In the early days of running my online business, I came across a number of coaches and course creators who made a truckload of cash by selling their courses, programmes and other info-products to a constant stream of brand new clients.
I mean who cares if your refund request rate is over 30%…
Or if your customer retention rate is practically zero…
…when there are over 4 billion people on the internet worldwide. Of which over 2 billion are active on Facebook, Instagram or the other major social channels.
The pool of potential prospects seemed infinite.
In the past, those coaches were right.
Why waste time satisfying your current clients, when you can hack your way to fresh clients using shiny new strategies and automation tools to boost your conversion rate?
This was especially true for the online entrepreneurs lucky enough to build their audience in the early days. Back then, you could reach more than 5% of your total audience size through organic social media.
And Facebook ads were so cheap it was like a low cost vending machine, churning out qualified leads a few pence at a time.
Sadly, those days are gone.
Nowadays it’s getting much harder and more expensive to get your offers in front of the right audience, especially with the massive increase in businesses shifting online as a result of the COVID pandemic.
The traffic generating landscape is fierce. And it’s about to get a whole lot fiercer.
It’s why it’s a business disaster to rely on short term sales from a churn and burn approach to cold lead generation.
Stats show that it’s 9 times more expensive to acquire a new lead than it is to generate repeat business from an existing client. And yet, so much of marketing revolves around lead generation and new client conversions.
Which is why I want to spend some time thinking about how you can use email to help increase your sales to an audience that already loves you. Instead of throwing all your time, energy and money at new leads who take a whole lot more convincing to hit the buy button.
Sure, old leads are less sexy than new ones. But I’m pretty sure the sound of your Stripe account pinging with effortless sales from existing clients will help make up for the lack of sexy in your marketing.
So let’s dive into 4 ways to increase sales over email without needing to acquire new clients.
(If you’d prefer to get this information in audio form, you can also listen to this content via my podcast. Click HERE [link to podcast episode page] to download the podcast.)
1) Provide inspiration, belly laughs and mind-blowing value
The first way you can increase sales over email is kind of an obvious one. I’m pretty sure you know already you should use email marketing as a platform to give away your best content before you ever ask your subscribers to buy from you.
It’s your duty as a business owner to earn the right to make offers to your clients. And you earn that right by writing inspirational, entertaining ‘soft-teaching’ emails that lead your subscribers to more in-depth ‘hard teaching’ content…in the form of a blog, YouTube Channel or podcast.
The truth is, your subscribers are under no obligation to stay on your email list.
In fact, it’s written into law that you have to make it super easy for your leads to unsubscribe whenever they want.
So you need to give your audience a damn good reason to invite you into their inbox week in and week out, without them hitting the unsubscribe button or reporting you to the Spam Gods.
Especially when the average person receives at least 15 marketing emails a day. You need to make it worth your subscribers’ time and attention every time you land in their inbox.
Now, often, I see clients with elaborate evergreen funnels who have absolutely zero email follow up outside of their initial promotional sequence.
They bombard their new subscribers with webinar promotions, post-webinar purchase promotions, and re-marketing emails to get webinar no-shows to re-register for their presentation. It’s like a heavy email artillery bombardment that lasts around 10 days before it all goes eerily silent…
…Until they have a new offer they want to test with existing subscribers to their list.
This kind of behaviour might drive sales in the short term. But when you use your email list as a cash cow to milk whenever your business gets thirsty, it won’t be long before the cows decide to make a run for it.
This creates list fatigue. It’s what creates the constant need to drum up new business through time-consuming organic social media or expensive paid advertising.
But if you take the time to show your list some love outside of your promotional campaigns, you’ll build up enough goodwill and marketing capital to earn the right to make regular offers to your subscribers.
Which leads to an easy flow of sales from prospects who are ready to buy.
2) Create a post-purchase virtuous circle using email
One of the biggest challenges for online business owners is creating products and services their prospects are actually willing to pay for.
Often, business owners make the mistake of putting together offers without validating their ideas with people who’ve already bought from them in the past.
A ton of time wasted on launching an offer that generates low (or no) sales.
This is where you can use your email list to make sure the products and services you create AND the messaging you use to sell them actually meet the needs of the people who love you the most.
How do we do that?
Well, one thing I do with my own list, and which I encourage my clients to do with theirs is to set up a post-purchase survey which goes out at the same time as your purchase confirmation emails.
Say, for example, you sell a self-study photography course for parents of young children. When a buyer purchases your course, you’ll automatically fire out an order confirmation.
These emails have some of the highest open rates of any kind of email, so they’re a great time to ask people to complete a short but extremely useful customer survey.
In it, you can ask your buyers what motivated them to buy your product. What outcome they’re hoping to achieve and how they would describe their problem.
This serves three main purposes.
- It allows you to gain valuable insights and customer language at a time when the buyer is in a heightened emotional state, post-purchase. It’s when they’re emotions are at their most raw and they’ll be most likely to remember exactly what motivated them to buy your product. This information is amazing for writing copy because you can lift the exact words and expressions your customers use to describe their struggles and aspirations, which helps power up your future copy for maximum impact.
- It lets buyers re-affirm their purchase in their own mind by writing down the reasons why they bought from you in the first place. This helps dampen buyer’s remorse and reduces refund requests, as well as increasing feelings of customer satisfaction and engagement in the product.
- And finally…it helps you spot further opportunities to create products that solve additional pain points that aren’t covered inside your current programme, so you can create more products that constantly improve to meet the needs of your clients.
3) Use post-purchase auto-responders to boost engagement and results
One of the best ways to increase your chances of repeat business from existing clients is to increase your programme completion and success rates.
This can be tough to achieve with online courses, particularly for self-study programmes where the drop-out rate is depressingly high. In fact, some stats show that 90% of online course buyers never get to the end of the programme they purchased.
Of course you can boost your completion and success rates with hands-on live coaching. But if you want to offer a purse-friendly alternative you need to find a way to maximise your clients’ results so they keep coming back for more AND referring you to their friends and family.
The good news is, you can use email to do just that.
A lot of the time, course creators send out the bog-standard ‘Congratulations you’ve made a fabulous purchase here today email’
They’ll send a link to your login details and then…nada.
You’re left to move through the material alone.
And what tends to happen when you’re left on your own? That’s right. Most people give up because they get confused, they lose momentum or they just plain forget they bought the damn thing.
Nothing hurts your ability to make repeat sales to your customers more than a course that fails to provide the promised result.
But you can take some simple steps to help keep people on track as they move through your material.
- Send an email reminding users of the benefits of completing your programme. You could even include links or teasers to content that’s particularly useful at different stages in your course. It’s important to keep users excited and engaged, which is why it’s so effective to keep showing up and reminding buyers to take action.
- Email buyers with links to useful resources that will complement their learning experience. Are there any tools you can recommend to fast-track or support their success? Is there any further reading they could add to their reading list. Not only is this super helpful but it also helps tease exciting content your buyers might not have been aware of. AND it reinforces your credibility as the ultimate expert in your field.
- Send check-in emails. Once buyers have signed up, it’s a good idea to send a couple of emails checking in on their progress. If you have the bandwidth to reply, it will massively increase customer satisfaction if you can make yourself available to provide email support when buyers get stuck.
If you don’t have bandwidth, why not ask a member of your team to sit on the other side of those emails? That way, there’s someone on hand to move your students through their sticking points AND it helps you identify areas where you can improve future iterations of your programme…or create new offers that solve next-level problems for your students.
Make sure these emails are brief and invite a reply. You WANT to create a genuine dialogue so your buyers know there’s a real person on hand who cares about their success.
Now, you might be thinking that this sounds like a lot of effort after you’ve already won the buyer over. You’ve already made the sale so do you really need to go the extra mile in your post-purchase emails?
The answer is 100% yes.
And the reason for that is that most coaches and course creators will NOT take this step. They take the money, send a login link and forget their buyer until the next promotion.
But you’re better than that.
And you care for your buyers. So this is a great way to automate your customer care.
You’ll create happy buyers and engaged students who are way more likely to buy from you again because they actually got the result you promised.
With this one simple sequence you can massively increase the lifetime value of every single one of your clients, meaning more money for you WITHOUT constantly needing to scramble around for new leads.
4) Offer congruent, experience-enhancing upsells and cross-sells
Before I dive into the fourth way you can make more sales over email without constantly searching for new leads…I want to clarify what I mean by congruent offers.
The reason for this is that many list-owners use their subscribers as a cash register. They chuck any old offer at them, regardless of whether it’s relevant or beneficial to their list.
This is especially true for anyone who runs affiliate promotions.
In many cases, list owners run affiliate campaigns as a favour to a peer or friend in their network. Their intentions are good. They’re trying to help out a friend. I’m not knocking that.
BUT before you scratch a colleague’s back by promoting their offer to your list, make sure it’s an offer that actually enhances the life of your subscribers.
Don’t do favours to friends at the expense of your relationship with your list.
Similarly, it’s important to avoid the temptation to offer every product or service you sell to everyone on your list IF you have a number of different segments with a unique set of needs.
If you don’t take care of the offers you make to your list, it won’t be long before your subscribers walk away from you.
Now, that being said you absolutely should make a point of offering upsells and cross-sells to your list IF your other products and services are of genuine value to your buyers. Do they actively enhance and improve the customer experience?
If so, you can and should offer upsells in your post-purchase auto-responder sequence.
Or you can offer upsells and cross-sells in standalone promotions to existing buyers.
But the golden rule is to offer only what’s genuinely going to enhance your subscribers’ experience and results and NOT with the sole aim to increase your sales.
The additional short term revenue is a bonus for you. And the relationship you establish will last a lifetime.
I hope that’s given you some easy to implement ideas for ways you can generate more sales from the easiest people to convert in your universe.
With a small amount of upfront effort and genuine care for your buyers, you can turn a single transaction into a loyal customer who’ll buy from you again and again.
AND you’ll also leave behind a ton of happy customers who’ll market your business for you by referring you to their friends.
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