trump long term goals. It is up to you to remind them that your product or service can start helping them (nearly) immediately.

Every phone call you have, even the ones where they say no, should have a follow up email. Go over what you talked about and what the outcome of the conversation was. Thank them again for their time. Mention that you look forward to talking with them again. Send a calendar invite if you scheduled a follow up call.

If they say no then still send a follow up email that thanks them for taking the time to talk with you and say, “if you change your mind and would like to talk again about <problem> and <your solution> my contact information is below.”

Emails also need to be followed up on. If you sent an email request for a phone call and didn’t get a response then wait a week and send another request. Then do that again. Every lead should be contacted a minimum of three times before you move on. I would estimate that a third to half of my leads that have responded did not respond to the first email.

Document everything

Cold calling is hard work but builds character.

The key to getting a cold lead sales process to work is to make a record of each communication. You can use one of the many CRMs out there to track all of this (I particularly like Close.io for outbound sales) or even use a free tool like Trello with a card for each prospect. Just make sure that you can always look up where in the funnel each lead is, when you called or emailed them, and what the outcome of any conversation was.

Secondly, when you find that you are getting some traction with your sales process then document it. In a Google sheet, an Asana project, or somewhere else, list each step of the process with extreme detail. By doing this you will be able to hire people to handle different parts of the process for you. If you know you can turn x leads into y dollars and that paying somebody to find you x leads (with your documented process) costs less than $y then you have created a sustainable sales channel.

Cold selling is hard work but builds character and is one of the best ways to learn more about your customers and how you should frame your solution to them across all of your sales channels.

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Reach more customers with these five free tools

Every entrepreneur faces the same dilemma at some point on their journey. The point where growth has slowed or stagnated and you know you need to do something big to jump start it. With limited time and money you can be like a deer in headlights and end up not doing anything. Don’t let that happen. Inaction is the path to failure.

Luckily the Internet has many free tools that you can use to reach more customers, engage them, and create more sales. These five tools are a great place to start.

Buffer

buffer

Social networking has been big for years and it showing no sign of slowing down. If you aren’t active on social media then you are missing out on interacting with potential customers every single day. If you are active then you know what a challenge it can be to maintain profiles on so many different platforms.

Buffer is a tool that helps you manage your accounts on all of the social networks including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+. You can schedule posts, post to each network, and create content all in one place. You will save a ton of time and reach prospective customers no matter which site they are on.

Not every post leads to a sale but keeping people engaged keeps you on their mind when they are ready to open their wallet.

Mailchimp

mailchimp

While social networking is still growing it has not yet, and maybe never will, replace email as the best way to get in front of your customers online. Everybody has email and many of us spend a good part of our day inside our inbox. What differs from social media is that email allows you to really cultivate a relationship over time and build trust with your audience.

Every business should have a mailing list and the easiest and cheapest way to start is with Mailchimp. It helps you collect email address and segment your subscribers so that you can target them with the best information that will eventually lead to a sale.

The best thing about Mailchimp is that you can set it up to automatically send personalized emails to your subscribers. Once it is set up a new subscriber will start receiving emails from you with no additional effort on your part.

YouTube

youtube

YouTube itself is the second largest search engine on the Internet (after Google) with over three billion searches every month. People go there to be entertained, and more importantly for you, to learn.

Creating videos where you answer some of the most common questions you get in your business can really help you increase sales. If your business is a service business you can answer the easy questions and people will reach out to you, and pay you, for answers to the hard ones.

If your business is physical goods then you can talk through what they are made of, how they are made, as well as related items you sell. Even better is to talk about other aspects of your niche. If your business is pet toys then you can create videos about the advantages or disadvantages of different types of pets and breeds, great pet names, or pets that look like celebrities.

Each video can should start with your logo and a title screen and finish with a way to get in contact with you whether that be a URL for your website, an email address, or a phone number.

Leanpub

leanpub

Ebooks are a great way to establish authority in a field and Leanpub is one of the easiest ways to create a good looking one. I personally have used them for all of the books on entrepreneurship that I have published. They’re not paying me to recommend them–I’m just a happy author.

You can create the book inside your browser on their site or write on your computer and share the files with Leanpub via Dropbox. Create a cover with Canva (the next tool in this article) and you’re set. Click the preview button to make sure everything looks good and then hit publish. You can share your book in their marketplace or save the .pdf, .mobi, and .epub files to sell or share elsewhere.

Ebooks don’t have to be long. You can create shorter ones around smaller topics that you then send out to your mailing list (that you have created on Mailchimp above) or to your existing customers. Providing value is a great way to rekindle a relationship with a customer.

Canva

canva

If you are active on social media then you probably find that you are more likely to read a tweet or Facebook post if they contain a graphic–particularly a high quality one. Canva makes it really easy to design those graphics along with other marketing materials such as flyers, business cards, presentations, and ebook covers.

Many elements are free while some premium ones are $1 each. I recommend trying out some of their free templates and seeing what you can come up with in just ten minutes. I guarantee it will be higher quality than one you can create in any other program in an hour.

What next?

Being active in many channels gives you marketing breadth and helps you learn what works best for your business. When you find one or two channels that convert the best into sales then you are going to want to double down on those for your marketing depth. For example if your videos are attracting eyeballs to your site but generating few sales, while at the same time your mailing list attracts fewer visitors but ones that are more likely to buy, the more you grow your list the more sales you can expect.

But each channel need not be independent of each other. Recommend that your YouTube audience subscribe to your mailing list and read your ebooks. Point your email subscribers to your YouTube videos and use the ebooks as lead magnets to grow your subscribers.

A growing business by definition means attracting more customers. It takes time and hard work but it will pay off with more sales!

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