This is a great time to be a small business marketer. Every day, more and more digital and automated outreach tools become available to make your job easier, more efficient, and more effective.
Many of these marketing solutions are designed to support something called drip marketing. This proven strategy takes its name from the agricultural technique of using a constant, slow trickle, or “drip,” of water to irrigate crops instead of periodically dumping large amounts on gardens and fields. This practice of applying small amounts of water over long periods of time proved to be much more effective at nurturing crops.
Just as farmers have learned the importance of nurturing their plants over time, marketers have come to understand the need to nurture prospects and leads over time to turn them into sales. The trick is to keep a steady “drip” going and a supply of prospects entering the drip funnel where they can be nudged and encouraged along the way to become customers or clients.
In marketing, that “drip” is systematic contacts with prospects so that they’re regularly reminded of your business and what it has to offer. Although you might be tempted to send the same message repeatedly in your drip marketing campaign, that’s generally a waste of resources and the good will of prospects – no one likes to receive the same message over and over again. More on that in a moment.
The cornerstone of a drip marketing campaign is the drip funnel. Similar to the traditional marketing funnel, a drip campaign fills the funnel using marketing information that is sent to prospects over longer periods of time, encouraging them to become customers through a progressive lead nurturing program. Drip funnels are typically filled using pre-written content that is automatically sent at predetermined times to engage the contacts. Ideally these messages are progressive, with a beginning or introductory message, a more detailed informational message and a closing call-to-action. Each outbound message builds upon the previous one, with content that builds trust and helps move prospects through the funnel.
Lead nurturing is an automated way of keeping your leads engaged with you and your brand, sharing content with them that they’ll see as valuable. The automation that makes it all manageable is provided by any one of several customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, such as Hubspot, Marketo, Eloqua, Pardot and others. With a CRM system you can automate the process and more easily determine who you want to target. In the case of an email marketing campaign this can be as simple as setting up the distribution schedule of which message you want to send to which customers and then configuring the CRM software to send them automatically.
What makes drip marketing so appealing to small business owners is its ability to help them avoid the dreaded “sell-produce curve.” That’s the closed-loop conundrum that small businesses can fall into in which all activity focuses on selling to produce new business. Once that business comes in, everyone’s busy producing and servicing all those new customers and selling grinds to a halt. When business begins to dry up, selling starts all over again. This stop-start business model can wreak havoc with revenue and cash flow.
Drip campaigns will also help increase your conversion rate because you are consistently staying in touch and creating regular touch points that keep your brand and products or services in front of the prospect/customer. It’s hard to forget someone who keeps in touch with you.
Drip marketing – it’s a great way for small businesses to put the power of automation to work and keep the drip funnel flowing, turning leads into prospects, prospects into sales, and sales into profits.