In marketing, there is a tendency to go for the sale right away. It makes sense. In this world of constant connection, you need to grab a person’s attention before you lose it to something else. Marketing is no different. It’s why sites like eBay and Amazon have a “Buy it Now” button. They’re banking on an impulse purchase or a decision that’s made in a split second before the buyer has a chance to second guess themselves.

Amazon and eBay can do that because they’ve already established themselves in the marketplace. However, I would guess that most other businesses, including yours, need to work a little harder with their marketing to make the sale. That’s why I suggest you make your sales pitch a little slower so that that one-time visitor becomes a long-time customer.

In other words, when marketing to this person treat them like you would treat a new friend that you want to keep around for a long time.

The First Meeting

As with any new relationship, the first meeting is a feeling out process. You want to make your best impression on the potential customer; put your best foot forward. Make sure that your initial points of contact are up to date and contain quality content.

· Your website should be clean and easy to navigate.

· Your social media accounts should be well maintained and have fresh content.

Once that visual impression is made, you want to make sure that you’re sharing information about yourself. Think of this meeting as the customer getting to know you. What can you tell them about yourself?

Your website and social media accounts should give customers a good idea of the services you provide and your company philosophy. They should have an impression of what you or your employees are like. Are you laid back and like to joke around or are you professional and serious?

Your initial points of contact are there to tell a story about you.

At the End of the First Meeting

Before the meeting ends, or in this case, before the person closes the window to your website, you want to be sure that you have a way to get in contact with that person again.

Make it simple. This is not the time to ask the person to fill out a long form. As the person is navigating away, your website should pop up a window that asks the visitor to provide his first name and an email address.

That’s it.

The Follow Up

If the person provides that information, that’s a great sign. It means he likes what he sees. Now you have to make sure that he warms up to you. Set up your marketing automation tools so that the minute the person enters his contact info, it’s added to your mailing lists. Then, make sure your new friend receives a welcome email from you.

There are a few things that this email should include. First and foremost, it should address him by name. Addressing him by name makes him feel like you care about him. It should also have a headline that entices the customer to open the email. If you need some tips on creating headlines sure to check out our previous post, 5 Clickbait Headlines. Your message should be heartfelt, but also very generic.

I realize that a lot of sites run cookies and those cookies gather background information on the user. At the very least, your website is tracking the pages he visited on your site and how long he stayed on each one.

Don’t use that information now. Thank him for visiting your site and maybe make an offer for him to come back, but don’t creep him out.

Check Back In

A few days after the initial contact, you want to make contact again. This one can be a little more specific. Sometimes if I shop Amazon and I look at a product but don’t buy it, Amazon will send me a little reminder that asks if I’m still interested and eBay does something similar.

One of the things that will happen when you check back in, is you remind the visitor that you’re still there and you’re still available to help.

Ask for a Second Meeting

A week or two down the road you want to check back in again but this time, give the person an actionable item that gets him to come back to your website. You can offer a discount on one of your products or free shipping. Make the offer enticing.

Check Back In…Again

Hopefully, by now the person has made a purchase, but maybe not. At least you have established some sort of relationship. He has been receptive to your contact. In other words, he hasn’t unsubscribed from your list yet. Just remember, that doesn’t mean the relationship is set in stone and you can forget it.

Think of this as a friend that lives out of town. Every now and then you send out a text message or email or call just to see how he’s doing. Treat your customer like a friend too. Check-in.

And maybe while you’re doing it, you gather a little more information. Ask him to opt-in to text alerts or answer a quick question about a new product you’re thinking about rolling out. Make your questions one to two answers at the most, so you’re not wasting his time, but still gathering information.

And Again…

And then a week or two later, check in again. You don’t want to make the person feel like you’re spamming his email inbox, but you also don’t want to be forgotten.

During your marketing check-ins continue to ask a question or two. Vary those questions and see which ones get a response. Maybe promote one of the promotions you’re running on your website.

And all the while, track what he responds to and what he doesn’t. Track the answers to the questions you ask. This is a new friend. You’re getting to know him with each bit of new information and the two of you are growing closer.

Rinse and Repeat

As you move forward marketing, you will continue your check-ins and you will continue to ask questions. The more you learn about the person, the easier it will be for you to make sure your emails cater to what he likes. By putting him on new lists, you can make sure he’s notified when you get a new product that you know will appeal to him. Not only are you making him feel like a person instead of just a customer number, but you’re also more likely to make a sale if you know it appeals to him before you even send out that email.

Just like with a friend, it takes years to build up a relationship with a customer. But just like friends, the more years you put in, the more loyal they are to you. Many of the most successful businesses don’t have new customers flowing through the doors, they have old ones that continue to come back and continue to tell anyone who will listen about the great business they work with.

Written by Erika Towne