See if this scenario feels familiar. You go to your inbox and find a promotional email from a company effusively thanking you for your business. It’s nicely designed, has some interesting links to helpful blogs and related product pages and seems customer-friendly enough. There’s just one problem: you never heard of the business. And you certainly never bought any of their products or services. So, why are they thanking you for your business?
ARE YOU ANNOYING YOUR LEADS?
Obviously, they don’t have their email act together—otherwise, they wouldn’t make themselves look so foolish in front of a prospective customer. And that gets you thinking about your own business.
You certainly don’t send mind-numbingly off-the-rails emails to your leads—but how relevant are they? How effectively do they position your business by providing useful and relevant information to prospective customers to move them through your sales funnel? And (heaven forbid), are you inadvertently sending emails which annoy leads instead of nurturing them?
IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU
Even businesses that have a reasonably good sense of what inbound marketing is all about—building trust by helping consumers answer their most pressing questions and solve their most protracted problems—sometimes, without meaning to, annoy prospective customers. That’s why HubSpot a couple of years ago was willing to raise a few eyebrows in the marketing world with its, “17 Things People Absolutely Hate About Your Website.”
That piece talked about all the website mistakes that marketers with the best of intentions make—from slow-loading pages to “About Us” pages that don’t say what a business is “about” to annoying popups and sites that don’t work on mobile devices. Well, it doesn’t help if you fix those website boondoggles but try to push leads to that site with emails that are similarly frustrating and annoying.
Maybe your emails don’t hit leads at the right point in the buyer’s journey, like sending a newsletter before you’ve welcomed them to your business. Maybe you’re a real estate business that sends listings for luxury homes to people who can barely afford a starter home. The bottom line is this: to be optimally effective, every email you send needs to give every lead precisely the information they desire, when they need it.
WHAT IS A DRIP CAMPAIGN?
“Drip campaigns” use marketing automation to achieve that goal. Because they’re automated, emails are triggered based on actions leads take—things like filling out a contact form, downloading key content or visiting a product page.
As Zapier explains, the fact that drip email campaigns are automated means they’ll necessarily be more relevant to your leads:
“Drip campaigns…are automated sets of emails that go out based on specific timelines or user actions. They enable you to stay in touch with groups of people based on events like when a user signs up for an account or how often that user visits your site. Each time a drip email is sent out, it comes from a queue of already-written emails…They can even be personalized with your contacts’ name, company info, and more. Put simply, drip marketing is all about giving people the right information at the right time.”
THE POWER OF PERSONALIZATION
So, creating drip campaigns is a great way to make the emails you send leads more relevant, this because they’re a response to real-time actions those leads take on your website or where they are in the buyer’s journey. But the fact that a group of leads all download a piece of content or visit a product page doesn’t mean they’re all the same.
In fact, odds are they’re very different from one another. Some are old, and some are young. Some want to buy a refrigerator while others want a new dishwasher. To optimize your drip campaigns, you need to accommodate all the ways your leads differ from one another. In other ways, you need to personalize your emails.
A host of recent studies point to the power of personalization in email marketing. Consider for example these eye-opening email metrics from Campaign Monitor:
- Personalizing an email subject line on average increases open rates by more than 25%
- Personalized emails have about 6 times higher transaction rates
- Personalized, segmented emails generate almost 60% of all campaign revenues
- Included a personalized call to action (CTA) in emails increases conversions by more than 200%
- Personalized emails on average increase sales by 20%
HOW TO USE BUYER PERSONAS TO PERSONALIZE YOUR DRIP CAMPAIGNS
Those are impressive stats—but they don’t tell you the most effective way to personalize your drip campaign emails. For that, you need to incorporate “buyer personas” into your email marketing campaigns.
Buyer personas are fictitious representatives of key market segments. They’re defined by a common set of demographic and behavioral characteristics. And, because the leads in each buyer persona have these similar traits, they tend to respond to the emails you send in similar ways. Said differently, injecting buyer personas into your drip campaigns will ensure that your emails are highly relevant, valuable—and effective.
Although every business is different, with different customers, goals and marketing challenges, most can benefit from best practice buyer persona strategies, including the following 4:
- Clearly define your goals: are you trying to increase a persona’s awareness of your business or persuade them to take a given action (to “convert,” in other words)? If the former, you might want to push them to a blog about all the products or services in which they’re likely to be interested. If the latter, you could include a personalized call to action.
- Take marketing segmentation to the next level: leads within the same persona have different characteristics. For example, some are just entering the sales funnel while others are close to making a purchase. Some have visited many webpages while others have only seen the landing page that turned them into a lead. To get the most from your buyer personas, you need to get into the weeds, ensuring that the information you send them is as relevant as possible.
- Get the voice right: based on their individual characteristics (such as age, income, education level, and shopping habits), some leads might prefer a formal, professional tone of voice. Others prefer casual, colloquial language. It’s critically important to speak to your leads the way they speak if you want to optimize response rates.
- Get the timing right: how long it takes to move a prospective customer from new lead to loyal customer differs by industry, and by persona within each industry. For example, the average sales cycle for B2B businesses is different than that for the B2C counterparts. It’s important to do some homework to find out how long your drip campaigns should be for your industry, and for each of your buyer personas.
Effectively segmenting leads using buyer personas can substantially improve the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns—but it can also be both complex and confusing. Fortunately, there are experienced digital marketing agencies who can give you the guidance and advice you need to succeed.
To learn more about the ways our branding, inbound marketing, marketing automation and website development and design services can help you achieve your principal marketing objectives—and take your business to the next level—contact us today.