Do you really need to make leads wait? Let them skip delays

A marketing sequence is made of several carefully planned and timed steps. Delays are usually intentional, but they can disrupt your communication and onboarding efforts. Including the option to continue down the funnel immediately can be a valuable addition.

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Why should I wait for you?

Many companies have multi-step communication sequences. For instance, in onboarding processes for new leads, they want to nurture them and qualify them before hitting them with the sale pitch. That’s great, truly. The problem is the way this is implemented.

Not everyone is the same. In regards to content sequences, not everyone needs to be guided hand-in-hand the way companies think.

This is a very felt topic for me. I’m talking about the option to skip waiting times and receive the already planned content immediately. I seldom see this option implemented, and I’d love to see it used more.

I’m the kind of person that needs to devour the content immediately. Especially if I’m considering to purchase something, I need all the information asap, not provided drop by drop. The more I have to wait to get the full picture, the more likely it is that I won’t get it, as I stopped listening or lost track.

Whether it is an email sequence, a chatbot, a series of articles or Facebook posts — it does not matter, I want them at my own pace. Yet, I am forced to wait, and it’s frustrating.

A middle ground?

I think this is familiar for everyone: you sign up for something and you are forced to one just one of two options:

  • immediate full access to everything (e.g. ManyChat gives you full access to their course as soon as you register a free account)
Get all content immediately
Immediate full access to all content
  • gradual access through a timed sequence, usually with 24-hours delays between each step (99.99% of email sequences out there)
Get content in a timed sequence
Gradual access in a timed sequence

The first one works great for me — but it might not be ok for everyone. The second one is bad for me — but it could be perfect for others.

The question is: why just these two options? Why not a middle ground?

Let them skip delays!

That’s what I’m talking about: just give the option to skip the delay.

You can still have your planned content, time it as you wish and guide your lead where you want, but you give the option to consume it more quickly as well. You are not losing anything, just providing more value to those who wish to do so.

Let’s take a look at an email sequence. A traditional sequence is made of several messages, most often with a 24-hour delay in between.

Timed email sequence: 3 days with 24h delays

In a 3 mail sequence, it would take 3 days to reach the end. But what if people can skip the delay? All message can be delivered in a single day, if desired.

Email sequence with skip delay option: from 1 to 3 days

But that’s not all: you can set it so that, if at any point they don’t want to proceed immediately, they will still receive your content after your chosen delay-time. In this example, if someone wants your second message immediately, but not the last one, the sequence shrinks down to just two days.

Comparing the two, a linear sequence is surely more limited. If the option is implemented, a sequence of X-days can be delivered in any number of days, ranging from 1 to X, according to the choice of the recipient.

Email sequences compared

Is it something groundbreaking? Nope, but I almost never see it used. In my opinion, it can increase value and go a long way for user experience.

The best part? It’s quite easy to implement.

How to implement delay skips?

A lot of the available tools out there can do this. If they support click-tracking, on-event triggering and if-conditions, they most likely can do it. It’s just a matter of setting the right conditions.

Going back to the email example, you just need a button that triggers a “send on click” flow for the next email. If no click took place within 24-hours, send the next piece of content anyway.

Take my About me sequence, for instance (you can check it out using the form at the end of the post). I used such settings in between two steps:

Prefer to trigger on click only? Just set it to do just that. I use this method in the same sequence, in two instances.

First, in place of a very short-delay, with a simple link instead of a button (two automated emails in a short time are not well-received by email providers, but clicking is seen as an interaction and sign of desired content). It is also useful as confirmation before sending the content, reducing the risk of spam and sending potentially unopened emails.

Second, to provide a bonus email only to those who are interested. If they did not enjoy the previous content, there’s no point in sending a little extra. A button click is confirmation of the recipient liking it and wanting more.

I talk about emails, but the strategy is surely not limited just emails! Get creative and it can be used for any other format. Here are a few ideas:

  • Chatbots. They work like emails, just add a button and conditions to your delays.
  • Facebook posts. Dripped content posts on your page. Next posts delivered with a chatbot, or immediate access to all content in a closed group or website.
  • Blog posts. Send a link to hidden content or use a login-only area.

Nurturing and hitting while it’s hot

Are delays truly necessary? There’s no definite answer. It obviously depends on the context. However, implementing the option to skip them can be a great addition and make everyone happy.

For many, step by step sequences with delays in between work great. They are perfectly guided and have time to gradually absorb the information and reflect on it.

On the other hand, this is just a hindrance for other people. They might be genuinely interested and keep getting stopped by a time-wall, or they might want all the content immediately to process it all together.

Always remember that people’s attention span is always shorter and they are easily distracted. You have to fight for attention, not shoot yourself in the foot.

Does giving this option disrupt your communication and onboarding process? Again, it depends.

For some products or services, a timed sequence really is needed. Maybe so much information is provided in each step that you really need time to make it sink. Maybe you even ask your lead to make an effort and actually do something with the content you provide in each step.

A very interesting example was the 60-days Dropified Challenge (now closed), where the Dropified team took participants on a 60-day training course fully explaining how to launch a dropshipping business; each day a lengthy lesson took place and participants had to replicate what was shown.

However, in many other instances, delays are not necessary. While you think you are nurturing, your lead could get colder instead of warmer. Again, people’s attention is short and delaying your communication could just hurt your business, as they get side-tracked, forget or lose interest while your next message is just laying there waiting.

The best moment to hit is when it’s hot. When people sign-up for a sequence, that’s a sign of interest. It’s the perfect moment to capitalize on and make them warm.

If they truly are interested in what you say, they’ll want to know more. If they can, they’ll probably want to continue immediately, not at another time — and if they do, that’s yet another great signal of micro-commitment and interest. In my opinion, nurturing and instant content can perfectly coexist in most cases.

Finally, since it’s not widely used, it can be a point of differentiation and increase the value of your content for those who use the skip delay feature.

Take away: don’t talk to your leads on your own terms — talk when they want to.

Note: you can check out my About me email sequence by subscribing here.

Author box picture for blog ADV

Alessandro De Vecchi

Marketing, web, and anything-tech enthusiast.
Newbie blogger, spends his nights studying, testing, creating content and job hunting.
Gray and blue are his favourite colours. Loves minimalism.

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