Marketing Automation Fundamentals – Customer Follow Up

The single highest return on ad spend activity advertisers can engage in is marketing automation. Top salesman have know for decades if not centuries that proper customer follow up, for repeat and referral business, is critically important for selling effectively. All marketing is really just sales scaled up, and marketing automation is no different. Is your business really taking full advantage of this critical bottom of the funnel tactic?

The biggest advantages to using technology to perform customer follow up are efficiency and predictability. Most entrepreneurs are happy to report that their sales staff dutifully performs their follow up pretty much without fail, but the reality is often quite different. While statistics on the percentage of customers who receive follow up communication from a business aren’t crystal clear, anecdotally we can all think of times when we’ve bought something from a merchant never to hear from them again.

Systems Not Goals

Every CEO worth his salt knows that following up with existing customers and hot prospects is the surest way to increase revenue. One might imagine that just setting a goal like “have the sales team do more follow up with their customers” will do the trick. People have studied similar things and found that calling the sales team in for a meeting about customer follow up with result in some compliance, by some of the team, for a short time. After the initial semi effective boost, customer follow up reverts to previous levels.

The solution is a system of customer follow up. To create a system, first you need the elements. One element which the majority of businesses already have in place is the email newsletter. Whether monthly or quarterly, just sending an email to your customers with updates about your business is a good first step to a proper customer follow up system. More important though are three communication types.

  1. Review Request
  2. Referral Request
  3. Up/cross sell

Review Request

Online review are pervasive. People consider this type of social proof for purchases large and small. Google also uses review sentiment and quantity as a ranking signal for local and eCommerce businesses. This doesn’t mean we can just hire some kids to go online and write a bunch of reviews for us. Both the review sites and their users are skeptical of reviews by default While users pretty much just have the smell test, review sites like yelp, tripadvisor and angies list have sophisticated fraud detection systems to attempt to prevent gaming the system.

So what’s the best way to get more authentic customer reviews online. Ask for them! After a customer makes a purchase be sure to send them at least one email asking them to post a review to their favorite social media site. Some customers prefer to communicate via text, so using SMS for this is also a good process. This can be as simple as having a staff member assigned to send an email manually, but adding the automation element by linking your CRM or POS system to an email marketing platform will increase compliance and reduce errors.

A starting place is to draft a branded email template, which is accessible and looks professional, on all devices. A simple message requesting a review with links for some of your preferred platforms on which they provide the review that gets sent to every customer shortly after their purchase will suffice for small businesses. Higher volume businesses might want to implement a bit more sophistication. Maybe track opens and send second or third attempts to customers who do not open.

A more advanced approach could look like:

  1. Send review request email with link to internal feedback page
  2. Customer enters star rating and review message
  3. Send customers who indicate 4-5 star reviews to a page asking them to share the review on social media/yelp etc
  4. Send customers who indicate less than 4 stars to a page indicating your concern about their less than stellar experience

Referral Request

Of course, Mrs. Smith, I’m sure you’ll enjoy your new Kirby vacuum cleaner. Could you help me out with the names and phone numbers of three of your friends who could also benefit from spending way too much on a vaccuum?

Obviously that’s a little facetious, I mean, are there even still Kirby vacuum cleaner salesman in 2019? Regardless, asking for a referral is a time tested sales technique that works. Just like the review request, the referral request can be customized. The least intrusive and lowest bar to entry version of this is just to send an email template with a request to forward it to a friend. A version with slightly more set up involved could be send the message with a link to a page where the customer can click to your website and fill a form with their friend’s contact information. In any case, the simple act of requesting a referral from all of your customers using automation will amplify the revenue impact of every marketing campaign you execute.

Up sell/Cross sell

The up sell/cross sell is a core component of most knowledge product businesses. Demonstrating the effectiveness of this tactic, they often start with a free or extremely low cost sample, upsell to a price point in the $29-$79 range, and finally offer a larger package of info products at a much higher price point, maybe $279 or even thousands of dollars.

This principle works just as well for businesses outside of knowledge products. Whether you’re an etailer or local brick and mortar, you’re leaving money on the table. The exact timing of the up sell and cross sell offers will vary depending on your business. These types of offers can also work well to send out as seasonal promotions, or as part of your regular company newsletter. Just as with the previous elements of a full marketing automation strategy, automatically adding customers to the process will increase the efficiency and reliability of delivering the message compared to a manual process like assigning the task to sales staff.


While it might seem obvious, many businesses fail to take advantage of simple, low cost tools, which can streamline their customer follow up and drive tremendous revenue without increasing top of the funnel lead flow. If you’re ready to start earning more revenue from your existing customer base schedule a call to get started today.

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