Using Email to Generate Leads

Sarah is puzzled by her sales funnel.  She has a large number of people in it.  They read her blog posts and when she has an opportunity to ask, they all say how much they appreciate them.  Despite this, she struggles to convert them into customers. 

A number become customers but the rest seem perfectly happy reading her emails and blog posts.  She produces a lot of high quality content, but why?

Why would someone forward your emails? 

Perhaps Sarah needs to think of her list not so much as potential customers, as followers who know like and trust her.  There are many reasons they choose not to be her customer at present but that does not mean they are unwilling to support her business in other ways.

She gets positive responses to her posts, so she is building networks of goodwill.  There are many ways she can use goodwill, for example low-end events, webinars, testimonials (text or video) but perhaps the easiest is to forward her emails.

Sometimes a satisfied customer recommends her services to their contacts.  This is word of mouth marketing. It is possible to structure marketing so customers bear her business in mind.  Forwarding an email to contacts who may be interested is not a big ask.  It takes a few moments to think of someone and forward, perhaps with a brief message. 

It is short of making a recommendation of her services, hard for people who have not yet used them but not if all she asks is they recommend what they have experienced. 

How to get people to forward emails

The key to getting people to forward emails is to ask them.  Drop in a line that explains who you are trying to reach and ask your followers to forward emails to people they know who may be interested.

It’s easy and if your content appeals, it grows your list.  Remember, if the email is forwarded to someone new, what do you want them to do? You need a link in your email to a webpage, maybe a blog post or a landing page.  There you can invite new visitors to sign up to your list.  

It is possible to set up website pages that don’t display a sign-up form to people who are on your list.  Ideally, use something like that but otherwise signal on the page newcomers are welcome to sign up.

Think through each step.  Why would a newcomer open this email? Maybe because they trust the person from your list who sent it.  Why would they click on the link provided in the email? On the website, why would they sign up?

Affiliate Marketing

A final thought.  Can you offer incentives to your followers?  This may be access to more material, discounts, conversations with you …  For higher end offers, you might offer a percentage of fees for each referral that signs up. 

This approach is called affiliate marketing and is most effective where you have a product affiliates are willing to offer to their lists on your behalf.  Those who respond to your affiliates’ emails sign up to your list and may in time become customers.  

This works where affiliates have high quality lists.  For a great offer, affiliates may offer bonuses to their lists.  They benefit and so do you.

This approach is sometimes known as a Product Launch.  This is not like asking people on your list to forward emails.  You are asking people who are well-established to share their list with you.  They do that only if they believe in you and your offer.

Affiliate marketing is an advanced approach to marketing.  For most, the challenge is to effectively promote events, products or services. 

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About the Author

I've been a community development worker since the early 1980s in Tyneside, Teesside and South Yorkshire. I've also worked nationally for the Methodist Church for eight years supporting community projects through the church's grants programme. These days I am developing an online community development practice combining non-directive consultancy, strategic management, participatory methods and development work online and offline. If you're interested contact me for a free consultation.

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