Anyone remember the innovation of customer engagement and sales conversion called "drip marketing?" In a nutshell, it was a method of direct consumer marketing whereby a business would send periodic communications (postcards, newsletters and other marketing collateral) to prospective customers.
With a steady flow of printed materials, marketers and merchandisers were working hard to get their business to occupy a top-of-mind position
The sustained drip of these soft-sell outreaches promised to one day convert recipients from reluctant prospects into motivated purchasers.
The good news is that drip marketing still works, and it's easier than ever with social media. Read on to learn how you can harness the reach of the social sites to get drip marketing flowing for your business.
The old days
Before there was email, there was the metal mailbox. Businesses made it their business to send notices, invitations, and response cards that would get into your mailbox and, hopefully, into your head, too.
With a steady flow of printed materials, marketers and merchandisers were working hard to get their business to occupy a top-of-mind position in your mind. Although this sort of material came to be derisively known as "junk mail," it worked; customers, after a sustained period of drip marketing, often sought out those businesses.
But these "old days" aren't really so old. The strategies are still used today, indicating they still work. Of course, with the digital age, there are more effective and cost-efficient ways to drip today.
The 'social' sales platform
Many cringe at the suggestion that social media should be used for commercial outreach—and they're right to. Few of us want to have the equivalent of snake oil hucksters setting up shop where we meet and mingle with others. Even so, much of why we are mingling is to "network."
We have a want or need and are searching for someone who can help us. Accepting that premise, then, lays down the "Welcome" mat to those who have something to offer. And the drip is about to begin.
Social media offers a powerful way to get your message out in a way that can connect with potential customers in a subtle and meaningful way
The key to effectively dripping in the social sphere is to respect the environment and the people who populate it. Everyone expects to encounter marketing pitches almost wherever they go, but the best ones are noticeable yet not obnoxious and obtrusive. Think of the annoying, "I made $1,600 a week by working at home and you can, too" messages that regularly pollute discussion forums. They're usually flagged on sight.
Create a connection
Social media offers a powerful way to get your message out in a way that can connect with potential customers in a subtle and meaningful way.
Start at your own website and let it be known, visibly, that you have a social media presence. With that presence established—using a clean design and clear intent—post information about your business and your offerings.
Then personalize that presence with little-known or behind-the-scenes information about your business. Let your visitors feel they've been given VIP access. Introduce yourself, your team and your regular social contributor (if you have one) so visitors can become engaged with your business on a more meaningful level.
And invite visitors to "like" or "follow" your social page. Invite them, also, to visit your business' website and maybe to sign up for product notifications and similar information—and to do some shopping, too.
In days past, marketers purchased mailing lists and used those as seeding for the drip-market messaging. With social media, the customers are first coming to you, and then you can market to them based on their acknowledged interest.
Drip marketing can be more powerful than ever. But you can't 'solicit' anymore. You must 'engage'
With an audience following you on your social page, share information pertinent to your products in a way that lets onlookers see what's happening and what's coming soon. Hopefully, they'll want to stay tuned for more developments.
Establish a regular stream of updates, mixed with other posts that are relevant to your business and to your customers' interests. Over time, if you're working this engagement well, your audience of "followers" will grow, all made possible by a drip-marketing method.
No soliciting, please
Today, drip marketing can be more powerful than ever. But you can't "solicit" anymore. You must "engage."
The key to this new method, in the social sphere, is that drip campaigns are no longer random: You needn't wonder if maybe you'll find an interested customer at possibly the right time, but you will engage with motivated buyers most of the time—they wouldn't be following you if they didn't have inclination to want what you offer.
The best part of this is that drip marketing is practically cost-free. You don't need to spend your marketing dollars on printed matter and mass mailings only to have that collateral immediately deposited in a trash bin. Yes, you'll need to maintain and monitor your social presence, but the direct access to customers that it brings far outweighs the smaller spend.