Relevance is a Core Challenge with Drip Marketing

For ages, drip marketing was the de facto way to gain thought leadership among specific segments of consumers and stay top-of-mind when it came time for them to make real purchase decisions. However, technology has evolved to the point that it not only provides a wide array of functionality and capabilities, but it’s also easier to use and more accessible than ever before. This has enabled many brands throughout the world to adopt a closed-loop strategy to marketing, rather than limiting them to the drip marketing approach.

What is Drip Marketing?
If you’re an experienced marketer, you’re probably accustomed to drip marketing. Drip marketing consists of scheduled or planned content that is sent to customers often and during specific time frames. Think of it like faucet – you can either open the flood gates and hit consumers all at once with a message, or you can shut the spigot and hit them with drips over a longer time frame.

In the old days of promotion and advertising, drip marketing often came in the form of brochures, postcards and other similar media that could easily be delivered over long time frames. The goal was to establish your business as an option and remain at the forefront of your prospects’ thoughts. For example, a customer might not need his or her chimney swept right now, but if a sweeping company kept sending postcards periodically throughout the year, the customer will know who to call when the need arises.Over the past two decades, drip marketing has been applied to web-based campaigns as well, most commonly with email initiatives. By using drip marketing approaches, businesses are able to build a relationship with email subscribers and become a problem solver rather than a company that just wants to sell products and services to them.

Relevance is a Core Challenge with Drip Marketing
Drip marketing remains an effective tactic, even in today’s fast-paced business world. However, relevancy is frequently a major problem of drip marketing approaches. You can execute all of these “touches,” but if you aren’t learning from past campaigns and improving future initiatives, you’ll quickly become white noise.

For example, a software company may sell a variety of solutions created for multiple audiences. A program designed for a financial institution won’t be of any use to a retailer, and brands need to be able to differentiate between the two markets.

This can be done by tracking interactions over a particular time frame. Look for small signs that suggest what a prospect might be interested in – if a potential client opens an email about software for financial institutions, that should be a clear tell as to the needs of that company. By analyzing these interactions over an extended period of time, you’ll be better able to develop a better picture of your prospects’ business needs and pain points and create promotional collateral specifically for them.

Additionally, you’ll be able to tailor your communication approach to their preferred channels. If most of the brand interactions happen over LinkedIn, then that may be the ideal medium to connect with that prospect. Conversely, you might be able to note a lack of engagement through email and opt to only use LinkedIn to reach them – saving time and resources.

In years past, drip marketing was the best way to approach customer engagement because interaction analytics and metrics were limited. You can’t tell what kind of impact your postcard has on customers unless they actually take action by purchasing a product, calling to speak with a salesperson or some other action. But now, businesses can collect all sorts of relevant information on the performance of their campaigns because of the rise of marketing automation tools and the web.

Integrating Drip Marketing into the Closed-Loop Strategy
Businesses need to transition from pure drip marketing approaches and incorporate these strategies into closed-loop marketing. Closed-loop marketing aims essentially to the fill the gap in communication that was left wide open in the drip marketing approach. By working in conjunction with sales and using analytics to refine campaigns, you’re better able to improve the results of initiatives.

Marketing automation solutions can be used to automate triggered responses that can then be customized to the reader. The end result is a campaign that focuses around influence, rather than simply hitting a certain number of touches. It’s all about generating actual engagement, rather than just awareness.

Going back to the previous example of the LinkedIn user, a closed-loop strategy would provide you with additional feedback on your campaigns. Once you identify their preferred channel,  you can further examine the analytics and tinker with sending messages on certain days or different times of the day. The idea is to hit the right consumer at the right time with the right message through the right channel.

Once a lead has been generated and passed onto sales, you can then work with your sales teams and analyze the information collected to revise campaigns. If a certain initiative was providing low-quality leads, it can be tweaked or ditched altogether. Conversely, if one part of a campaign was particularly successful at generating leads, the closed-loop strategy enables you to further improve upon it.

Lead nurturing has grown to be increasingly important to modern marketing initiatives. By utilizing a combination of drip marketing, closed-loop marketing and distributed marketing automation tools, you can put yourself in an excellent position to create engaging marketing campaigns that can further be revised and improved in the future. These initiatives start with content that can be administered and distributed over a time period, but you should take advantage of tools that can monitor performance and help you get the most out of campaigns later on.