Drip Marketing: Where Have You Been All My Life?

If you’ve ever visited a theme park like Disney World, then you’re all too familiar with exiting through the gift shop — especially if you have children! You basically take a directed and steady pace through a multitude of branded opportunities to buy what you’re looking for — a piece of the Disney experience to take home with you.

Even though it’s a familiar sales tactic, it’s remains popular because it works. Whether or not you plan on purchasing anything, you will still look around. Even if you don’t make an immediate purchase, there’s a big likelihood that an item or two caught your eye. You may not purchase it immediately, but it stays in the back of your mind, and the experience may well be repeated in another exit shop after another ride — which means you may end up buying it later in the day.

In a way, email marketing is a little like exiting through the gift shop; your subscribers want to be there, they’ve opted in to get your emails after all. It’s your job to keep them interested and direct them through the “shop;” they may not buy immediately, but a little engagement and nurturing can trigger a purchase down the line. Welcome to the email drip marketing campaign.

What is a drip campaign?

In its simplest terms, a drip campaign — which is also known as drip marketing, an automated email campaign, marketing automation and workflows, to name a few — is a direct marketing strategy where you send marketing messages at set intervals of time to leads you’ve already captured.

Like the drip irrigation systems they’re named after, drip messages land directly where they’re supposed to go, over time, with a minimal amount of waste. These messages can take the form of daily reminders, weekly specials, monthly newsletters, or even yearly renewal notices. While each message should stand alone, they ultimately build on previous messages or engagement to set the stage for eventual conversion.

Put simply, drip messages are automated emails that give the right people the right information at the right time.

Why drip marketing is beneficial

There are numerous benefits to drip marketing. Most prevalent is that drip campaigns deliver relevant, valuable, and personalized messages to your subscribers depending on where they are in the sales cycle. This, in turn, keeps your recipients engaged and establishes a meaningful and long-term relationship with them.

Drip campaigns can result in higher open and click-through rates than single-send emails, as well as increase qualified leads and sales at lower costs. This is because you reuse established content and campaigns to keep engaging your segmented audiences at various points in their journey, without wasting time re-inventing the wheel with each campaign.

Who needs drip marketing?

You do.

To be honest, if you have any sort of online presence, whether you are a B2B or B2C company, university, or nonprofit, then you should be engaging in some sort of drip marketing campaign. Regardless of your ultimate goals, if you want to keep engaging your audience, then you need drip marketing in your life. Mainly because these campaigns work.

When does your organization need drip campaigns and what are the different types of drip campaigns?

Drip marketing is a blanket term that can cover a wide range of specific marketing strategies. What’s great about drip campaigns is that they can be customized based on your specific requirements and automated by using a marketing automation tool. Whatever specific campaign you run, the goal is universal: Keep your audience engaged.

There are hundreds of ways to use an automated drip campaign; let’s start with just 10 of the most common examples.

  • Welcome. This is an automated message that introduces new subscribers to your organization. At the very least, these messages should say, “Hello, nice to meet you!,” but you could also include a link to a popular blog post, instructional video, or case study. Best practices include sending the welcome email right away and setting expectations for future content and frequency so that subscribers remain engaged.
  • Onboarding. In conjunction with your welcome emails and newsletters, onboarding messages encourage subscribers to take some sort of action, like downloading your app, logging into a trial account, or exploring your products or services.
  • Re-engagement. These drip campaigns aim to rekindle the enthusiasm or passion your audience once had for your organization through a strong call to action or incentive like a coupon.
  • Abandoned shopping carts. These messages are sent to customers who have items lingering in their shopping carts but haven’t checked out and paid. Shopify has some clever abandoned cart emails you could try out.
  • Recommendations. These emails send subscribers product or service recommendations based on their interests or purchase history. You probably notice this every day if you use Amazon, Netflix, or shop online.
  • Confirmations. If someone has made a purchase, you should send a receipt and confirmation as a thank-you. You can also use these drips to cross-sell related products and services, send shipping notifications, reminders about events, or follow up by asking for a review.
  • Renewals. If you run a subscription-based model, then drip campaigns can be used to remind customers that their subscription is about to expire or it has been extended.
  • Education. Make your campaign a learning opportunity and keep your audience informed of the latest updates within your organization, or launch an e-course that builds trust and teaches your audience how to get the most out of your product or service.
  • Unsubscribes. Send an automated “We’re sorry to see you go!” email as a last-ditch effort to keep a subscriber engaged or find out their preferred communication channel. For example, they may prefer to interact with you on Facebook, instead of email. Or they may simply prefer receiving less frequent email communications.

Create and execute a drip campaign

Setting up a drip campaign may appear a complicated at first glance. But in reality, it’s pretty straightforward if you follow a few simple steps:

  • Identify your target audience. Because drip campaigns are based on market segments, you first need to figure out who your audience is and why they’re on your site. This is based on demographics and user behavior like sign-ups, abandoned shopping carts, purchase history, or post-sign-up activity on your site.
  • Set goals before you craft your messages. In most cases, a drip campaign is used to cultivate leads or lead the customer toward something, like renewing their subscription, upgrading to a paid service, or making a donation. Determining the goals you want the campaign to achieve will allow you to craft the right message to the right audience based on their demographics or behavior.
  • Plan your drips. This is simply answering, “How many emails am I going to send, when, and in what order?” Keep in mind that drips should be based on a specified time interval or triggered per event.
  • Launch your campaign. Once you’ve composed your messages, you can start sending emails. Using marketing automation software like iContact Pro makes this as painless as possible because you can generate personalized emails, create easy-to-use workflows, and track the effectiveness of the campaign from a single dashboard.
  • Evaluate and make adjustments as needed. If you notice you aren’t getting as many click-throughs as you would like, then it’s time to make adjustments, like testing different subject lines, trying new content, or repositioning your call to action. Like any other marketing campaign, monitor your metrics like open rates, click-throughs, and engagement levels, to see what’s working and what’s not.

This article originally appeared on iContact and has been republished with permission.