Keeping a constant flow of communication with customers and leads is a lot easier when you use drip marketing. This email marketing strategy has been used for years to meet a large range of business goals from boosting conversion rates to increasing product adoption.
What is Drip Marketing?
Drip marketing refers to a series of marketing emails that are automatically sent on a schedule. The schedule is often dictated by the recipient taking an action known as a trigger, but it can also be based on a predetermined timeline. Direct mail and phone calls are sometimes incorporated into a drip marketing campaign, but email still remains the primary method of contact because it can be automated.
The term “drip marketing” is used because marketing messages are written in advance then slowly delivered one after the other. Email automation dramatically reduces the amount of manual work that’s needed to maintain contact with leads and customers since a software program manages most of the process.
Why Businesses Use Drip Marketing
The goal of drip marketing is to keep users, leads, customers, etc. engaged. That engagement can translate into a number of benefits for a business.
Whether you are trying to convert leads into paying customers or want to encourage repeat sales, a drip campaign can be effective at generating revenue. One tactic is to target users that left an item in their shopping cart. Sending an email drip campaign that reminds them to complete the purchase then follows up with recommended items can generate an original sale and repeat sales.
Increase Product Adoption
You can use email marketing to increase product adoption by sending messages that explain how features work or where users can watch an onboarding webinar.
Improve Onboarding to Decrease Churn
One way SaaS companies and businesses with monthly subscribers can decrease churn and increase revenue is by creating a smooth onboarding process. An email drip campaign can be created to target new customers that need help with onboarding.
Build Customer Loyalty
A drip marketing campaign can also be used to build rapport with customers. Over time the more the relationship grows the more loyal customers should become to your brand. A weekly or monthly newsletter is a good example of how drip marketing can be used to build customer loyalty.
These are just some of the general benefits that nearly any business can get out of a well-crafted drip marketing campaign. A business can meet a number of other goals like boosting renewals and increasing customer satisfaction by tailoring the message and targeting a specific segment of users.
Setting Up a Drip Marketing Campaign
Drip marketing may sound like a complex, ongoing project but it’s much less involved than it seems. You may even already have the systems in place to initiate your first campaign.
At Mixpanel we’ve given clients the ability to set up email drip campaigns with features that send emails directly through the platform. You can personalize the message, target users, and of course, there are advanced analytics tools for tracking the results.
No matter what email platform you use, following the process below will help you set up a drip marketing campaign that keeps leads and customers engaged.
Craft a Campaign Plan
As with any marketing campaign, it’s highly beneficial to create a plan that will serve as a guide for everyone involved. The plan should outline:
- Resources needed
- Daily/weekly/monthly tasks
- Logistics (number of emails sent, frequency, etc.)
- Target audience(s)
- How results will be measured
Once you have a plan in place you can begin putting the pieces together to reach the goals you’ve defined.
Create a Targeted Email List
One of the most important things to determine upfront is who you will include as a part of the drip marketing campaign. You can craft a killer message and slick-looking email, but if it isn’t sent to the right audience it will still miss the mark.
Many marketers create a targeted email list by first segmenting leads and customers based on demographic information that the user provided. This process is called list segmentation. For instance, you create an email list of all users between the ages of 30 and 50 that live in the northeastern United States. The list can be targeted further by including only people within that group who made a specific purchase or completed a certain action within a specified time period.
How you go about segmenting is up to you. What’s most important is that the list is narrowed down to a specific group rather than including every contact you have in a drip marketing campaign.
Identify Triggers for Launching the Drip Campaign
Triggers are an action, event or timing that prompts a drip campaign email to be sent. One of the most common examples is a welcome email being sent within a few minutes of a user submitting a sign-up form. In this case, submitting the form was the trigger.
Identifying triggers is one of the most important parts of setting up a drip marketing campaign. The trigger will determine what emails are sent, when they are sent and how often they are sent.
Triggers can also be used to alter future email messages and their timing once the campaign is already underway. One way triggers are used to do this is by tracking email opens. The message that a recipient is sent next can depend on whether or not they opened the previous email. Tailoring the email schedule in such a way can help increase conversions while decreasing the unsubscribe rate.
Each trigger also has to align with the subsequent marketing message so now is a good time to move on to the next step.
Create Personalized Email Messages
Drip marketing campaigns are heavily dependent on emails that are highly focused and offer something of value. But before your recipient even gets to that point the subject line has to hook them enough to get them to open the email. And the email needs to be sent at the right time so that there’s enough interest to open it.
When you are crafting drip marketing emails you have to consider your audience. Ask yourself:
- What does the user need?
- What information is the user missing?
- When do they need this information?
- How will they use the information?
- What triggers prompt the messages?
Again, the trigger needs to line up with the email message. There’s nothing worse than receiving a drip marketing email that isn’t relevant. It’s a waste of a touch and will only annoy your customers.
Personalization is also a key component of effective drip marketing emails. No one is going to get excited at the thought of being sent a generic mass email. Studies have shown that personalization helps emails stand out in a cluttered inbox. It can also create a stronger connection with the reader.
Research from Campaign Monitor found that personalized email subject lines have a 26% higher open rate. Experian also found personalized emails generate transactions that are six times higher than non-personalized emails.
Even though drip marketing is an automated process, many software programs enable you to add personalization to mass emails. For example, with Mixpanel messaging software you can personalize emails with liquid templating. The email templates are customized based on the user’s personal information and user behavior.
Once you’ve written the email content it often helps to create a flowchart to visualizes the chain of emails and determine which message should be sent and at what time. Using an IFTTT (If This Then That) approach is very common. For example, if a recipient doesn’t open the first three emails then they are removed from the drip campaign list.
Launch the Campaign and Start Measuring the Results
By now you know what messages you want to send, why they need to be sent and when they should be sent. So start sending!
There are many software platforms designed specifically for automated emails. They make it incredibly easy to import email lists, upload email content and set up timeframes. You can select a variety of parameters then activate the drip campaign too put it on auto-pilot. If everything is set up correctly, the software system will do all the heavy-lifting of sending the emails and gathering data.
Make Improvements and Keep Measuring
The real benefit of analyzing the results is having insight that can be used to optimize the drip marketing campaign. You may find that you need to adjust the targeted user segment. Or adjustments may need to be made to the triggers and timing of touches.
The data should reveal the strengths and weaknesses of your drip marketing campaign so that you can make improvements where necessary. Use the goals you set in the beginning as benchmarks for making adjustments.
But the work of a data analyst is never done. You can never optimize enough, which means it’s best to keep measuring the results every time you make a change to a drip marketing campaign.
Drip marketing can take a little time to set up, but once a campaign is put into action automated systems do most of the work, and the emails can be used over and over. As long as you put thought into targeting the right audience and then craft messages that speak to that audience’s needs you should see a return on your investment.