Let’s say you are a software enterpreneur.
You sell software that does, oh, I don’t know, how about online project management?
You are at a social gathering for an industry conference and the person you are talking to finds out what you do.
Next thing you know, here’s what you hear:
- “I installed your trial software but then I had a hard time figuring out what to do.”
- “I’ve thought about using some kind of project management software for my job, but I don’t know if I should.”
- “I use your software at work. I know it does more, but I only use it to keep track of our schedule.”
At this point, would you just nod your head and change the subject?
Of course not!
These are customers. You would engage in conversation with them. You’d ask some questions and try to understand their situation better. You’d make some suggestions and see how they respond. You would want to help but not overwhelm them.
You would hope that each person would leave the conversation more informed and with a good feeling about you and your company.
More importantly, you would hope they would change their behavior. That they would try to make the trial software work for them. Or read more about project management software. Or try some new features of your product.
Social interactions change how people think, feel, and behave
You can influence people more easily when you can interact with them directly, face-to-face.
In a social setting, other people have lots of indications that tell them whether you can be trusted. You are both at an event where you know other people, including mutual friends.
The other person can directly read all the cues from you – facial expressions, what you say, and how you say it.
You can interact and adjust to each other. If the other person asks a question and you don’t quite understand, you can ask further questions to clarify.
You can ask them to take a next step. You can follow up. You can give them your contact information. You can send them a message following the conference with additional information or an invitation to ask you further questions.
You can change how they think and feel. More importantly, you change their behavior. Only a change in behavior moves your customer from unaware to prospect. From trial user to customer. From casual user to dedicated customer and evangalist.
What about all the customers that you cannot interact with directly?
But wait a minute. You can’t expect to encounter enough buyers at industry events and parties to build a customer base.
You’ll need an approach you can automate, something that is low touch but interactive. Something where you can reliably encounter your customer at various stages of the lifecycle of their relationship with you.
You could rely on Search or Social Media, but they don’t give you enough control over the interaction.
Instead, use email. With email you can communicate at each stage of the customer lifecycle.
- A customer installs your trial software, but doesn’t use it? Send an email with some tips on how to get started.
- Someone lands on your website? Invite them to receive an email mini-course that would educate and build trust.
- Customers are paying by the month for your software? Offer an annual plan that would save them money.
The criteria, the pre-requisite, the alpha and the omega for successful lifecycle email is permission. Once you have permission to send a person an email (and you make it clear that they can unsubscribe anytime), you now have more control over what they read from you and when they read it.
The advantages of Lifecycle Email
Lifecycle email has many advantages over other way you communicate with your customers:
Your email is in the right neighborhood. It’s in their inbox. People associate email with work they must get done. Emails cannot be ignored (compared to the river in their Twitter or RSS feed).
The other person has given you permission. They enjoy getting email from you. You are sending them information and ideas that they have asked for.
You have enough time with the person to educate them, to build trust, to ask them for a change in their behavior.
If you want to learn more about how software companies use lifecycle email, I’ve written a longer article on How Software Companies Use Lifecycle Email to Improve Conversion Rates.
Photo Credit: James Breeze