This post is a detailed explanation of something I’ve found a surprising number of marketers to be uninformed or misinformed about… automated drip campaigns and the sales process.
Automated Drip Campaign Definition
Marketing automation or automated drip campaigns are workflows developed within a marketing automation platform, such as Hubspot or Marketo. These workflows are set to send targeted and timely email messages based on an action taken within a defined sales journey.
Notice I said sales journey and not a sales funnel. I’ll explain in a minute. First, let’s talk about workflows. A workflow is simply a flow chart of if/then actions. It can look something like this…
Here’s a detail of a couple of those squares…
The point of these campaigns is to implement strategic and targeted touchpoints as your prospects move through the sales journey. The goal of these workflows is not to pummel people with emails but to be there at the right time with the right message.
The Death of the Sales Funnel
Some call the sales journey a funnel, Scott Stratten calls it a cloud. I think this is important to understand when setting up a drip campaign.
Here is an example of a traditional sales funnel from TechTarget.com…
This makes perfect sense in theory. But it completely ignores the reality of how all consumers shop today. Tell me a time when you went through each of these steps in order before making a purchase.
It doesn’t happen.
The Sales Cloud and the Drip Campaign
The sales funnel assumes that you are in control of the path to conversion. Get rid of that thinking. It’s not possible. The consumer is on their own journey.
And this journey often begins well before they even get to that awareness step in the funnel. In fact, as Scott mentions in his article on the Sales Cloud, about 60% of purchase decisions are made before a consumer even enters the funnel.
Example of Scott Stratten’s Sales Cloud
They’ve already done their research, now they need to know they’re making the right decision. They need validation and encouragement to take that final step.
This is where the drip campaign comes in. Somehow you’ve captured their attention. Could be from an ad or maybe an email directing them to a landing page.
Maybe a blog post showed up in a search while they were doing their research. Maybe someone was talking about you on social media, or maybe they saw a sponsored post in their social feed.
However you got their attention, you need to keep it. A drip campaign can help with this. It is a way to reengage an informed consumer using a combination of timing, targeted content, and automation.
Timing, Targeted Content, and Automation
Timing is everything in a drip campaign. When you reach out to these prospects can mean the difference between a conversion and an angry email telling you to leave them alone.
The best way to map out your timing is to use a combination of strategic goals, effective messaging, and a bunch of empathy. Seriously, you need to truly know your customer before you can start pinging them with automated emails.
Set your workflow up such that you are scheduling these responses based on a specific action. This could be something like…
- User clicks on an ad and completed a form on a landing page –> you send them a thank you email with an offer.
- They click a link in an email newsletter –> wait one week and email them a related article.
- You send them email newsletters but they do not click links –> wait one week and send a follow-up email with a targeted message and link.
You can imagine that these charts can get complicated pretty quickly. But I’m sure you can also see the power in this.
Authenticity in Automation
If you know the potential paths they can take and you understand this person, you can time the messages and actions based on what would motivate them to continue along that path rather than just blasting them with messages that do not resonate and simply annoy them.
Be authentic with your messaging, be you. Make sure the messages you are sending serve a purpose for the user and are timed so they get the message when they need it.
I asked Scott Stratten his opinion on marketing automation and authenticity. He said, “I think there is a wonderful marriage between automation and also authenticity, or scalability and authenticity, where it’s under the guise of either context or frame of reference for people.”
In other words, you can use automation to wow them or help them. You can use automation to show that you want to be there for them in their time of need.
So, while this isn’t your typical post about drip campaigns, it is important to understand that how you set up your campaign could be the difference between achieving your goals and completely annoying and alienating your audience. Please choose the former.