Are your drip campaigns water torture?

Are you torturing your audience with annoying messages?

We have all seen it. An email pops into your inbox that makes you cringe (and simultaneously comforts you that you weren’t the one that sent it). Those annoying messages aren’t all bad. In fact, they are one of the easiest ways to make sure your campaigns will crush their goals because you get to learn from others’ mistakes without having to make them yourself.

The best part about being a marketer is that you are your own audience. That is, you have an inbox, you get emails, so you know what gets your attention and doesn’t.

How can you deliver effective drip marketing campaigns and ensure that you aren’t putting your audience through water torture?

Drip marketing is a great way to generate leads, but the tactic can be effective during many stages of the customer life-cycle. Drip marketing has been around for a while, but many marketers still misunderstand the ways which “drips” can move leads through the sales funnel. It is important to remember that prospects are at different stages of the buying cycle, so it is important to send personalized messages throughout the customer journey. When done right, it can move leads from acquisition to conversion and then from customer to repeat customer.

Let’s look at the most common objectives for a drip campaign:

  • Maintain relevance
  • Lead generation
  • Lead nurturing
  • Marketing efficiency
  • Cross-Sell / Upsell
  • Improved customer experience

Like any form of marketing, content is the most important part of any advertising campaign; drip marketing is no different. Online consumers, especially mobile viewers, can be impatient, getting irritated quickly if their time is wasted. Make sure you provide value. Giveaways or coupons are the most prominent and are a good example of appealing content; they spark interest and create a sense of urgency to engage with you.

There are several effective drip campaign types used by successful marketers. Here are some 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 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.

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 Oracle Social Cloud. 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:

  1. Select appropriate channels for campaign (may be different for some campaigns)
  2. Research trending topics for conversation ideas
  3. Develop and/or select content to share
  4. Include a call to action in each message
  5. Schedule automated delivery
  6. Analyze results

Educational

It is important to remember that 57% of a customers buying process is complete before they interact with you. Consumers are looking for ways to make informed decisions, so make sure you are delivering content to help with that process. Educational campaigns focus on teaching your prospects something they didn’t previously know about your solutions . These messages can include product videos, case studies, reviews, white papers, or competitive analysis. These campaigns should be instructional or informative.

Re-engagement

You hear the word “retargeting” a lot these days and rightfully so. When it’s time to reactivate cold leads, a re-engagement or retargeting 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.

Competitive

A competitive drip campaign steps up the game. Using this technique, you reach out to your 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. Through social listening, you can take a more strategic approach to competitive advertising. It is amazing how much you can learn about your competitors through what is being said on social channels.

Promotional

This is where you can try your best Bob Barker “The price is right!” Using promotional campaigns, marketers entice leads with special offers to drive customers to action. 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.

Training

Once a sale has been made, an effective way to maintain contact and improve 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 Campaigns

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, 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).

These are some important things to consider with email drips:

  1. Analyze and segment your database
  2. Create a campaign timeline and delivery schedule (consistent intervals between deliveries)
  3. Develop a mix of messages that advance leads through the sales pipeline or provide support to customers
  4. Include a call to action in every message
  5. Schedule delivery using an automated system like Eloqua
  6. Analyze results and adjust messaging or timing to improve metrics

PPC Campaigns

Paid ads can be used to trigger a drip campaign. This is 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 things to consider when using PPC to launch a drip campaign:

  1. Segment your audience into distinct web users (target those who have clicked before)
  2. Research keywords to use in ads
  3. Create landing page content that serves the ad’s offer
  4. Include a signup form on every landing page
  5. Once contact details are shared, deliver an auto response email with more information
  6. Schedule follow up emails that include social media buttons

The Last Drop…

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. Further, you should limit 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). Please keep in mind that it is all about relevancy. The quickest way to lose customers is by proving that you don’t understand them.

Whatever drip campaigns you use, consistent delivery is essential to success. Additionally, data (customer) analysis should be driving all advertising and messaging. Before you execute a drip campaign, plan each step and include time to evaluate results. It is very important to understand your audience and customize content based on their unique characteristics. When you use a scientific approach to marketing, you take out the guesswork and have a better chance of delivering personalized content that drives to more sales and happy customers.

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