Staying top-of-mind is key to ensuring repeat and referral business and drip marketing is one of the best ways to achieve that aim. “Drip marketing” may sound daunting for already busy small business owners, but in fact, drip marketing campaigns are perfect because you can set them up once and let them run on their own.
While drip marketing campaigns can take different forms, email remains one of the most cost-effective and successful channels. What distinguishes a drip campaign is that the emails are sent according to some predetermined pattern or schedule. Again, the whole idea is to put together a series of emails at one time and devise a sequence in which to send them automatically. The toughest part is determining what kind of content to email.
Rather than merely hammering your customers with the same offers, consider a more natural progression of emails that begins with a post-sale follow up. In the end, no single offer is going to be as effective as the branding effort itself. The idea is to stay in front of your customers without pestering them.
Emailing your client an invitation to write a review may not seem like an obvious drip marketing touch, but it is one of the best ways to kick off a series of emails. For one thing, the review invitation is an immediate follow-up email, so it is a natural first touch in the sequence.
More importantly, a review invitation pays loyalty dividends beyond the review itself. When you ask your customers to review your business, you are signaling transparency and responsiveness, so there is tremendous branding value. Perhaps just as important, you have extended your two-way interaction beyond the sale.
According to eMarketer, the number one reason consumers opt in to email lists is to receive deals and offers. The next logical touch in the drip marketing series is therefore the referral offer. The main rationale for sending the referral offer at this stage is proximity to the customer experience. You want to seize upon the good will you have engendered while the experience is still fresh in the customer’s mind.
The best referral offers include a gift, such as a small gift card card, which you would promise to your customer for referring a friend or relative. Your customers will refer you because they like you, they trust you, and you have a great deal for them to share. The gift is just there to keep the offer top-of-mind.
On the heels of the review invitation and referral email, it is a good idea to wait at least a few weeks before sending the next email in the series. We have already established that a primary reason consumers opt in to email lists is to receive deals and offers, but that does not mean they want to be hammered with emails.
It is a good idea to present a rationale for the next touch in the series beyond offering coupon for its own sake. Promotions related to events are especially popular, but that can be impractical in a drip campaign because your customers will receive the emails at different times depending on the date of the initial trigger. Instead, consider tying a discount offer to your social media efforts. You can offer a special coupon for Facebook followers or blog subscriptions.
Discount offers are not necessarily the main reason customers return. For local service businesses especially, service reminders can be a key driver of repeat business. The interval for a service reminder is obviously dependent upon the nature and scope of the work provided. What’s less obvious is how to get the most mileage out of this touch. Include a small coupon with the service reminder email to encourage a possible referral as well as repeat business.
Every marketing effort is predicated on a goal. When you are marketing to previous customers, the ultimate goals are repeat business and referrals. The challenge is to stay in front of your customers without pushing them to tune you out.