How to Create an Automated Follow-Up System

By Trent Dyrsmid, {grow} Community Member

Most people are really poor at follow up … and as a result, they don’t win nearly as much business as they could. For example, not so long ago, my friend Jermaine needed some work done to his house so he interviewed a few contractors. Of them, only one kept in touch over the next 9 months … and he got the job.

Why don’t most people keep in touch with their prospects that long? It’s too much work! Fortunately, this is an area where technology can do all the heavy lifting.

Thanks to technology, creating a personalized automated follow up system is actually very possible to do — though it is going to require that you use software to make it all happen.

Prior to implementing the software, there are some important steps to take, so let me walk you through them.

STEP 1: Make Two Lists

Regardless of what you sell, I am willing to bet that you get asked the same pre-sales questions over and over again. I’m also willing to bet that you ask your prospects plenty of questions of your own so that you can qualify them on their ability to purchase, as well as to determine what products or services are going to best meet their needs.

The first list you want to make is a list of every pre-sales question you can think of. The second list is a list of all the questions you would normally ask a prospect to determine if they are a good fit for you.

STEP 2: Create Content That Provides Answers to Pre-Sale Questions

Now that you have a list of the top pre-sales questions, you are going to need to create content (articles, blog posts, videos, reports, etc…) that provide answers to these questions. I suggest you create a blog post to answer every question on your list. If you do this, you will never run out of things to write about – and, rather than have to manually answer each question over and over, you are now going to have content that does this for you.

For answers that don’t require visual aids, articles and podcasts are an excellent choice. For answers that do need visual aids, video is the best choice. You can either do a screen share video, a white board video, or you can just stand in front of the camera and talk. For most people, the screen share and white board are going to be the easiest – and fastest to produce.

When making video, don’t worry if your videos aren’t Hollywood productions. So long as the information is high quality, you can get by with an average looking video.

STEP 3: Create Web Forms to Collect Information on Your Website

A web form is nothing more than a place on your website where a visitor can input their information and hit a submit button. Most email service providers make this relatively easy; however, for this to work really well, you are going to need to use marketing automation software that lets you dynamically deliver the content (you created) that is relevant to the answers provided on the web form.

In my case, I sell software and information products and my website is visited by people from a variety of industries. With diverse traffic like this, it’s critical for me to ensure that I get the right message to the right person at the right time – all without any manual labor.

To do this, I place a web form under each of four videos lessons that I give away for free (this is the top of my funnel). Then, in each video, I ask my visitor to provide me with more information about themselves by completing the form below the video.

The information that they provide goes directly into my database and then, thanks to the software that I use, I’m able to automatically route through my marketing funnel in a way that makes the most sense that each individual. In other words, I am able to deliver a very personalized experience – even though the entire thing is automated.

For example, if one person tells me they are a marketing consultant and they are struggling with client attraction, my system will ensure that they see content and offers that solve that specific problem. Whereas, if another person tells me that they are a small business owner and they are struggling with efficiency, they are going to see an entirely different campaign with content and offers that are relevant to their problem.

With every person, my goal is the same: to present the right content/offer to the right person, at the right time – all without my lifting a finger. Can you see how this might increase conversions?

It’s All About Tracking Their Behavior

Behavioral marketing is really about giving each person in your funnel the most personalized experience possible. To do this, I leverage technology like Infusionsoft that allows me to scale personal attention in a way that would be impossible to do manually. I track clicks, downloads, duration of videos watches, and countless other data points. Armed with this information, the experience for my user is much better, and my conversion rate is much higher.

While this may sound complex, it’s actually much more logical than technical. You don’t need to have any special technical skills to implement what I’m talking about … but, as I said before, you will need some specialized software to make it all work.

Have you tried anything like this? Please let me know if I can help you set up such a system.

Trent Dyrsmid

About Trent Dyrsmid

Trent Dyrsmid is the founder of and the host of the BrightIdeas podcast, where he has interviewed over 100 successful entrepreneurs. He is also the Founder of Groove Digital Marketing and Co-Owner of Get more info from Trent on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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  • PeterJ42

    I have a problem with this entire concept. A big one.

    Our reason for sending out content, putting up websites and everything else we do is to spark conversations which lead to a sale. To build relationships.

    So why, when we’ve done the hard work, do we not get involved?

    To me it is like going on a first date, giving someone your phone number, then making sure it is always on answerphone.

  • Interesting article. I don’t think it is possible to build a totally automated follow up system, but there can be ways of making the whole system easier to manage.
    I definitely agree with lists! Twitter lists are great to compartmentalise your Twitter audience in to clients, potential clients, interest groups and location. I’d also recommend a CRM like Nimble (or SalesForce or whatever) which can help build up a database of these relationships and turn leads into sales. I’d also use a tool like which helps you keep on to of replies and engagement.
    Still social media is all about people and relationships- you can’t treat people like machines with auto responses. Definitely keep a bank of standard responses (did I mention Twitter lead generation cards?!) but keep it real, genuine and be helpful. That’s what has helped me.

  • Fiona Stewart

    Great blog.

    I disagree with you PeterJ42 – in my opinion the automation of the follow up process enables a small business owner/sales person to choose the right time to pick up the telephone and call the potential client to close a sale. The combination of the automation and personal contact improves business efficiency as well as conversion rates.

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  • Peter, I’m not saying that we don’t get involved and actually talk to our clients. Quite the opposite. The purpose of the automated follow up is to ensure that we never miss the opportunity to talk to the RIGHT people at the RIGHT time. For example, in this post (, I explain how our automated marketing funnel led us to a conversation which resulted in a new $5,000 retainer client for our firm.

    As I’m sure you are aware, not everyone who opts into your funnel (after seeing your content) is going to be a qualified prospect for one reason or another. And, for the ones that are qualified, if you can use content + automated follow up to ensure they see all the very best content to address pre-sales questions, then, once you do end up speaking with them, closing the sale becomes significantly easier. This is exactly what happens for us over and over again.

    Thanks for sharing your perspective so I could add some additional perspective to the article.

  • Ian, thanks for pointing out some additional resources. Hopefully, after reading this, the takeaway that you (and others) got was this: by creating an automated marketing funnel, you are going to give your prospects an opportunity to provide you with more data that you can then use to ensure they are sent the most relevant content possible. The more relevant the content and offers you send, the higher the conversion rate will be.

  • Fiona, spot on. You grasped the purpose of this post to a “T”. Bravo 🙂

  • PeterJ42

    No-one “opts into your funnel”. Your funnel is an imaginary thing that only you know about.

    What they do is decide something you’ve done or said is cool enough for them to choose to either hear more or ask you a question.

    Your example shows exactly this. Your prospect bought a video training series (Free, but he still bought into it). That was enough for him to reckon “these guys know what they are talking about” and decide to get involved. Hence an email, a conversation, a videoconference.

    That is a classic relationship building sales strategy. And I’m willing to bet that if you hadn’t made your free offer, but instead sent out automated pre-sale questions it wouldn’t have worked.

  • Geri Richmond

    Hi Peter,
    I was taught from the very beginning to interact with people. So automating a follow-up seems a bit like a no-no. It would be just like automating Twitter follow-ups or any other social media follow-ups, To me, it rather defeats the purpose of social media.
    Building relationships is important in business.
    I think that automation in the sense of being able to send them info that they are looking for is good.
    Very good article. Got me to thinking about ways to use automation.

    Geri Richmond

  • Fiona Stewart

    Thanks Trent – your post filled a large piece of the jigsaw for me so thank you. Spookily, when I was researching something else on youtube, I stumbled across your video about the green dot, which was another timely message for me! Two in the same day from you – very serendipitous! Incidentally, where I’m at in my business is on the green line between the green dot and the red dot – close to the red dot! Made it even more poignant! Keep doing what you’re doing – it’s making a difference 🙂

  • Thank you 🙂

  • Geri,

    I’m glad you found some insight in the post. They key is to think about automation as a tool to deliver the right content to the right people. Automation is NOT about treating everyone the same.

    For example, if clients ask you the same 5 questions over and over and over before they buy, it would make sense to create content that would answer these questions, right? (why say the same thing over and over when you can point them to a video of you saying it)

    Then, with automation, you are going to collect data to determine which people are asking those questions so that you can automatically send them links to videos that will answer questions they have told you (via webforms and mouse clicks) that they are looking for.

    If you take this approach, you can scale “personal attention” and ensure that you lay the foundation to build personal relationships with the RIGHT people.

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