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Rebecca Gill

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Become a Master of the Drip Campaign

Drip marketing campaigns are very effective for sales cycles that occur infrequently

Drip marketing campaigns are very effective for sales cycles that occur infrequently or those that take a considerable amount of time to close.   In these situations, you frequently come into contact with a prospective customer well before they are ready to make an actual purchase.  You need to stay in front of them until they are ready and the drip campaign allows you to do just that.

My marketing background started in enterprise software sales where a given prospect could be in the sales funnel for six to twelve months.   We would have a new visitor reach our website while they were still researching available software solutions.  Because of the extremely long sales cycle, we had to find a way to stay in front of people while they continued to investigate solutions and weight their purchase options.  Even though I was selling into a B2B tech environment, the same process would hold true for a real estate agent, mortgage broker, or financial advisor and these are all B2C businesses that sell to consumers.  The element they all share in common is that the sales cycle is long and the purchase happens infrequently.

Drip marketing typically refers to email related interactions.  I think that is old school and I believe drip marketing should be a multifaceted approach.  With the advent of social media, drip marketing can refer to virtually any digital marketing and includes blogging, emails, newsletters, tweets, and posts.

Eight Steps to Mastering Drip Marketing

  1. Pick an Email Campaign Provider – There are a ton of email software providers available today.  Popular ones include AWeber, Boomerang, Bronto, Constant Contact, GetResponse, iContact, MailChimp, Silverpop, and VerticalResponse.  Some are free to start and some cost money immediately upon sign up.  The important thing is to consider your requirements, document them, and then compare solution providers.  Match the providers’ features and functionality to your needs and don’t settle for just the easies solution or the cheapest.  Do you need the software to automatically send multiple emails to the same contact over time?  Do you need the software to easily integrate with WordPress or another CMS solution?  Do you need prebuilt templates or the ability to whip up your own in HTML?  Decide what you need and you’ll easily find a solution to fit.
  2. Consider Your Personas – Who are your personas (aka target market) and what do they need?  Different target markets need different types of content, presentation, and frequency.  Know your personas and document their needs well before establishing your drip campaign plan.
  3. Decide What You’re Going to Publish – Once you’ve defined your target market and individual personas, you need to create a plan.  Not all products and services will align well with drip campaign, so don’t’ force it.  If it doesn’t feel like a natural fit, then most likely it isn’t right and it is best to avoid it.  Think about what is of value to your target market, what you already have to offer, or what you can offer in the future.  It could be an event, eBook, blog post, white paper, or product give away.  You have to have something of value for drip marketing to work.
  4. Decide On How Often Should You Publish – This is highly dependent on your target market and the method used to connect with your audience.  If you think an email each day for a week is going to resonate with a busy c-level executive, think again.  If you think ten Facebook updates a day are going to woo your consumer-based audience, you’re also wrong.  While I can’t give you a magical number, I can tell you that you can increase the acceptable amount of touch points if you vary the delivery.  And most importantly, you have to have something to say that is of value.  The more value you offer, the more times you can share, email, or post.  When at all possible, reuse content to maximize the reach.  Create a great blog post that can be included in your email newsletter, tweeted, and/or shared on Facebook and Google+.
  5. Create Your Newsletter Template – We’re going to assume that email marketing is part of your drip campaign plan and setting up an actual newsletter template is needed.  Before you even think about doing this task, you need to have an idea of what is going to go into your newsletter.  Remember that plan I mentioned?  Well I’m back to it.  And yes, I know I sound like a broken record.   I’ll be honest here – I hate anything related to email newsletters.  I read them, but I hate preparing them.  I’ve hated it ever since my first one some ten or so years ago.  But it isn’t so much the newsletter I hate, but the need for content.  If you have content available, newsletter creation is a snap.  When your boss declares you must produce a quarterly (or monthly or even weekly) newsletter but offers no content suggestions, the marketer in you wants to wither away and die.  You have to have something of value to use in the newsletter and you need to know what that is before you try to design or map out your template.  Newsletters can consist of recent blog posts, industry articles, videos, podcasts, upcoming events, or virtually anything.  What you need to include in all newsletters are: social links, links to your website, contact information, your logo, and your website’s color scheme for extended branding.  I highly recommend taking the time to create the first template right, so you have it to reuse again and again.  There are lots of professionals that can help create a beautiful template for a reasonable fee and they are truly worth every penny.
  6. Upload Your Contacts and Grow Your List – Most campaign providers require you to have a given user’s permission to upload their contact information and email the recipient in mass.  This is a reasonable request, as you do not want to be marked as spam and have future issues with blacklisted URLs.  In reality your email list can get jumpstarted from existing clients and/or contacts, as well as your website itself.  Adding a subscribe box to your website is not overly difficult if you have a CMS based website or a website that allows the addition of HTML code.  Most providers have simple tutorials or apps that allow you to create your sign up box and produce HTML code for your website.  The larger providers will also provide Facebook apps and WordPress plugins to help build your list.  Take advantage of these offerings so you can maximize the reach of your content.
  7. Jump in and Send Your First Newsletter – Early I used the word hate when describing the process of creating a newsletter.  My six-year old considers this a four letter word, which it is, but not nearly as bad as the four letter word spam.  Creating a newsletter isn’t hard or painful if you create your plan and follow through on it.  You just need to DO IT!  Yep, it is that simple.  Sign up for campaign provider, create your opt in box, plan out your content, and create the actual newsletter.  You’re going to make some mistakes the first time around and that is okay.  We all do it.  They key is to do something actionable and to move forward with reaching out to your prospects or customer base.  Remind them that you still exist and that there is a very good reason(s) to do business with you.  If you give them a compelling reason to visit your website or call you on the phone, many times they will do it.
  8. Review Your Stats and Adjust – Typically nobody hits a home run the first time up to bat.  Marketing, and newsletters in particular, is not perfect on day one.  Knowing what works is actually fairly easy in the land of newsletters.  The top newsletter providers offers great stats on open rates, click through rates, and funnels.  I’ve tended to play with formatting to see what scores better with open and click through rates.  Consider subject lines, content placement, image usage, link verbiage, fonts, and colors as your tools, then play with different scenarios until you get the highest number of opens, click throughs, and ultimate phone calls or purchases.  Once you’ve reviewed your newsletter providers’ statistics, head over to Google Analytics to see what happens when the readers click through to your website.  If you’ve set up goals and dashboards properly, you’ll have a world of data at your fingertips.

Okay It’s Time to Get Started!

About a year ago I decided I was going to write a blog series on the steps for designing and launching an SEO friendly website.  I started at keyword research and went through site mapping, wireframes, design, build, and post launch review.  This blog post is within that series.  The blog posts, are themselves, like a drip campaign.  Having an outline of the blog posts and their sequence helped make blogging effortless and logical all at the same time.  It gave me content to share, post, or email that was of value to my specific target market.

All I had to do was craft a plan that was geared towards serving my target market and then just do it. Easy peasy.

Feeling confident yet?  It isn’t nearly as hard as it sounds.  It just needs to be planned, a bit strategic, and adaptable.  My first newsletter campaigns left a lot to be desired.  But with a little effort, you learn and continue to improve just like I did.

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More Stories By Rebecca Gill

Founder and President of Web Savvy Marketing, a Michigan based internet marketing firm that specializes in website design, organic SEO, social media marketing, and WordPress consulting.