It’s easy to get so caught up looking for creative drip marketing ideas that you forget your marketing goals in the process. The tendency we’ve noticed (as both marketers and consumers) is that agencies often focus on sales with their campaigns and don’t spend time trying to cultivate a relationship with the prospect. Around Mojo, we’ve stopped calling it drip marketing and started calling it lead nurturing, and we think it’s important to note the distinction: instead of having a direct goal of promoting immediate sales through, say, an email campaign (forget it if you aren’t retail), our goal is to nurture a lead just a little bit further down the sales funnel by providing useful and educational offers. Remember the mantra: People love to buy, they just don’t like to be sold to. It’s the quickest way to get that hard earned lead to unsubscribe. With that in mind, here’s a list of 5 steps you need to take to make your drip campaigns as effective as possible. We’ll focus on email campaigns, as they’re by far the most common, but these habits can be applied anywhere.
1. Define Your Goals
No brainer, right? You’d be surprised. “Reminding the lead about our product” and “promoting sales” aren’t enough. Real goals can be quantified, tracked, and analyzed so that you can determine the effectiveness of a campaign and see real results. We’re talking “achieve a clickthrough rate of X” (Click through- not open rates), “get x amount of people to sign up for an upcoming seminar,” or “have x amount hit an eBook landing page.” Sure, those goals aren’t particularly thrilling, but they’re objective and are tied directly to your offer campaigns, which we’ll get to. Having set goals will let you know if you’re on track or not and allow you to adjust. If you separate your email blasts into two lists, you can even do A/B comparisons to see what kind of call to actions and copy appeals to your market more, and make notes for future drip campaigns. If you aren’t doing that, you need to be.
If you want more of a general goal, keep in mind that you’re not trying to sell—you’re trying to push leads down the next step of the sales funnel.
2. Identify Where Your Leads Are In The Sales Funnel
This step is absolutely crucial: figure out where in the sales funnel your leads are so when you design your offers, they can properly target and nurture (there’s that word again) progression. Look at where your leads are being generated and if you’re dealing with top of funnel, middle of funnel, or bottom of funnel leads. We’ve mentioned this model before, but to recap:
Because 95% of visitors to your website are not ready to buy, 100% of that 95% rests in one of the following stages of the sells funnel:
Top of funnel: converting visitors into leads. This generally accounts for 75% of web traffic, and consists of prospects researching what they want.
Middle of funnel: Nurturing leads to a point where they’re ready to buy. This is the “Why do I need it from you?” stage, and is 20% of your traffic.
Bottom of funnel: Converting leads into customers. The “What can you offer me?” stage. Only 5% of visitors to your site are ready to buy, which is why we don’t focus on them on top level content.
Since in a drip campaign you’re working off a lead list, you’ll be focusing on Middle and Bottom of funnel offers. If you purchased your list, take a moment to evaluate if you’re building a campaign around people that are familiar with your brand already and who are well versed in your particular industry. If not, target the top of the funnel.
3. Construct Targeted Offers
Your offers are the backbone of your drip campaigns. If your offers aren’t appealing (either by being weak offers or targeting the wrong point in the funnel) you’re going to have a low response rate. Remember, the steps from prospect to customer in a nurturing campaign are to educate, build a relationship, and convert to customer. Top, middle, bottom. Here are some ideas for each section of the funnel:
Top of Funnel
Low commitment offers that are extremely informative. These are helpful blog posts, ebooks, and white papers meant to educate, not to sell—if you push your product too early you’ll scare the prospect away. If you educate your prospect and become a valuable resource to them, you’ll gain authority. And as always, an abundance of content doesn’t just help convert leads, it helps pull them in like a magnet.
Middle of Funnel
This is the heart and soul of nurturing, the “Why you?” stage. If you’ve generated your lead list on your own (which ideally you should have if your top level offers on your website and direct mail pieces are effective) it means they’ve filled out a form somewhere for an ebook or white paper or signed up for your newsletter, and you’ve got their preliminary contact information. The next step is to qualify them as a lead, and the beauty of this is that your leads will self-qualify if your offers are right. Webinars, seminars, case studies, and assessments are all great options. By this point the lead is somewhat comfortable with your company and is trying to justify their own concerns before they’re ready to buy. Focus on why you give superior customer service, why you have the best product around, mistakes your competitors are making, and why you’re the only one who can do what you do. Free apps are great middle of funnel offers if you have the resources.
Bottom of funnel
This is where you start heading into sales mode. Your leads are past the middle of funnel stage (which you should know via tracking your campaigns.) and are looking for incentive to buy. Bottom of funnel is your discounts, your free trials, and your complimentary products. Don’t blast these unless you know you’re hitting the right part of the funnel. Offering bottom of funnel offers too soon is the quickest way to turn off potential buyers.
4. Get Your Timing Right
What’s the difference between a drip campaign and spam? Timing.
Remember the old saying “Less is more?” That’s because less is more. You want your campaign to be short and allow some breathing room between emails. 3-5 emails is enough for almost any campaign, and you should space those out over an increasing amount of time in order to avoid annoying your leads. Remember, a nurturing campaign isn’t a newsletter (though they function similarly). If someone downloads an ebook, have an automatic followup email that gives them a link to the ebook and kicks off your nurturing campaign. This is a great opportunity to say, “Hey, thanks for your interest! Let us know if you like the ebook. If you do, you might also like this other stuff.” Follow up three days later, then 7, then 15, then 30. I’m making up numbers, but you can see where I’m going with this—you want to gently remind or suggest other offers, not beat your leads over the head with them. Instead of following up three days later with “Click Here for 10 FREE days of GenericService!” give them something along the lines of “Did you know the top 10 ways we beat our competitors?”
If you decide to progress in your targeted funnel as the campaign goes on, it’s at your discretion. Switching from middle of funnel to bottom of funnel offers won’t kill you, but be careful with it. Ending the nurturing campaign on a bottom of funnel offer is never a bad idea. You might get pleasantly surprised
5. Track, Track, Track
Your campaign is useless if you aren’t tracking it. You want to capture lead data, and as much of it as possible, or you’re wasting your energy. This means building effective landing pages for all your separate campaigns and tracking visitors to those pages so you can see which email got you where. It means tracking your conversion rates and overall campaign effectiveness. Was your goal to get people to sign up for an upcoming seminar or bring a coupon code to your tradeshow booth? How many people actually showed up, or signed up for that special offer? Once you know the effectiveness of your campaigns you can tweak them to maximize your responses and make them as appealing as possible.