What we need

If we follow the definition of a good drip campaign from our introduction post last week, we’re going to need a couple things in order to create our own.

  1. Process (the steps of our campaign that tell us which content to send and when)
  2. Content (the actual stuff we send people at each stage of the campaign)
  3. Management (some kind of mechanism for keeping track of who has been through the campaign, opted-out, etc.)

Today, we’re going to look at how to do #1 — figure out how to structure your campaign. You’ll need to do a little planning here, and figure out the story you’re telling with your campaign. Time to put on your storyteller hat, your empathy shoes, and probably some pants, just in case.

sammy haggar Why Best Buy couldnt convince me to buy a better TV (Drip Campaigns, Part 2)

… there, appropriately dressed for building a successful drip campaign.

How to tell a story

Let’s start with the hat. Like any campaign, the first thing you need to do is decide what it is you’re trying to accomplish with all this work in the first place. What’s a “successful” interaction with a customer look like? It could be a purchase, the collection of customer information, or in an incoming phone call.

Once you’ve figured out what this goal is, it’s perfectly normal to want to pound whatever it is into your recipient’s brain. Resist this urge, novice drip campaigner — you’re playing the long game here. While you want to keep your goal in mind at all times, you don’t have to go for the home run/hail mary/other appropriate sports metaphor right off the bat. Drip campaigns give you multiple opportunities for sweet, sweet customer conversion, so there’s no need to worry about your initial response rate. While you may strike gold with a view customers immediately, the larger goal is simply for people to read, engage, and be a little more open to future communication each time you contact them. No matter what the eventual conversion point is, construct your drip campaign the same way you’d build a house — start with a foundation, and then build on it.

For example, let’s say this is your argument :

{PRODUCT X} is great because it improves {RESULT A} without causing {RESULT B}.

To you, an expert in your product and associated business, THIS is what you think everyone needs to understand — if they did, they’d probably buy your product! What many marketing & product people forget, though, is that even if your audience consists of experts, they probably aren’t experts in the exact same fields as you. In the context of your drip campaign, this often means they don’t necessarily recognize the importance of RESULT A, or the risks of RESULT B.

hqdefault Why Best Buy couldnt convince me to buy a better TV (Drip Campaigns, Part 2)

Should I care? Are other trucks not able to tow enough?

My wife and I bought a new TV the other day, after doing all of our research and “shopping around” online. We rolled in to Best Buy and told the guy — “We want this TV. Do you have it?”

Sure, they had it. But of course, the guy wanted to upsell us. “You know” he said, “this one isn’t 1080p.”

“Yes, we know.”

“The 1080p is only a couple hundred dollars more, and it will look better.”

“That’s ok, we want this one.” The guy seemed really puzzled, and a little bit defensive.

“See, the dots… it’s the number of pixels. With this one, you will be able to see the dots.”

No reaction from us.

“We can’t tell the difference. We want this one.”

At this point, my wife shut the poor guy down, and we proceeded to check out. The sales guy was visibly disappointed, possibly because he wasn’t going to get a larger commission, or possibly because he couldn’t believe we were going to tolerate what he genuinely felt was a sub-par viewing experience. Leaving aside for a moment the fact that I blame most of my sub-par viewing experiences not on the fact that I can see individual dots, but that the individual dots usually compose stupid shows with bad writing, the whole debacle illustrated a basic failure to communicate value as a result of exactly the kind of faulty assumptions I mentioned earlier.

Here was the Best Buy argument, in a nutshell :

{This TV} is worth spending the extra money because {it lets you watch programming on a huge screen} without {being able to see individual pixels}.”

To a Best Buy employee who sells televisions all day, this argument is air-tight. Unfortunately for them, they need it to be air-tight to ME, because I’m the customer, and there are several necessary assumptions in this argument that I don’t necessarily accept :

  1. watching programming on a huge screen is better than watching it on a big screen
  2. being able to see individual pixels will significantly degrade how much I enjoy watching programming

The Best Buy salesperson lacked the time and, frankly, the material to make these arguments to me and my wife while we stood there impatiently waiting to acquire a TV primarily because our old one was literally dying. In order to convince the Sullivan household to purchase a TV for more than $500, a long, detailed, and compelling campaign of relevant information was probably necessary to win us over regarding these two sub-arguments, and after that, then the larger argument (that this particular +$500 television would address them).

These complex, multi-level arguments are actually really common, whether you’re trying to influence everyday consumer purchases, less frequent decisions like buying a car or a home, or simply what kind of gas someone chooses at the pump. If you have a multi-level argument, there’s only so much progress you can make by smashing people in the face with the final, transaction-based message unless you’ve successfully established your fundamental premise. If the foundation is weak, the house is eventually going to fall down.

Next time, we’ll look at how to make individual compelling messages for these kind of sub-arguments. For now, deconstruct why your business has value for your customers, and think about the assumptions your marketing makes. Some of them really are obvious (“saving money is good”), but you may be surprised by how many of them need the kind of detailed clarification you can get from a well-designed drip campaign.