If you were to compare the buyer journey of today with the buyer journey of a decade ago, you'd notice a major shift took place. What was once a seller-controlled process has transformed into a buyer-powered, self-guided tour. Here are some compelling stats to further illustrate this phenomenon:
- 81% of shoppers conduct online research before buying. (Source: AdWeek)
- The sales process is 22% longer than it was a few years ago. (Source: The Marketing Blender)
- Email marketing has 2X higher ROI than cold calling, networking or trade shows. (Source: MarketingSherpa)
Pretty interesting, right? But without real life representation, these are just numbers. How do these statistics manifest in the day-to-day life of a marketer?
Let’s say Sally is a wedding photographer, and she wants to buy a new camera. In 1995, Sally may have depended upon close interaction with a salesperson to give her information and help her through the buying process from start to finish.
But if Sally were looking for a camera today, she would probably do her research about different cameras online without consulting anyone until she was ready to buy. In fact, by 2020, buyers will manage 85% of their journey without talking to a human.
So in light of this phenomenon, how should marketers interact with their prospects? How is it possible to maintain any control in the buying process when consumers are so independent these days?
The answer is drip marketing.
Why Drip Marketing?
As a quick recap for those of you who skipped your morning espresso, drip marketing is a strategy employed by digital marketers that send targeted marketing messages and material to prospects over time, which eventually (hopefully) leads to conversion. The messaging can take many forms, but the idea is to keep your brand relevant to and present in the prospect’s mind. You want to create meaningful, hyper-personalized experiences with your prospects, without face-to-face interaction. And an email drip campaign is a simple and efficient manner to accomplish this.
There are plenty of benefits to email drip marketing, but perhaps the most important are these:
Since buyers are so well-informed and independent these days, it’s essential to stay relevant. With drip marketing, you’ll keep your company top-of-mind with your prospects. You may be thinking, “Is email that important for brand relevance?” The answer is yes. In fact, email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter. So it’s crucial to stay at the top of the inbox.
Drip marketing allows you to make meaningful interactions with your prospects at a low cost. And engagement is no small thing. According to Aberdeen Group, on average, a lead requires 10 marketing-driven “touches” to convert from the top of the funnel into a paying customer. Drip marketing lets you hit these “touches” easily, and it provides a higher likelihood of conversion.
3. Less Effort
Now, a drip marketing campaign may seem like a lot of work, and it would be if it were done manually. Think about it: you’d have to write personalized, relevant emails for hundreds, or even thousands of individuals. That’s quite a to-do list.
But, if you have a marketing automation platform, you can create automated workflows that trigger emails depending on your lead’s behavior or characteristics.
In a nutshell, email drip marketing delivers personal, individualized content and responses. And with marketing automation, those messages don’t require extra work.
But how to get started, you say? Let’s take a look at how to set up an email drip campaign, step by step.
Get To Know Your Prospects
Before you start any email campaign, make sure you know who’s on the receiving end of that email cannon. You need to understand who your audience is before you can create personalized messaging.
There are a couple of tools that come in handy for gathering information. Both are typically included with a solid marketing automation platform. The first is anonymous site visitor identification (SharpSpring calls this VisitorID). VisitorID uses reverse IP lookup to identify site visitors and provide information such as page visits, page visit duration, company location, etc.
There are a few marketing automation providers that even take this feature a step further by partnering with data centers to also provide site visitor names, company size insights, email addresses, phone numbers, photos and social media links. This can effectively double the number of leads that can be harvested from your existing web traffic. Plus, who doesn’t want to know more?
Once you’ve identified a lead, you can start tracking their behavior online with behavioral-based tracking. This means you can now keep tabs on your leads online behavior. This includes page visits, content downloads, email activity, form fill outs, etc.
Consider for a moment the extraordinary value of this data. With behavioral tracking, you can discover a lead’s pain points, interests, needs, goals and more. How different would your messaging be if you knew all of this about your leads? And how much more positively would your lead respond to your marketing efforts if the messaging was relevant?
Segment, Segment, Segment
So now that you’ve gathered all this intel on your prospects, it’s time to start segmenting. This means that you can separate your prospects into groups according to whatever criteria you decide. A marketing automation platform enables you to easily segment your groups and lists based on specific rules, filters, and triggers that you set in place.
One effective method of segmentation is to use buyer personas as the means for distinction. Many businesses already have a good idea of their buyer personas. This can be based on any number of qualities and traits, and if you haven’t already, it’s prudent to formulate your buyer personas.
For example, suppose you sell social media analytics software, and you’re marketing to a group of three people.
- Isaac Influencer. Isaac is a popular, twenty-something influencer who is looking to build his personal brand on social media.
- Arthur Account Manager. Arthur helps keep clients happy by offering support to solve problems. He’s looking for a way to connect social media to customer service.
- Cindy CEO. Cindy runs a business. She wants to expand her brand’s reach through social media and ultimately grow her organization.
Notice that while each persona has a need for your software, they each have a different reason for needing it. Isaac, Andy, and Cindy require different content and messaging from each other. To spark interest from them, it’s necessary to speak to their specific needs and unique situations.
So given the information you’ve gleaned from your site visitors and behavioral-based tracking, now you can segment your prospects. And most marketing automation platforms include a customizable buyer personas feature, so it makes segmentation even easier.
Track and Analyze Your Campaign
“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don't know which half.” - John Wanamaker
You’ve heard the saying: Hindsight is 20/20. In a marketer’s case, hindsight allows you to look back clearly into past campaigns and see what worked and what fell flat. Historically though, marketers have had trouble with hindsight. For all the marketing and advertising dollars spent, it was hard to pinpoint what efforts contributed to a higher ROI.
Advancement in MarTech has brought the idea of “marketers hindsight” to life and raised it one better. Marketing automation allows you to track and analyze your campaigns in real time. So as your campaign takes place, you can make necessary adjustments and double down on the things that are successful.
Once you have set up your drip campaign, it’s so crucial to utilize the tools you have available. Marketing automation platforms include campaign reporting and analytics so that you can market smarter not harder.
Drip marketing isn’t the future of digital marketing campaigns — it’s part of the landscape now. If you haven’t already started creating drip campaigns, I challenge you to give it a try. Just gather your data, segment your prospects and don’t forget to track and analyze your results. You got this!