Converting Leads to Customers Using Email Automation

Converting Leads to Customers Using Email Automation

If you’ve ever looked at any of your stats, you’ve probably noticed something true to all of business. Most people visiting your website do not become paying customers. 

In fact, if you divide the total number of people who have come in contact with your business by your number of customers, you will notice it’s a very small percentage. This is normal.

Each of those visitors is a potential customer, at least in theory. However, because most are unlikely to ever come near converting to a customer, in marketing and sales we use an additional concept to narrow down this group of “potential customers” even further. We recognize a special kind of “potential customer” that we refer to as a “lead”.

This is typically a person that we have at least some information about. This can be contact information such as an email address or phone number. It may be some minimal identifying data such as just their last name and company. While there isn’t a legal rule on what constitutes a lead, in most cases it’s someone that you have at least a phone number or an email address for.

The number one mistake businesses make when they acquire a lead

I’ve seen many people relating a lead to dating, and that analogy isn’t too bad, to be honest. Especially when you see what less successful businesses do. The moment they get a lead, they start desperately hounding on that lead and trying to “close the deal” as if their life depended on it. No relationship-building involved. And just like in dating, that strategy tends to backfire, at least most of the time. 

In the vast majority of cases, a lead is just someone who has early-stage interest in what you offer. They don’t know enough about you, and they do not have the required levels of trust or interest to take things further. Most of the time they’re just in the early exploration stage. 

*-I say mostly, because sometimes you’ll get a lead who has such a high-interest level that they’re just looking to buy straight away. They don’t need further building of trust or any such thing. That’s why even marketers who go “straight for the kill” occasionally get sales. 

Don’t sell, convert

Typically when I tell people that you don’t want to go straight into selling the moment you get a lead, the next question is “ok, so then, what am I supposed to do?” And that’s a good question because business owners can’t make money by simply “not doing something”, they need something to do instead. 

An entrepreneur has to focus on something, they need a goal to strive for. And if you want to focus on something, please focus on “converting leads”, rather than “selling them stuff”. It’s a simple, yet fundamental mindset shift that will produce much better results for you.

Now, let me ask you something

Do you know what is the one major differentiating factor between businesses that thrive, and those who barely survive? It’s simply how good the business is at converting leads into customers. In fact, you can become so good at converting leads that you can easily see your profits increase by orders of magnitude. Without changing anything else in your business. 

Now, this isn’t to say that you should neglect other parts of your business and become obsessed with lead conversion. It is merely to illustrate that it is one of the highest leverage activities you can engage in. Out of all the things your business can do, improving lead-conversion rates will have the highest returns on investment.

The best way to convert your leads? Email marketing

Out of all the possible ways that you can convert leads into customers, one method stands heads and shoulders above the rest – and that’s email marketing. 

This is for a very simple reason. Converting leads is all about lead nurturing, building long-term relationships, trust, and loyalty. And when it comes to those things, nothing comes close to email-marketing. Nothing else feels as intimate or personal as an email.

Mind you, email marketing has kept this top spot for decades, despite marketers putting billions of dollars into experimenting with other channels. Nothing has been able to beat email marketing, and it seems like this isn’t about to change any time soon.

The best way to do email marketing? Email automation

If you’ve been following along up until now, I think you can already guess why this is the best way to do email marketing. It’s all about your return on investment. Email automation is the single highest leverage way to do email marketing. And that’s for a couple of reasons:

  1. Just as automation cuts costs and increases profits with all types of business processes and all industries, the same is true when it comes to email marketing, maybe even more so.
  2. Email automation allows you to shift your focus towards “building systems” and blueprints. At the same time, it shifts your attention away from day-to-day actions and distractions, channeling your focus towards building “processes”. When you adopt this mindset, you build a business process, and then the process itself builds your business for you.
  3. Automating your email marketing allows for extremely powerful segmentation and personalization which would be impractical, and perhaps impossible if you tried to achieve it manually.

How to automate your lead nurturing process and convert leads to customers using email automation

Now that you understand how and why you need to utilize email automation to automate your lead nurturing process, let’s look at some specific and concrete things that you can do to start automating today.

You can actually set up all of these within a day if you use our automation builder, and in fact, I would suggest at least giving it a try, even if you feel that you’re not ready. To make the process easier I’ve gone ahead and broken it down in terms of levels. These are in the chronological order you will want to follow as you start to implement email automation.

Level 0) Set up the custom fields that are unique to your business

Listen up carefully, this is going to be crucial to all of your automation projects in the future. In order to achieve automation that is custom-tailored to your unique business needs, utilizing pre-made generic properties will never suffice.

If you’re not sure what we mean by properties, this is a term we use to describe the different bits of information that are unique to describing your leads and customers. The most generic ones are things like their first name, last name, and email address.

However, in order to truly take things to the next level, you will need to acquire and store customer properties that are uniquely relevant to your business offerings and service.

For example, a SAAS company might have a property called “user-level” where they store information about whether the user is on a free-tier level, pro-level or the enterprise level. They might also have a field called “company size” where they store the number of employees the user is in charge of. 

This information can then be utilized for all sorts of cool stuff

  • When the user writes into support, the rep knows what their service level is, and can prioritize accordingly
  • When the person writes to the sales team, the receiving salesperson has information on the company size of this person and can negotiate differently and make different offers
  • The email marketing automation can be set-up to send different kinds of emails based on the person’s current level. They’ll get different emails if they’re a free-tier user as opposed to a pro user
    • And furthermore, the automation can be set-up to send different emails to pro accounts with less than 5 employees, versus those pro accounts who have a 100 employees, and still haven’t upgraded to the enterprise plan

Doing this in Emercury is quite simple

Just log into your account, and go to assets > fields manager. Click on the “Add New Field” button. Next, put in the property name you’re looking to track and store. If this field tracks a date, then simply choose the “date” field type.

If it isn’t a date, you’ll have one more choice to make. You can define the property as either a “select” or “text” type. Each of the two has its pros and cons. The select type lets you define predetermined choices so that when you need to input a new value, you can simply choose the appropriate option from a dropdown list.

For example, with “company size”, you can define an option such as “1-5 employees”, then an option of “6-10 employees”, an option of “11-50 employees” and an option of “50-500 employees”.

There is one “disadvantage” to using the select field

When you’re at the point of inputting a new value for the user, you cannot simply type in that a certain customer has “501-1000 employees”. You can only select from the options you’ve pre-defined in the field manager. That’s why it’s called a select field, and this is by design.

You can however update your custom field and add additional options anytime you want. So you can add a “501-1000 employees” option. After you add it, you will be able to assign it to any of your subscribers. This new option will also appear in any of the forms where you have this field enabled.

Alternatively, you can use the text field type

The “text” field-type option lets you plug in any value that you wish at the time of input. So if you define the custom “Company Size” field as a text field type, you can then put anything you want in that field.

You can put “5 employees”, you can put “17-and-a-half employees” and you can even put “ice cream sundae” if you want. Not that you would want to, it’s just that the software won’t stop you from typing in any value that you desire.

And that brings up the pros and cons of the text-field type. It doesn’t limit you to just options you’ve predefined in advance, which can be an advantage. It’s also a disadvantage because it doesn’t prevent mistakes.

If you don’t keep an excellent track of which kinds of values you’re putting in which text fields, some of your automations can break.

For example, let’s say you have a sales automation path set to trigger after people finish your onboarding sequence. It branches out based on company size and sends a different sales offer based on the company size of the person who finished the onboarding sequence.

One of the automation paths is for people with a company size of “more than 5 employees”. Yet, one of the salespersons on your staff is using different terminology and inputting “more than 5 people” in some subscriber profiles. The automation will simply fail to work because the text isn’t exactly the same as what the automation is waiting for.

When you use a select field you avoid this danger. People on your staff can only choose from the pre-defined options. The same is true if you include the field inside of customer-facing forms. They can only choose from one of the options that are present in the dropdown list.

Note that you will be able to populate the values for a custom field in several different ways.  
  • If appropriate, you can include this field in the same sign-up form where people give you their email address. By filling out the form, the person will become a subscriber with that custom-field already populated.
    • Note: The dilemma you will have is deciding which custom fields you want to ask the customer to fill in during initial sign-up, and which ones you want to skip because asking for too much information can lower signup rates.
  • You can send subscribers to forms that ask for this additional information after they’ve become a subscriber. One option is to build longer forms using solutions like Gravity forms, and simply map answers to your custom fields inside Emercury. This will append the new information to the subscriber’s profile.
  • You can have these fields automatically filled in or updated by our email automation technology. Our powerful automation builder lets you define intelligent scenarios where if something happens, our system automatically sets the user’s property to a certain value or choice. But more on this later.
  • And of course, you can always treat your subscriber database as a CRM, and if you wish you can manually input those values. Though in most scenarios, this isn’t a good idea. It’s best to have those fields populated by the subscribers themselves or one of the automations.

Level 1) Build an automated onboarding sequence

This is the earliest stage of the lead nurturing process. It’s a stage where the lead doesn’t know much about you yet, and you don’t know much about them either. This is the stage at which you want to take it easy and avoid making too many assumptions. 

It’s all about “warming up the lead” and getting them to reveal more about themselves, which in turn will help you to automatically segment them, but that’s actually part of the next level, so more on that later.

The actual specifics on how to build an onboarding sequence are outside of the scope of this article. Be sure to check out our separate article on Best Practices For Email Onboarding. As well as our article on Best Practices for Welcome Emails.

With that out of the way, let’s look at how automation fits into the onboarding process

  1. You can use the automation builder to define a simple automation which contains only the sequence of emails that the subscriber gets and when they get them
  2. You can use the automation builder to make for a much more complex automation. One that treats people differently based on what you know about them. This can be based on two different kinds of information

    • The automation can be set up to branch out in different directions based on how people engage with the onboarding process itself. That is, the automation can act differently based on how the subscriber engages with the emails that they receive. We will explore this option in our overview of level 2.
    • You can also have the automation branch out based on the different properties you have for the subscriber. That is, the automation can treat people differently based on the values inside those custom fields. More on that later.

How to build a basic onboarding automation in your Emercury account

There are multiple ways to do this, but for the sake of simplicity, I’ll illustrate the simplest way to accomplish it using our very own automation builder.

Now, the Emercury automation builder is pretty intuitive and designed to require no training, so you should be able to follow along this article without an issue. But if you need a guide on using the builder, you can look at the full guide over here.

For the sake of setting up our simple onboarding automation, we’ll create an automation where we choose that it triggers whenever a subscriber joins the “New leads” list. This is not the only option, and you can read about the other options in the full guide.

For now, let’s keep it simple and stick to the “new subscribers” trigger. This will allow us to focus on the next steps in building our simple onboarding automation.

Step 1) Add a “send email” step which sends the welcome email

This is the most crucial email that you will ever send, so it’s a good idea to understand how to do it well. Check out our Best Practices for Welcome Emails article.

Step 2) Put in a “wait” step followed by the next email step

The “wait” step tells the automation to wait (for example) 3 days before it sends the next email in the onboarding sequence.

Step 3) Put in some more “wait” and “email” steps to build out the sequence

It’s that simple. You can automate an on-boarding sequence as a series of emails separated by “wait” steps in-between. This is the simplest form of email automation, and more than good enough to get you started. 

Note: In this level 1 tutorial we’re using an advanced automation builder to build out a very basic automation. You could also accomplish this level of automation by using an autoresponder instead [you can learn about the differences here].

The reason we’re using an advanced automation builder to build out a basic sequence? It’s because this approach allows you to add complexity later on.

You can simply take your basic automation scenario, and “upgrade it” in the future by adding some conditions, field checks, tagging and more. But that’s inside of level 2 which we will discuss next.

Level 2) Automatically segment people out based on their unique situation

There are multiple ways to do this, and it will depend on your preferred way of organizing your business. The easiest way to do this is to build off of the basic automation that we set up in level 1.

  • In the basic process, we put a send-email step that sends the welcome email, and then we followed it up with a “wait” step that precedes the next “send email” step
  • To make for a more advanced automation, we can replace the first “wait” step with a “condition” step

This condition step can for example check whether the person has opened the welcome email, read the email, or clicked on links within the email.

From there on, it can send people on different paths based on the conditions that they meet. You can even have a different path for each condition. 

From here on out, you have two options about how to build out the rest of your advanced automation
1) You can have each of the paths assign a tag to the user, and then have that tag trigger a separate automation scenario.

For example, the condition “opened welcome email” can place a tag called “opened welcome email” . You can then create a completely new automation scenario that triggers whenever a person gets the “opened welcome email” tag, and then define the rest of the onboarding process in that separate scenario.

2) You can have each of the paths lead to a different kind of onboarding process, right there in the main “Onboarding” automation scenario

Instead of placing a tag that is meant to trigger a separate automation scenario for each case, you can do something different. Simply proceed to define the next steps for each case in the same main “Onboarding process” scenario.

For example, you can set it so that people who opened welcome email go down the path which sends them the second email of the onboarding process. And for the “didn’t open” condition, you can have it go to a step that re-sends the welcome email, giving them a second chance to read it.

There’s no right or wrong way to do this, and it will depend on your organizational style. You can sub-split different paths into their own scenarios, or have a big “onboarding process” scenario that includes all the paths and sub-paths for each case.

Note, the segmentation can start much earlier if you have the necessary information

You don’t have to wait for engagement data to branch out your onboarding process. An alternative setup is one where you build a Native Emercury Form, Elementor Form, or Gravity Form that includes custom fields such as “company size” right there at the sign-up stage.

If you have that custom information from the sign-up itself, your onboarding scenario can treat people differently based on the values in that custom field. That is, the onboarding sequence can be different for different subscribers from the get-go, even before you get that engagement data.

Level 3) Automate the selling, upselling, and cross-selling process

This is the moment that most marketers are impatiently waiting for – the part where you get to sell to the lead. It’s usually best done after a good quality onboarding process (and if necessary) further relationship building automations. 

By the time you’ve reached the point where you can sell stuff to the lead, you should have a lot of good quality data that helps you automate the selling, upselling, and cross-selling processes. 

For example, you can define all sorts of “set tag” and “set custom field value” steps in the automations that are part of your lead nurturing process. Ideally, by the time the person reaches the selling stage, you should have quite a few data points for the subscriber, be those values inside of custom fields, or different kinds of tags.

Advanced note: You’re not limited to setting those data points (custom field values and tags) through the email automation journeys alone. You can add and update those values from other external sources as well.

For example, if a person purchases a product in your store, your shopping cart software can send this information to Emercury and update any appropriate fields such as “total amount spent” or a “bought products” field.

You can achieve this by using the integrations in our integration directory. Furthermore, even if you don’t see an app listed in the directory, you can integrate it with Emercury through API, or by utilizing a free integromat account.

That is however something that I would reserve for once you get to the advanced level. In fact, when it comes to implementing automation, it’s a good idea to do it in levels.

There are many ways to actually automate the selling process

Once the subscriber meets certain criteria, from within the previous (automated) journeys, this can trigger an email automation. That automation can then intelligently sell your product based on the subscriber data acquired up until that point.

Remember, you can set a selling scenario to only trigger once a person meets certain criteria. For example, an automation can trigger once the subscriber receives a certain custom field value [more on that option here].

However, you can have other additional checks in the scenario itself. For example, you can put a condition step as the first step in your scenario so that only people who qualify go further. The condition step can be the first step in the scenario and be set to differentiate people based on which tags they have received.

So in this example, a subscriber can only enter the automation if they meet a certain custom field value [more on that here], and the automation will only proceed based on the right combination of tags in the subscriber profile.

The same is true when it comes to upselling and cross-selling

Your sales automation (and externally integrated apps) can add all sorts of data points related to the sale. From there, you may build out an automation that intelligently attempts different kinds of upselling or cross-selling actions. That is, it sends different kinds of upselling and cross-selling emails based on those data points. 

Just as with the onboarding process, there are multiple ways to do this. You may decide to have all of those upsell and cross-sell paths defined in one big selling scenario. Alternatively, you may choose to have the main scenario simply differentiate people, and trigger other “sub scenarios” to finish the job for each different kind of person. There is no one right way to do it.

Special warning: “Email automation” can get you in trouble

In all of business history, there have been charlatans that try to profit whenever a new type of technology appears in a market. They do so by promoting hyped-up versions of said technology.

The same is true when it comes to email automation. Your biggest enemy in implementing email automation is actually the email marketing industry itself. At least the big names inside of it. Why? Because they push a version of email automation that increases their profits. At the same time ensuring that you reap no benefits from email automation yourself.

To understand this, all you have to do is look back to the 80-20 rule

As you know, we get most of our results in business (and life) out of a small minority of the things that we do. Most things contribute very little to our end results. And the same is true for email marketing.

All the magical benefits that you hear email automation can provide? All of them actually come from that handful of basic (and easy-to-implement) forms of automation that get very little attention in “the marketing press” and advertising.

When email marketing vendors compete with each other, they compete on hype, not substance. They come up with ever more elaborate ways and mechanisms to automate ever-less-important aspects of email marketing. In a word, they compete with each other on who can include more features that contribute next to nothing in terms of your bottom line results. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not that these features are “completely useless”

If you’re a Fortune 500 company and can dedicate an entire department to implementing them, that’s different. With a company that makes billions, those small tweaks result in many additional millions of profit. This is because an increase of 0.1% over a billion dollars is still a lot of money.

If you’re a small or even medium-sized business, you don’t have the resources to implement all those hundreds of “cool features”. And remember, most of them bring at best an additional 0.1% of benefits. As a small or medium-sized business, you have to focus on those half a dozen things that bring about most of the benefits.

The good news? We’ve already done this for you

We’ve made a very clear and intentional effort to produce an email automation builder that focuses on just the things that matter. We haven’t included any of those distracting extra “bells and whistles” that sound good on paper and make for great hype-based marketing. 

We’ve streamlined our automation builder in such a way that you can get started with producing immense business-revolutionizing automations today. These are the kinds of automations that can make an immediate shift in your business results starting this week.

No need to watch hundreds of hours of tutorials or spend thousands of hours in implementation. Just utilize the intuitive straight-to-basics process that helps you capitalize on email automation starting today.

In fact, if you’re here because you’ve been researching email automation, I can make a prediction. You’re probably feeling overwhelmed because of all the automation features being discussed online. I have good news for you, however. That overwhelm is coming from the fact that marketers are throwing all kinds of features your way. That is – without any differentiation between the useful and the useless.

If it’s becoming difficult to differentiate the stuff that matters from the hype, don’t worry. There’s an easy way to tell the difference. If it’s not inside of our automation builder, it means that you don’t need it. Unless you’re the CEO of a Fortune 500 company that is. But even then I would start with the basics that contribute to 90% of your results.

The even better news? We’re making email automation free

For a limited time and due to the current circumstances we offer a very generous forever-free account to anyone who’ll grab it while the offer lasts.

Not only does this free account get you access to our full email-automation builder, but it includes almost all of the email marketing features that are typically reserved for the highest tier email-marketing plans.

We’re holding very little back, at least for now, so be sure to grab your forever-free account straight away. You can start automating your lead conversions as soon as you log into your account.

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