Drip campaigns offer more than a steady stream of content. Placed in a drip campaign, your readers move through a flow of hand-selected messaging designed to educate and motivate them specifically.
At Influence & Co., we design drip campaigns to move our leads naturally through their decision-making processes. When a lead reaches the end, she should feel fully prepared to have a conversation about her company’s unique content needs — whether that conversation is with us or her internal team first.
These nurtured leads then hop on to sales calls knowing what they want and how to get it — and they have our resources to help get other members of their C-suite on board with content marketing along the way.
Customized Campaign Benefits
No two leads will look exactly alike. Each will have unique pain points and different levels of understanding about what you offer and how (or if) it will help them, and they’re at different points in the buyer’s journey. That doesn’t mean automated drip campaigns can’t work for them; you’ve just got to customize them for each type of lead.
Our drip campaigns are tweaked to meet the needs of our different kinds of leads because even though we’re sending messages out in mass quantities, we really want to do all we can to educate and nurture those leads on the most individual level possible.
To do this, I separate our qualified leads into two basic categories:
- The first is full of leads who are more actively looking for an outsourced content partner. They already have a stronger understanding of how content can benefit them, and they’re closer to making a purchase decision than leads in the other category.
- The second category is designed for leads who aren’t in a good place to buy just yet — maybe the budget isn’t there or the company’s structure or capacity isn’t conducive to our partnership — but a future relationship looks promising. Right now, we want to focus on the basics of content to educate them, build trust, and stay top of mind so when the time is right, they think of us.
By bringing marketing and sales teams together, we can craft the kind of content that addresses the questions that sales is frequently answering for leads in each category. Because these are the top questions from people exploring their options and looking to outsource content, it makes sense to incorporate the answers into our drip campaigns. Not only does it mean more customized emails that better educate readers, but it also lessens the load on our sales team.
How to Develop a Drip Campaign
Creating this kind of drip campaign takes more than just scheduling emails for a few months. If you’re ready to create a meaningful path for your leads, the following steps will help you get started:
1. Lay out your strategy.
When we created our campaign plan, I started off by considering tone. Because the emails come from me, I wanted to be sure that the tone of these emails was in line with how I would communicate so we could deliver a consistent experience.
We’ve noticed people don’t read or respond to emails for a few reasons, and we wanted to keep our approach personal to combat that. And I actually love receiving questions and replies to our workflow, so you can bet that was reflected in the tone of our emails.
It’s important to share your expertise and voice so you can open the door to the kinds of conversations you and your sales team are prepared to have. A friendly and open tone makes readers more likely to respond directly, while a more formal tone will encourage phone calls and contact forms.
2. Segment your audience.
After deciding on tone, it’s time to evaluate the lead pool. If you aren’t already segmenting your email lists, consider doing so. Targeted emails drive 18 times more revenue — so ditch the mass emails, and start leads on optimized paths within the campaigns.
Every potential customer has a different concern contingent on his or her knowledge of what you’re offering. In our case, a CMO may have a better understanding of content marketing than, say, an HR executive, so our drip campaigns should speak to each.
Leads with a better understanding of their needs who are closer to a buying decision right out of the gate should be placed on a different path than those leads who are just looking for some educational resources right now. By segmenting your audience, you can put them on the best path for their needs.
3. Visualize your end goal.
Step back and think about what action you want qualified leads to take. Ultimately, we want to get on the phone with these top-tier leads to not only try to make a sale, but to also explore possible partnerships and discuss their current challenges. Your action might be a purchase, a download, or a demo; regardless, make sure the desired action is clear.
By the time users reach the end of the drip campaign, they should have a clear picture of their unique problems, how you can help them solve them, and how exactly you can work together. Ideally, when our customers are ready to buy, they have a good understanding of content marketing and its long-term commitment. Eliminate as many surprises beforehand by working backward from your end goal.
4. Select your content and create the campaigns.
With everything in place, it’s time to get to the fun part: selecting content!
When it comes to selecting content, it all goes back to where your lead’s focus currently resides and how close she is to making a decision. For those who aren’t purchase-ready, include blog posts and other content covering a variety of questions and concerns. These readers aren’t ready to jump on a call about budgeting, targeting, and possible solutions — they’re just testing the water, and it might be too cold.
For more qualified leads closer to a buying decision, focus on content that digs deep. Think whitepapers, case studies, and demos that clearly highlight your understanding of their problems — and how you can be the solution.
Leverage the knowledge from your sales team to uncover some of the most popular questions and hesitations during sales calls. Roll that insight into these emails, and your sales calls will be almost too hot to handle. (Almost.)
5. Automate your emails.
Once your content is ready, it’s time to let your email solution take care of the heavy lifting. The content you’ve selected — blog posts, external articles, whitepapers, case studies, etc. — that covers the basics should be delivered at a routine pace. These leads who are still gathering information are more likely to be preoccupied with other endeavors, and a more consistent campaign will keep you top of mind.
For those leads at the bottom of the funnel, we utilize content to address questions and objections that might slow down a potential sale. These emails are best delivered via triggers, like link clicks, open rates, or lead qualification. As leads approach the decision-making part of the process, they’ll need answers quicker; match that pace, or you’ll lose their interest.
Ultimately, developing a drip campaign isn’t a plug-and-play method to maximize sales. Rather, it’s a powerful tool to create prepared customers. Put in the work, and your drip campaign will result in a flood of new business.