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January 8, 2008

How to Convert Customers While You Sleep

You might be surprised to hear this, but many of today’s Internet marketing millionaires actually make their money by doing nothing. That’s right, they make money by doing nothing at all. How? They have their Internet businesses set on automatic pilot. They’ve put systems in place to gather leads, generate content, follow up leads and convert them into customers automatically, while they sleep, travel abroad or laze around on a beach somewhere. Sound too good to be true? Well it isn’t.

For example, we use an autoresponder at Search Engine College whenever somebody decides to download our free sample SEO101 lesson. As soon as anyone enters their email address into our online form, they are sent an email by the autoresponder asking them to verify their email address and confirm their interest in opting-in to receive our information. The recipient does this by clicking on a link embedded within the email.

Once that occurs, it triggers a series of emails to be sent to the recipient at different time intervals following the original request e.g. a day later, a week later or a month later.  These emails can contain further information on the original item downloaded, links to other products, a special offer, a mini-tutorial or any other information you like. The primary aim of the autoresponder is to convert the lead into a customer over time. It’s a well-documented fact that it can take up to seven interactions with a lead before they convert to become a customer and your autoresponder can set this process in motion and manage it for you automatically.

Many people think that creating a series of autoresponder emails is difficult, but it is actually very easy! Your emails don’t have to be clever or witty or long. They just need to contain an immediate benefit to the customer or information that the reader will find useful. Ideally, you should create at least 10 initial emails and decide on a time-frame and order in which you want to send them. Then you can simply add 1 or 2 new emails to the list each week as you find time to write them. Any new leads added to your autoresponder will receive the entire series of emails, in the order you intended. Existing leads will be sent any new emails you add to the series, in the order and time-frame you specify.

Sound complex? Let me give you a concrete example. Imagine you are a jeweler that specializes in selling gold chains via an online store. Here is a sample autoresponder series (and trigger) that you could create:

Trigger:          Visitor signs up to receive your monthly jewelry catalog via email.

Email 1:          Welcome and thank you for signing up. Includes link to current catalog download page.
Time-frame:      Immediately

Email 2:          Follow up on catalog and request for feedback on jewelry selection.
Time-frame:      7 days after trigger

Email 3:          Special offer to members – 20 percent discount on all gold chains for 7 days only. [Includes unique discount coupon that expires in 7 days.] Time-frame:      21 days after trigger

Email 4:          Reminder that discount coupon expires in 3 days. [Includes unique discount coupon that expires in 3 days.] Time-frame:      25 days after trigger

Email 5:          Latest jewelry catalog. Includes link to current catalog download page.
Time-frame:      33 days after trigger

Email 6:          Helpful article about how to clean jewelry.
Time-frame:      47 days after trigger

Email 7:          Information about unique or value added service e.g. free monogramming or free shipping.
Time-frame:      54 days after trigger

Email 8:          Latest jewelry catalog. Includes link to current catalog download page.
Time-frame:      64 days after trigger

Email 9:          Special offer to members – free pair of earrings with every gold chain purchased for 7 days only. [Includes unique earrings coupon that expires in 7 days.] Time-frame:      78 days after trigger

Email 10:        Interesting article about the difference between various qualities of gold e.g. 9 kt, 14 kt, 24 kt and why they are used for different pieces of jewelry.
Time-frame:      88 days after trigger

Email 11:        Latest jewelry catalog. Includes link to current catalog download page.
Time-frame:      94 days after trigger

Get the idea? The more leads you acquire and the more often you contact those leads, the more likely you are to convert them into paying customers. If you can add to your autoresponder series on a regular basis, you’ll have established automatic communication with your leads for months or even years to come.

I should stress here that you should ALWAYS use a double opt-in email sign up process to ensure your readers really do want to receive your communications. The extra verification layer prevents unintended subscriptions by persons who’ve had their email address entered into your sign-up form by others. You should also make it clear to subscribers what they are opting into – if you plan to contact them beyond the trigger event, make it clear on the sign up form or in the verification email exactly what type of communications they will receive and how often.  

You will also need to use autoresponder software, a host that supports autoresponders and/or an email marketing service such as A Weber that creates multiple autoresponders for you.

So what are you waiting for? Go switch your email marketing to auto pilot and convert customers while you sleep!

Author:  Article by Kalena Jordan, one of the first search engine optimization experts in Australia, who is well known and respected in the industry, particularly in the U.S. As well as running a daily Search Engine Advice Column, Kalena manages Search Engine College – an online training institution offering instructor-led short courses and downloadable self-study courses in Search Engine Optimization and other Search Engine Marketing subjects.