Introduction: What is a Drip Marketing Campaign
Drip marketing refers to sending a stream of marketing messages (usually via email) to prospects, leads and customers, to stimulate conversion. This process is usually coordinated with the help of marketing automation software. The long sales cycle experienced in SaaS buying and selling makes drip marketing integral in keeping prospects focused on your offering throughout your engagement with them.
The question, “How do I sell my SaaS product?” comes up quite often when discussing SaaS marketing. The fact is, although SaaS is different from other business models, your SaaS marketing efforts should begin with growing traffic. The rationale behind this is that you cannot send emails if you don’t have an email list. Only after growing traffic and your email list can you embark on drip marketing campaigns.
What Makes a Good Drip Email Campaign?
For a drip email campaign to work, it should:
- Target the right person
- Contain the right message
- Be sent at the right time
A properly executed lead generation campaign can increase sales opportunities by 20% on average. However, once the difficult part is done, you can set your campaign and leave your automation software to do the rest. Better yet, to avoid dropping the ball, you can outsource Lead generation services especially if you are tied up managing other areas of your business.
That said, follow these steps to create your campaign:
1. Choose a Lead Magnet
First, identify and create a lead magnet that will help you to fulfill your marketing objectives. For instance, if you want to educate, will a webinar or eBook do? If you want to encourage purchasing, how about a free trial? Set up your forms to capture new emails at every stage of the marketing funnel.
2. Sync Your Systems
Running email campaigns on fragmented systems can be a nightmare. Even after you capture all those leads, you will need to segment them for better targeting and retargeting. The segments you create will determine how and to whom you target your emails.
3. Create Your Emails
Experiment with text-based and HTML emails as both will drive interaction in different ways. If you want to create a personal feel, use text-based email. If you want more graphics and a professional feel, use HTML emails as they can carry graphics and links that can lead back to your content.
Send emails every two to four days, over the course of a month.
As your drip marketing campaign draws nearer, you will need to send an exit email, to tell your prospects that your offer will be ending soon. This email should create urgency and a feeling of scarcity. Consider including a limited-time offer to encourage immediate action. With the exit email, you are basically telling your prospects that they will miss their chance if they don’t buy right away.
How Drip Campaigns Fit in the Customer Purchase Journey
Email drip marketing involves delivering the right content to the right recipient at the right time based on how a user interacts with your brand and where they are in the sales cycle.
This means being able to determine a prospect’s position with regards to making a purchase decision. Marketer Joanna Wiebe describes the “Five Stages of Awareness” every person moves through on their way to purchase. These include:
Unaware. In the first stage, buyers are unaware. They don’t fully understand their pain or that a solution exists. The right content will make them better articulate their pain point and move them to the second stage.
Pain aware. In the second stage, thanks to your content, they know they have a problem and thy start looking for a solution.
Solution aware. The third stage is the solution awareness stage. By now, your audience knows that a solution exists. However, they have not yet zeroed in on a specific solution provider.
Product aware. At this stage, they know about your product. They are also actively looking at competition. Positive reviews, and helpful content are helpful factors to help them make their decision.
Most aware. Finally, the audience gets to a point where they have decided on a specific product. They know that you, and not the competition, are the answer to their pain. At this point, they will sign up for a trial, give you contacts for a sales call or make a purchase.
Below are 5 types of drip emails that will nudge your audience through the 5 stages of awareness. Prospects coming out of the “most aware” stage are qualified leads.
Before you start sending out emails, you have to account for the fact that a good percentage of visitors to your site will be problem unaware. As well, just because someone visits your site doesn’t mean that you should try to convert them; some people just aren’t a great fit. Given these two considerations, if you use the same strategy on everyone, you will annoy quite a number of visitors.
Your approach: Segment everyone coming to your site, and score all leads. By so doing, you can:
- Target ideal buyers with nurturing campaigns. For example, an enterprise customer who is highly engaged with your content is a likely candidate for a free trial. They have great potential for conversion.
- Use content to build goodwill and educate visitors who are not ready to convert (those with a lower lead score).
Activation emails (the email you send on initial contact with a prospect when they first visit your site) is a great way to segment your audience. Within that email, you could ask visitors:
The answers they provide will give you a better idea of where they are in the five stages mentioned above.
Note: Each activation drip email should include a call-to-action asking subscribers to try out your service. More importantly, it should address your lead’s core challenges and offer a solution.
2. Onboarding Email
We have talked about the important role that email plays in segmenting audiences. The other important role is: easing buyer’s remorse. Buyer’s remorse is an all-too-common phenomenon; feelings of anxiety or disappointment that a product or service does not live up to its expected performance tend to creep in after purchase. Often, buyer’s remorse leads to churn.
To prevent this, after your customers purchase, send an onboarding email not only to welcome them to your product, but to also remind them why they bought from you in the first place. Show them how your product will solve their problem. As well, guide them on their user journey. For instance, after your welcome line, say something like, “Before you begin, watch this short video to get more acquainted with our product”.
The entire tone of your email should be to remind customers that choosing you was the right decision.
3. Upsell Emails
Churn is an inevitable outcome for all businesses. Customers may fail to renew their subscription for reasons such as:
- The product is taking too long to solve the problem
- They believe the competition has a better solution
- You closed the wrong customers
- Shifting financial priorities
- If the key users are no longer making use of your solution
- Product malfunction/underperformance
- Lack of customer service
While you may not be able to do much about reasons like financial decline of your customers, the other reasons boil down to one thing: providing good customer experience. Majority of businesses agree that good service provision is the key to driving customer loyalty and stable retention.
Once your retention is stable, focus on getting more revenue from your existing customers through upsells and cross sells, so that it exceeds what you are losing in churn. David Skok calls this “negative churn”.
Email is a great channel for boosting upselling efforts. Send emails to existing subscribers, asking them to sign up for a more premium service, or to pay for an annual subscription instead of a monthly subscription. Upsells usually have a cost-saving aspect attached to them. They also highlight the fact that the customer will get better for a lesser cost.
4. Churn Prevention
If customers are not using your product or service, they are likely to cancel on the next payment cycle. You can prevent this from happening by constantly reminding customers to interact with your service or product. For instance, every Monday, send an email highlighting one feature and how it adds value. Every invoice date, send them a testimonial email, showing how other customers are benefitting from using your product/service.
Emails that stack benefits prevent churn; take advantage of this at every stage of the funnel.
For a marketer, the fact that a customer has churned shouldn’t mean the end of engagement. With well-placed emails, you can reactivate customers who have churned and turn them into paying customers once again.
It is important to survey customers whenever they leave, to help you know how to address their issues. If for instance they didn’t find a certain feature useful, keep them in your mailing list and send them emails in future whenever there are feature updates. You can also email them about webinars and tradeshows when you have them planned.
Drip emails play a significant role in lead nurturing and increasing conversion rates. Constant experimentation and A/B testing will help you find the right tone of email to use, the most effective wording, length of email, the best intervals for sending, and days or time of day with the highest click-through rates.
Setting up and sustaining a drip marketing campaign is no easy feat. It requires discipline, patience, flexibility, the right tools, and the right level of expertise to pull it off. If you fall short on either of these qualities or are having difficulty defining your campaign objective, consider using B2B lead generation services. Lastly, as you run your campaign, keep your eyes on the future. Your lead generation efforts may not get you the conversions immediately, but given time and with the right consistency, your efforts will pay off.