The name drip marketing originated from drip irrigation where small amounts of water is released over time to nourish the plants or crops.
Drip irrigation for plants and crops is done by releasing small amounts of water (nourishment) at the right time and the right place (near the roots) so that there is no water loss in percolation and in evaporation. Healthy plants are grown with the least amount of investment and almost zero wastage of water.
Drip marketing is similar but instead of water, we release small units of marketing messages at the right time intervals. Drip marketing is used by several companies to perform multiple functions including lead nurturing, on-boarding, customer success and customer support. Drip marketing is proven to reduce the sales cycle, sales costs and customer support costs.
The Structure of a Drip Marketing Campaign
A very well thought out drip marketing campaign helps multiple areas of the business. One of the main functions of a drip campaign is lead nurturing. With a little bit of automation and creativity, drip marketing campaigns can further help in on-boarding, customer success management and customer retention.
Here’s an example of a full stack drip marketing campaign:
1. Lead Nurturing
Customer Signs up for Free Trial of a Product
- Day 1: Welcome email with an Intro Video & a Welcome Phone Call
- Day 3: Email explaining features of the product
- Day 5: Email with eBook containing customer success stories
- Day 7: Phone call to find out why the customer has not purchased yet.
- (And so on… until customer pays or opts-out)
2. On-Boarding & Customer Success
Customer Pays for the Product and Starts Using it
- Day 1: Thank You email with link to a Video explaining initial setup
- Day 3: Ideas & Tips to make the maximum use of the product
- Day 5: Videos, articles and manuals on how to use each feature of the product
- (And so on…)
3. Customer Retention
- Day 7: Proactively ask for feedback and problems faced by the customer via email
- Day 9: Phone call to make sure that the customer is happy
4. Up-sell & Cross-sell
- Day 11: Introduction to premium products
- Day 13: Case-study & customer success stories about premium products
- (And so on…)
The above is just a simple example of how a drip marketing campaign can be configured. The drip campaigns should be customized based on the specific needs of each business and its customers.
Lead Nurturing With Drip Marketing
Drip marketing for lead nurturing works very well because prospective customers (leads) will not be ready to learn all the information as soon as they come in contact with a company’s products and services. They will not have the time nor the patience to do so. They have their full time jobs, family responsibilities and other things to manage.
If you think from your customer’s shoes you will understand that they are not going to jump with excitement as soon as they discover your products and services.
“Today’s potential buyers don’t become customers overnight – they require marketing over time as they self-educate and build trust with a company. Lead nurturing helps marketers communicate consistently with buyers […] throughout the sales cycle.” – Marketo.com
To make an informed buying decision, they need more information. They need several days to make a buying decision and they are going to ‘sleep over it’. They will buy when they have enough information to understand if the product can solve their problems.
Lead Generation, Cold Leads & Warm Leads
A web visitor becomes a Lead when he has shown an intention to buy your products or services. This expression of intent to buy can be done in different ways.
A visitor becomes a Lead when he does one of the following:
- Register for a free trial, product demo or a webinar
- Fill a form with name, email ID and/or phone number
- Call your business phone number or
- Send an email enquiry about your offer
The contact information of a potential customer is a ‘lead’ for a marketer or sales man. Potential customers give an explicit permission to be contacted by doing one of the above actions.
It is called a ‘lead’ because this contact information of a potential buyer can ‘culminate or result in a conversion – a sale!’
At this stage, the potential buyer is only a Cold Lead. If you are good at lead generation but not at lead nurturing, you are going to attract a lot of leads – but sales will not happen.
“50% of leads are qualified but not ready to buy.” – Gleanster Research
You have to nurture cold leads with constant communication. The communication should contain the information that will help them make a buying decision.
When a cold lead learns enough about the product and its benefits, she is ready to make a purchase. She becomes a Warm Lead. When lead nurturing is done well, many Warm Leads make a purchase even without the need to speak to a sales person.
Without proper lead nurturing, you will not stay in the top the prospect’s mind. The lead will never make the purchase from you or will purchase from your competition who have nurtured her better. Improper nurturing or lack of lead nurturing can lead to many lost sales.
“79% of marketing leads never convert into sales. Lack of lead nurturingis the common cause of this poor performance.” – MarketingSherpa
Drip marketing is the best way to convert cold leads into warm leads. Once the lead is warm, a sales person will find it very easy to close them. This reduces the overall sales cost of the company because more leads convert into sales, faster.
Also, since the Lead -> Sale conversion % is higher, the marketing team can spend a higher budget on lead acquisition without worrying about bumping up the CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost).
“Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at 33% lower cost.” – Forrester Research
Drip marketing is best suited for products or services where the product price is high. It also works well in the cases where the prospect is uninformed about the benefits of the product or service.
Drip marketing works both for B2B and B2C categories of businesses. However, note that drip marketing is not needed and will not work for some consumer goods and general commodities.
Drip ‘Email’ Marketing
Drip email marketing is the most common form of drip marketing that is in use today. Drip email marketing is widely used because it completely automates the drip marketing process at a very low cost.
Once setup, no human intervention is needed. Drip emails designed for the purpose of lead nurturing perform better than other types of emails.
“Lead nurturing emails get 4-10 times the response rate compared to standalone email blasts.” – SilverPop, An IBM Company
If you visit Instamojo.com and sign up for a seller or merchant account, you will receive one email every two days for next 2-3 weeks. Each email is 300-500 words long and explains the features and benefits of Instamojo.com. This drip mail marketing campaign was setup by yours truly.
Drip email sequence also acts as an automated inside sales machine and does the job of a human sales person calling up the customer and explaining the features and benefits on the product. Such information sent through several weeks will help customers learn more about the product and will eventually help them use the product more.
Drip Marketing helps convert more leads into sales and helps retain more customers at lower costs – thus having a direct impact on the overall revenue of the company.
In the case of early stage startups, the presence or absence of a proper drip marketing & lead nurturing system can make or break the company.
Drip Email Software & Services
There are several services through which you can setup drip email campaigns. There are also softwares that you can upload in your own server and run drip campaigns. Non-hosted subscription based email services (mentioned below) have a higher rate of deliverability.
I recommend the following services for setting up simple drip mail campaigns.
- Madmimi.com (Click to read my review)
Mailchimp.com and Madmimi.com allow you to store up to 2,000 contacts for free. However you will be able to send only broadcast emails with the free account. To create follow-up sequences or drip campaigns, you have to sign up for a paid account.