This article is the first of five parts in our weekly series about drip campaigns. Every week we will go into detail on one of the aspects of creating, sending and analyzing drip campaigns. Visit next week for Part II on Drip campaigns do’s and don’ts.
Progress can not be stopped – we either evolve or get out of the game. As harsh as that sounds, it’s the reality, and we must follow the fast paced evolution of all things in life. Not that long ago the same evolution changed the good old email marketing.
The email campaigns of the past weren’t bad, nor were they ineffective. But they had one big flaw – irrelevance. Irrelevance was caused by the bulk email marketing approach which caused email marketers and salespeople to bombard their entire email prospect lists with the same message, and later to follow-up with another generic message.
All of this made people hate email marketing. Marketers and salespeople shot themselves in the foot: they had an amazing direct marketing channel, and oversaturated it by taking it for granted and abusing the power it gave them.
To fix this channel, email marketing needed a second coming, a second chance to become what it could ideally be. The new methods had to be based on relevance, targeting and smarter techniques.
And that is how drip campaigns appeared. Drip campaigns started replacing old bulk email campaigns with personalized, relevant, highly targeted time-based approaches.
Today drip campaigns are widely used by companies of all sizes – from one-man-armies up to the enterprise level corporations. Drip campaigns are accessible and affordable because modern tools allow literally anyone to run smart drip campaigns instead of flooding the entire list with the same message multiple times. This might sound wild now, but these obsolete techniques were a reality just a few years ago.
In this series we will focus on email drip campaigns only. If you understand the process of creating and implementing an email campaign, you will be able to replicate the drip approach in any other marketing channel, including content marketing, sms marketing, video marketing, and more. We’ll begin at the very basics and proceed to practical information, including specific methods, automation tips and tools that can be used to build and improve your campaign.
What is a drip campaign: the 4 cornerstones
Drip campaign can be described as an automated series of emails that are delivered based on timing or triggers, that is specific user actions. Drip campaigns allow marketers and salespeople to stay in touch with subscribers, users and leads based on certain events, for example, when a person creates an account or performs a specific action on a platform. Same approach is used not just for users and members, but also for leads.
Each piece of an email drip campaign is one email message from a queue of prepared emails. Basically you have to work on a drip campaign once and then it does all the work for you, automatically sending out a campaign according to your timing preferences, triggers (user actions) and goals.
For a better understanding of what makes this approach so good we’ve compiled the 4 cornerstones of drip campaigns:
- Timing: Every piece of an email chain is “programmed” to be sent at the right time. Usually timing is closely intertwined with triggers. Here’s an example: you send your initial email on day 1. If it was opened, you send the second email on day 2. However, if the initial email wasn’t opened, you send the second one on day 3 or 4 in order not to seem too pushy and bother the receiver.
- Nurturing: Drip campaigns are used to nurture early-stage users, subscribers or leads until they are ready for the next phase, which can be the next step in your marketing journey, sales journey or any other journey. A common scenario is nurturing leads until they are sales-ready.
- Personalization: Drip campaigns wouldn’t be much better than the old bulk email campaigns without a great deal of personalization. That’s why a minimum of basic personalization is a must. It’s best to personalize your drip campaigns not only with the receivers Name, but also with their Company Name, an Event Name or any other personal info you have access to.
- Automation: Last but not least, automation. Automation is the crucial condition of every drip campaign, and the first thing you should think about when creating your campaign. For automation to work you must have all the other details figured out: first, create a series of emails, then set all the timings and triggers and upload your targeted email lists. Drip campaign automation is a must, whether your campaign is for registered users, subscribers or cold leads.
How to use drip campaigns: cold and warm campaigns
Now, when you have a better understanding of what the drip campaign elements are and what the overall methodology is, let’s briefly describe the main use case scenarios for drip campaigns. You will need this to dive deeper into the practical side, which will be covered further in the series.
All drip campaigns can be divided into two types – cold campaigns and warm campaigns:
Cold drip campaigns are email campaigns that are sent to cold leads with the only goal – to nurture and turn them warm or sales ready. Cold drip campaigns are usually sent to smaller email lists that are pre-generated by either marketers or salespeople. Drip campaigns like this mostly use timing preferences or basic triggers like email opened or not opened, CTA clicked or not clicked. Cold drip campaigns can contain reminders, follow-ups, educational content, invitations to events. The main goal of a cold drip campaign is to lead a person to some action – requesting a demo or a consultation, registering for a webinar, or expressing their interest in your product or service in any other way.
Warm drip campaigns are email campaigns that are sent to registered users, opt-in subscribers or members. Warm drip campaigns can be sent to a bigger audience, as it is easier to make your campaign more personalized, more targeted and more sophisticated from the very beginning. This is possible because you can gather information about your users or subscribers when they sign up (including their actions on your platform) or opt in. Drip campaigns of this kind can use much more of parameters, triggers and personalization – it all depends on your marketing journey or flow. For example, you can create two drip campaigns – the first one pushes the user to register, and then, when they are already active, the second drip campaign nurtures them to an actual purchase of your product or service. Same with subscribers – you engage them with content delivered through drip campaigns, and then, when they are hot, you convert them into a user or a client with a different drip campaign.
Email drip campaigns can be used for almost any marketing or sales scenario, and, as you can see, perfectly replace outdated bulk email campaigns. In our next article we will uncover even more details of drip campaign structure and provide you with practical how-to’s.
Stay tuned, and see you soon!