The power of email marketing is no secret. If you have made it anywhere at all conducting business online, you’ve likely tapped into the potential of email marketing in some form or fashion. Despite its popularity, plenty of businesses still fail to extract maximum value from this form of marketing, so we’d like to take a closer look at an often-overlooked opportunity in this article.
Using drip campaigns is a great way to nurture existing customers and encourage them to make more purchases. Whether this concept is new to you or you’ve tried it before but only achieved modest results, there is sure to be something below that will serve you well in your email marketing endeavors.
What is a Drip Campaign?
This method of sending out promotional emails has a lot of potential when used correctly, but it can also go wrong if you aren’t careful. While you are free to design your drip campaigns in any manner that you see fit, there are a few traits that tend to be common to this type of marketing:
- It’s automatic. One of the calling cards of a drip campaign is that it is an automatic process triggered by a specific set of circumstances. For example, in the context of using this technique to market to existing customers, you might have a drip campaign set to trigger one month after a customer made their last purchase. Once in place, you wouldn’t do anything actively; the emails would just be delivered automatically at prescribed intervals once that one-month period had passed. This hands-off nature is one of the things many people like about setting up drip campaigns.
- It’s a series. This is where the word “drip” comes from. You’ll be sending out a series of emails that each deliver a little bit of information, one at a time. So, carrying forward the example from above, you might have the first email in a campaign go out one month after a customer’s last purchase. From there, you could have another email set to go out once per week for four weeks. So, the total campaign would last for four weeks, and a total of four messages would be delivered.
- It’s targeted. We’ll talk more about segmentation in a little bit, but most drip campaigns are going to be accurately targeted in one way or another to the people who will receive the messages. This allows you to get better open and click-through rates, as you can customize the content and make sure the messages are as relevant as possible to your audience.
To summarize, a targeted series of automated emails that goes out to a portion (or all) of your email list can be considered a drip campaign. Next, we’ll look at why these campaigns often play such an important role in successful email marketing efforts.
Why Drip Campaigns Are So Useful
A big part of the value of drip campaigns can be found in their versatility. Rather than being used for just one application, these kinds of emails can be used for many different purposes, as long as you think strategically about their deployment before putting them into action.
Abandoned Cart Emails
For example, one type of drip campaign is known as the “abandoned cart” email sequence, and it’s exactly as it sounds. When someone adds items to their shopping cart on your site but fails to actually place the order, this campaign will be engaged. Over the coming days, a series of emails will go out reminding the shopper of their abandoned cart and asking if there is anything that can be done to help bring that order to completion.
Newsletter Welcome Series
Another type of drip campaign is one that is activated as soon as someone signs up for your mailing list. So, someone lands on your site and decides to add their email address to your list to receive messages and updates moving forward. Not only will they get those messages, but they’ll also get an introductory sequence that delivers some specific pieces of information that you want them to receive. This is a great way to get new people up to speed on your brand and what you have to offer.
Email automation can help you get more out of your email lists.
Our last example of how drip campaigns can be used is the primary focus of this article—getting maximum value out of existing customers. We talked about this already when discussing email automation. You can set up an automated email drip sequence to get in touch with people who have purchased previously but haven’t been back in a while. Sending some emails to people in this category is a great way to drum up business and make them feel like a valued customer.
Segmentation is Key to Success
Setting up an email sequence to reach out to existing customers is a good practice, but you can’t expect to send the same message to everyone and get good results. Your approach should be more nuanced than that, with various email sequences in play, depending on some of the characteristics of each recipient.
In the world of email marketing, this is called segmentation. Basically, you are breaking up your list into smaller groups based on some of the information you have about the list members. This is a technique that can be used for all types of promotional email, and it certainly applies when trying to get in touch with past buyers. Here are a few tips for how segmentation can be deployed successfully:
- Highlight top spenders. If your system is set up correctly, you should be able to easily segment out the biggest spenders on your email list so they can be contacted with specific messages. For instance, you might decide to create a segment that is made up of the people on your list who are in the top 10% of spenders. Then, you could send them a series of messages that are more likely to connect with that audience than the rest of your list as a whole. Do you have certain products or services at the high end of your range that are too expensive for most of your audience? This would be the right way to promote those to people with the means to make a purchase.
- Related items promotion. This is another great way to use a drip sequence to gain additional sales. To get started, you’ll need to figure out which of your products are usually purchased together. Then, you can create a segment of people who purchased one of those products but not the other. The market has already told you that these things go together, so it’s likely that people who did purchase one may be interested in the other sometime soon. Build out a sequence that promotes the other item to this list and send it out a short time after they make the first purchase.
- Refill/reorder reminders. For products that are consumable, figure out how long it is likely to be until your customer needs a refill and then initiate a drip sequence at that time. You can, of course, look at your current sales data to figure out how much time passes between purchases for most of your customers. Then, build a segment of people who have gone a little longer than that without making a follow-up purchase and send them this campaign. Your emails may land just in time to remind them that buying more of your product would be a good choice. Also, you can use this email to offer any support that might be necessary, demonstrating that you care about customer satisfaction.
With some creativity and a little critical thinking, you should be able to come up with plenty of ways to utilize list segmentation to get in touch with past customers and encourage them to make more purchases. Remember that the data you have on hand from your existing customers is a gold mine of information just waiting to be accessed. Dive deep into the data you’ve collected over the years and countless promotional ideas will certainly reveal themselves.
Make a Valuable Offer
Rather than just reminding customers that you exist, you can present them with an offer that’s just too hard to pass up. This is when you’ll likely see results take off.
In many cases, this offer doesn’t have to be anything too complicated. It might simply be a coupon code for 10% off of the customer’s next purchase. Just that little bit of a discount, along with a carefully crafted marketing message that highlights the many benefits of doing business with your company, may get the job done. Whatever offer you decide to make, be sure that it is as easy as possible to redeem that offer successfully. The email recipient shouldn’t have to jump through a bunch of hoops to get the deal that you promised in the message. This is why coupon codes tend to work well; Everyone knows how to use them and they are easy to set up on your end.
Of course, you will have to think about your specific products/services and market to decide what kind of promotional offer will work best. It might be that you are better served by still charging full price, but then offering a bonus product as an enticement to close the deal. Test out various offers in different drip campaigns to gradually narrow in on what it is that seems to work best.
Try This New Tactic and See What Happens
With so much to gain, and relatively little time and effort required to get things set up, trying out drip campaigns in your business is an easy choice. Remember, the first versions of the campaigns you build are unlikely to be your best, so continue to refine and test them over time to work toward optimal results.
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