Trigger vs. Drip Email Marketing: What they are and when to use them

Email marketing continues to be a proven successful method to gain customers and revenue. According to a study by ExactTarget, 77% of consumers prefer to receive permission-based marketing communications through email. Further, another study showed 44% of email recipients made at least one purchase last year based on a promotional email. And if that's not enough, a Gartner survey demonstrates that 40% of B2B marketers rated the leads generated by email marketing as high quality. Are you convinced yet that email marketing is a crucial tactic for growing your business?

Email Marketing is a targeted and personalized digital direct response tactic for enhancing an existing relationship, encouraging customer loyalty, and generating new customers or revenue. There are generally two email marketing approaches an organization can leverage to accomplish its goals. They are:

  1. Trigger Messaging

  2. Drip Marketing

The recommended approach depends on a few key details, including:

  • What type of business model do you have?

  • Who is your customer? How can you leverage the details of your customer profile?

  • How is your value proposition best demonstrated?

  • Define your customer journey map. Where is your customer or group of customers in their customer lifecycle?

  • What you are trying to accomplish, e.g., what is your desired call to action or conversion?

  • On average, how many touches or emails do you anticipate it will take to convert your prospects and customers?

  • Urgency and timing?

A Trigger Messaging strategy is a real-time reactionary marketing strategy that "triggers" an email based on particular behavioral data, a consumer action, or a milestone event. It is most commonly used for retail transactions, customer loyalty milestones, and e-commerce based events such as cart abandonment. They can also be used in other contexts like social media triggers such as responding to new likes and follows with automated messaging. The easiest way to approach this strategy is to fill in all the possible blanks of an "if this ___ then that ___" statement for each potential or actual step in your customer journey throughout their lifecycle. Just like my favorite productivity applications, IF and Zapier offer automatic trigger based actions driven by other actions, a trigger based email strategy would send an email from your organization directly to your customer (via your email marketing automation software service) based on a particular behavior, milestone, or event.

Alternatively, a Drip Email Marketing Campaign is a softer communication strategy for connecting, engaging, and converting prospects and loyal customers to businesses. Essentially, a drip marketing campaign sends, or "drips," a pre-written set of messages to customers or prospects over time. These messages often take the form of email marketing, although other media can also be used. This technique is commonly used in longer sales cycles, i.e., large ticket items or enterprise-level sales, non-profit or 501c3 membership and fundraising, or for nurturing potentially longer or larger customer lifecycles or lifetime values, respectively.

Consider this example, which covers both trigger and drip marketing email strategies. Viviscal provides its customers with natural nutritional and topical solutions and treatments for temporary hair loss and hair thinning. The nutritional supplement -- Viviscal Extra Strength (for women) and Viviscal Man (for men), is sold in numerous package types -- one month and three-month single supplies, and a VIP recurring delivery service called Viviscal Elite that delivers the products automatically every 90 days. Each product type provides different user experiences and results for each customer, resulting in various customer journeys and customer lifetime values, ultimately, requiring different marketing communication strategies. Much like most medicine, be it over the counter or prescription, the treatment doesn't result in a complete resolution immediately -- it takes some time for the medicine to demonstrate the ideal positive result, be it minutes, hours, days, or in this case, months. As an Email Marketer for Viviscal I had to have a strategy that would not only trigger emails based on which product the consumer purchased, how much of the already purchased product they had consumed, and how far along they were in the recommended customer lifetime, I also had to utilize drip marketing messaging to nurture them to encourage additional purchases.

For a list of the most common email messages and a free one hour needs analysis click here.

While certain content may appropriately be mass emailed or broadcasted across all or many segments of your database, such as branding messages, email marketing is best developed with consumer behavior and interests in mind. Much like a garden, your lead or revenue generation often begins with a "seed," be it an email, phone call, or maybe a product view in a store or on a website. Like a plant won't grow without the right balance of sunlight and/or water, a customer won't move through the sales lifecycle without the right information or value proposition that fits their needs.

Ideally, each point of contact, including email, should move a customer towards the next step of their customer journey, be it a transactional, informational, or social connection. Once again, it is important to map out your potential or actual customer journey for your sales and marketing strategy. Lastly, it's important to keep track of what works and doesn't work, test new messaging, and optimize your strategy based on those results. There are lots of software as a service (SaaS) tools that can help with email marketing automation, testing, and database marketing. For questions about customer journey mapping, email marketing, or software procurement feel free to contact me here.

#DripMarketing #DripEmail #EmailMarketingCampaigns #EmailTriggers #CustomerJourney #CustomerLifecycle #TriggerMessaging #TriggerEmail

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