What is drip marketing? Well, you asked the right person. As the Director of Marketing here at TAI, I have some direct connection with this topic. Here’s how I describe drip marketing: Drip marketing is like a casual dinner party – your guests arrive at different times and from various places, but they are all lead to the same buffet once they get there. When a new guest walks up to the buffet, she starts on the side of the table with appetizers and makes her way down to the desserts. It doesn’t matter that five other guests are already eating dessert, she hasn’t built up to that point yet and so it is logical for her, individually, to experience the buffet from its origin.

Drip marketing connects your targets to your email campaigns in the same way. No matter when a target comes into the program, she is always sent the first email in the series and then “drips” through to the others as she goes. This lets you build your messages off of one another for more effective campaigns.

Drip marketing is an email campaign that triggers automated messages based on specific timelines or user actions. For example, if we go back to the dinner party scenario, a timeline based approach might look like the following:

Greet guest – Wait 2 minutes – Direct guest to buffet – Wait 2 minutes – Ask guest if they’d like a drink – Wait 15 minutes – Offer guest dessert

A drip marketing campaign based on user actions would go more like this:

Greet guest – Wait 2 minutes – Direct guest to buffet -  If guest isn’t hungry, offer them a drink – If guest is hungry, suggest they try the mini-quiche

These alternate routes in a drip marketing campaign are often referred to as branches. You’re using an “if-then” scenario of action to decide where to route your target to next. So, someone who opened and clicked on your first email may be sent down a different path than the person who didn’t open or click on it. If that person opens the content you send them in the next email, then you may be closer to understanding what intrigues them. The style of the drip campaign and the rules you set are dependent on your specific goals.

Here's an example of someone setting up a drip campaign in HubSpot. This campaign is using the "if-then" action model.

When Should you use Drip Marketing?

There are plenty of use cases for drip marketing, but here are a few examples to get your creative juices flowing.

Use drip marketing:

  • To send helpful tips to someone who’s just purchased your product
  • To convince a website visitor to purchase the product they were looking at
  • To maintain engagement with a new customer
  • To upsell and cross-sell
  • To encourage product renewals
  • For a “welcome” onboarding campaign
  • To nurture leads

In order to successfully implement any of these, you have to have a clear picture of your target audience and the goal you are trying to achieve. Keep that audience in mind as you build your emails. Ask yourself: “What information will be relevant to this market based on what I already know about them?” If your basing your drip campaign on “if-then” scenarios, ask, “How will I determine what message I branch to if someone doesn’t open an email? Will I try re-sending the same email with a new subject line, or send a completely different email with alternative content?” “What do I want them do or what do I want them to learn?” For ideas on creating successful drip marketing messaging, check out this blog post by moosend. 

If it fits with your marketing goal, re-purpose old blog posts, case studies, videos, and whitepapers to incorporate into your campaign. It’ll help you get more eyes on these assets and help establish your industry expertise. Adespresso has a great campaign blueprint for building five of the most common types of drip campaigns. If you're not sure where to begin, I recommend checking it out.

Segmenting Your List

I recently built a “Did you Know?” drip campaign for one of our products. The emails ask questions like: “Did you know our product also can save your emails to your CRM?” “Did you know our product also can monitor your social media accounts?”. I accompanied each did-you-know with a relevant stat to show why the capability is important to business productivity/sales/ROI etc. Emails are triggered when a target fills out a specific form on the website. Depending on which selection they make from the drop-down, they are bucketed to a different drip. The goal of the drip campaign is to make these targets, who have already shown some interest in the product, aware of all the great features our product has to offer, and hopefully encourage them to finally make the purchase. The drip marketing initiates based on the form, which is linked to our marketing automation and CRM systems.

Maybe you want to segment based on form submissions, like I did. Or perhaps you want to build your list based on purchase history, past email open rates, or demographics. As long as you have reliable, clean data, you can make it happen. CRM systems are extremely helpful for building campaigns like this because you can narrow your list so specifically. To build the segment for my campaign, I queried the CRM and then synced the list with our marketing automation. If you’re fortunate enough to have these two systems (and have them integrated together), your list building will be easy! If not, you’ll have to do some more leg work to get that list where you want it to be, but I have faith in you!

Helpful Tips

Once you’ve identified your targets, crafted your emails, and planned out your overall campaign, you are ready to go! As you begin on your drip marketing journey, I hope you keep these helpful tips in mind:

  1. Make sure you’re personalizing the content. A simple “Hello John” goes a long way.
  2. Don’t be annoying. If your campaign drones on too long or your cadence is too close together, your audience will lose interest. Be respectful of their time by only sending emails that are relevant, helpful, and thoughtful.
  3.  Know how you’re going to measure your success and continue to test your campaign’s effectiveness to evaluate that success. Open rates, click-through rates, and KPI’s are a few metrics that can help you with this.
  4. Give all your emails a similar “look” so the recipient starts to recognize your brand. They don’t have to be identical, but it should be easy to identify that they are connected.
  5. Get the right tool! Make life easier for yourself with a program that will automate and manage your drip marketing. If you’re not already using a marketing automation platform, consider your current software FIRST before committing to one. As I mentioned earlier in this post, I pulled our drip marketing list from our CRM right into our marketing automation. I wouldn’t have been able to do this if those two specific systems didn’t integrate with each other. TAI is a reseller of HubSpot, which can integrate with most CRM programs. Or, if you have no CRM systems in place, you may want to look into a program like Creatio, which is a hybrid of CRM/Sales/marketing automation all in one.
  6. Pay attention to your subject lines. If you’re not getting good open rates, it may not be the content that’s the issue. Make sure your subject lines are the right fit. Check out this post by HubSpot for some subject line best practices.
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