Email has become a key piece in the lives of almost everyone. With 3.7 billion people globally using email, and 269 billion emails being sent every day, it has become the most important and effective way for individuals and organizations to connect. And while some complain that they struggle to maintain the order of their email inbox, the fact is that people prefer email and are more receptive to the messages in emails, than almost any other form of communication.
According to MarketingSherpa, 72% of consumers prefer email as their source of business communication. Combine that with the fact that for every $1 spent on email marketing will return, on average, about $38 in income. While social media and other forms of marketing are certainly offering creative ways to reach customers, email continues to be the most proven, cost-effective, and easiest way to connect and engage with your customer base.
If you're still not convinced, consider that after working with a service provider, a customer has a 27% chance of working with that person again. If they engage their services a second or third time, they have a 54% chance of working with that provider again. But, in order to keep those people engaged, it's important to maintain ongoing communication with them, and email is the way most people want to be reached.
The beauty of email marketing is that you can automate much of it which makes it more effective, and it saves you a ton of time. You set up the offers, content, calls to action, and distribution lists, and then designate dates you want the emails sent. A little upfront work results in your ability to stay connected with your customers continuously, all while providing a personal touch. That initial effort, however, is critical if you want to use email effectively as a way to acquire and retain customers.
You'll need an email automation system, but it needs to be something you can set up and manage easily. The right tool will enable you to quickly input email addresses, create templates, and schedule various email sequences.
Let's look at how to create and manage email marketing program to achieve maximum success.
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A big advantage for field service businesses is that customers generally seek out vendors when they’re ready to engage. Unlike shopping for a car, which can take months of looking around, most customers of field services either have a problem that needs resolution fast, or they are prepared to get started on a project for which they've already planned.
People will do their research by coming to your website to learn about you, your business, special offers, and to potentially book an appointment online. The best case scenario is that they book that appointment, but in reality, most aren't ready to do it right then and there. That's okay; since they're on your website, however, use forms and pop-ups to collect their email address so you can follow up with them through your email automation. If you do that, you initiate a relationship and remind them who you are, what you do, and that you're available to them.
Your automated email campaign should space out emails about 2-6 days apart, which will keep you top of mind and increase the chances of conversion. Getting these window shoppers to finally book with you can be done with these types of emails:
For prospects (people who have given you their email address, but haven't yet worked with you), you can use reminder emails to do two things: 1) remind them of services they probably need ("When was the last time you had your ducts cleaned?", or "The rainy season is over. Let us help you get the mud out of the carpets with a Spring Cleaning!"), and then 2) remind them of you. If you offer them a new customer discount or provide some other incentive to work with you, it will help them because you’re delivering a solution, and they won’t have to go searching for a vendor to work with.
The fact is, some people have a hard time committing. Prospects will have objections and excuses for not booking an appointment, and while this is normal, it's also something you need to overcome to get that next appointment. This email is an opportunity for you to put their fears at rest, which you can do in this email by doing these kinds of things:
Include testimonials from other customers. Highlight your high Yelp or Facebook ratings. Tell them how long you've been in business.
Explain your payment plan or other information that might help them get over the fact that they're going to have to spend some money they might not want to spend.
Many people are hesitant to engage because they don't know what to expect. You might explain in the email the different steps involved in servicing them. This sets expectations and helps them understand that it isn't as disruptive as they might have thought.
This is where you'll start to see people pay attention because people love to save money. You can offer loyalty discounts to existing customers and new customer discounts to people who haven't yet engaged with you. Perhaps it's seasonal and you're offering discounts for "spring cleaning" or "winter preparation" services. But seeing terms like, “discount,” “25% off,” or “introductory special” will get people’s attention.
This is not a time to go crazy by giving away the farm, however. Be reasonable and set an expectation that your work and expertise has value. That said, it is five times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep an existing one. So go ahead and offer deeper discounts for new ones. Existing ones may not even need a financial discount; maybe they get a free pound of gourmet coffee when they book by a certain date. Either way, use this email to encourage them to book quickly.
At this point, your name will likely be familiar to your customer and even if they haven't made an appointment, you and your services should be top of mind for them. What's also needed at this point is a bit of convincing to get them beyond the looking stage and into a booked appointment.
The recommendation at this point is to go easy on the sell and heavy on the education. Provide a tip, and do so in a way that presumes they might already be on board with working with you. In fact, you might even preempt things; rather than, "20% Off Floor Refinishing", you want to go with something like, "Tips on How to Maintain Your Floors After They've Been Refinished."
By now, the prospect or customer should have a feel for how you communicate and it would be great to throw in some humor or some other attention-getting comments to make them take notice. I recently got this email, and I can tell you that it got my attention:
Subject line: It's my grandpa's fault
Body: My grandfather served in the Marines in the South Pacific in World War II, and again in Korea in the 50's. Built a business from scratch, could fix anything, and knew how to grill a steak to perfection. He taught me to never give up, which I guess is why I'm still holding out hope that you and I are going to work together. I'm here when you're ready, so just let me know. In the meantime, I'll be working on perfecting a medium rare tri-tip.
Even if the prospect doesn't move forward immediately, you will have made a remarkable impression.
You've got a customer, but you want to keep that customer and keep him or her happy and always looking to call you when they need work done. For these types of email campaigns, you may want to be a bit more strategic and maybe even schedule them in a way that maps to the customer's actual appointments and services. Some jobs only need to be done yearly, while others more frequently. That doesn't mean you can't send emails other than just reminders and special offers for maintenance, but make sure you factor the job recurrence into your email sequences.
It’s best to space out your emails on these topics:
This first email is to keep your brand on their mind. For existing customers, this is a no-brainer. Everyone likes to be thanked, and this is a way to immediately imprint your brand on them. Getting a thank you email makes you appear friendly and grateful for the relationship.
For every customer, after you service them for the first time, you should then immediately schedule automated reminder emails about the need for tune-ups, maintenance, regular cleaning, or any other service they will need in the future. Unless you remind them of who you are, they may choose a different vendor in the future.
OK, so they've worked with you, but what makes you special? Maybe the service was good, but how do they know they shouldn't try someone else next time? Here's where you can gently do some education that will give you the aura of expertise, and people prefer working with experts.
This isn’t hard to do. Most industries have their own publications and websites that provide all kinds of great educational material. For example, a quick perusal of Pest Control Technology Magazine from December 2017 yielded this great piece about ticks in the winter. Apparently, most people think ticks aren't a problem in the winter, but this piece dispels that. Use some of the information in a piece like this to make your customer smarter about issues that could impact them, and use it to drive a little business your way.
These are opportunities to strengthen your relationship with these customers, which you can do by reminding them of the date of your last service with them, and that you’re ready to jump in for the next appointment. A nice touch is to remind them of the specific service they had with you.
Some of these reminders will be seasonal in nature - spring cleanings, winter preparation, rainy season. Others are annual maintenance visits or check-ups. People actually like receiving reminders because it reduces the number of things they have to clog up their brains with. It ends up looking like a nice gesture, actually, because you're providing a convenience, and that convenience will likely be very helpful in converting that person into another appointment.
We all need a favor from time to time. And in our line of work, we know most customers don't abide by a tight schedule of service appointments. Rather, they delay making decisions, they forget to book a visit, or they just hate parting with the money it'll take to make some minor maintenance.
So this is where you get to be a good guy - you can offer a discount or a special offer of some kind for overdue services. Maybe you schedule this email to go out 1-3 months after the date of the annual check-up visit. This would be a time to communicate something along the lines of: "Hey, I know how things can get busy, but wanted to remind you about getting that service done. Let's not let that furnace run into problems, so here's an offer for 20% off the yearly maintenance visit. Just give us a call and we'll be there whenever it's convenient."
You'll be seen not just as a source of a discount, but as a trusted advisor and will create loyalty among these customers.
Email can be used in many different ways, and we'll explore more of those in future blogs. For now, however, invest the time to set up some automated campaigns that will keep you in direct contact with your customers, help them stay connected with you, and provide them with an easy way to know you and remain loyal customers.
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