If you follow the inbound marketing philosophy, you know that you're supposed to delight your prospects and customers during every interaction you have with them.
This is why your contacts database--which is filled with those prospects and customers--should be front and center when creating your marketing plans, conducting postmortem reviews, and figuring out ways to improve your overall marketing and sales efforts.
See, it's easy to think once someone has entered your contacts database that you're "golden," meaning there's not much more to do since the person has already given permission to be in your database. (You DO ask for permission, right? For the purpose of this post, we're assuming yes.)
But that couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, getting someone into your contacts database is relatively easy. Getting them to stay--and to continue to engage with your business--is the challenge.
Here are some inbound marketing tactics geared towards keeping your contacts happy.
1. Respect their wishes. When someone takes the time to fill out a form on your website, it makes sense to end the form with a couple of options, such as opting in to a newsletter or subscribing to your blog. Giving people the choice is key. And respecting their wishes is essential. It's much better to have a smaller list of rabid newsletter fans rather than a large bloated list of people who have no interest in receiving your dispatches. This is why permission is critical. ALWAYS ask for permission.
2. Make it easy for people to leave. In fact, remind them that they can leave at any time. Sounds a little counter-intuitive, doesn't it? Once they're in your database, you want them to stay. Sure, you'll make it straightforward for them to unsubscribe, but to actually remind them that they can unsubscribe...really? Yes, REALLY.
Reminding people how easy it is to opt out gives the control back to them. And people like to feel in control. Besides, as we mentioned above, reminding people that they can unsusbscribe will ultimately HELP your database since people who are no longer quality leads/customers will self-identify and leave on their own. That means less work for you.
3. Keep your database clean. Database hygiene is important. You should have processes in place that involve purging contacts who are no longer engaged. You'll determine the criteria that makes sense. For example, you might decide to delete contacts who haven't opened any emails AND who haven't visited your site in the last six months. Sure, it shrinks your contacts list, but you'll have a list that better reflects the current state of your business--both your pipeline and current customers.
And if you're feeling twitchy about deleting people without giving them one last chance, you can always send a targeted re-engagement campaign before pulling the trigger. Re-engagement campaigns, when done right, do work. The numbers might not be huge, but even if you can re-engage one percent of the list you were planning on deleting, that's better than nothing.
4. Consider using customer relationship management (CRM) software. A solid CRM that integrates with your website is a great way to close the loop between marketing and sales. Your contacts will live in one central hub that sales and marketing can access, and you can easily see snapshots of who's in the pipeline and who needs to be re-engaged, as well as other insightful info.
5. Be mindful about how and when you communicate with contacts. We've stressed in several articles about email marketing and lead nurturing strategies that every email you send should have a purpose. Otherwise, why are you sending it? Sure, you want to stay front and center in people's minds, but just make sure you have something worthwhile to say and/or offer before you hit send.
6. Churn is normal. Some people will unsubscribe. Occasionally, once-engaged contacts will become less engaged. no matter what you do. The "perfect" contact from a buyer persona perspective won't ever open an email. You could do everything right, but at the end of the day, you will lose contacts. And then pick up new ones the next day. Rinse, lather, repeat. That's the circle of inbound marketing life. And it's OK.
Need assistance managing your contacts database? Proforma Durkee can help!