by Sandi Rosner for Stitchcraft Marketing
A drip marketing campaign can be an effective tool to turn prospects into customers. But what is drip marketing? How can it best be deployed by manufacturers, wholesalers and business service providers?
In this article, we’ll explain the process and value of drip marketing, show you an example of a drip marketing campaign, and talk about how to use this tool as part of your overall B2B marketing plan.
What is Drip Marketing?
A drip marketing campaign is a series of strategically timed emails that are delivered to your customers and/or prospects to guide them down the road toward further engagement with your brand. Defined triggers, or specific responses, will automatically generate next steps that are relevant to the prospective customer.
You can think of a drip marketing campaign as a series of breadcrumbs leading your prospect down the path from introduction to providing value to establishing credibility to making the sale.
Why is Drip Marketing Effective?
According to a 2014 study by marketing automation provider Yesware, 70% of email marketing campaigns end after the first email. If your B2B marketing ends with a single email, you’re missing a lot of opportunities. The same study showed even if you don’t receive a reply to your first email, you have a 21% chance of getting a reply to the second one. Still no response? Keep sending. There is still a 25% chance you’ll hear back from the recipient sooner or later.
Drip marketing helps keep you top-of-mind with your prospects. They may not be ready to buy when they receive your first, second or fifth email, but each communication builds familiarity and credibility. When they are ready make a move, you’ll be their first call.
Drip Marketing Example
Let’s say you’re exhibiting at a large trade show like AFCI’s Creativation, or The National Needlearts Summer Show. You’d like to invite existing customers and prospects to set appointments to meet with you in your booth. You’ve obtained the email addresses of registered buyers from the show’s sponsoring organization.
Your first email would be sent about 2 weeks before the show and could look something like this:
Subject: Looking forward to meeting you at Creativation
We’re putting the finishing touches on our booth for the upcoming Creativation show, and can’t wait to show you what’s new for 2019.
Can we set up an appointment to meet at the show? I want to be sure to give you my full attention when you visit us in Booth #(XXX). Please reply with a couple of times that work well for you and let’s get this on our calendars.
Looking forward to sitting down with you.
Note that this email includes a Call To Action – “reply with times that work.” We’ve told the prospect exactly what we’d like them to do.
If the prospect replies as requested, you’ll send an immediate response confirming an appointment time. You’ll then schedule a reminder email to be sent 2 days before the show.
If you don’t get a reply to your first email, your second email would be sent 3 or 4 days later, and would read like this:
Subject: Creativation Appointment slots still available
We’re expecting Creativation to be our busiest show yet, and our appointment times are filling quickly. We’re thrilled that so many of our customers are excited to see our 2019 collection!
To help you prepare for the show, here is a link to our 2019 Craft and Color Trends Forecast. I hope you find it useful as you put together your buying plan.
I’d love to walk you through our new line of (whatever) and show you how it works with the trends we’ll be seeing next year. Can I set aside an appointment slot for you? I’m open between 9:00 and 10:00 Saturday morning, or between 2:00 and 4:00 Sunday afternoon. Let me know what time is good for you.
Looking forward to seeing you in Phoenix!
Note that this email raises the stakes a bit by employing FOMO (fear of missing out). We’ve implied that the prospect’s competitors are scooping up all the appointment times. They need to act quickly to reserve their spot.
We’ve also encouraged the prospect to see us as an authoritative source on what’s going to be hot next year, by linking to a trend report. Better yet, since the trend report lives on our website (maybe a blog post?), clicking the link brings the prospect into our environment.
Once again, a reply from the prospect will generate an immediate response confirming an appointment time, with a follow-up reminder 2 days before the show.
Still no reply? Send a third email about a week before the start of the show:
Subject: See you at Creativation!
We’re looking forward to meeting you at Creativation next week. Be sure to come see us in Booth # (XXX). Our entire team is excited to show off the new products we’ve developed for you and your customers.
We’ve still got a couple of appointment spots open for Monday morning. Please give me a call at (XXX-XXX-XXXX) immediately if you’re available. I’d love the chance to show you how our new (whatever) can fit into your assortment.
We’re bringing a limited number of sample packs you can take home to try our newest products at your convenience. Show this email to any member of our staff in Booth #(XXX) to claim yours.
See you in Phoenix! Don’t forget the sunscreen…
Our focus has shifted from making an appointment to getting the prospect to visit the booth, while still leaving the appointment door open. Note that we’ve included the booth number twice. We’ve also included 2 CTA’s in this email: call if you’d like to make an appointment, and bring in the email to claim a sample pack.
Of course, you’re going to collect business cards at the show, and you’ll divide them into current customers and prospects. You’ll follow up on these leads with a new drip marketing campaign!
Making Drip Marketing Work for You
There are 5 basic steps to implementing a drip marketing campaign.
We’ll look closer at each step.
Segment Your List
Drip marketing is not a one-size-fits all solution. The more personalized and specific your emails, the more effective they will be.
At the very least, segment current customers from prospects. Your messages to current customers will focus on retention, service and upselling. Your messages to prospects are more introductory and educational.
Consider segmenting your list by the source of the lead. Did you meet them at a trade show? Did they fill out the “contact us” form on your website? Did they respond to a lead generator offer? Each of these circumstances merits a different drip marketing path. See our blog post on targeting and segmenting for more information about segmenting your list.
Define the Path
For each segment, map the path your drip marketing campaign will follow. Your map for prospects who downloaded a lead generator might look like this:
||Thank you and welcome
||This is the handshake. You’re acknowledging the prospect and beginning to make friends.
||Introduction to company
||Let the prospect begin to get to know your company and what you do
||Link to relevant content – a blog post or how-to video
||Begin to provide value and establish credibility
||Link to a list of current best sellers – e.g, “20 Top Selling Colors for Fall 2018”
||Continue providing value while more directly bringing your product or service into the conversation
||Link to a great cornerstone content piece
||Continue providing value and establishing credibility
||Specific product or service descriptions, introductory offer, free shipping on first order
||Move towards closing the sale, perhaps add some enticements to buy.
How quickly will you move through this sequence? Will you send an email every 3 days? Once a week?
At each step in the sequence, define what happens if the customer makes a purchase as a result of that step. Does the lead move into another segment, perhaps a first-time customer follow-up campaign?
Effective drip marketing is only sustainable through the use of the auto-responder tools included in your email platform. Work with your email provider to be sure you understand how to set up the triggers for automatically generated emails. All the popular platforms have this capability, and they all work a little differently. See how Mailchimp’s automation works here. For Constant Contact, click here.
Write the Emails
Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind as you write the emails that make up your campaign:
- Keep it casual and friendly. You may be engaged in B2B marketing, but there is still a person reading your email and making the buying decision. Don’t be too formal or too corporate.
- Keep it short. Ideally, your reader won’t need to scroll down to see the meat of your message.
- Always extend a hand. Every email should invite the reader to get in touch if they have questions or if you can be helpful. Be sure to include the contact information for your sales or customer service staff.
- Always include a Call To Action. Well designed click-through buttons and other links will help you see where you are connecting with your prospects.
Evaluate the Results
Set aside time on a regular basis to analyze the results of your drip marketing campaign. Which emails have generated the most response? Which links are drawing the most clicks? How many prospects have been converted by a particular campaign?
See what lessons you can learn, and how they can be applied to future campaigns. Your drip marketing campaign will always be a work in process, evolving to meet the changing needs of your customers and your business.
An effective drip marketing program takes some thought and work to plan and implement, but it can produce much better results than a one-size-fits-all email campaign. You’ll find more information on auto-responders and drip marketing as part of Stitchcraft Marketing’s online course, Magic Wand for Social Media. To find out how we can help you make drip marketing part of a comprehensive marketing plan, contact Leanne@stitchcraftmarketing.com.