By Keith Holloway
What do you do when a new contact is added to your email list?
Do you nurture that new prospect in a specific, methodical way that moves them towards the sale? Do you leave them with a few links to some content, your product page, and no follow-up? Or worse, do you only send them the regular email blasts that everyone else on your list receives?
If you’re not using a drip campaign (a form of email automation which we often refer to as a nurture campaign or autoresponder) to nurture new contacts, you’re losing out.
According to a DemandGen report, drip campaign emails get 4-10 times the response rate compared to standalone email blasts.
On top of that, Gleanster reports that 15-20% of the “not yet ready to purchase” opportunities converted into sales with drip campaigns.
Whether you’re new to lead nurturing or are currently using a drip campaign to nurture new prospects and want to improve your process, this post will show you the basics of an effective drip campaign that builds awareness of your brand and increases conversions.
What Is a Drip Campaign?
A nurture or “drip” campaign as it’s more commonly called, is a sequence of emails that are “dripped” out over a period of time.
In the same way that an irrigation system drips water onto farm plants over time to help them bear fruit, a drip campaign serves as a system for bearing its own kind of fruit over time: increased sales conversions.
However, a drip campaign can be used for all kinds of purposes along the buyer’s journey (even after they’ve purchased your product or service). Drip campaigns can be used for:
Welcoming and brand awareness
Upsell and renewals
Customer advocacy (referrals, testimonials) and more
As you can see, drip campaigns aren’t limited to strictly selling your product or service. And this is good news, because the reality is your basic email newsletter is only one piece of an effective email marketing program.
When a prospect first signs up to become a contact on your email list, your brand is top-of-mind.
This is your opportunity to “strike while hot” and use a specifically crafted drip campaign to onboard that person and increase mindshare. Additionally, you can use this conversation to further your marketing objectives such as differentiating your product or positioning yourself as an authority; greatly increasing the likelihood of a sale down the line.
Yes, it does take work to create an optimized sequence of emails that accomplishes a specific goal. However, it doesn’t take much to get started with a simple series of 3-5 emails and refine your process from there.
Here’s a 3-step process for creating a drip campaign:
1: Outline Goals
Before writing your first email, it’s important to outline the goals of your drip campaign so that you know what you want to accomplish and can design your emails cohesively in a way that helps you accomplish that goal.
This is all about answering two questions:
Question 1: What is the Context (of the Conversation?)
A good drip campaign is like a conversation. Well, an effective conversation that follows the appropriate context.
Imagine you contact a recruiting company looking to see if they can help with a new hire in your marketing department. A sales rep calls you, introduces themselves, and proceeds to try to sell you an HR legal compliance audit even though in your inquiry you specifically requested assistance hiring a search engine marketing specialist.
Little did you know, but this sales rep tries to sell everyone that makes an inquiry a legal compliance audit no matter what they came there to look at or buy.
Don’t let your drip campaign be that sales rep.
A bad drip campaign doesn’t consider context, it doesn’t ask the question, “what is the conversation I should be having with this person right now?” Without answering this question, your drip campaign is trying to speak to every contact on your list the exact same way. This is highly ineffective and will lead to fewer qualified leads and ultimately fewer sales.
Taking that further, it’s important to understand that there are actually two types of context, both which can and will shape the content of your drip campaign:
The entry point – Where and how did they enter your funnel?
The relationship – Who are they in relation to the business?
Examples of both forms of context in a drip campaign include:
The entry point:
Did they opt in to one of your lead magnets to get an eBook? What was the eBook about?
Did they fill out a free trial request form?
Or did they fill out a contact form and check your subscription box to receive more information about your company?
Are they a new contact?
Have they already been in contact with a salesperson?
Are they already a customer?
Who exactly is this drip campaign for?
The context of each prospect’s request helps decide both the content of the drip campaign and the goal for that campaign as well. For that reason, it’s important to identify where your prospects are coming from, and your relationship to them, before you can know where they need to go to move closer to a sale.
As you might expect, over time, this can become quite complex and difficult to manage. What if a person fills out multiple forms, each with their own nurture? Or worse, fills out a form when they’re already in contact with sales? What if they’re already a customer?
Envoke’s marketing automation software functions solves these problems with a straightforward approach called states. You define the mutually exclusive states a contact could be in during their customer journey and build appropriate nurture programs for each state.
From there, Envoke starts and stops each nurture program whenever a state changes and that prospect always receives the right nurture message to match their place in the customer journey.
Question 2: What is the Goal?
Next, you need to answer the question:
“What do I want to accomplish with this drip campaign?”
Now that you know the context of the conversation, the entry point as well as their relationship to the company, you can decide what you want to accomplish.
As we discussed earlier in, “What is a drip campaign?”, drip campaigns can serve many purposes such as welcoming and brand awareness, re-engagement, onboarding, upsells, renewals, customer advocacy, and more.
Generally, the goal for your drip campaign will be an action related to the purpose, such as a:
Request to be contacted
Free trial or demo
Or a purchase
Each of these are examples of the goal (or goals) you can set for your particular drip campaign. By asking yourself what you want to accomplish, you can gain clarity about the goal of your particular drip campaign quickly and easily.
2: Design Your Drip Campaign
Next, you need to figure out how to accomplish your goal. To help outline your campaign, ask yourself these questions:
What content do we have already that can support this? Do we have web pages, articles, downloads, brochures or other materials that can be linked or repurposes to support our goals?
What does the prospect need to know or feel about you and your product or service for that conversion to occur?
How can we express that message with content and make each email in the sequence interesting (or valuable) enough that they’ll want to follow the call to action (CTA) and open the next one?
Use these questions to create the basic structure and flow of your campaign and you’ll save yourself time and effort. Without first deciding the goal of your drip campaign and defining a structure that will help you accomplish that goal, the final product will be unfocused and overall less effective.
Example 1: A simple matrix can help map your context, goals, messages and content
to begin mapping out your drip campaign
3: Create your emails
Now that you’ve decided the goal of your drip campaign as well as a defined a structure that will help you accomplish that goal, it’s time to create your emails.
The next three subsections will cover the three keys to creating effective drip campaign emails, including crafting a relationship, educating, and making your best pitch.
a: Craft a relationship
The next two sections, both crafting a relationship and educating, are things which are generally done simultaneously across your entire drip campaign.
While providing high-quality content that offers value to new leads you should also be working to establish a relationship with them in the process, a critical part of easing that new lead towards becoming a paying customer.
The important point here is that, by the end of your drip campaign, you want each qualified prospect to see you how you want to be seen, for example:
- And trustworthy
This is in no way an exhaustive list. Think of it as a starting point for the overarching qualities you need to convey to a prospect going through your drip campaign. You’ll also need to differentiate yourself from competitors and convey some additional level of value or other specific quality.
To get clear on what qualities you need to convey throughout the course of your drip campaign, ask yourself this question:
“What do I want prospects to think about me or my company by the time they finish this drip campaign?”
Each drip campaign will be different, but by asking this question you’ll gain clarity on what qualities each drip campaign needs to convey in order to accomplish your goal.
Now, let’s talk about the first email in virtually every drip campaign and the one which lays the foundation for the kind of relationship you want to build with each prospect: your welcome email.
In your welcome email, you want to give that new lead a warm welcome to your brand by explaining:
Who: Introduce the company and yourself (or whoever is writing the email) for a personal touch.
What: Explain the purpose of the emails and what they can expect from you. This includes both the content of the emails and frequency.
Why: Explain why you’re emailing them. This is usually a reminder because they’ve already opted in to receive email from you.
For example, if someone signs up to get blog updates you can send them a welcome email like this:
Example 2: A welcome email should be personal and re-affirm the value you promised. Remember to set expectations about the emails you’ll send and how often.
This first email doesn’t have to include a CTA, but a link to your blog or several links to popular content or a question meant to prompt a reply can be included here to encourage engagement, further build the relationship, and to begin conditioning them that every email from you has value and is, therefore, worth opening. This will be very important on each proceeding email, where open rates tend to drop.
It’s also important to tell them upfront in your welcome email that you’ll be sending them an email once a week for a few weeks. If you then follow through with that promise and send an email to them every week, they see that you’re dependable and that makes you more trustworthy and likeable.
b: Educate (Build Preference and Authority)
So far, your new contact has received their welcome email and you’ve established important expectations and laid the seeds for cultivating likeability and trustworthiness in your brand.
Now, it’s time for another important step: getting that contact to see you (or your company) as the go-to source for your product or service.
And the best way to do that? To provide value in the form of education on the subject tied to your product or service.
When a prospect fills out a form on your website, whether it’s for a lead magnet or simply to get more information about your company, it’s because they want to know more.
If you then deliver relevant value through education you’ll become the expert, and you can help frame their ultimate purchase decision from a favourable perspective. And then they’ll be more likely to believe you have the solution they’re looking for.
Let’s continue the sequence we started in the previous section with our welcome email and add some educational content emails with additional offers.
For example, when a visitor completes the ‘join our list’ form Envoke.com we send a drip campaign highlighting some of our best past articles and relevant offers. These supplement the ongoing, “fresh” content we send weekly.
Example 3: Providing valuable content and advice throughout your drip campaign builds mindshare and gives your readers chance to engage with you further.
Keep in mind that there are no rules here. The valuable content and education you provide can be in the form of a:
PDF or white paper
Podcast or audio file
Free lesson preview from a course you’ve created
Or a free chapter from a book you’ve written
The medium is less important than the content itself. The best thing to do is always to look at what assets you already have and try to utilize those first.
Educational emails such as this will occupy the majority of every drip campaign you create, so they’re the bulk of the work involved in creating a great drip campaign.
Going back to our drip campaign example, if you’re delivering 5 emails in your drip campaign, with email 1 being the welcome email we covered earlier, emails 2, 3, and 4 should be focused on delivering high-value content like the example above that positions you as a knowledgeable authority.
Lastly, let’s talk about closing out your drip campaign by making your pitch.
c: Make your best pitch (to generate lead or other action)
The last and final step of any good drip campaign goes back to the goal you set for your campaign in the beginning.
Every email drip campaign has its own unique purpose. Examples include brand awareness, onboarding, or even re-engagement. However, it generally comes down to different shades of the same one thing: to move that contact closer to a sale. And arguably the most important step in that process is lead generation.
In this case, now that you’ve delivered several emails to your new contact’s inbox, developed a relationship that makes you appear more likeable and trustworthy, and delivered several pieces of high-value content that gets that contact to see you as a knowledgeable authority, the goal is to then convert that contact (who has been primed by your drip campaign) from a prospect into a lead.
This is generally accomplished by getting that prospect to request to be contacted in some way (the actual point where a contact moves from being a prospect to a lead), typically by filling out a form for a free demo, trial, quote, or product showcase. This is email #5 and the final closing email in our drip campaign example.
Here’s an example of what the final pitch or CTA email of a drip campaign could look like:
Example 4: After providing several value added emails designed to educate and build preference your final email should make your best pitch
Other examples of CTA emails for campaign goals that are further down the funnel could be:
To move from a free trial to a paid account
To get a new customer to leave a review on social or a review site
Or to acquire referrals from a happy customer
It’s important to note here that once a prospect becomes a lead and enters the sales process (i.e., they’re actively communicating with a salesperson) all nurturing should stop to avoid any conflict with the now person-to-person conversation that has begun.
Attention spans are short and you often have just one good shot to enter into a digital relationship with the new visitors that land on your website. And even once you’ve captured an email address, the memory of that original interest begins to fade quickly.
With an effective drip campaign, you can build on that original glimmer of interest and develop more mindshare, eventually converting your email prospects into qualified leads, taking your lead generation to a new level.
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