How to Create a “Drip” Direct Marketing Campaign
In B2B marketing, where buying decisions can take weeks, months, or even longer, multi-part direct marketing campaigns – sometimes called “drip” marketing – can be a powerful tactic.
Drip direct marketing is a carefully planned approach that deploys multiple mailings and messages in a series over a period of time. For B2B marketers looking to generate leads or nurture prospects during a long sell cycle, drip marketing can be a smart marketing strategy.
Here’s why drip marketing works and how to create a drip direct marketing campaign.
The Advantages of Drip Marketing
Many B2B marketers use direct mail to produce inquiries from qualified prospects and create opportunities for sales representatives.
Drip marketing is a particularly effective lead generation technique. Repeating your core sales message over and over in an attention-getting drip campaign:
- Captures the interest of prospects and engages them in your message;
- Increases your brand recognition;
- Educates prospects about your product or service;
- Gives prospects several chances (and reasons) to say “yes;”
- Gives sales representatives a reason to follow up.
A mailing series also offers you the opportunity to showcase specific products or services in each effort. Over the course of time, the campaign can deliver multiple sales messages that answer prospects’ questions and help overcome buying resistance.
The Steps of Creating a Drip Direct Marketing Campaign
1. Identify Your Prospects
A B2B drip marketing campaign requires a commitment of marketing and sales resources. To maximize the value of the campaign, I recommend targeting a carefully selected list of top prospects. It’s not uncommon to see a mailing list of less than 1,000 prospects.
2. Plan the Schedule
Though there’s no set formula, I recommend the following guidelines when helping clients developing a drip direct marketing strategy:
- A typical B2B drip campaign is a series of mailings approximately every three weeks. Mailings timed closer together can be delivered on top of each other, diluting their impact. Mailings sent more than three weeks apart can lose their punch; prospects begin to forget the sales messages from earlier mailings and may fail to notice the link between mailings.
- Mailings usually total between four and six, with some sort of payoff in the final piece. For example, following a series of individual postcard mailings, the last mailing might combine all of them into one selfmailer so the prospect has the entire campaign – with all of its sales messages – in their hands.
3. Develop a Creative Theme and a Consistent Creative Approach
You need a strong creative theme to link all the mailings and tactics together and build recognition. Prospects should know instantly that each mailing is from your company and that it’s related to the previous mailing.
Yet each promotion should have a distinctive message and be a new mailing in the series so prospects have a reason to open the mail and read it. And, of course, each mailing should contain a compelling offer and a strong call to action.
As prospects begin to recognize that you’re sending them a campaign series, their expectations may rise with each mailing. To keep them interested and engaged, your creative needs to keep the excitement high.
4. Select Your Formats
What should you mail?
- A postcard campaign is a popular approach. Postcards are an affordable way to deliver short, focused messages.
- Selfmailers work well, especially with dynamic graphics and multiple panels that open in unusual ways to reveal something interesting.
- Highly personalized letters in a series can be effective, especially when targeting C-suite executives.
- Another option is dimensional mail. A drip campaign made up entirely of dimensional mailings requires a very strong creative theme and related premiums; dimensional mail creates high expectations on the prospect’s part as they anticipate what’s in the box.
I often recommend combining a postcard or selfmailer series with a final dimensional mailing using the same creative theme, to end with a bang and deliver a premium or prize with a compelling final offer.
5. Integrate Other Channels into the Campaign
Marketers today are integrating emails with similar messaging into the direct marketing plan. Adding email boosts response because it’s an effective reminder of the mailing and it enables the prospect to click immediately to the offer. Typically mailing one is followed a few days later by email one with a similar message and visuals; the cycle repeats until the campaign is complete.
Smart direct marketers also driving response to their websites where customized landing pages and content support the campaign and encourage prospects to act. The most recent drip campaign we developed included social media; prospects received incentives to get prospects to follow the client on social media and post about the company on Twitter and LinkedIn.
5 Tips for Success
If you’re ready to add a drip direct marketing campaign to your marketing strategy, follow these tips:
- Plan all campaign tactics at the outset. You’ll save money on print production and you’ll be much more likely to execute your plan.
- Track response for each initiative separately to see which messages or tactics caused prospects to act.
- Plan the fulfillment process and the sales team’s involvement up front. Be sure reps know about the campaign and its exact timing, and that they get response data in a timely manner to close the loop with the prospect.
- Consider a drip campaign to B2B influencers, such as CFOs or CIOs, rather than to end-users who may already understand your product or service and know your company.
- Time the campaign to capitalize on other marketing activities and opportunities, such as an upcoming trade show. Carry the campaign’s creative theme into ads, your booth, collateral, and your website to build recognition and deliver a consistent, memorable message.
The Most Important Factor: The Mailing List
As a marketing consultant, I often tell my clients that the most common marketing mistake is wasting valuable marketing resources promoting your product or service to people who will never buy from you.
This is especially true with drip direct marketing. One of the most expensive drip campaigns I ever received was from a company that sent barbeque sauce, grill tools, and an oven mitt in a dimensional series. The theme was clever and the premiums very nice, but my company was not a prospect for their service – and my name was misspelled on all the pieces.
It’s absolutely essential to follow the most iron-clad rule of effective direct marketing: Target your mail to the right prospects with an accurate list. If necessary, call to verify recipient names and titles before you mail, especially if you’re selling a very high-end or complex product or service to executive decision-makers.
Want more marketing strategy tips? Follow me on Twitter: @jeangianfagna