TAM 036: Ian Brodie – How To Build A Great Onboarding Sequence - The Active Marketer

TAM 036: Ian Brodie – How To Build A Great Onboarding Sequence

ActiveCampaign onboarding sequence Barry Moore - Ian Brodie

In episode 36, I chat with Ian Brodie, Author of the Email Persuasion - the number one book in Email Marketing, about what elements to include in your customer onboarding.

Ian shares the quick wins on crafting the best onboarding sequence, how a great onboarding sequence can improve and increase interactions with your customers and more tips and stories on how to bring out the best of your business using a great onboarding sequence...

We chat about:

  • First step to create an onboarding sequence
  • What elements to include in your onboarding experience
  • What good onboarding can do for your business
  • Making your customers comfortable
  • Quick wins
  • Making your customers feel good about their purchase

Leave us a comment in below and tell us about the best onboarding sequence you have ever seen or what elements you are using to great success in your own onboarding automatons.

If you would like to have a chat about how you could be using marketing automation to grow your business join us in the Automation Nation private Facebook group

Links Mentioned In The Show

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Barry: Yeah, that's right. I'm pretty sure the next time I buy something from Amazon, I'm not gonna get a hand signed letter from Jeff Bezos in the mail [crosstalk 00:00:06].

Ian: You know, I know he might be listening to this podcast.

Barry: He might, he might.

Ian: He might be thinking, "You know, I should be doing that."

Barry: I'm sure he's a big fan.

Announcer: Welcome to the Active Marketer Podcast, where we talk about how to design, automate, and scale your business to the next level, using sales and marketing automation.

You can find out all the tips, tactics, and techniques you need to get more customers and sell more stuff, over at theactivemarketer.com. Now here's your host, Barry Moore.
Barry: Hello listener, and welcome to the Active Marketer Podcast, a podcast where we talk all about sales, funnels, and marketing automation.

In this week, we're going to talk about something near and dear to my heart – the onboarding sequence. I think it's one of the most crucial, and one of the most important automations you can have in your business, for a number of reasons, which we'll get into in the show.

I'm always keen to talk about how we craft the very best onboarding sequence for our new customers. People who have decided they wanted to part with their hard-earned cash to buy our products or services. I want to make sure that we look after them as best as we possibly can.

Today, we're going to talk all about onboarding sequences with Ian. Ian works with consultants and coaches. It helps them get more clients. He's been named one of the Top 50 Global Thought Leaders in marketing and sales. His book, E-Mail Persuasion, has been the number one book on e-mail marketing, on Amazon, for over a year. So, who better to talk about onboarding sequences than Ian? Let's jump into this week's episode, "On How To Craft A Great Onboarding Sequence."

All right, so I'd like to welcome to the show, Ian Brody. Ian, welcome.

Ian: Hey, great to be here.

Barry: How are things on your side of the world, today?

Ian: It's still the morning over here, Barry, but it's looking like it's going to be a relatively sunny day, which is a miracle for Manchester.

Barry: Yes, it is. All right, well Ian, I got you on the show for a couple of reasons. One, is because you've put out some great content around coaching, and how to get more clients, and how to get more customers. One of your recent kind of videos, was about onboarding, and I'm a big freak about giving your onboarding right. You want to look after those customers that have already bought from you for a couple of reasons. I thought I'd get you on the show to talk about some elements of a successful onboarding sequence, or an onboarding campaign. What to put in, what to leave out, how long it should be, all those kind of great things.

First of all, when you're thinking about putting together an onboarding campaign, for either a product or a service, is there much of a difference between how you would approach those two things?
Ian: I suppose, yes and no, in that there's a couple of things in there. Obviously, with a service you're going to be interacting with a client, rather more than with a product. I think that there are more opportunities, naturally, to onboard in a face-to-face manner. If you're having a service, then you're going to be, you know, let's say you were a coach. You'd be having coaching calls with the client, so you can build in some of the onboarding, and relationship building, and getting things right from day one, into the natural sequence of the coaching calls.

Whereas, with a product, it may well be delivered purely electronically, etc., so with a product that could be a temptation. I know a lot of people probably get into products, because they want more of a hands-off business. There could well be a temptation to just, you know, deliver the product, and then leave the customer to it without doing so much personalised, yourself. That's always, always the thing you've got to weigh [inaudible 00:03:48]. With a product also so often, the price point is lower. With a service, often, the price point is higher, so you have more leeway to do more personalized-tailored onboarding.

With a product, you probably want to be automating more of the onboarding, or some combination where you send something automated, but then triggers a personal reaction from the customer, and then you react to that. There's kind of all sorts of variables in there, but largely with a service, it's probably more you're going to do, and there are more opportunities to do it, so you have to work a little bit harder with a product, I think.

Barry: Yeah, and I think especially product-based people seem to be so focused on traffic and conversions, and getting new customers through the door, they often kind of forget about the ones that they've got. You know, once the cash register rings, that kind of tends to be when they forget about it, and move on to finding, and foraging for the next customer.

Ian: Yeah, I think it's one of the interesting things about subscription models of products, that perhaps, changing that ... The oversee of [inaudible 00:04:45]. You sell someone a thousand dollar product, then you know, the money's in the door. As long as they're not refunding, in theory, you kind of move on to the next one, and focus on them.

With a subscription-based model, like a membership site, obviously, if you stop doing great stuff for that client/customer, they stop paying, so there's almost a ... You know, as we switch towards more subscription models ... The software world's going with software as a service. I've certainly found, with the software that I've bought, you're getting better service from people on an on-going basis, when it's software as a service, because they know if they stop giving that to you, you know, you stop paying. Although, you might look at software and think, "Well, I'd much rather pay a certain amount of ... for them to never have to pay again, than pay monthly."

I've moved towards a model where I much prefer paying monthly, because I know I'm just going to get more from it. I think we're seeing that in the product world, as well. Where, in terms of information products ... Whereas, if you're paying monthly for a membership, I think you get more from it, simply because there's more incentive for the market [inaudible 00:05:45] to keep doing great stuff for you.

Barry: Yeah, that's a really good point. It really is, you as the marketer, really keeps you honest, and keeps you focused on the ball, as far as retaining those customers, and exceeding their expectations that they don't leave you, or they don't turn as the [crosstalk 00:06:00].

I think there's another little nugget of gold there we kind of glossed over, in the fact that marketing automation, maybe sometimes gets a bad rap, because it's got the word "automation" in there, which can be ... seem cold, and impersonal to a lot of people.

You brought up a good point there, is that you're using ... You can use marketing automation to automate the human-touch points. You know, you want, you might set up some triggers to alert you, yourself, for your support staff, that ... Reach out, and walk more customers personally, or send them a card, or send them something in the mail. The automation isn't simply just pumping out e-mails to people behind the scenes, but also triggering those points in your business where it's in your best interest to get out there, and get in front of the customer in a personal manner, as well. I didn't want to gloss over that, because it's quite an important point that a lot of people seem to miss out on.

Ian: Yeah. I really ... I think that is one of the ... Matter of fact, as you said earlier, it's with service-based businesses, and that's one of the differences with the ... I think service businesses can take advantage of. I think product businesses can, as well, especially when you've got a higher price point. Certainly, with a service-based business, rather than, you know, seeing ... You know, if you were [inaudible 00:07:07] my guest, and you're pumping out e-mails, and the last thing you want people to do, is to actually reply to you, and interact with you.

Barry: That's right. [crosstalk 00:07:16]

Ian: That's right, you don't want any of that, so you hide the phone, or whatever. Obviously, with a higher price-point business, the more ... What you know is, the more you interact with a customer, the more likely they are to stay, unless you're some kind of awful monster who would, interacting with you, would be horrible. As long as you're, you know, a good person, you've got lots of value to add, interacting with you, is a good thing, and I think we sometimes, just as you said earlier, we sometimes forget about with marketing automation. We assume, "I've got to automate everything." Whereas, you can actually use it to generate more interaction. As you said, "You can use it to trigger you to reach out, and to call a customer, for example." Or, what you can do is you can trigger the customer to do something, so you can send out an automated e-mail a couple days after they've signed up for something, for example, or you can ask them a question; you can get them to reply.

What you can do, and you can do that, both for paying customers. You can do it for new e-mail subscribers, as well. The thing it's going to do is, only a certain percentage of, are going to hit reply, and e-mail you, or call you, or whatever it is you ask them to do. Let's say you had, you know, a thousand people subscribe to your e-mails; you couldn't phone all of them, you couldn't, the minute they subscribe. There's no way you could e-mail them all, personally, or phone them, or whatever. It's just not feasible.

However, if you send an e-mail to a thousand people, and said, "Hey, what's your biggest problem? Hit reply, and we'll maybe chat about it." Maybe only five percent of them will reply, so five percent of a thousand is 50. You could certainly do a personalised e-mail reply to 50 of them. What you're doing there is you are making it, the automation, actually means you get more personal interaction than you could possibly get if you had a purely personal business, with no automation, because it would be just too overwhelming, to get the personal interaction, and to trigger it.

Barry: Yeah, for sure. You're using that automation to bubble up your most responsive clients, or customers, or needs – reaching out to them, personally.

Ian: Yeah.

Barry: That reminds me of a story. I was working as an e-commerce manager for a travel company, here in Australia. We had launched a new product that I was keeping tabs on the booking, and the thousandth booking had come in from someone, so I got that woman's e-mail address, and I reached out, and said in an e-mail, personally, "Thank you so much. You were the thousandth customer of our new service. We'd really like to reward you with a free night stay, somewhere." I didn't hear back from her. I was a little bit surprised. A couple of days went past, and didn't hear back from her, so I got her e-mail out of the reservations. I called her up, and I said, "It's Barry, here. I just wanted to thank you for being the thousandth." She said, "No, I did read that e-mail. I just thought it was some automated thing that ... I just ignored it." And I'm like, "It's a real e-mail, came from a real person." [inaudible 00:09:59]

Ian: That was your strategy, is to e-mail everyone, and tell them they were the thousandth customer?

Barry: That's right, that's right, so it does pay to reach out every now and then. All right well, I think we've covered, basically, why you want to have an onboard sequence. If you don't understand that already is, you're probably not going to stay in business too long. Let's talk about the "what." Let's talk about what a good onboarding sequence can do for you.

What are the things that, you as a marketer, you as a business owner – what are the things a good onboarding sequence can do for you?

Ian: For me, it's absolutely crucial, because it sets the ... I think about the psychology of this stuff, a lot. For me, the onboarding sequence, it links into when you meet. Let's say you meet someone face to face. What you know is, the first impression you get in that meeting, when you're talking to them, really it creates the lens from which you view all future interactions with them, and how you interpret it. If you meet someone, and you immediately think, "Hey, they're really a nice person, and they're a really generous person." Then, later on, they offer you something for free. You know, free copy of their report, or whatever. You're going to think, "Hey, that's really generous of them," because it fits in with the pattern that you already think of them. If you meet someone, and you think, "Oh, I don't really like this person, and they seem a bit self-interested." Then, they do the exact same thing later. They offer you some kind of free thing. Instead of you thinking they're really generous, you're kind of second guessing them, thinking, "Wonder what their motivation for offering me that free thing is? I bet you they try to manipulate me into buying something."

How that first impression is set, colours the rest of the indirection. Of course, over time you could change people's perceptions of you, but it's really hard work, if you've created the wrong impression, early on.

You know, it's exactly the same thing when people, you know, sign up for your e-mails, or they buy a product. They sign up for your e-mails, then what's going to happen is, if you created a good impression early on, they're going to keep opening those e-mails. You know, you're not going to see the precipitous drop off in "openry" after the first few e-mails that you often get, if you get it right, and created the right impression, and you've bombarded them well with your e-mails, they're going to keep opening them at a higher rate, and they're going to keep taking action.

As a customer, I think, one of the really crucial things is, as a customer, especially with the subscription programmes, those first few interactions in their head ... You know what it's like with, what do they call it – "buyer's remorse,"

Barry: Exactly.

Ian: You buy something, and there is a real risk that the minute the money's gone out of your account, you know, immediately there's this ... You've got over those, kind of, endorphin highs of making the purchase, and then you think, "No. Have I made the right decision?" If that "making the right decision" thing is not reinforced, early on, then people are going to begin to think, "I've made the wrong decision here, oh no." They're going to start looking for reasons why they've made the wrong decision. They're going to look for anything you do. They're going to interpret it in a negative way, if you've made a bad impression.

On the other hand, anything you do, they're going to interpret it in a very positive way, if you've made a good impression. You know, if you haven't made a good impression early on ... Even simple stuff, like if they don't get a receipt early on, or they don't get a nice welcoming [inaudible 00:12:58], something to make them feel as if ... Something congratulating them, and telling them what a great decision it was, and guiding them to some of the great resources they've now got. They're going to start thinking, "Oh, have I made that right decision?" They're going to start thinking, "Yeah, I'm not sure how long I'm going to stay, as a member of this programme." They might even think they're going to refund, if they've bought a product.

For me, those first initial interactions have a huge impact, as you see, it can show up in, either lots of customer service you have to deal with – a disgruntled customer, or very little customer service. And, real revenue stuff in terms of how long are people going to stay as part of a membership programme. How likely are they to refund if they've bought product? A lot of that comes from those initial few days, I mean, the biggest reason why people are going to refund, is if they don't see that they're getting value from it. Value is going to ... A lot of times, we all know this, people will buy something, and they just won't use it.

Barry: Yeah.

Ian: It'll sit on the shelf. If you don't encourage, and get them to start using the product, they're probably not going to see value from it. Now, it depends on their own psychology. Some people might think, "Well, it looked really good. It's my fault. I haven't used it; I won't refund it." On the other hand, you've got that ... There's some people who will refund anyway, but you've got the bulk of people in between, who will keep hold of the product, and keep using it, if they're getting value from it. You need to make sure they are getting value from it, so that onboarding's really valuable from that perspective, as well.

Barry: Yeah. I think I'll just loop back to a couple of points you made there, to highlight those for the listener. Yeah, it's great to look after your customer. I don't think anybody's going to argue with that, but there's some things that a good onboarding sequence can do, from a selfish point of view, for you as the business owner.

I think you mentioned, highlighted a few there. I think, one, you want to head off any buyer's remorse that, that person might have. A good onboarding sequence will do that. It'll make them feel comfortable about their purchase. It'll head off ... You can use it to head off support-desk tickets, or calls to support, by highlighting some common pit falls, including, kind of, maybe a frequently-asked questions e-mail in your onboarding sequence. You want to make them feel warm and fuzzy, and engaged in your product or service, so they're using it. If it's a monthly recurring kind of subscription model, they're getting it, that product or service embedded into their lifestyle, or their business, so that they don't want to refund it, like you said. You want to get them using it straight away, so that they're getting the most out of it.

Ian: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Barry: That's exactly what you want to include in your onboarding sequence is here, "Thank you so much for joining our membership. Here's the best bits I think you can get started with straight away." Get them on to the best things straight away, so that they can see the value, instead of making them hunt for it, in the dark reaches of your forms, somewhere.

Ian: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Especially, the stuff that's going to give them a quick win.

Barry: Yeah, exactly.

Ian: In any product, or any membership programme, you'll have some things with really brilliant value, great, but they take, you know, months before someone's going to see a payback from it. You have some things where people are going to get an immediate, you know, kick injection of revenue, whatever it is they joined the programme for. You want to be pointing people towards those, as well.

Barry: All right, so someone's got a product or a service. They're sitting down to craft their onboarding sequence for a new customer. How do we work that crafting of our sequence process? Where do we start?

Ian: Okay, well I want to describe some things that I think a good onboarding sequence, a perfect onboarding sequence, would have. I am going to kind of, caveat it before hand, by saying, "Don't try and do all of this at once." If you haven't got an onboarding sequence, already, because you'll, kind of, completely overwhelm yourself.

There are the three or four things to think about. Start with one of them, is the first thing. Basically, first thing to think about is, I think, three things, that you've got to have in any decent onboarding sequence. The first of those three things, and this kind of applies to everyone, this generic [inaudible 00:16:50] what's the most specific things later.

First, you've got to deliver what you promised. That is, for an onboarding sequence, where someone is a customer. They've joined a membership programme. They've bought a product; they've become a client, or even just become an e-mail subscriber, because usually, you're offering them some kind of free lead back there. You've got to deliver what you promised. That sounds obvious, but sometimes it's forgotten.

You know, with a face-to-face service, offering, you know ... People will sign up, and the transaction will come through on your credit card system, but if ... That leaves people kind of thinking, "All right, has it gone through okay? Has the payment worked? Have I got my receipt?" Simple things like getting back in touch for a service thing, you know, to make sure they've got the receipt really quickly, to confirm the arrangements, to follow up, and say, "Hey, welcome on board. Let's talk about when we can meet", et cetera.

If it's a product, make sure they've got, you know, they can access it. Make sure they get really easy instructions for logging in, and of course, for many people, logging into a membership programme, it always goes wrong for someone. Some people are always a bit more technologically disadvantaged than others, and they have challenges, so make sure ... You know, monitor whether they've logged in or not. Make sure your system can tell whether they've logged in, either by checking you've gone to the first dashboard page, or you know, you're getting some feedback from WordPress, that the logins worked okay, or whatever. Make sure they've logged in. If they haven't logged in, within a day, drop them an e-mail, just to make sure they've actually got what they were looking for, because that's the first thing. If people don't get what they bought, or what they signed up for, they're going to be severely disappointed. You're immediately off on the wrong foot, so that's the first thing – deliver what you said.

The second thing, is you want to be looking to build more of a personal relationship with people. Now obviously, that's going to happen in the service when you interact with them, and you deliver that service. I also think you want to be doing that with a product, or even just an e-mail subscriber, because it's that personal relationship that binds them to you, over and above the pure transaction of, "Is this product any good or not?"

You know, on a positive sense, if they really feel close to you, they think you are on their side, they really like you – that can get them more benefits. Even just as a kind of protection mechanism, if you screw up at a customer service somewhere, the fact that they like you, gives you a bit of leeway. They'll put up with a little blip if they like you, until you'll can fix it. Whereas, if you haven't built that personal relationship, then you have a little blip with customer service, like the website goes down for half a day, whatever, they'll immediately be wanting to refund, they'll be feeling angry. If they're friends with you, and they're on your side, and they like you, they'll put up with it, "Poor Ian. His site's gone down for half a day. I'll just go and do something else."

You want to be kind of trying to build some form of relationship. That means interaction. We talked about earlier, about triggering interactions. Relationship comes through personal stories, and examples, and building empathy. If you're giving someone a piece of content, and you can roll it up in a story about how that happened for you, or a client you worked with et cetera, they get a sense of who you are. It can happen through the form I use for sharing your information. If in your membership programme, or in your product, you have an introductory welcome video, with a video of you talking about the product, and welcoming them, and telling them about the main features, et cetera, obviously, that's going to build a bit more of personal relationship, than just having a PDF document that guides them to the right place.

Now, if a video of you takes a lot more work than just writing a PDF, or creating a screen capture ... It can have a big impact, so it's worth doing, at least for the welcome stuff. Then finally, in terms of the personal relationship, it's the interaction. You know, the day after they've logged in, make sure you send them an e-mail, or a couple days after, "Are you getting on okay? Is there anything I can be doing to help?" Maybe, a few days after that,"Do you want to get on the phone? Do you want to speak about, have you found all the results that you're looking for?" Make sure you're interacting with them, and triggering them, e-mailing you, and that goes beyond just your e-mails. You know, as you said earlier, you can get on the phone and speak to them. I used to, in my own personal membership programme, I used to ... The days where I collected physical addresses on the purchase, I used to sent them something through the post. In my case, it was just a welcome letter that I hand signed, but it made an impression. People would e-mail me back, and say, "Oh." One guy even said, "Well, I can't leave the programme now, now that you've actually written it, because no one does that. You swayed. I'm stuck in the programme now."

You can go a bit further. You know, you could ... This comes into something else I'm going to talk about, but you could send them, instead of just a letter through the post, you could send them a memory stick with some of the stuff from the programme, on to make it easier for them to get access to. You could ... I remember, I think it used to be Ryan Dice, always said that the biggest gift, the most successful gift here, they use for membership programmes was food. If you send them brownies, or a whatever.

Barry: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Ian: It kind of ... Food is almost like a, almost like a "tribally," it's a kind of personal gift between two people, helps to form a relationship.

The final thing, I think ... So the three ... The first is deliver what you promised. The second is build a personal relationship. The third one is unexpected value.

This goes right back to those who've read Cheryl Deeny, with the reciprocity thing. You're always trying to build reciprocity, do something good for them, so they'll do something good for you. In the experiments they've done about reciprocity, what they often find, is that the number one thing that causes a waiter to be tipped the most, is not only the way they do something nice for them, like leaving them mints, it's also if the waiter does that in an unexpected way. Maybe, leaves them a little trail with a mint each, and then he walks with it, turns backs and says, "Oh, you've been such great customers here, here's an extra mint each," or something like that.

It's the fact that the extra thing they got was not expected, increases the tip, significantly. It's the same with your kind of membership programme, products you sell, people being customers, just saving it for your e-mails, there's always kind of a transactional exchange. I pay you money, and I get X, but if they then get something they didn't expect, like a kind of bonus video training, or something special for them. If they're just signing up for your e-mails, and they go to free lead back in the PDF, if you send them a little video version later, whatever it might be. Something they didn't expect, is going to really make them think, "Hey, I've signed up for the right thing here. I am really in a good place, and I'm going to stay as long as possible." As opposed to, "Okay. Well, I got what I paid for," and they're beginning to mentally check out.
Barry: Yeah, for sure. I think all of us have come across those people online, who provide such great value that, even if they don't have a product you want, you just kind of waiting for them to come up with one, because you like them so much.

This one guy I've been following for years, and he's so generous with his content, that you know, he really didn't have anything that I wanted, but I'm just waiting for him to come with a product that I do want. As soon as he did, I bought it, straight away. I didn't hesitate, just because he's been there providing value for so, so long that ... And, I wanted, I really wanted him to win, you know, I wanted to find some reciprocity.

Ian: Absolutely.

Barry: I wanted to find some way to repay all the content that he shared, with some cash. I don't think you can undervalue that kind of generosity, and reciprocity.

Ian: Indeed.

Barry: All right, so just to review that. Deliver what you said. Build a personal relationship, and provide some unexpected value. There's another point touched on there, was sending people some real physical e-mail, and I've heard other marketers refer to it as "lumpy mail," so if you can send me something that isn't just a letter, something that's a bit lumpy, like, "Oh, what's in there?" Open it up, and found that goes a long way to cementing that relationship, as well.

It's a little bit ironic, isn't it? That, you know, everybody used to look forward to getting e-mails back in the day, and now, nobody gets post mail, or ... We've come full circle, and starting using e-mail automation to send people letters in the post.

I guess that leads into another question. How long do you typically run these onboarding sequences for? Where is that fine line between providing that value to somebody, and annoying the hell out of them, with too much information?

Ian: Yeah, I think with onboarding sequences, because they're all about giving good stuff to people, I think you could, in theory, go quite a long time. But, going back to that thing about it being the first impression that counts: If it's an onboarding sequence for someone who's become an e-mail subscriber, you know, I think the first few, the first half a dozen messages, the first few days are really the crucial period.

With a membership programme, or a product, I think it's a bit longer. They've automatically got a bigger tie to you. They've paid some money. There's more of an expectation they'll get more, and that it lasts for a bit longer, so I'd say, certainly for a new product, probably at least a couple of weeks.

What I think of when people join my own membership programme, for example, is obviously, you know ... The minute they join up they get a receipt, and they get a welcome e-mail that kind of describes what it is they're going to be getting. Points them in certain directions. As soon as I can, after that, I'll record them a personal video, so I will ... Obviously, it depends on the price point of your product. For a seven dollar e-book, you're not going to record a personal video, but mine's an 87 dollar-a-month programme. It's certainly worth me, for that personal video, to get someone to stay for an extra month, as a member, it's certainly worth doing.

But I think it's just a nice [inaudible 00:26:18], so I'll record a personal video. Get that to the [inaudible 00:26:21] sometime within the first couple of days. Then, I plug that into the system, make [inaudible 00:26:26] active campaign, so I just kind of plug that in there, and get sort of [inaudible 00:26:29] sent out.

In parallel with that, I've got a you know, "Are you getting on okay?" E-mail that goes out, just to make sure they're getting value from it, and then a couple of days after that, I have another way of getting value from the programme, which talks about the personal interaction, and tries to encourage them to ask me questions. Probably about a week after that, they'll get another e-mail from me about the free marketing critiques that you get, for being a member of the programme.

What I would also advise doing, when its appeared ... Especially, if it's a membership programme or a subscription, look at the drop off point of members. If you're finding that you're, you know, losing members after 30 days, because the first payment's coming, make sure you're delivering a lot of value, and you've got some kind of interaction just before that 30 day period. That kind of gets them over that hump.

If you find you've got another, you know, drop off, big drop off period, you know, 90 days out, then make sure you've got something around that. It's probably less around lent, in total, with a membership programme, and more around when are the key drop off points when you need to be making sure your relationship is at its highest. Obviously, you know, if it was 180 days you were losing members, you wouldn't want to do something in the first days, and then never speak to them again for ... Then try to revitalise the relationship after 180 days, but what you are doing is keeping regularly in touch. You're putting in a special effort, in just before that term, that drop off point, that you picked up from your data.

Barry: Yeah, good point. Good point. I guess that's the real point of all of this marketing automation, is that it's built around your customers' behaviour.

Ian: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Barry: There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this stuff. You really have to know what your customer avatar is. You said, you know, what are the results they're trying to get out of your product you service. What's the best way to get them to get those results? Then, where are they dropping off, so you can kind of, head off that turn, and keep them in the tribe, so to speak. Excellent.

Ian: Yeah. I think there's a nice combination that you ... You're absolutely right. With the customer avatar, you can feed a lot of that into your early e-mails, because early on in your e-mails, you don't necessarily know a lot about people, other than the fact that they've signed up. You're working, kind of, on your avatar, and I like to ... If it's e-mail, and they have, you know ... E-mail subscribers, and they haven't bought anything yet, then what I'm thinking about is, "What do they need to know and feel, in order to be ready to buy." I'm trying to build some of those factors into the e-mails. If they've already bought, then maybe you're thinking, "What do they need to know and feel, to be ready to go to the next level, to make sure that they stay on, and that they're very happy, you know, with their purchase."

You're basing a lot of the early transactions on your avatar. Later on, you can do a lot more ... Your e-mails can be more behaviorally driven. I generally, saw lots of people drop off after 90 days. Let's do something there, or individually, you know, this person seems to be ... You can get ...

Increasingly, with marketing automation, if you're using a system like Active Campaign, for example, you can tell what pages people are visiting on your site, and what they're doing. If you're using tools like Indicomm, that can interact with what people are doing on the system, and you can be generating messages that appear in, kind of, chat boxes, and things like that.

You're basing it on what people are doing. Are they consuming? If they're not consuming your content, if all of a sudden they've stopped using the membership site, that's a pretty surefire sign that shortly afterwards, they're going to quit. If they're not using it anymore, and the price is so low that they don't even notice that the payment's going out. Normally, if people stop using the site, or the system, you know, they're going to leave a membership programme. You can pick that up, and you can start doing, kind of an, "Are you okay deal, or is there anything I can help with?" You can offer to guide them through some stuff. Maybe they've got a particular challenge.

Of course, you've also got service and things you can do. I always do an exit survey, if people ever leave the membership programme. Not that that's ever a great idea, for them to leave my programme, of course, but some do, believe it or not. I do a little survey, and find out why they left. Always, the number one reason they left, it's about 80 percent of the time, is they were just short of time. They find they weren't using the resources, because they just didn't have enough time to do the kind of marketing that they were learning. Well, that is a clue that, in more of my onboarding e-mails, or more of the resources and content that are there on the site, I should do something on helping them to find the time to implement what they're learning. I should get that piece of content to them very early on, so all of a sudden they, you know, they know how to shed new things into their diary, move things about. They can carve out a couple of hours a week to work on doing marketing from the programme.

programme, there are going to be less people dropping off, because they haven't found the time. You [inaudible 00:31:07] basing your e-mails, as you go over time, to more on what's important for them, individually, and more what what you found from the data, is important for your group of members, or customers, as a whole.
Barry: Yeah, super important information there, that, you know, if you find out why they're leaving, as you said, you could tweak your programme, or even come up with, you know, new products, maybe [inaudible 00:31:27] services around things that are the hardest to implement. They can trade money for time, instead of having to leave all the other.

Yeah, and you could also use, you know, ... While you were talking, I was just thinking about some of the ways you actually track that inactivity inside a membership site. For example, you could have some sort of inactivity campaign set up, or inactivity sequence set up inside your marketing automation platform, to check those people who haven't visited any pages for a certain number of days, and then reach out to them. Maybe even use lead scoring in advance, where someone who has a really low lead score ... sorry, using lead score in reverse rather, someone who has a very low lead score – reach out to those people who haven't opened, or clicked, or engaged with your content, and try and bring them back into the fold.

Ian: Yeah, it's all part of the power of kind of, the more advanced approach to e-mail marketing, or marketing automation. Obviously, you need the tools underneath to be able to do that. Increasingly, those are available to people, at an affordable price, for you know, the masses, you know, without having to be a mega corporation, to be able to do that.

The next thing is the mega corporations tend not to. There a bit of an edge, that some of us can have if we effort into getting that engagement, and getting that onboarding right. We can have customers who stay with us longer, and buy more from us, than people who are kind of banging out a one-size-fits all programme, and never doing anything on top of it.

Barry: Yeah, that's right. I'm pretty sure the next time I buy something from Amazon, I'm not going to get a hand-signed letter from Jeff Bezos in the mail.

Ian: You never know, he might be listening to this podcast.

Barry: He might, he might.

Ian: He might be thinking, "You know, I should be doing that."

Barry: I'm sure he's a big fan. All right, Ian thanks. That was really some great information there. I always like to leave the listener with some actionable tips, so they're sitting there. They're at home, they're thinking about their business. They don't have, currently have an onboarding sequence. What's the very step they can take today to get started?

Ian: I would just do a couple of things. First, the obviously ... Resolve to create an obviously sequence.

Barry: That's right.

Ian: Make sure you have your customer avatar developed and drawn up, so you know what it is, that would persuade them to do what is it that you're looking to do. As a customer, to retain them as a customer, to not refund, so what would make a great impression on them.

Then think about what expected value can I deliver?

Barry: Fantastic. Well, Ian, I really want to thank you for taking the time out to share your experience with all our listeners. If they want to reach out, and find out more about you, and what you do, where is the best place for them to do that?

Ian: A couple of places. You can find my main stuff at www.ianbrody.com, and just go there. Read the stuff on the blog. Sign up for the e-mails. Obviously, you can witness my e-mail subscriber onboarding process in play, there. I have a site for my book, "E-mail Persuasion". People can go to www.emailpersuasion.com. There's a whole bunch of, kind of, free video training about e-mail marketing, generally, there.

Barry: Fantastic. Well, once again, Ian, thanks, and look forward to catching up with all your content, online.

Ian: Cheers. Thank you, Barry.

Barry: Thank you.

Barry Moore

Entrepreneur, aviator and former eCommerce and technology executive, Barry Moore is the founder of TheActiveMarketer.com. When he isn't geeking out about how sales and marketing automation can help your business, you can find him in the surf or in an airplane.

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