Drip marketing has been around for a while now, but many marketers still misunderstand the ways which “drips” can move leads through the sales funnel. Some forget that prospects are at different stages of the buying cycle at any one time, and send the same message to every contact. Others treat drip marketing as purely a lead generation tactic (drip marketing can be effective after the sale!). However, one of the primary ways to use drip marketing is to move leads from acquisition to conversion.
There are several objectives with a drip campaign:
- Maintain relevance
- Lead generation
- Lead nurturing
- Marketing efficiency
- Add-on sales
- Improved customer experience
So, companies should certainly use drip marketing as a way to generate leads. But the tactic can be effective during many stages of the customer lifecycle.
I know I’m repeating an often-spoken caveat, but deliver good content to your audience in your drip campaigns. Online consumers, especially mobile viewers, can be impatient, getting irritated quickly if their time is wasted. Make sure you provide value in some way. Giveaways can be a good example of appealing content; they can spark interest, stimulate desire, and create a sense of urgency to engage with you.
Let’s look at how drip marketing can move leads through your pipeline and beyond.
Drip Campaign Types
There are several effective drip campaign types used by successful marketers. Here are six of the most popular.
Top of Mind Awareness (TOMA)
One of the key benefits of drip campaigns is to maintain top-of-mind awareness about your brand and its solutions. This refers to the position you claim (stick your logo in it!) inside your lead’s crowded house of branding messages. The TOMA drip campaign uses progressively more engaging brand messages at each stage of the sales funnel.
This type of campaign focuses on educating your prospects about your solutions to assist them in making a buy decision. In a “nurturing” way, leads receive multiple needs/solutions messages that build upon previous touch points. Educational messaging can include product use videos, case studies, reviews, white papers or price comparisons. These campaigns use language that, while persuasive, should be instructional or informative.
When it’s time to recontact cold leads, a re-engagement campaign can do the trick. This type of drip marketing reconnects leads with your brand by revealing a new design or feature, or otherwise offers a fresh look at your solutions. This can be a good opportunity to test price offers to stimulate purchase interest. Re-engagement campaigns are a useful way to uncover buying triggers like price sensitivity that were not addressed in earlier campaigns.
A competitive drip campaign steps up the game. Using this technique, you reach out to competitors’ customers in an effort to get them to switch to your product. Campaign messages are focused on the benefits of switching from their existing “ineffective” solution to your brilliant “much better” solution.
Here is where price makes it right. Using promotional campaigns, marketers entice leads with special offers, typically time-sensitive or limited-number-available offers. Special pricing is routinely extended through the drip campaign period.
This campaign starts with a general announcement with follow up messages that intensify the need to order before the offer expires. As the end date gets closer, increasing the offer with a sweetener, such as an additional discount or bonus offer, can move prospects to buy.
Once a sale has been made, an effective way to maintain contact and boost customer satisfaction is the training drip campaign. Customers are sent instructional videos, product guides or best practices suggestions in an effort to help them use your solutions more effectively or efficiently. Training drips can also be a way to communicate with channel partners and employees.
Email drip campaigns are the most recognizable to marketers. Email campaigns can be used with leads and customers alike. Although Google Mail and other email providers are making it more challenging to get eyes on your message – in the name of spam prevention – email marketing remains one of the most effective tactics. Some have experienced 12 – 18% increases in click-through rates by using email drips. Other metrics, such as open rates and revenues, have risen due to the use of email campaigns.
Email can be used to take leads from the early stage of the sales funnel all the way to a close. It can also be effective staying in touch with customers after the sale (post-sale campaigns should be primarily educational or training-related, but don’t miss opportunities to up-sell or cross-sell!).
Here are a few steps you can take to achieve success with email drips:
- Analyze and segment your database
- Create a campaign timeline and delivery schedule (consistent intervals between deliveries)
- Develop a mix of messages that advance leads through the sales pipeline or provide support to customers
- Include a call to action in every message
- Schedule delivery using an automated system like Constant Contact or Aweber
- Analyze results and adjust messaging or timing to improve metrics
Social Media Campaigns
With the evolution of social media as a marketing tool, SM drip campaigns are being deployed by some of the biggest brands out there. Tweets, video, images and other content are dripped across one or more channels, presenting a more personal, engaging image. Here, the target audience is made up of social media fans and followers, and, while the end game for many may be to build an audience on social channels, the true aim of the SM drip campaign is to convert leads to customers.
Social media drips should be executed similarly to email campaigns. Using a consistent delivery schedule, messaging can be posted automatically to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other accounts with tools such as Buffer or Hootsuite. A multi-channel strategy is more effective than developing a siloed approach (one campaign for Facebook, another for Pinterest, etc.)
Mix up your media, too. If possible, post images and video where available, and link posts to those “appearances”. The most effective marketers integrate channels under a single campaign.
Here are a few steps to take when you deploy a social media drip:
- Select appropriate channels for campaign (may be different for some campaigns)
- Research trending topics for conversation ideas
- Develop and/or select content to share
- Include a call to action in each message
- Schedule automated delivery
- Analyze results
Paid ads can be used to trigger a drip campaign. Here’s how it works:
Through a text or display ad, a visitor is sent to a landing page where a request for more information is made. The landing page includes a lead generation form to enter contact details. An email is sent requesting opt-in for email and/or a newsletter subscription. Once submitted, the landing page visitor is provided with the promise that was made in the ad then an email is sent thanking the visitor and promising future value. Contact details are then exported to your leads database for future contact.
PPC campaigns can be integrated with various drip campaign types: TOMA, educational and promotional. While some ad clickers may refuse to provide contact details, many consumers (particularly B2B consumers) understand they may need to give up contact information in exchange for something of value.
The key is to align keywords used in the ad directly with the content on the landing page. Don’t confuse or mislead your prospects by adding superfluous information to a page or sending them to your home page, where they have to search to find the information they are looking for. Keep your landing pages focused for better conversion!
Here are a few steps you should take when using PPC to launch a drip campaign:
- Segment your audience into distinct web users (target those who have clicked before)
- Research keywords to use in ads
- Create landing page content that serves the ad’s offer
- Include a signup form on every landing page
- Once contact details are shared, deliver an autoresponder email with more information
- Schedule follow up emails that include social media buttons
Even though sales require multiple touch points before a lead is converted to a prospect, don’t let your drip campaign extend indefinitely; you should have a start and end date for each campaign. I often recommend limiting lead nurturing drip campaigns to a maximum of 6-10 contacts before your drip ends, because you may alienate your prospects (which lowers your chances of winning them back in a re-engagement campaign).
Whatever drip campaigns you use, consistent delivery is essential to success. So is campaign analysis. Before you execute a drip campaign, plan each step and include time to evaluate results.
Have you had success with drip marketing? Let us know how your company has increased its click-through rates through drip campaigns.