Odds are good that you’ve received emails from a drip email campaign in the past few months. Drip email campaigns, which include a series of messages, are sent (“dripped”) in a preset order using preset intervals. If you joined an email list to get marketing tips, you may receive a signup email (first), a new blog update (second), an invitation to a webinar (third), an invitation to download a set of marketing tips (fourth), and so forth. The marketing company you signed up with probably used drip campaigns to automate this entire flow of messages. The emails are strategically thought out and sequenced. Each email offers value, and then the drip campaign builds value with each subsequent addition.
Drip email campaigns can be an effective way to establish credibility for your business, retain customers, teach concepts, or sell products & services. According to Forrester research, those companies that nurture leads effectively generate 50% more leads at a 33% lower cost. Before you dive in, though, you should create a roadmap based on best practices. Here are some critical steps to setting up your first sales drip email campaign.
Set Goals for Your Sales Drip Email Campaign
Your overarching drip campaign objective may be from one of many areas: awareness, education, engagement, customer retention, or sales. To get the most out of your marketing, you should always have a goal. The best goals are measurable and obtainable. Examples for your drip campaign might be:
- Add 50 new qualified leads this week
- Get 200 views of our training video
- Get 500 people to read our latest blog post
You’ll find that it’s easier to achieve success with your drip email campaigns when you have a specific goal. Set goals that are realistic but also adjust them over time (more on that later).
Segment Your Audience
Drip email campaigns are one of the tools marketers use to deliver “the right message to the right person at the right time”. As we all grow fatigued from generic email marketing, though, getting notices becomes increasingly difficult. For example, if you live on Ocean Drive in Miami and you get an email about Miami Beach vacations, you’re the wrong person getting the wrong message (at any time!). Conversely, if a CPA firm sends a CFO an email about preparing for year-end financial planning in November, the CFO is more likely to notice.
In this part of planning, you want to classify your target audience to align with the goals and your offering. Is the target of the campaign front line staff, managers or executives? Is your message for top of funnel, mid-funnel or bottom of funnel prospects?
You also need to make sure you’re ‘properly equipped’. Does your CRM or lead management system have everything organized to support your campaign? Hopefully your workflows already support segmentation. If you’re not already set up, you’ll need to add the appropriate statuses, tags, keywords or types to ensure proper segmentation.
A-ha, the right message… Seriously, good content trumps bad content…significantly. It’s great to make contact, but it’s better to deliver value. Promoting your blog? Write helpful industry-oriented blog posts. Offering a white paper? Write one filled with useful facts and figures. Showcasing your new webinar? Be witty, entertaining and informative.
Not sure what makes great content? Here are some hints:
- Write for them (not you)
- Answer questions
- Deliver actionable articles (tips & tricks)
- Curate useful information
- Share statistics
- Use visuals with purpose
- Be concise
- Use the right media
- Question basic assumptions
- Try taking a contrarian view
The key takeaway here is that the existence of an email drip campaign isn’t enough. Your email content must be noteworthy.
Build Your Drip Email Campaign
If you’ve done all the appropriate planning, the next task, building out the drip email campaign, is relatively easy. The trick, however, is to design an optimum flow with good timing for your information delivery. If you’ve mapped out your segments, you probably have a good idea of who you’re trying to engage. Then you need to map out what content and how often you wish to send a follow-up.
First, consider timing. Do you want to create excitement? Perhaps that means shorter intervals. Are you afraid of unsubscribes? Keep a slower pace. Is the goal to remain top of mind during a particular part of your funnel? Keep a steady email rhythm. Take stock of your average sales cycle and use it as a yardstick for the length of your drip campaign. For example, if your sales cycle is 6 months, you don’t want to send emails every week. You don’t want to overwhelm your list, nor do you want the reader to struggle remembering who you are.
Next, decide what you want to happen at each step. For example, you want the reader to download a white paper, visit a particular web page or buy something. You want to create a workflow that regularly engages your readers.
Finally, consider what sequence of materials propels interest, makes sense, and drives your desired action. You may be building up to a spectacular finish (e.g., an event) or teaching a series of lessons that ultimately lead to a product purchase.
Key questions to consider:
- What is the overarching goal of the drip email campaign (start with the end in mind)?
- What is the length of your typical sales cycle?
- How many times do you want to contact the reader in your sequence?
- What intervals do you want to use (note, your intervals can vary from step to step)?
- What content do you want to send at each step?
- What action do you want the user to take after reading your drip email?
Putting it all together, here is an example of a top-of-funnel sales drip campaign for prospects considering a life insurance policy:
|#1||Immediate||Welcome & Introduction||Enter funnel|
|#2||Day 2||Key Highlight||Visit website – What is it that your lead needs to make a decision?|
|#3||Day 5||Another Key Highlight||Visit website – What is it that your lead needs to make a decision?|
|#4||Day 8||Summary of Product with soft purchase action||Purchase|
|#5||Day 14||Purchase||Reminder Purchase|
|#6||Day 21||Ask for purchase again with different copy||Purchase|
Some other tips to help your drip email campaign stand out:
- Include your logo, name, and other familiar imagery to enhance brand recognition.
- Select colors and typefaces similar to your website.
- Design and test for mobile devices.
Measure & Adapt
In God we trust. All others must bring data.
– W. Edwards Deming
If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.
– Jim Barksdale
We love analytics – we may even measure too much for our own good. But used properly, your metrics will nearly always help you improve performance over the long term. With your drip email campaigns, check out your key performance indicators (KPIs): open rate, click rate, conversion rate, unsubscribes. Your open rate speaks to deliverability, your subject line, and perhaps your reputation. If you’re offering good content, you should see a healthy click rate. Circle back to your original goal of the sales drip email campaign. Are you moving towards that goal effectively? What do you need to do to improve your results? Keep in mind that no two businesses are alike, so you should experiment, even with best practices, to get the best results for your business objectives.
Here are some examples of ways you can adapt:
- If your open rate is low, check deliverability and test new subject lines.
- Is your click rate too low? Try different content or making your call to action (CTA) better.
- If you get many unsubscribes, experiment with extending the intervals.
- If you’re not getting as many conversions as hoped, experiment with shortening the intervals.
Mastering Sales Drip Email Campaign Fundamentals
Hopefully you can experiment with your own drip email campaigns to see if they are effective for your business. Once you’ve done your first drip campaign, you’ll no doubt find other ways you can automate delivery of information. From sales to support, drip email campaigns can dramatically improve your processes. A solid up-front investment in your plan with a regular review of your results can help you reach your objectives. Make it count!