How Follow Ups Sell More Chocolate

follow up seriesYou might not have a follow up campaign. After all, assembling a weekly newsletter is much easier than designing an email series with evergreen value.

But follow up autoresponders are powerful. Create an initial set of valuable messages, and you’ll automatically build loyalty and interest in every new subscriber.

But what should you write about?

We have a customer who rocks follow-ups to their fullest potential. Keep reading for inspiration on how you, too, can reap the benefits of a well-designed follow-up series.

Meet Chocoley

email follow up

Chocolatier Nicole Leffer knew that ongoing emails would help grow her business, Chocoley. So she and her team designed a sweet series of candy-molding lessons.

Each one has clear project instructions. And while crafters can use supplies from anywhere, the social credit the emails build (and the helpful links to product pages) make Chocoley the logical place to buy them.

How She Builds Relationships

Nicole’s writing creates a connection between her business and her readers. These quotes from her emails show you just how she does it:

Illustrates her instructions with bits of story
follow up email

“When I was a kid I remember that every science fair I ever went to had at least a couple kids with projects showing the way oil and water don’t mix. It’s the same with chocolate and moisture– only it’s way worse.”

Explains the “why” (for the two-year-old in all of us)

“Dampness & condensation also results in “sugar bloom” – you’ll see grains of sugar on the surface of the chocolate.”

Thoughtfully anticipates and addresses concerns

“If you’re using a clear mold, you’ll be able to tell that the chocolate is ready when it uniformly does not look wet on the underside of the mold.”

Shares “trade secrets”

“This step is a secret I learned from a top chocolatier in Switzerland. … They swear it ensures a perfect finish on every piece of candy, and every time I’ve done it, that’s the result I’ve had.”

And does it work?

“We’ve had fantastic feedback from our customers,” Nicole says. “They love the course because it provides a real value they are looking for.”

How She Makes Sales

Yes, email marketing’s great strength is it’s potential for relationship-building. But you don’t earn dollars with hugs and high-fives alone. So Chocoley’s follow-ups:

Give subscribers a thank-you discount

“I wanted to give you a little something to say “thanks” for taking this course with me. Use the code [code] on your first order of $49.99 or more (before shipping) to save $15. ….”

Finish with purchasing as a go-do item

“P.S. If you want to find some cool molds, start here:

Show how the products make things easier

“(Remember, V125 Indulgence chocolate requires tempering, and Bada Bing Bada Boom Candy Melts does not. If you want to make molded candy with Couverture chocolate can still follow the directions below, but when we melt the chocolate you need to temper yours).”

Ask for referrals

“I hope you have enjoyed this course– I’ve definitely enjoyed teaching you! If you know other people who might be interested in learning about molding chocolate, please tell them to sign up at”

And does it work?

“The open rates have been very good,” Nicole says, “and the course has definitely led to new sales (from new customers), as well as improved our relationship with our customers.”

Design Your Own Lessons

“We wanted to find something that would really encourage people to open their email everyday (that was guaranteed to provide value, but that would also help us educate people about using our products),” says Nicole.

That may sound overwhelming, but you can manage it with these steps:

  • Start with information that someone out there is looking for, that you know well.
  • Compile everything. Make a giant list.
  • Figure out which ideas belong together and where your breaks should fall.
  • Switch and swap the order of the lessons until the flow makes sense.

“With the course laid out,” Nicole explains, “the emails almost write themselves.”

What Do You Think?

Do you have a follow-up series? If you do, what kind of value do you send?

If you don’t, what could you write about?


  1. Bill

    9/23/2010 11:18 am

    Very good article! Its amazing how simple ideas can be so powerful in bonding you to a vendor/supplier. I don’t even cook, yet Nicole’s little tips made me think it sounded like fun, and she seemed like a nice person to learn from.

    I can see how I can use the concepts in my business.


  2. Mohamed Sanih

    9/23/2010 12:33 pm

    Hi Amanda,

    great post…but would appreciate it, if Aweber, recommendeds some email writing experts or specialists undertaking email marketing campaigns….or whether if Aweber undertakes such services?

    I am also, interested in creating the perfect autoresponder series for my websites to maximise my sales and leads.

  3. Todd Herman

    9/23/2010 1:09 pm

    Congrats Nicole on your success. In my experience education sells better than anything else. Love the graphics as well.

  4. Amanda Gagnon

    9/23/2010 1:43 pm

    Thanks, Bill!

    Mohamed ~ To actually write the campaign, I’d recommend finding a freelance writer and marketer who’ll work on an hourly basis. (Make sure they can show you a good portfolio first!)

  5. Mohamed Sanih

    9/23/2010 1:52 pm

    Thanks for the tips…

  6. PA

    9/23/2010 4:15 pm

    This was great to see what can be done with creative, fun writing.

    Thanks for motivating me to do a better job with the follow up.

  7. Carl

    9/23/2010 6:09 pm

    Great case study!

    Can you get metrics for it? What were the open and click rates? And how many sales it drove?

  8. carol

    9/23/2010 6:52 pm

    Great tips and examples – would be great to see and example from a non tangible product too – for example a service based follow up sequence

  9. Shaun

    9/24/2010 7:23 am

    Nice article. I use autoresponders to make sales and regularly drive visitors back to my website. I’ve noticed if I give them weekly tips followed by ‘Further Reading’ (Which links back to a page on my website) I get a good amount of people coming back. When people visit your website they don’t get to see everything, so doing this directs people to some articles they may find useful but haven’t already seen.

  10. Alex Papa

    9/24/2010 8:06 am

    That was truly amazing. I did not imagine you can do such a great deal of follow up marketing in the chocolate business. This is the new era of marketing where the public (your fans/readers/customers) is really running the show! Whoever is your customer is the boss. The customer is the real employer ? they are the only ones who can pay the bills. Nice post!

  11. Amanda Gagnon

    9/24/2010 8:15 am

    Carl ~ I’ll check into getting those.

    Carol ~ That’s a great idea! I have a feeling you’ll get your wish…

  12. Anne

    9/24/2010 9:11 am

    Thanks Carol & Amanda,
    That was what I was gonna ask about as I could see clearly how it works for product, but perhaps less so for service which would apply for us. A case study is so helpful to get to grips with how to apply the principals.
    Thanks again

  13. Lalitha Brahma

    9/24/2010 10:22 pm

    Great article. Simple, but covered everything-building relationship, education, marketing, sales, referral. I am inspired to do this. I can add a follow up series to a list that will send to the new subscribers. How can I do this to the current subscribers?

  14. Brett Ettridge

    9/25/2010 4:39 am

    Fantastic concept ! Keep it short and to the point as the human race is in a strong belief they are running out of time and that life owes them more.

    Embrace all their senses and have a point of difference and you will continue to succeed.

  15. Amanda Gagnon

    9/28/2010 7:58 am

    Lalitha ~ You can search "all subscribers" for the list, then reset their "last message" column to 0.

    (If you already have a welcome message set up as an autoresponder, reset the columns to 1.)

  16. EM

    10/5/2010 6:23 am

    This is a simple but great email marketing story. Marketers like us sometimes get lost in the world of ‘internet marketing’ that we forget that there is a much bigger world outside of IM.

    Being too into IM can make one lose one’s perspective who’ll then start to get negative, i.e doubt the effectiveness of email marketing.

    It’s back to the basics: Building relationships through email. Low cost and effective.

    The email is so cute that I had to go to the site and while I was there, I can’t help looking it over. Quite an ‘old fashioned’ and professional site. The navigation seems good. Visitor/User centric. Content oriented. Credible. Reminds me of Nick Usborne (THE online copywriter).

    Geared towards chocolate lovers. I think the owner’s passion shines through.

    If I was more into chocolate, I’d probably sign up for the free email course!

  17. Bill

    12/28/2010 12:16 pm

    I really respond personally to e-mail that implies some “trade secrets” or insider expert tips and tricks. Its hard to resist because we all crave the information that we think is either being kept from us, or that others have that we don’t. So to be invited into the “secret club” is irresistable!

    My business is photo canvas printing. I come from the industry so I have lots of insider stuff I could share to help people get the best quality and value

    Thanks for the great article

  18. Amanda Gagnon

    12/28/2010 1:29 pm

    Bill ~ Exactly. Everyone wants to be in on the secret!

  19. Alex

    3/16/2011 11:11 am

    I’d really like to know how you create posts that are so visually pleasing! How do you create those call out boxes, I’ve noticed them in a few posts. I’d love to be able to recreate something like that.

  20. Amanda Gagnon

    3/16/2011 11:38 am

    Alex ~ We actually have graphic designers polish up the posts before publishing. I’d like to know how they create the boxes myself!

  21. Alex

    3/17/2011 9:30 am

    Ah, those graphic designer types! Oh well, thanks for your reply.

  22. richard kowalski

    10/19/2011 8:45 pm

    I like the interesting email responses from the readers too.The responses are as intersting as the stories themselves!