How to grow your mailing list with sales demos

Use online scheduling to collect contact info and pass it to a mailing list

Looking for new ways to engage your audience and grow your mailing list? Whether signups are slow or campaigns have been underperforming, one of the best ways to boost subscriptions is with a customer-first approach.

I’ve seen way too many websites ask visitors for contact info without offering anything in return. Don’t be one of those websites. If you want people to share their email with you, be prepared to offer up some clear value in exchange. Remember, the more value you offer up front, the more information you can request over time.

Using gated content to attract subscribers

We’ve all seen a generic web form like the one above. The header reads “subscribe to my mailing list” and it promises updates on “cool new stuff”. Visitors have no idea what to expect, so there’s little reason to subscribe. This passive approach to marketing is not likely to yield the kind of results that you’re looking for.

Many successful companies solve this issue by producing quality digital content and sharing it online for free. It acts as digital marketing material, attracting people to their site and encouraging new subscriptions in exchange for access. Hubspot uses gated content in precisely this way. Their ebooks and definitive guides are written with SEO in mind, to rank at the top of search engine results. People coming from Google are eager to fill out Hubspot’s subscription form, just to access the free educational resources.

Example of gated content from Hubspot’s Ebooks

Again, the key to growing your list is delivering real value. Hubspot has invested heavily in data-driven articles with real industry knowledge, because that’s what their audience wants. A lot of this content is considered evergreen, meaning that it could live on the website for years and continue to bring a steady flow of traffic. In this way, the material both attracts people to the site and also engages them through subscription.

Sales demos can drive subscriptions

We’ve covered the value of gated marketing content, but I want to point out a second approach to web forms that many companies neglect. This technique can have measurable, positive impact on your subscription rate, but will require that you offer some form of direct personal connection to your visitors. This is almost always handled by free consultations and sales demos.

Does your company have a dedicated sales team? If yes, how are they currently scheduling demos and consultations? If you have a registration form on your website, does that form data currently get passed into a mailing list or CRM? If the answer was yes to all three, then you’re looking good!

If you’re not familiar with online scheduling, we’ve created this landing page of a sales demo at a make-believe company so you can try it yourself.

Incentivize deeper visitor engagement with a free consultation

Many companies land somewhere in the middle, between having no public registration available for sales demos and having a fully integrated data flow into a mailing list management service.

If you are still in the process of setting up a sales demo registration form, we recommend you start by identifying your ideal customer persona. What are the key indicators that your product will be a good fit for your lead? It’s standard to request a name, email and phone number on your registration form. What other key information can you request, to help determine the lead’s qualification for a sales call?

For example, a small to medium sized software business might ask to know the applicant’s company size, to evaluate product market fit. They might not be ready to accommodate massive enterprise operations, so a company size of 1,000+ could be disqualified. Your company should identify its key lead qualification metrics and use the booking form to collect it from applicants.

By offering your time in exchange for the visitor’s information, you make a clear value proposition. That generosity is likely to attract a range of applicants, some of whom will not be qualified. Fortunately, you can turn on manual confirmation, allowing your sales team to choose which calls they accept or decline.

Additionally, all of your booking data can be configured to flow directly into your mailing list. This way you can retain contact with everyone who reaches out. Even if a lead is initially disqualified by the sales team, they can stay engaged with newsletters, promotional offers, etc. They also have the option to unsubscribe at any time.

Connecting Appointlet to Mailchimp with Zapier

Setting up a scheduler and connecting it to an mail list manager is actually quite simple. The solution we offer in this article uses a booking page hosted by Appointlet, a free mailing list from Mailchimp, and a free Zapier account.

Note: If you use an alternative mailing list manager, check Zapier’s collection to see if the application is supported.

Here is a quick step-by-step overview of how the solution is configured:

Step 1) Sign up for a free trial of Appointlet. Configure your account so that the booking page displays your correct availability.

Step 2) Use Appointlet’s embed script to share a “book now” button on your website.

Note: You can collect all form data via the booking page we provide. However, if you prefer to collect some info in advance, you can pass that data into appointlet to pre-populate the form.

Step 3) Sign up for a free Mailchimp account if you don’t have one already. Create a new campaign and test with at least one subscriber to confirm that it’s working.

Step 4) Sign up for a free Zapier account and use it to connect Appointlet to Mailchimp. You can set up a simple two-step zap as shown in the following screenshot:

When a visitor makes a new booking, their contact info is sent to Mailchimp in Zapier

When someone books a time on your website, Zapier will pass the booking data to Mailchimp with instructions to Create (Add/Update) a Subscriber in your list of choice. Once you turn this Zap on, the data transfer will be automated and you can watch the mailing list grow. In case you were wondering, here is what the mailing list interface looks like over at Mailchimp:

Eyeballs + Engagement = Success

You’ve got mail!

Now that you have some good techniques for growing your mailing list, make sure that the email campaigns themselves are worth reading! Run A/B tests on your email titles and measure their performance. Keep trying things out and see what sticks. Ask yourself, “If this showed up in my inbox, would I open it?”

You can count on high quality email campaign content delivering a return. A study from 2018 showed that 98.4% of people checked their email at least once per day and 33% checked it constantly. Having enjoyed a strong, positive first impression from your ebooks or sales demos, subscribers are more likely to listen when you send them a message.

Interested in the idea but still want to learn more? Check out this article on How to Connect Zapier to Appointlet or visit our website directly.

 

Appointlet for Chrome

Have you ever wished that it was easier to access your booking links?  

If so, you’re in luck. We’ve just published this extension for Google Chrome, granting you instant access to your meeting links! ūüéČ

Grab and share booking links in no time
When reaching out to a customer in Chrome, you can now use the extension to generate and copy a booking to your clipboard. Paste the link into your message and you’re good to go!


Easy to install and configure
To install the chrome extension, visit the Chrome App Webstore and hit Add to Chrome. Once you’ve added the extension to your browser and logged in, you can select access your booking links by selecting an organization and member from the dropdown menu. 

If you prefer to see all available meeting types, you can keep “Any” selected in the member dropdown:

Save changes and you will be presented with a meeting type selection screen. Pick the one that you want and we’ll copy the URL to your clipboard.

 

How to Position your “Book Now” button on a website to maximize engagement

It takes a lot to drive visitors to your website. People who do arrive reportedly spend 6-8 seconds deciding whether to stick around, so it’s critical that you create a strong positive impression while inside that window. This article will cover two of the best ways to maximize engagement with Call To Action buttons.

What is a Call To Action?

Nobody wants to read an essay when they arrive at your website. The imagery on your page will speak to them instantly and a value judgment will be made. After that, you have a few seconds to hit them with words that identify their problems and provide a solution. If they can’t take immediate action to solve that problem with the click of a button, they’ll probably give up and go elsewhere.

A call to action button can solve this problem if it’s well implemented.

The Front and Center Approach

This screenshot comes from an Appointlet demo for an imaginary digital agency. The call to action button has several features that make it effective:

  1. Color: Relative to the orange and gray hues of the background image, the blue call to action provides enough contrast to make it POP.
  2. Wording: The language includes a verb (request) and an incentive (free consultation).
  3. Size: Both the width of the button and its word length are short relative to the header and sub-header.
  4. Clickable: When you click on the button, the solution immediately appears as an Appointlet booking page
  5. Repeats at the bottom of the page: For visitors who scroll down the page to learn more, you want to be sure to reiterate the call to action at the bottom.

When visitors click on the button, the scheduler will pop up, lowering the opacity of your landing page without navigating away. Here is what it looks like visually:

You can click here to view this demo site in real time and test it for yourself.

The Sidebar Form Approach

This second screenshot is also an Appointlet demo (located here), however you’ll notice that the landing page is formatted in a different way. With a series of form fields, you can collect data and pass it to Appointlet using form pre-population so users don’t have to enter their information twice.

  1. Sidebar Form: The header and sub-header are positioned off to one side, making space for a short vertical form.
  2. Repeat Color Themes: At the top of the form, we’ve highlighted the words Sign Up and Your in orange. The same color is attributed to the CTA button at the bottom of the form.
  3. Wording: Again we find an action (Sign up) but this time the reader is given an imperative. When should I do it? Now!
  4. Readable + Clickable: The first call to action is simply a form header, but it primes the reader for the clickable CTA button at the bottom.

This final example presents a slight variation on the sidebar form. It makes use of the incentive approach (free demo), but the language is less urgent. A single sentence of help text is presented under the form’s header, explaining what an attendee will get from the demo. The words “book my demo” give the visitor ownership, in contrast to “book a demo”.

How to generate an Appointlet CTA

If you’re new to Appointlet or have never used our sharing tool, you may be wondering how to make this approach work for your team. Fortunately, setting up a CTA button is incredibly easy. All you need to do is log in to your Appointlet account, click on the share tool, and select the website tab:

Hit the blue copy button to copy to your clipboard. You can paste the code snippet directly into your website’s html and you’ll be good to go. That’s all there is to it!

To learn more about how to set up these two examples using the same content management system that we used, see this article on connecting Appointlet to Unbounce.

 

Optimize your Lead Nurturing Process with Appointlet

People say talk is cheap, but when it comes to lead nurturing, the cost of conversations with prospects can add up quickly. Fortunately there are plenty of ways to automate the onboarding process, saving your sales team time and lowering your customer acquisition costs.¬† We’ll be focusing on the value of automated scheduling as part of a comprehensive sales strategy.

What is lead generation and nurturing?

The sales pipeline begins with a stream of potential customers discovering your content. As they progress through your onboarding funnel, some percentage of people will drop off when they realize that your services don’t meet their needs. Others will blow past the warning signs and attempt to set up an account. To ensure that you dedicate the appropriate amount of resources to each lead, you will need to develop a lead scoring metric and automate as much of the process as possible while maintaining a human touch.

Lead generation represents the top of your sales funnel, whereas lead nurturing refers to the stages of education, support, and encouragement that ultimately lead to conversion. Not all leads represent the same value to your company, which is why lead scoring is so essential.

The Basics of Lead Scoring

Imagine you are a sales rep at a car dealership. Two customers enter simultaneously, competing for your attention. One of them comes in wearing no shirt and appears to be intoxicated, while the other rolls up in an expensive car and has offered to pay in cash. In marketing terms, the customer with cash in hand would be given a higher lead score, due to their confidence in your product and their readiness to purchase. The intoxicated, shirtless prospect would still be engaged, however they would be assigned a lower priority status.

Lead Scoring tends to be more nuanced than the scenario just described. Most companies are assessing their leads based on several variables. How interested are they in your product(s), are they a fit for your business, and how much potential revenue does their account represent? Returning to the car dealership analogy, if you swap out the intoxicated shirtless person with someone fully dressed and with cash in hand, their difference in lead scores could be based on other factors, like the cost of the vehicles that they are inquiring about.

Your sales team will need to identify the critical variables that define the potential value and eligibility of your leads. Once those variables are defined, they can be arranged into classes ranging from highest to lowest priority. If you are using a customer support portal like Intercom, you can query stored customer data to automate the evaluation of explicit lead scoring data. Further down the funnel, you may need to collect implicit data to gauge their level of interest.

Using Appointlet to Refine the Lead Nurturing Process

Armed with well defined lead scoring categories and an automated solution for evaluating prospects, you can begin focusing on sales calls. Prospects often want to speak with a representative to ask clarifying questions and ensure that your services are a good fit for them. Due to the high cost of sales calls, it’s important that you allocate a budget and determine your bandwidth for high-touch support.

The very act of booking a call can be incredibly time consuming. Manually coordinating a time to speak with customers is a time sink, as you will often send multiple emails back and forth before locking in a time that works. You can automate this process with Appointlet by creating meeting types for each class of leads.

In the sales demo shown above, we have created three meeting types that correspond to three levels of the lead nurturing funnel. Low scoring leads are eligible for a ten minute call, while medium scores receive a thirty minute call. A lead who is almost ready to buy and just needs that final push to gain confidence could be booked for a Two Hour Discovery Session.

Using Pooled Availability, Manual Confirmation, and Private Meetings

The value of Appointlet in the lead nurturing process doesn’t end with automated booking. We provide additional features that will give your sales lead account executive even more control.

Pooled Availability¬†is a valuable feature for sales teams, as your prospects typically have no preference regarding who they speak to. They simply want to talk with a representative. By pooling the availability of your staff, they will be assigned to sales calls based on a “round robin” approach. Appointlet will no longer ask the lead to choose a representative, effectively simplifying the booking process.

Manual Confirmation is a good way to ensure that leads don’t book more than their allotted amount. For example, if someone had a 30 minute call and then decided that they have some follow up questions, they might attempt to schedule another 30 minute call. Manually confirmed meeting types allow you to decline those booking requests and send a follow up message to the lead explaining your policy.

Private Meeting Types¬†are a setting that give you more control over the visibility of the meeting types you offer. If you don’t want low-scoring leads to know that you offer longer sessions to more qualified candidates, private sessions will ensure that they cannot see the alternative options. Instead, candidates will only see the meeting types that you’ve linked them to directly.

How Will You Choose to Engage Leads?

Now that you understand what lead nurturing is and how Appointlet can help you to automate the booking process for sales calls, it’s your turn to come up with solutions. What would be the ideal configuration for your Appointlet account to handle your various lead categories?

 

Email Etiquette: What to say when sharing your Booking Link

Scheduling a time to meet with clients can be frustrating, due to the high volume of back-and-forth emails required. Appointlet solves this problem with an automated, customer-friendly booking page. You can now communicate your availability with a single hyperlink, so it’s important that your email is well written and easy to understand.

Tip #1: Know your audience

When reaching out to a customer with a booking link, it’s important to have a grasp on their expectations ahead of time. Here are a few customer types that require extra care:

  • Low-Tech clients: For clients who struggle with using computers, the idea of a scheduling tool may be foreign. Don’t be afraid to add a sentence or two letting them know what to expect from your booking page.
  • High-touch clients: Customers who pay top dollar for your services may be surprised to see the automated scheduling solution. Preface the booking link with a warm and friendly tone of voice. Be sure to communicate that the booking tool will save them time.
  • Customer Support:¬†When sending your booking link to a customer who’s expecting support, it may be helpful to add a few sentences with an initial diagnosis. Let them know that you will be going into greater detail during your scheduled meeting.
  • Sales Prospects: This booking invitation represents an important stage in the conversion funnel, so your email copy should continue to educate and drive the prospect towards your end goal.

Tip #2: The essential elements

Regardless of who you are speaking with, these core features should always be present in your booking email:

  1. Email subject: Keep the email subject simple and to the point, with a length of 2-7 words indicating the type of meeting to be scheduled.
  2. Opening:¬†Be polite and professional. An opening like “Dear [name]” is appropriate for formal emails. Consider a time-based alternative like “Good morning [name]” or even “Hi [name]” for a casual professional tone.
  3. Opening Paragraph: The message should open with a clear value proposition identifying the purpose of the appointment. Even if you spoke with them recently, it never hurts to offer a brief explanation.
  4. Booking Link Preface (Optional): If you determine that the client / recipient may be unfamiliar with scheduling automation, you can let them know how it works and why you use Appointlet. Keep it to one or two sentences.
  5. Booking Link: Use Appointlet’s share feature (instructions here) to provide them with the appropriate booking link.
  6. Closing: Offer a final statement and closing remark. The formality of the closing remark depends on your client.

Booking Email Demo for Design Agency

Here is an example of an email template that could be used for most use cases:

Subject: Book a time for our brand consultation

Opening: Hi Melissa,

Opening Paragraph: It was great speaking with you this afternoon. I would like to propose a one hour discovery call, at which time we can further unpack [Company]’s marketing goals.

Booking Link Preface: To schedule a time with me, please click the link below and find a time that works for you:

Booking Link: http://company-name.appointlet.com/s/12345

Closing: If you have any questions prior to booking, just reply to this email and let me know!

Warm regards,

Mark Johnson, Sr Brand Consultant

Company Name

Tip #3: Timing is of the essence

Having invested time into preparing the booking page and email templates, it would be a shame to rush the final step in this process. Here are a couple of important considerations for timing your email:

  • The best time to send a booking email is after a conversation. You are fresh in the client’s mind and the message will provide continuity. Prepare the email ahead of time to avoid delays.
  • Find out what their work schedule is. Once you know, you can avoid the end caps. People who work a standard Monday – Friday shift tend to be most responsive to booking emails midweek and midday.
  • Avoid public holidays and vacations. It can be helpful to ask clients for their vacation schedule in advance. Take note of their availability to ensure that the messages don’t get lost in their inbox.
 

Help Desks: Be lazy and productive at the same time with Autofilled Forms

Organizations often set up help desk representatives to schedule meetings on behalf of their clients. If the help desk’s browser has autofill turned off, they will have to enter client information manually each time they book. What a drag!

With autofill turned on, your booking data will be stored and accessible. The next time that customer books with your organization, you’ll be presented with a dropdown list of options as soon as you start typing.

In this example, five previous bookings were made with email addresses where “test” was the opening word. I only need to type the letter “t” to be presented with all of my prior attendee email addresses.

Access and Turn on Autofill in Google Chrome

To access Chrome’s auto-fill setting, open the browser and type in this URL: chrome://settings/autofill

You will see the following screen. Simply toggle the feature on:

Turning on Autofill in Firefox, Safari, or Internet Explorer

These other browsers seem to have better documentation for their autofill features. We will provide links to each browser’s knowledge base article here to ensure that you get the most up-to-date information.

Firefox – Saving Web Form Entries

Safari – Change Autofill Preferences

Internet Explorer 11 – Fill out Web Forms

 

It’s a party: Invite unlimited admin users for FREE!

It’s a new year – what better way to celebrate it than with your friends and coworkers? With Appointlet’s Team Access feature, account owners can invite an unlimited number of users for free. Woohoo!

Once you’ve invited users to your account, they will be able to log in to the dashboard. With the modify settings property, you can control their access to organization settings. By turning booking emails on, the user will receive all booking confirmation emails that come through the organization.

Advantages to Inviting Admin Users

  1. Access the bookings dashboard to find out who has been booked across the organization. Option to confirm, decline, and cancel bookings.
  2. Harness Appointlet’s CSV data export feature to generate usage reports for business development.
  3. Help other team members create, configure, or clean up their profiles.
  4. Manage the services dashboard and make updates as needed.
  5. Access the share feature and generate custom booking page links.

Make sure you prepare!

A party is all fun and games until someone gets hurt. If you’re going to invite people to your organization, be sure they are trained on how to use it. Like a drunk person knocking things over at your party, admin users have the ability to edit and delete content. Prevent that from happening by walking them through the software ahead of time!

If you want to train up your new admin users but don’t have time to do it yourself, consider sending them to this Appointlet Quick Start video tutorial series. It will cover all the basics and familiarize them with how to perform all the core actions in the app.

Already have an account and ready to invite your new users? Here’s a knowledge based article covering the Team Access modal and how to use it.

 

Google Calendar Essentials: Separate work & personal schedules

This article is intended for Appointlet users with a Google Calendar integration. 

Do you have a Google Calendar connected to your Appointlet account? If so, you may be wondering how to separate your work schedule from other events on your calendar. While there is more than one way to do it, the best technique is to separate your work schedule from your personal schedule.

This quick video demonstrates the step by step process of creating work and personal sub-calendars in Google. As you can see in the following screenshot, you can select the schedules you want to view and the corresponding events will show up. If you uncheck one of the boxes, those events will disappear:

Back in Appointlet, these schedules show up on your member profile’s Calendar section. Your setup might look something like the following:

As you can see, the Bookings Calendar is set to Work Schedule, meaning that all of the member’s bookings will go into that sub-calendar (in Google). Additionally, the Availability Calendars¬†are set to check for Work Schedule, but not Personal Schedule, ensuring that only Work events block your availability in Appointlet.

 

Seven great places to share your booking link

We’ve all heard the expression “Seek and ye shall find”.¬†When it comes to getting more bookings, you need to seek out and engage your audience across as many platforms as possible. This ensures that client prospects can easily access your services. If you are only sharing your booking link in one or two places, a percentage of the people looking for solutions will never find you. Let’s take a look at how to fix that!

The Seven Best Places to Share a Booking Link

  • Your Organization’s Website
  • Client Email Correspondences and Campaigns
  • Social Media Channels
  • Customer Support Auto Messages
  • Embedding Links in a Video
  • Digital Advertisements
  • Television, Radio and Print

Sharing to a Website

If your organization has a website, there are many ways to funnel visitors towards the booking page. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Create a Book Now CTA button and place it on your landing page so that it’s immediately accessible.
  • Generate custom book now buttons that link directly to a member and/or meeting type. Place them on pages where your audience will be looking for those services specifically.
  • Blog articles¬†are a common destination for organic traffic, due to the concentrated use of SEO keywords. Take advantage of this by ending each article with a CTA.
  • After Form Submission: If you have a form on your website where you gather information on leads, you can set up a redirect to your booking page to load on submit and pass that form data to the booking page. This technique, called form prepopulation, saves your client the hassle of entering their data twice.

Email Campaigns and Correspondences

Websites are a good initial point of contact. People seek you out through a search engine, but once they’ve made contact with one a representative, it’s important to have a strategy for sharing your booking url via email. For instructions, please see this article from our knowledge base.

  • Don’t use email signatures. Several email clients, including Gmail, will exclude signatures by default. If you are sharing your booking url in a signature, take it out and put it in the email body.
  • Position the booking link somewhere in the main body of the email.
  • Advanced:¬†If you are using a CRM to manage your email campaigns, consider using variables to prepopulate the customer’s data.

Leveraging Your Social Media Channels

Setting up and maintaining accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn will significantly improve your visibility. While you’re using them, you may as well drop a link to your booking page URL for easy access.

  • Facebook specifically provides a call to action button for business. Read this help article from our knowledge base for more information on how to set it up.
  • Instagram and Twitter’s profile description areas permit hyperlinks.
  • LinkedIn provides a blog feature where you can write content and share hyperlinked images (i.e. book now buttons).

Customer Support Auto Messages

If your organization is using help desk software to handle customer communications, you likely have automated message set up to handle incoming support requests. Some of the best services include Intercom, Zendesk, and Freshdesk. Here are a few places where bookings links might be appropriate:

  • Out of office:¬†Don’t miss out on leads who come to you when you’re out of office. Reduce friction by giving them a booking link automatically when they contact you after hours.
  • Offer a suggestion while they wait:¬†If a customer contacts you during a period of high traffic, some help desks will provide AI bots to detect keywords and provide solutions proactively. If they are in a rush and don’t want to wait the 5-45 minutes that it might take to get a response, giving prospects a clickable link can speed up the process.
  • Use A/B testing on buttons and links:¬†Depending on the psychology of your clientele, people may have a bias towards links or buttons. Use A/B testing to determine what works best when sharing your link. You can typically add buttons to in-app and email auto messages.

Embedding Links in a Video

Have you heard the expression Content is King? One of the most powerful ways to promote a brand is through viral video content. Consequently, sharing clickable links within a video has emerged as a popular alternative medium for sharing content.

  • Youtube’s Partner Program provides channel administrators the option of linking to websites using card-overlays. For detailed instructions, see this help document from Youtube’s knowledge base.
  • Business Video Hosting¬†services have been used by Appointlet customers to add clickable links and gain additional video analytics that Youtube does not provide. SproutVideo is one solution that our users have used successfully.

Digital Advertising

The scope of digital advertising is immense. If you are just getting started with marketing your brand online, here are a few critical resources to consider for advertising your website and booking page.

Television, Radio and Print

If your organization’s booking page is easy to remember, you can use traditional marketing channels to promote the page. The downside here is that your audience cannot click on something and get instant gratification. They will have to manually type the url into their browser. It may be a better idea to provide your home page rather, and use the CTA button technique outlined previously to drive traffic to your booking page.

So, what’s the best fit for YOU?

Now that you are aware of the best ways to share a booking page, it’s time to figure out what will work best for your organization. If you are currently using only one or two of these techniques, can you identify a few more methods of sharing that will improve your conversion rate?