When the internet, World Wide Web and e-mail emerged, marketing began to undergo significant changes. Traditional marketing channels including television, newspapers, magazines and direct mail are costly and struggling to survive. One of the disrupters challenging those channels is the Marketing Drip Campaign. E-mail, which has little to no delivery cost, makes it possible to touch prospects and customers repetitively at a very low cost.

For example, prior to e-mail, many product companies compiled, produced, printed and mailed thousands of product catalogs to their customer lists once or twice a year. Those were annual or bi-annual drip campaigns. Using e-mail, you can produce more content and deliver it electronically at significantly less investment. In addition, effectiveness metrics including open rates and click-through are trackable. In the case of direct mail, it is very difficult to determine effectiveness. With e-mail metrics, you can determine who is opening your e-mails, when and how often. Product catalogs are a thing of the past, while e-mail has become such a prolific marketing channel a wide variety of spam filters have been developed and laws enacted that require companies to provide an option for people to opt out of e-mail campaigns.

For drip campaigns to be effective, first, the content and frequency must be such that people do not opt out of your campaign. Second, that they read or watch your content and third, they do something that hopefully moves them along the sales cycle.

Along with the power of technology comes sophisticated tracking and data analysis. While you have no idea if someone reads something that you mail to them, you know immediately how many people are reading the information you deliver by e-mail and whether or not they take action. The benefit of the statistical analysis is that you can adjust quickly for greater effectiveness.

“Garden Spot understands that the primary purpose of marketing drip campaigns is to support the sales team,” says Ric Myers, Interim Sales Director. “The marketing team takes their cues from sales and it helps move people through the sales process. They become increasingly willing to buy because all the messaging is aligned.” There is a computer adage that says, “garbage in garbage out.” The same is true for content. When done well, Drip Campaigns supplement and enhance the effectiveness of your sales team.

Drawing from the best practices Garden Spot Communities developed over the past 10+ years below are five elements for consideration to help ensure the effectiveness of your drip campaigns.

Stay Ahead of Content. One of the most significant challenges is staying ahead of content. Drip campaigns require a lot of content whether it is in written blog format, a brochure, infographic, video or podcast series. It takes planning, time and effort. You need to line up the resources ahead of time and produce the content on schedule and on deadline. In Part I, we talked about the importance of frequency and consistency. In order to achieve those elements of the campaign you have to plan and faithfully execute the plan.

Add Frequency and Content. It is advisable to start small and grow your drip campaigns over time; it will help you establish solid practices that deliver your content at your predetermined frequency with consistency. The same holds true as you add prospects to your contact list. If you add someone to your campaign and bombard them with daily e-mails, there is a good chance they will opt out. The deeper the relationship with your prospect the more interested and welcoming of frequency and content they become.

Channel Mix. This refers to the types of delivery systems that you use. General advertising channels include TV, Social Media, Google, Newspapers, Magazines, Radio and Billboards. Drip campaigns deliver content to known contacts, predominantly through e-mail and direct mail. In our experience, intentionally balancing the content delivery between these two channels is most effective.

Media Mix. The most common media is print, which currently comes in two forms; hard copy and electronic. Hard copy includes printed brochures, printed spec sheets and unique collateral such as magazines. Electronic media includes .pdf versions of brochures, spec sheets, blogs and the body content of e-mails. Additional forms of media include photos, video and audio, i.e. podcasts. When done well, video quickly rises to the top of the most effective form of engagement. People are considerably more likely to watch an engaging 90-second, 2-minute or even a 3-minute video than read a long e-mail or blog. The most effective campaigns provide individuals with several options so they can choose their preferred media.

Calls to Action. There are many types of calls to action. The strength of the call to action depends upon your sense of urgency. It is important to consider the “story” that your call to action tells. For example, a call to action such as, “Call within the next week and receive a 30% discount on your entrance fee,” suggests desperation. That is not the story you want to tell. Something more appropriate may be, “Call and ask about our July promotion.” A branding call to action might be as simple as, “Visit our website for more information.”

Long-term marketing drip campaigns, when done well, support your sales team and facilitate sales. The Garden Spot Communities long term, year-after-year campaign includes 75+ touches per year for people who have shared their income and assets as part of the application process. The open rates for weekly e-mails is 55% and the video viewing rate is 36% while industry standards are 15% – 18%. Drip campaigns can be highly effective when tailored to your audience with your unique content.