Effective Sequential Messaging
Sequential messaging delivers creative content based on a user’s stage in the conversion process, or their relationship with your brand. Sequential messaging allows companies to present the right information at the right time, in a continuum that makes sense to the consumer.
You can welcome a new user to your email list, provide them with rich, engaging content that cements their positive connection to your brand, alert them to special promotions or contests, and gently nudge them toward action when important touchpoints are presented. It’s all part of one continuous conversation, and when done well feels less like marketing and more like a service.
How do you do it well? Here are a few pointers.
The Customer Journey
How long, after a customer leaves your store or website, are they still your customer? If there is no follow-up engagement, the lifecycle ends as soon as they receive the ordered product or service. If there is only minimal engagement (reminders when services are due again, or products expire, or only during sales events), the customer lifecycle is weak and vulnerable to drop-off.
But, if you continue to engage a customer and encourage repeat visits, they can be a customer for life.
The first step in crafting effective sequential messaging is to study your current customer lifecycle. What is their entry point to your brand? What, if any, is the follow-up from your brand after the initial conversion? Most important, where are the “holes” in the lifecycle? Consider these holes as opportunities to provide content that reinforces brand loyalty and repeat visits.
Content: What to Say
To start, whenever a customer makes a conversion on your site, send them a quick thank you. No marketing jargon, no push to sell. Just thank them. It’s good manners. Let them know you appreciate their business, and that you intend to honor this new relationship by giving them the information they want. Then, give them what you promised.
As a customer progresses down the lifecycle, email content should do at least one of two things: it should remind them that you’re an expert in this related field, and/or encourage repeat visits or conversions. This involves more than simply bombarding their inbox with coupon codes and limited time offers. Be an information advocate for your audience, giving them information relevant to both your brand and their life. For example, a children’s hospital isn’t going to send out promos on vaccines – but it may send short, fact-filled emails on the importance of proper vaccinations, or on ways to make vaccinations less scary for children. This shows the hospital cares about the health and happiness of its patients, and encourages action from the parents.
If your sequential messages are driving toward a renewed action (schedule a visit, renew subscription, reorder product) your emails can help communicate the impending deadline. Change the headers, graphics, and font colors to help evoke a sense of urgency. But avoid ALL CAPS emails. There’s no need to shout, after all.
People respond to their own names and other personal information. Use your data to your advantage by personalizing your email messages. Names, genders, dates, and even interests can all be captured and then utilized to make your emails feel more like letters and less like online litter.
Most important, even if you’ve only got 100 words, make sure they are the right 100 words. Let your emails reflect your brand’s core values and personality.
Many companies offer different products or services that appeal to a wide range of people. That’s no problem with sequential messaging. A general campaign that drips into your customer’s inbox every 60 days or so can be complemented by a more targeted, interest-driven campaign that is scheduled for the first campaign’s off months.
What happens if a customer stops engaging? Segment your audience into buckets – engaged and unengaged. Create a special campaign speaking directly to the unengaged. You can offer them special incentives, test out new messaging, and even ask “Was it something we said?” Audience feedback will let you know with crystal clarity what you could be doing better, at least according to them.
Schedule: When to Say It
How often you will communicate with your audience depends entirely upon you and your audience. Some companies provide weekly wrap-ups, others do a daily email of specials, while still others opt for once a month check-ins. Too few emails and you run the risk of becoming irrelevant, too many and you could become annoying. What kind of engagement do your users have with your brand online now? How often does the average customer return to your site or store? And, what kind of content are you going to provide them? Not just promos, right? Good. These answers will help you decide how often to email your list.
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