Direct Mail Marketing In Real Estate: Handwritten or Print?

direct mail marketing for real estate, direct mail for real estate,

 

Direct mail marketing in real estate can be hugely successful and cost-effective if you know when to use handwritten and print direct mail.

Handwritten letters can have higher open and response rates while direct mail will let you use visuals and graphics. While one is personal, the other is more eye catching. You want to have a good mix of being on the top of their mind and to build a relationship and trust.

So, here are tips on when to use handwritten letters and when to use print mail as part of your direct mail marketing in real estate. (Link to download templates at the bottom)

Handwritten direct mail marketing in real estate:

Targeted marketing: If you are running a targeted direct mail campaign, think about using handwritten letters. If your campaign is targeted, you want to make sure it is as personal as possible. Plus, using handwritten letters will ensure higher open rates and higher conversions.

Special Occasions: Instead of the usual greeting card that every one of your competitor uses, send a handwritten note on the special occasion. It will have a stronger impact and will help build close personal and business relationships with them. A few ideas:

  • Take some candid pictures of them when they first sign the papers or move into their house. Save one or two of those pictures and send them on their first month, six months or first year anniversary with a handwritten note of course.
  • If they have young kids, on their birthday, send them a handwritten birthday note along with some helpful information for their toddler.

Referrals and Repeat customers: Referrals and repeat customers require a personal touch. You don’t have to create a new message every time you write to one of your customers and referrers. But, sending a handwritten card to thank them can go a long way  in providing a personal touch and strengthening your relationship.

After print mail campaign: Use handwritten letters to connect with people  who have responded to your print mail or flyer.

Events: To make it personal, use handwritten invites rather than postcards. Create your own events and have your own seminar. As Jason Van Steenwyk says,

Seminars can take a lot of planning, but people will line up to speak with you after the event if you do it well – and the crowds will usually be relatively free of competing agents.

Print direct mail marketing in real estate:

Non-targeted Lists: If you are sending flyers to a list that is not very targeted, it’s best to use a printed flyer. Printed direct mail can be cheaper to send out. Plus, non-targeted lists, generally speaking, have a much lower conversion than targeted lists. So, you do not want to waste your precious marketing dollars on a list that is not going to convert well.

However, your non-targeted list is still good because you can build a super-targeted list by marketing to them wisely.

To build a targeted list from your non-targeted list, insert a link or call-to-action (email or call me) in your direct mail piece. Your call-to-action should be a link to a landing page that collects emails so you know who on your list is possibly warm and considering taking action. Here is a good example of a landing page…

real estate CTA, real estate direct mail templates,

In your case, your landing page can offer an e-book download about market information for sellers and buyers or even a free consultation. Just keep it easy for yourself, you don’t want to spend a lot of time without further qualifying your prospects.

Create a separate list for those who responded to your print mail. Follow up with a handwritten note to start building relationships with these qualified prospects. Use a mix of print and handwritten direct mail.

Buyer & Seller Tips: Sending tips to your prospects can be a good way of staying in touch with your customers. While they may not convert directly, it will definitely keep you in front of your customers. This is best sent as printed direct mail since it will let you fit a lot of information on a single sheet. Here are a few ideas on info you can send out:

  • Debt-to-income ratio
  • Home equity
  • Mortgage shopping

Neighborhood Information: People are always curious about the market value of their property, their neighborhood and the city. Once a month, send them your analysis of the market and statistics of their area or the city in general.

For example, when a house in a prospect’s neighborhood is sold, send them print mail with visuals. Add a call-to-action, and if they respond, follow it up with handwritten letters to start building a relationship.

Tip: Your handwritten letter or note should always have your phone number under your name.

Direct mail marketing in real estate, just like email marketing and sales, needs perseverance. We can’t give up too quickly.

Research shows in 2007, it took an average of 3.68 cold call attempts to reach a prospect. Today it takes 8 attempts. (source: TeleNet and Ovation Sales Group)

However, the average salesperson only makes 2 attempts to reach a prospect. (source: Sirius Decisions)

So, being consistent and persistent becomes highly important if you want to be successful.

You can’t just send out one direct mail piece and expect it to work. You have to be persistent and consistent. It’s a long term game with long term effects.

Our copy and letter writing experts have put together handwritten direct mail templates specifically for realtors. Written with best practices, they make it easy to get more yeses from your prospects.

If you liked this post, you might like: Direct Mail for Real Estate: 11 Free Templates

How to Use Direct Mail for Real Estate + 11 Free Templates

direct mail for real estate, direct mail in real estate, real estate direct mail
Direct mail for real estate, direct mail in real estate, real estate direct mail

Direct mail for real estate is great in theory, right? But it takes time, carefully crafted content, and a sound strategy for when and how to send letters if you want direct mail to be successful. Well, we’ve done much of the work for you so you can spend less time pouring over what the letter should say and more time working for your clients.  

I got married a couple of weeks ago, and my current situation reminds me much of what real estate agents face when they think about sending out letters. I’m in the process of writing the thank you notes. SighBut, I must. I can’t let everyone think I’ve forgotten about them now that the wine has been drunk, the dance floor has been cleared and the gifts have been opened.

One of the hardest parts, besides the hand cramps, is trying to decide what to say to whom. The message to my aunt and the message to my father-in-law’s business partner really should be different. The note should be somewhat personalized, and I want every thank you note to be well-crafted and sincere. I want every recipient to understand how grateful I am. But, when I have to write 200 of themthis seems a daunting task.

Your goal as a realtor when sending direct mail for real estate is very much the same. You want to send great letters to a lot of peopleand that can be daunting.

The Goal:

Send well-written and personalized letters to everyone without spending a lot of time doing it.

The Problem:

You want to connect with current clients, past clients, and future clients. You want to send them direct mail with great content to catch their attention. You want the letters to be somewhat personalized so each letter is meaningful for the recipient. But, you’re busy and you don’t have a lot of time.

The Solution:

Real estate direct mail templates tailored for individual clients and unique situations. Using templates assures you can send out well-crafted content and meaningful mail. Direct mail for real estate doesn’t have to be overwhelming or time-consuming. Here are some ideas for when and how to send handwritten letters to current and future clients.

 

Direct Mail For Real Estate Ideas

Farming and Prospecting

  • Expired Listing

These sellers haven’t been able to sell their home, and they’re most likely frustrated. Use this letter as an opportunity to introduce yourself and offer a solution to their problem.

Common Mistake: Being too pushy. These sellers are already frustrated. Offer them useful information and share your knowledge to build trust. 

  • Neighborhood Farming

Once you’ve picked a farming area, you have to send out quality content and you have to do it consistently. Chris Leo gives the following advice on leadingagent.net:

“While the quality of what you mail out to your farm is important, let me level with you. The MOST important thing of all, with any geographic marketing campaign is consistency. You have to bang away on your farm area, every 3-4 weeks, month after month, year after year, and you will dominate your marketplace.”

This strategy takes a number of different letters with different content, and it takes time. Templates offer a fix for both of these inconveniences.

Common Mistake: Failing to include market information relevant to the area. Generic info that doesn’t apply to the recipient is a waste of time for you and for them.

  • For Sale By Owner

Most people selling their homes without an agent don’t know as much about real estate as you do. Use letters to give them pertinent information. Share market trends or area home sale prices. These grateful sellers will look to you when they want an agent’s expertise.

Common Mistake: Belittling the seller. You don’t want to make the seller inferior. You want to share your knowledge so you can build a relationship. 

  • Send a thank-you letter

Send the letter after meeting with a client to show you were listening and that you care. They’ll appreciate the sentiment.

Common Mistake: Being too generic. Be sure to include something specific from your meeting.

  • Check in with past clients

Send a letter to see how they are doing. This shows you care about clients even after the sale is closed. It builds the relationship. This could lead to referrals and repeat clients.

Common Mistake: Starting with “I’m checking back to make sure…” or any other phrase that implies obligation. This isn’t how you would check-in with your friends, so it shouldn’t be how you check-in with past clients.

  • Send a letter or card for a special occasion.

Melissa Dittmann Tracey offers some great ideas for sending personalized cards in her article “Relationship Management: 7 Ways to Keep In Touch With Past Clients.” She also quotes Vicci Hall, an ERA Real Estate Professionals in Ridgeland, Miss. who sends out 50 personal letters a month to past clients. Hall says:

“I’ve gotten a tremendous amount of positive comments and feedback from this letterThis contact with past clients ensures that they don’t forget me and also reminds them to refer me to friends and family.”

Common Mistake: Only thinking to send a letter around the holidays. Mailboxes are already being flooded at these times, so consider sending a letter or card on a date that’s important to the individual client such as a birthday or anniversary.

 

Referrals

  • Asking for referrals from past clients

Asking for referrals can be difficult, but referrals are important. In an article on Fortunebuilders.com, Paul Esajian says,

“Studies conducted by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) have already acknowledged the benefit presented by referrals. The majority of buyers and sellers get their agent from a referral.”

Esajian provides 5 Strategies To Increase Real Estate Referrals. One of these strategies is to “Respectfully Request Referrals.” A well-written, detailed template can help you do just that.

Common Mistake: Selling yourself short. Be confident and specific. Remind the client of your strengths before asking for a referral. 

 

Sharing News

  • Share you‘ve started a new business
  • Share you‘ve moved to a new agency
  • Share useful updates on the housing market

Providing information to clients keeps them in the loop. Update them on your current situation and location. Give them useful information every once in awhile to keep them updated on the current market or trends. Don’t let the saying “out of sight, out of mind” be true for you. Keep a connection with your clients.

“In order to develop a successful referral-based business, it is imperative to keep in touch with your clients and continue to offer them value in the future. This will not only generate a quality relationship, but the likelihood that they will reciprocate their appreciation is going to increase.” -Esijian

 Common Mistake: Forgetting about your past clients once the sale is closed. If you’ve had a good relationship in the past, hold on to it by keeping in touch.

 

Download 11 Free Templates

direct mail for real estate, real estate direct mail, direct mail in real estateYou want to build relationships with the clients and succeed in real estate- a people business. Sending handwritten letters is a crucial component.

But, if time is scarce or if your copy skills aren’t quite up to par, use templates and personalize them to fit you and your clients. We’ve written some helpful templates that avoids all the common mistakes and follows best practices.

How To Use Tech To Build Relationships With Clients: 6 Useful Resources For Realtors

building relationships, client relationshipsBuilding relationships with clients is important to success in real estate. But, it can be an overwhelming job to keep tabs on leads, get to know new clients, communicate with existing buyers and sellers and maintain relationships with past clients. These technologies help make that job easier.

1. Refresh

Refresh gives you information about the person you are meeting with or clients with whom you need to communicate.

The Refresh app pulls information from social data as well as info and notes you input after meetings. As a realtor, you know people appreciate making a connection with an agent.

People also like when you remember things about them and show interest. You can improve in both of these areas using the Refresh app. You can have Refresh send messages to your phone so you get fresh reminders right before meeting with a client, new or existing. Building relationships is easier with Refresh.

Download the free app in the iTunes store

2. MailLift

Show clients you care about them by sending a personalized handwritten letter. MailLift, a handwritten letter service, lets you take the credit for thoughtful notes and you can continue building relationships without any hassle.

Send introduction letters to prospective buyers and sellers. Write notes to follow-up and maintain relationships with past clients. Even send a letter to request referrals.

MailLift’s API, CRM integrations and other ordering options make it quick and easy to show prospects and clients personalized attention.

A variety of purchase options are available.

3. Tempo AI

As a realtor, you are often traveling, on the go, meeting with buyers, sellers, brokers and agents anywhere and anytime. Keep yourself informed with Tempo AI.

According to the Tempo AI website, this smart calendar can find directions, drive time, insights about people and companies, or the latest email. You can find a client’s phone number, your flight status, or dial into a conference call.

Tempo AI connects your existing calendars, contacts, emails, documents, and apps to help you succeed even when your schedule gets busy.

Download the free app in the iTunes store.

4. Contactually

Contactually says it is “built with you, the user, in mind, from an engaging user experience, to automatically gather and harvest information, to surfacing the right actions every day that you can use to help grow your business.”

Contactually helps you manage customer relationships with the following features:

  • daily follow-up reminders
  • relationship building progress tracking (weekly stats and relationship grades)
  • email templates
  • article sharing
  • introduction capabilities
  • pipelines
  • contact management

These features can help you land clients, keep strong relationships with existing clients and communicate with other realtors and brokers.

Monthly Plans are available for individuals and teams. Contactually also offers a mobile version for iOS and Android.

5. Sitegeist

Although Sitegeist isn’t directly a customer relationship app, it can be useful when building relationships with buyers.

This mobile app draws on publicly available info to give you an at-a-glance look into your surroundings. The app taps into your location and then provides information ranging from demographics about people and housing to area sports teams and weather.

Buyers want to learn about an area before buying a home. Using this app can show your clients you’re knowledgeable about the location and that you’re interested about their happiness in a new neighborhood. This will do wonders to building a closer relationship.

Download for free in the iTunes store or download in the Google Play Store.

6. FiveStreet

Your leads might be coming in from Zillow, HomeFinder, Trulia, or a number of other online sources. As a busy realtor, keeping them organized can be difficult.

FiveStreet’s website says, “FiveStreet works with your existing lead sources and turns your phone into a virtual command center. Automatically broadcast leads to your team, keep track of who is working a lead, and grow your business.” Not only can the app help you organize lead sources, but it can help you act fast when a new lead comes in.

Features include:

  • automatic emails and/or texts to leads
  • team sharing
  • instant notifications when a lead is claimed
  • reviews of prospect details to keep you informed

FiveStreet has plans for solo agents as well as teams/brokerages.

 

Check out these tech tools to help you build your own client relationships and let us know what you think! If you know other useful apps for realtors, share them with us on Twitter (@Maillift) or on our Facebook page!

 

Additional Posts on Useful Apps and Tech Tools:

http://smallbiztrends.com/2011/01/9-crm-apps-small-business.html

http://www.scribd.com/doc/215101628/App-thology-A-compendium-of-the-best-app-for-today-s-real-estate-professionals

 

 

Is it Misleading to Have Someone Else Write Your Handwritten Notes?

handwritten letters, handwritten notes,

It is generally accepted that telling the truth is good and lying is bad. But, I’m going to pose a moral question: are handwritten notes authentic if you’ve not actually written them?

Ok, before you get out your torches and pitchforks to start roaming the streets looking for some maniac who says it’s ok not to write your own letters, let me explain my position: The meaning of a letter lies in the intent, so even handwritten letters written by another hand are meaningful.

It wasn’t long ago I was confronted with this quandary myself. My husband has the handwriting of a drunken gorilla and he needs to write handwritten letters often for work. He’s a good salesman, can fix and fly airplanes and on and on, but his handwriting is impossible to read.

So, he really has three options: forget handwritten letters altogether, send notes that no one can read or have someone else write them. The first two aren’t really options and the third, well, that might seem like cheating on your 1st grade spelling test (It’s not).

He isn’t the only one either.

There are many who have seen the bright side of  getting someone else to pen their letters for them. Andrew DumontMoz’s super smart Business Development Director, by his own admission doesn’t have the best handwriting. So, while he writes his own content for the notes, he has his partner, pen them for him just because her handwriting is better than his.

Not convinced yet? Here’s another question for you: Is your car any less washed if you don’t wash it yourself? Well the answer is obvious, but let’s start with the person’s intention. In the above example, your intention is to have a clean car. But, you are busy and might not be the best at it, so you hire someone to carry out your intention to wash your car.  

Another way to think about this is dictating a letter to an assistant. You have a message and you picked someone to convey it. You hired out someone to pen the message. The message isn’t any less sincere or any less of your own just as your car isn’t any less clean because you didn’t personally wash it. That all makes logical sense, but it could be argued that you’re tricking someone into believing you took the time to write out a note yourself, making them feel delighted that you, a busy person, took time out of your schedule to write a handwritten note.

Remember the famous balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet? Romeo feels his love, but he can’t find the words to express them. At night, he recites the words whispered in his ear by his friend to Juliet. Juliet’s heart pounds for every word that falls out of Romeo’s mouth. Though the words were not his own, it didn’t affect his true feelings for Juliet nor did it change Juliet’s affections for Romeo.  

So, why would a handwritten note, with your words, your feelings and your sincerity penned by another human being be any less a truthful and honest connection?

Wow, this is deep for an article that started off about drunken gorillas writing handwritten letters!

But, hopefully you’ve put away the pitchforks and extinguished the torches because the real meaning of a handwritten letter lies in the intent, not in who wrote it.

 

 

Three Strategies to Increase Customer Lifetime Value (Including Many Tips and Tactics)

customer lifetime value, customer retention, upsell

Increasing customer lifetime value is one of the largest priorities for any business since it increases revenues, decreases marketing costs and shortens the sales cycle.

In one of 500.co Distrosnack emails, they sent a quick list of three strategies on how to increase customer lifetime value.

So each of the three strategies is listed below with tips you can put into action today.

Strategy 1: Decrease per customer expenses

Companies that have lowest customer acquisition costs are also ones that have word-of-mouth working for them.

As much as word-of-mouth sounds like “can’t be controlled” or generated, it is very much a deliberate exercise. Companies do spend their time and effort generating and controlling word-of-mouth.

As Renee Warren of Onboardly says, you need to keep an investment mindset. It means you have to invest in your customers, your partners, and your allies. This will help you tap into your customers network, and your partners and allies audience. Here is how you can execute.

Customers:
Just ask them for a referral. You don’t need to set up a complicated referral or an affiliate program.

You can just do something as simple as sending them a feedback email after their purchase or call them. If they are happy or satisfied, you can ask them for a recommendation. Most customers are happy to give recommendations, but very few companies ask for it.

You can mention your customers and their business on your blog, twitter, facebook wherever they are. For example, you can use facebook as a platform to share your customers stories.

You can also mimic what Human’s of New York on facebook is doing. They share one person’s story of struggle and triumph to put a human face to steel and concrete new york.

You can do the same for your customers. You could just share their stories of struggle and triumph. Everybody can relate to those.

Alternatively, share customer stories that relate to your product’s overall philosophy. Showcase customers similar to your target customers. For example, at MailLift we aim to allow people to provide personal experience irrespective of the size of their business.

So, we can showcase customers whose values match ours i.e., customers who believe in building relationships and providing personal experience to their customers.

It can be anybody in sales, marketing, customer support. Create a mix of these stories. Titles and departments don’t matter as much as themes. Stories featuring your products and clients talking about how they are overcoming their challenges can be helpful to others.

Allies and partners:
Write posts on each others blog, promote each other’s products or services. Lots of companies do this. GrooveHQ reached more than 1 million people by guest blogging on Buffer’s blog.

You can also provide special deals. Moz did this early on. They provided customers within partner channels an extended trial of their product. Their standard trial was 30 days, but customers within partner channels received a 90-day trial.

Even better, build a tool that helps their customers and turn them into your customers. This is also a good way to generate buzz for your product.

If you don’t have in-house developer teams who can spare some time to do this, then go ahead and try to do it manually.

It’s okay if you can’t scale the process right now. Just get it to work it successfully. If it generates qualified leads, then you can spend the money to automate the process or turn it into an app or tool too.

Strategy 2: Improve retention

Good customer contact can build good relationships and keep them warm more importantly.

Just like it is easier to grow your revenues from your existing customers than acquiring new customers, it is easier to keep a relationship warm rather than warming them up every time.

Some of the obvious ways of staying in touch with customers in today’s world means email marketing, offers to bring them back, tweets, facebook etc. It’s all about touchy-feely discussions when it comes to taking care of customers.

But Gregory Ciotti of HelpScout has better ideas on increasing customer retention. He shows us that customers do not care how much you engage with them and I agree.

Instead customer loyalty is based on shared values and communication is the key here. Because if your customers are not paying attention to you, then some of your best retention tactics will fail.

Here are my 6 favorite tips from Greg (with my comments and a bonus 7th tip from me) that goes beyond just taking care of customers:

1. Stand for something.

These are the things you believe in how something should be done or not done.

MailLift believes that you should be able to take advantage of adding personal touch to your sales and marketing even if you have become too big for it.

Everlane believes is not over-charging customers for quality and transparency.

Warby Parker believes in providing people glasses at an affordable price and still do good for others.

2. Utilize positive social proof.

Who does this better than facebook.

Have you seen notifications about a friend, or friends who have liked a post just above it in your feed? Or even when you are a blog page, you see X,000 subscribers just above the box.

These are all examples of social proof at work.

3. Utilize surprise reciprocity.

Surprise and delight your customers. Have you ever gotten a second surprise mint from your waiter or put your order on the house because they screwed it up?

Were you surprised? Did it make you smile? Do that for your customers. Make them feel happy. Make them smile.

We had a similar experience with Unbounce.

unbounceservice.png

This can beat any of your expensive customer retention campaigns.

4. Customers enjoy businesses who know them.

If you are talking to customers make it personal. This is when knowing your customers really helps.

If you know your customers, you will be able to talk to them in their language. For example, our customers are usually realtors, people in sales, and people in marketing.

They use direct mail and handwritten letters quite differently. Their everyday jargon is different as well.

While there might be more in common with sales and marketing, their problems and goals are completely different.

This is a 10,000 mile view of your customers. It helps to know whom you are selling to but you also want to know who your influencers, buyers and end users are. Again each of these people will have different problems they are trying to solve and will have different perceptions of the problem even if it is the same problem.

The more granular you can get, the more personal you conversations and communications will be.

5. Get people started.

This one is so simple and yet most businesses miss this. Get people started on a referral program. Sign them up as soon as they purchase your product.

Mike Filsaime of WebinarJam did this really well. He generated 3 million dollars in sales between December 2013 and April 2014.

When people subscribed to his webinar tool, he automatically signed them up to referral program. This is just a minor variation in Dropbox’s now famous growth tool… free space for inviting your friends.

This is so simple and people keep harping on finding ways to grow. Yet people often overlook these tools.

6. Get ideal customers to VIPs/Label your customers.

Make customers feel special. American Express did this really well when they first came out with their Gold cards until everybody in the neighborhood had one.

Another good example is one Greg talked about… Buffer. They call their premium customers “Awesome” members.

Give them a positive name and make them feel like part of the community. While the first one might be easy, the latter takes consistent and persistent work but it’s not hard. It’s definitely not rocket science.

And finally, I would like to add my customer retention tip to this list:

7. Bonus: It starts even before you sell.
This one starts way before your customers already buy from you.

Make sure when you or your sales team makes a pitch to the prospect, you have researched the prospect. You should know who they are both on your website and outside of it.

Your goal is to know their hopes, fears, and dreams as Ramit Sethi would say it. This could be totally specific to this person or you could borrow some from your understanding or customer personas similar to this prospect.

Now craft your pitch for them. As Greg says, “Make it personal.”

A pitch that is personal with value-add specific to their problems will make them use your product longer, or at least avoid feeling buyers remorse and abandoning it.

You don’t need to follow everything. Pick your top 3 to focus on. Even if you are limited on resources, pick one and start doing it today. More resources will open up.

You also want to make sure you provide good support to your customers. Two things to plan for:

  • How you are going to stay in touch with them for the rest of their lifecycle
  • How you are going to communicate with them during a time of crisis. Who is responsible for updating them and how open is your interaction going to be with them.

There are plenty of tools to stay in touch with your customers. Here are few tools and resources you might not have heard of yet or maybe just forgot:

Newsle: You can find where they published, what they are doing etc

MailLift: Yes this is us and while you think we may be biased, sending handwritten notes has definitely shown to improve loyalty and reciprocation. We are not the only ones to believe in this, customer appreciation has earned a lot of word of mouth for companies like buffer and grasshopper.

Really Good Emails: While this is not a tool in the traditional sense, it is really useful to find examples of every type of emails including retention. Alternatively, sign up to Chris Hexton’s Vero blog, he is one of the best in the business will teach you everything you need to know about email marketing.

LinkedIn Recommendations: This tip is from Jeff Haden with a twist. Instead of asking for recommendations, provide your customer with testimonials. This will keep both you and your brand connected and top of mind.

Strategy 3: Upsell.

Everybody knows how to upsell so I am not going to state the obvious and bore you to death. But here are few things that even the most experienced businesses and up-sellers miss.

  1. Don’t try to sell them too many things at once, and customize the upsell based on their past purchases. If you can’t customize the product because of limited tiers in your product, at least customize your pitch.
  2. Don’t constantly bombard them with upsell offers. Use the same principle as you would when you are sharing on social media… one promotional tweet for every 3-7 helpful tweets.
  3. Do not talk about your features. Talk about their problems in the form of a story. Here is a great tip that all copywriters use – AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action). Learn this and memorize it.
  4. If they can’t afford your upsell offer, use payment plan options but don’t give discounts.
  5. If nothing else works, use survey.io to get feedback or just pick up a phone. Here is a tip, if people don’t respond to your upsell emails, send them a handwritten card appreciating their business to warm them up. Then call them.

“Increasing LTV lets you spend on $$ per customer acquisition -> outbid competition -> rule the world.” – Distrosnack.

As you have seen from all the tips, one common key to increasing customer lifetime value is know your customers.

Always focus on your customers no matter how young your business is and how strapped you are for resources. There is always a way to implement these tips on a negligible budget. You are only limited by your creative problem solving.

If you liked this, share this with others too.

Tweet:  Customers do not care how much you engage with them http://ctt.ec/a07xd+ “Customers do not care how much you engage with them.”

Customer Satisfaction: Show gratitude during these 5 critical customer lifecycle stages

Untitled design

Customer appreciation is key to customer satisfaction

Feeling under-appreciated can be a real bummer! You wouldn’t want to hold the door open for someone and have them walk by without a quick thank you. You wouldn’t want to buy a birthday gift for your friend only to have him open it, say nothing, and move on to the next present in the stack. We appreciate gratitude. We appreciate a “thank you ” now and again.

Your customers are no different. Customers want to be appreciated. 

Showing appreciation is an awesome marketing effort. It facilitates communication with your customers and provides a personal touch to the customer experience. Give some gratitude in the form of a handwritten thank you note: boost customer satisfaction and turn customers into loyal fans and evangelists.
Check out how these 5 companies showed customer gratitude at 5 critical customer stages:

1. Engagement – After a Customer Received Tech Support

iContact, customer satisfaction, customer appreciation, handwritten thank you, handwritten letter

iContact realized that tech problems can be frustrating, but some appreciation in the form of a followup thank you just might be the ticket to winning a customer over. 

2. New Customer – After a Customer Signed Up Online

Formspring, customer satisfaction, customer appreciation, handwritten letter                                 

formspring didn’t let a new signup go unnoticed! They let customers know right away that they appreciate them and will go above and beyond to provide a personal customer experience. First impressions are important!

3. New Customer – After a Customer Made a Purchase

Lands End, Customer Appreciation, Customer Satisfaction, handwritten letter, handwritten thank you

Not only did Lands’ End say thank you, but this personalized note also compliments the customer and gives her an idea of what she can buy next. Well done Lands’ End! 

4. Advocacy – After a Customer Gave a Shout Out on a Blog

Grasshopper, customer appreciation, customer satisfaction, customer engagement, handwritten thank you

If someone takes the time to give you a shout out on a blog or on twitter, don’t let that act of evangelism go unnoticed! Say thank you just like Grasshopper did. They showed appreciation for expanding their social media presence.

5. Loyalty – After a Customer Showed Loyalty

Yield Software, customer appreciation, customer satisfaction, handwritten letter, handwritten thank you

Yield Software realized long time customers deserve thanks the most. By telling these customers how much they are appreciated, Yield Software makes the effort to turn a satisfied customer into a loyal fan and evangelist! 

 

A customer who feels appreciated is…

  • more likely to patronize your business again

  • more likely to spread your word as a fan and evangelist

  • more likely to become a loyal, satisfied customer

 

Maybe you’ve never thanked your customers before, or maybe you have but only after they’ve made a purchase. Regardless of past customer appreciation practices, we can all show a little more gratitude.

Pick up a pen and show your customers how much they mean to you wherever they are in the customer cycle. Make gratitude one of your most successful marketing tools for customer relationship management.

Do you have a tip to help increase customer satisfaction? Share it with us @maillift.

Further reading on customer satisfaction

Why Handwritten Notes Are Better Than Company Swag: 7 Compelling Reasons That Will Blow Your Mind

handwritten letters, promo items, promotional products, company swag

When you think of brand promotion, branded T-shirts, hats, pens, stress balls, etc. seem to be the default. But in a world of personalized marketing, promo items can only take you so far.

Unlike company swag, handwritten letters can be personalized. Customers value and appreciate one-to-one communication and handwritten notes fit right in there while being affordable.

I can give you seven reasons why handwritten notes will give you a far better mileage than your company swag.

1. Gets Word-of-Mouth Quickly and Globally

handwritten letters, promo item ideas, promotional products

Mark Hayes bought a shirt from Brooks Brothers, and a couple weeks later he received this handwritten letter from his sales associate Garth. So, he wrote a blog post praising the company. He wrote that post three years ago, and people are still talking about it. How do I know? Look at how people are still linking to this post even today.

wom, handwritten letters,

There are plenty of such examples where handwritten thank you notes have generated word of mouth for companies like Grasshopper and Jimyz Auto Repair Shop. Jimyz became highly talked about on Reddit as well.

2. Boosts Sales and Repurchases

When companies get busy and have limited resources, showing gratitude to customers falls to the bottom of the list. Not that companies don’t thank customers, because they do. It’s just that it is in the form of an impersonal automated email thanking them for the purchase.

So, what happens when you personally thank each customer? You can boost both new and recurring revenue.

For example, in one experiment, it was found that customers of a jewelry store who were “called and thanked” showed a subsequent 70% increase in purchases. In comparison, customers who were thanked and told about a sale showed only a 30% increase in purchases and customers who were not called at all did not show an increase (McCullough et al., 2001). In another study, regular patrons of a restaurant gave bigger tips when servers wrote “Thank you” on their checks (Emmons, 2004). Therefore, gratitude can be used as an effective tool for incremental sale, and help managers achieve their incremental targets.

But here is the kicker. If you are planning on sending thank you notes to customers for making their first purchase, avoid giving them discounts with it. The chances that they will buy something soon is going to drop significantly. Appreciation will motivate more customers to buy than offering financial discounts.

So, sending your customers thank you notes and showing how much you appreciate their business will cost you a few bucks, but it will bring a lot more in revenue because word-of-mouth is the primary factor behind 20 to 50% of purchasing decisions.

3. Increases Customer Loyalty

After customer acquisition, the next thing on everybody’s priority list is customer retention. But that’s mainly measured in how long the customer stays with the company. Instead, if you think about it in terms of customer loyalty, you can boost your revenues further. Customer loyalty not only  increases revenues, duration of  stay and stability in your company turnover, but also reduces price sensitivity and builds a contact network for word of mouth marketing and referrals.

In a 2013 study, investment in social relationship management resulted in gratitude that in turn resulted in immediate purchase intentions and customer loyalty. Financially rewarded users showed increased intention to purchase, but did nothing to increase customer loyalty.

Social relationship management means recognizing, appreciating and showing gratitude towards customers delivers better results than just a financial reward. When you are genuinely making an effort to send a handwritten letter after purchase, customers don’t view it as something that is beneficial to the salesperson or the brand. That is, there is no commission that rests on the handwritten note they just received nor is there any direct promotion for the company. Customers view handwritten notes sent more out of free will rather than personal benefit. So, customers view it as genuine gratitude that increases customer loyalty towards the brand.

4. Decreases Ad Spend

So, we know handwritten letters can boost word-of-mouth marketing efforts. But it can also help you stretch your marketing ad dollars. In a study done by Northwestern University, word-of-mouth is described as a type of viral marketing since it encourages the audience to pass on a marketing message to others, creating the potential for exponential growth in the message’s exposure and influence.

They found that customers primed through ads became part of the word-of-mouth “viral pump” that is already spreading the message. Then they bring in more customers who in turn bring in customers, enhancing the “viral impact.”

Viral pump reduces the amount of money you spend on acquiring new customers since your word-of-mouth engine is doing it for you.

5. It Can be Used For Both Sales and Marketing to Prospects

Handwritten letters have been used both for prospecting and accelerating the sales cycle. This is especially true for those in B2B businesses where the sales cycles are getting longer. In his post on LinkedIn, Steve Patti used the term “microwave marketing” to describe an unrealistic expectation for lead generation that says “a dollar spent today produces a sales lead tomorrow.” For lower value B2C products, this works as a single PPC ad can convert to a sales inquiry. However, for higher value/complexity B2B sales the touch points required to build trust are numerous and take time.

And that’s what Gabe at Upshift did. He used handwritten letters with gifts (not company swag) to get attention from the CEO of a $3 Billion dollar company. He used the same tactic on many other companies and at the end of four months:

30% of our total list of one hundred were contacted.
We had meetings with fifteen of the one hundred on the original list. We closed two major deals that equated to over $2,000,000 in revenue. We spent roughly $2,000 on gifts, postage and Elance services.

You don’t always need to send gifts along with your handwritten notes. Sometimes keeping it simple with just handwritten letters and a good pitch can accelerate the sales cycle. Granite MEDSystem had tried to send gifts to their “dead leads” with no success when they came to us (MailLift). They had also tried to email and call with no success. Just like Upshift, they faced barriers. For example, some of those gifts never made it their leads due to security measures set up by their target companies. But when they sent handwritten letters, within two weeks, 35.29% of their dead leads called back to set up a meeting with their sales team.

6. They Can Motivate Users to Take Action

Charles Best is the founder and CEO of Donors Choose, an online non-profit organization that makes it easy for donors to give to classrooms in need. Donors choose classroom projects they want to fund and donate to make those projects come alive.

Charles decided to conduct a study to demonstrate the ROI of gratitude and here is what happened:

In this experiment, the Donors Choose staff sent hand-written thank you notes to half of their recent first-time donors. The other half received no thank you notes. The results showed a direct correlation between being thanked and the likelihood of giving again. In fact, those who personally thanked were 38 percent more likely to give another donation, proving an actual return on investment in gratitude.

7. Leads the Way to Customer Participation

Customer participation, i.e., getting customer feedback and keeping them invested increases customer satisfaction as discussed in the Sloan Review article.

Although word-of-mouth may get more attention, our research shows that both customer-to-customer reviews and customer-to-business interactions can influence a customer’s propensity to buy more of a company’s products and services. While not all satisfied customers become repeat buyers, encouraging them to provide feedback and suggestions helps tie them more closely to the business.

A lot of companies as they start growing or scaling, they cut down on their customer participation efforts because they already have a lot on their plate that tends to be a priority. Besides, as companies grow, managing customer participation often becomes complex. So, increasing and managing customer participation sits on the bottom of the pile, but it is equally important as seen in the same Sloan Review article:

The bank customers who purchased the most were individuals who both participated and engaged in much word-of-mouth behavior. The second most valuable group was made up of customers who participated but did not engage in much word-of-mouth behavior.

We saw a similar pattern with other measures in our survey as well, such as loyalty and attachment to the brand. High participation/high word-of-mouth customers were the most loyal and attached to the brand, followed by high participation/low word-of-mouth. Customers who did not participate tended to be the least profitable, the least loyal and the least attached to the organization, regardless of whether they spread positive word of mouth.

So how do you make sure that customers invest time and energy to give you feedback and make sure they come from a lot of different types of customers.

Here is how one company got started:

A company offering online personal shopping assistance services has established a simple yet effective way to open a direct, personal communication channel with customers. When that company sends customers their first order, it includes a handwritten note and sometimes a personalized gift. The note initiates a dialog with the customer. The result: The company says it gets information that is richer and more detailed than anything it might obtain from an equal investment in elaborate analytics.

Company swag has its place and time like events and trade shows. It works best when people are already familiar with your company, product, and brand. Promo items can aid in creating top of mind. So, unless people are already familiar with the brand, it is going to be hard to get new people excited about you.

In cases where you are looking to build excitement, handwritten letters (along with company swag if you like) to customers and prospects will give you better mileage than just company swag. It will also boost your brand awareness and reputation with both prospects and customers. Plus, it will still create top of mind as you saw in Brooks Brother’s case.

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Send the Letter. Build the Relationship. Close the Sale.

Handwritten Letters in Sales, Close the sale, sales closing techniques, sales tips,

SEND THE LETTER:

If you could just get yourself a meeting, you know you could close the sale. You believe in what you are selling, and you’re good at your job. The real obstacle lies in getting yourself an introduction and piquing interest in your product or service.

Driving from location to location, traveling state to state, or flying around the world to meet with leads isn’t always feasible or the best use of your time. This is especially true since some of the leads may be unqualified. You have to find a way to connect with a large number of prospects, but there’s only one of you!

Emailing is easy, but it can too easily be deleted. One mouse click and your carefully crafted sales email will never even be seen.

Phone calls are another option and if you’re lucky, you might even get to speak with the prospect you are targeting, the person with the power to purchase.  But, you might never make it past an assistant. Or, you might be taken straight to voicemail only to leave a message that may or may not get listened to.

Sending letters, handwritten and personal, allows you the opportunity to introduce yourself, introduce your product or service and provide a call to action!

Another benefit to handwritten letters is that they GET OPENED! Personal research conducted by T Johnson Marketing showed by switching from digitally printed envelopes to handwritten envelopes, and by using first class postage instead of a meter mark,  the response rate for life insurance leads more than tripled!

 

Get your letter opened and you’ll be introducing yourself and your product to multiple prospects in many locations!

BUILD THE RELATIONSHIP:

Once the letter is opened, it builds a necessary personal relationship with the prospect. In the article, How to Make a Personal Connection with Customers: Seven ways to build relationships with prospects that lead to more sales, journalist Lambeth Hochwald writes the following:

“It isn’t always enough to create and promote an outstanding product or service. Often, your sales approach matters just as much as what you’re selling. The most successful entrepreneurs create a connection with the customer by bringing their own personal touch to the sales process.”

She quotes sales trainer Adrian Miller who supports the need to build a relationship:

“People buy from people that they like and can relate to… when business owners overlook the importance of that personal connection, they run the risk of losing the prospect to someone else.”

Don’t run that risk! Your prospect will appreciate the effort and time it took to sit down, pick up a pen, write a personal message, stamp the envelope and drop the letter in the mail.

Handwritten letters make personal connections with hundreds, even thousands, of prospects at the same time.  And, each potential customer feels individually appreciated and personally acknowledged. 

Handwritten letters also have permanence, which is a benefit to you.  Maybe he’ll come across the letter on his desk a few days later, or he’ll walk it to a partner’s office and show her what you’ve written. You’ll be continuing to build the personal relationship and reinforcing your sales pitch, all with one personal letter!

Note: Sending a followup letter a couple of weeks later is a good idea if you haven’t heard a response from the first letter. Knowing you care enough to write him again just might be the push a prospect needs to contact you.

 

CLOSE THE SALE:

The letter was sent, the letter was read, and hopefully the letter was persuasive and personal enough to spark the prospect’s interest. Some sales letters lead straight to a purchase, but many lead to a personal meeting. Whether face to face, via a conference call or even with personal email communication, you now have a chance to continue building your customer relationship with your winning personality and charm.

You’ve already connected and done the introductions, so you can focus on listening to the prospect’s needs and helping him succeed with your product or service.

 

SEND HANDWRITTEN LETTERS:

Next time you want to get in touch with prospects and you aren’t able to introduce yourself in person, skip the impersonal email and the pesky phone calls. Send handwritten letters to contact multiple leads, build the relationship and increase response rates to boost sales.

 


Note: Once a relationship has been built, don’t forget to maintain it. Handwritten letters are a key tool for generating customer connections, and they can also help you maintain them.

For tips on writing effective sales letters, check out the links below:

7 Tips for Writing Dynamic Sales Letters

How to Write an Effective Handwritten Letter

 

Demand Creation: 11 Posts To Strengthen Your Sales Pipeline

sales pipeline, sales pipeline management

Every sales team has two types of leads in your sales pipeline: demand-captured or demand-created.

Now, you’re probably wondering what demand capture and demand creation is. This is how Lisa, Editorial Director at Selling Power, describes demand capture and demand creation.

Demand capture = finding & capturing customers.

Demand creation = creating customers where none exists.

So, if you were selling the fastest horse in the early 1900’s, you were capturing a demand. And if you were Henry Ford selling Model T, you were creating a demand.

Demand capturing is the lowest hanging fruit there is in sales. It can be good or bad. It’s good because they make for short sales cycle and its bad because it is just as visible and easy for your competitors to find them. You are now equivalent to commodity. On the other hand, demand creation let’s you be first to the market or vertical. You don’t have to compete on price and is easier to grab a larger market share. Your only competition is a question: “Why would I want to change?”

So, how exactly is demand creation different from demand generation? Demand generation is more of a function of the marketing department while demand creation is more about identifying what customers really need vs what they say they want, which is a job for the sales team. They are going to build a vision for the customer so they answer, “Why would I want to change” for themselves.

And as a salesperson you are in the only person in the company that can filter out the noise of customer need versus want. They tell you details every time you talk with them!

So, how do you transition from demand capture to demand creation?

Here are 11 articles that will help you develop strategies and tactics for a stronger sales pipeline for yourself or your team.

1. Demand Capture vs Demand Creation

Intro to the topic that will give you all the ammunition you need to make your case.

Key Takeaway: Sales people focussed on buyers who already have a problem or are looking for a change are looking at only 15% of the market. 75% of buyers who switch suppliers described themselves as being satisfied or happy with their provider before they switched.

2. How To Achieve Revenue Goals Through Demand Creation

Key Takeaway: “Shifting our focus from uncovering a customer’s ‘known pain’ to assisting a customer in acquiring a vision for an ‘unknown gain’”. You will learn about: When you should move to demand creation? How should you view demand creation from a strategic and executive level or in your current role.

3. How To Overcome “They Are Not Interested” Syndrome

When you are speaking to customers who have not yet considered you as an option, their response often times is “not interested” or some variation of that. This will help you figure out how to overcome those objections.

Key Takeaway: You will learn how “the sales professional is tasked with creating interest not discovering, uncovering or responding to pre-existing interest.”

There is also interest indicator chart in here that will be useful as you implement these techniques.

4. Demand Creation vs Cold Calling

If you’re in an industry where cold calling is prevalent, then this is must read. This is all you need to convince your boss.

Key Takeaway: If cold calling were a product, nobody would buy it because it does not work 90.2% of the time and costs 60 percent more per lead.

5. Customer Experience Is The New Demand Creation

Key Takeaway: This can be one of the biggest differentiators when closing deals because about 80% of factors that senior level decision makers trust is directly related to customer experience.

6. The Six Secrets To Demand Creation

Key Takeaway: Six principles to recognize the huge gaps between what people buy and what they really want—and use those gaps as a springboard to see differently. Examples of what demand creation can look like from sales, marketing, product and operations view.

7. Five Areas Where Technology Impacts Demand Creation (image)

Key Takeaway: Investing in technology will help you boost the effectiveness. Currently, predictive modeling, social syndication, advanced nurture, sales enablement and closed-loop reporting are five areas that can benefit.

Thank you to @jpolacsik, Marketing Director of Verint systems for sharing this image during Sirius Decision Summit.

8. Sirius Decision’s Demand Waterfall Model (chart)

Key Takeaway: A complete view of the journey that complex demand creation takes from cold to close. This chart shows points t0 measure for optimizing demand creation efforts.

9. Advanced Demand Creation

Key Takeaway: You can use lead velocity to model demand boosting the accuracy of your sales forecast. You can add tele-teams (based on the Demand Waterfall framework) who are responsible for qualifying and making sure every lead is followed through by your field sales rep. This will also help you identify all the breakpoints and diagnose bottlenecks in your sales funnel.

10. Demand Creation: Five Metrics That Matter

Key Takeaway: Based on the waterfall model, this gives you a list of 5 critical points (Inquiries, MQL, SAL, SQL and closed business) in the funnel (breakpoints) you should be measuring and why.

11. Integrating Telesales and Sirius Decision Waterfall

A wonderful talk from Jeff Wright of Market One and Melissa Centrella of Virgin Healthmiles about the Waterfall Model in sales and marketing.

Key Takeaway: Demand Waterfall and tele-teams not only generate leads but they also can help marketing and sales teams “properly align their resources with best-in-class demand generation modeling, measurement, clearly defined SLAs and hand-off processes, and a nurture strategy that continues the conversations started by either Digital or Human interaction”.

Tele-sales teams will help sales people stay on top of hot leads. You don’t want to lose valuable leads because yours or a sales team member’s plate is too full to followup right away. This happens all the time because salespeople are too busy trying to close the deals and make the numbers. A lot of leads are wasted this way.

Demand creation has become an integral part of growth for both sales and marketing. This is one of the best models out these to strengthen the pipeline in both the short term and the long term.

This is a good list to start with. What are some of the other posts and articles that you found insightful on demand creation? Please share them with me and others @maillift. I will expand this list with full credit to you.

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How to Write an Effective Handwritten Letter

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Take a step back for a moment to your High School English classroom. Reminisce on the grammar worksheets, the lessons on  parts of speech and the hours spent learning how to write an A+ essay.

Most writing is fundamentally similar; so, when you are writing a letter, whether to a colleague, client or potential customer, use some of that knowledge you learned as an acne faced, hormonal teen.

But just in case you don’t quite remember the great advice Mrs. K gave you in second hour Composition, we’ve come up with a list of 5 ways  you can improve your writing skills and write more effective handwritten letters.

Here are five things you learned in school about writing but may have forgotten:

1. Write clearly and concisely.

Don’t try to wow your audience with big words and long, wordy sentences. You won’t impress anybody with sentences that don’t make sense or words used out of context. In a letter, you don’t have the opportunity to expand or respond to questions like you might in person, so make sure the reader understands your message the first time. Write shorter sentences, and make sure information is direct to avoid any confusion. Tip 1: Have someone else read through the content you’ve written. Ask them to tell you where they had questions or where something was unclear. Revise the letter to clarify cloudy points. Tip 2: Read it out loud to yourself. Record it and listen to it again. Both of these activities will help you find any confusing statements in your letter.

2. Include an attention grabber!

You already succeeded when the reader opened the envelope! Now, you have to keep your reader hooked. Give him a reason to read past the first sentence or the entire letter will have been in vain. Tip: Begin with a startling fact or a thought-provoking point to pique interest.

3. Be Brief when possible.

You don’t want your reader to be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information when he opens the letter.  Why say something in 100 words when you could use 50 to make the same point? Every situation is different and some letters call for more expounded points, but keep in mind brevity can be beautiful. Tip 1: Read through the first draft of your letter and eliminate any unnecessary or redundant information. Extra information only takes away from the important points. Tip 2: You can also use tools to keep your copy concise. Draft your copy Draft and use simplify to help you shorten your long sentences.  Alternatively, use Hemmingway app to highlight long sentences, adverbs, passive voice and hard to read sentences.

4. End with a call to action.

The letter must have a purpose. At the end of the letter, give the reader something to do next. He’s read your letter, he’s heard what you have to say, now what should he do? Call you? Set up a meeting? Go to your website? Order something? Refer someone? Always give your reader a clear next step for action if you want the best return on your letter. Tip: Provide more than one contact option. Some people prefer to call while others prefer email. Including a website they can visit is also a great idea! They may not be ready to contact you quite yet, but at least they know where to learn more.

5. Be yourself!

This letter, like all writing you do, is a reflection of YOU, so don’t be someone you’re not. Let your personality shine, and write in a way that is natural to you. A reader will take notice of a letter that is unique and sincere. Tip: Include something personal. You could add something interesting from your last conversation with the letter recipient. For example, “Last time we talked, we discussed your newest marketing strategy. I’d love to talk about how we could fit into that strategy.”   When using MailLift’s handwritten letter service, you can always ask our content team to look over what you’ve written and give you our feedback. We’re happy to help you write the best possible letter so you get the best possible return.

Further Reading

14 Essential Quotes: How To Write Handwritten Notes Like Richard Branson The 9 Worst Sales Scripts In History Send handwritten letters with MailLift and Wufoo