Drip Campaigns - Don’t Let The Name Steer You Wrong

posted Sep 23, 2013, 3:46 PM by Douglas McCartney

I admit it. Whenever anyone says “drip campaign” I think of the old Mr. Coffee advertisements. If you’re over 40 or so, you might remember the ones with Joe DiMaggio? Yes, that Joe DiMaggio. Mr. Coffee makers were of course “drip coffee” makers and there are still a lot of them out there, but they are old style and completely out of fashion. Today’s coffee drinker is either all about the penosh of a French press or perhaps the ubiquitous Keurig coffee maker, which I understand can also make soup now. I’m a tea drinker and I frankly couldn't care much less about how one makes their coffee, but the odd connection still makes me chuckle. And then I think about the term itself and it just sounds - well kinda gross.I mean, there generally isn't anything pleasant about the word “drip”. Faucets that drip are bad and then there is the nasal type of drip too. So why are “drip campaigns” considered so good and why exactly are they called that?

Instead of Drip, How About Breadcrumb?

My guess is that drip campaigns were named that way because if you drip water on a stone for long enough, you can eventually wear it away. It’ll take a long time, but drip long enough and consistently enough the rock will someday submit. But to me, if that assumption is true, it really isn't a very good analogy for what we want to accomplish. We really don’t want to wear our prospects and suspects down into submission. “If you don’t buy now we will keep emailing you the same message over and over again until the end of time!” Or at least I don’t think we want to give our prospective customers that idea (although I have certainly seen my share of such campaigns that appear to be taking a run at it).

No, instead, a drip campaign is about delivering content that will achieve two important goals. First, to keep our prospective customers engaged. After all, they might not want to buy now, but perhaps they would like to buy later. And then two, perhaps some of that content we are offering will not only keep them from unsubscribing, but might help them move down our sales funnel from suspect, to prospect, to someday a customer. Therefore, I think of this not as a drip drip “wear them down to submission” type process but a Breadcrumb process. You know, when your dog won’t come back in the house so you start dropping bits of bread down in a path that will eventually lead them back inside.

But Breadcrumbs Are Hard to Do

But the fact of the matter is that those two goals are really hard to achieve. You have to really dig into your suspects’ collective situation and create truly helpful and enticing materials that step them through a buying process. Not materials about you and your product, but about them. And then they need to help form a thought process that leads your prospects and suspects to think more kindly about your solution. How do you do that?

Well more than likely you need to talk to your customers who did buy. What was life like before and what is it like now? But it can’t just be a series of simple user story about features and ROI. That again, would be more about you than it is about them. No, it really needs to be a set of stories (or materials) about how your suspects and prospects can make the very same transition.

For example, if your tool replaces a spreadsheet then perhaps your prospects need to experience life with a better spreadsheet then they've got now before they can realize a spreadsheet can never fully do the job. So what do you do? Perhaps you give them a spreadsheet as part of your campaign so they can get through that transition faster. It sounds crazy I know, but if that is the path nearly all your customers went before deciding to buy, how do you expect your prospects to not do the same?

In essence, if you focus on the end result you’ll be too far ahead of them. Instead, you need to focus on all the steps between and lead your prospects through them. As the old saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day and it is likewise true that any buying decision wasn’t done in a day either.

So the next time you go to create a drip campaign (or to fix the ones you’ve got), be sure to avoid the concept of drip drip drip - and instead focus on creating breadcrumbs.