How to Use Drip Marketing Effectively for Academic Institutions?
What is Drip Marketing?
Drip marketing is a marketing automation strategy that is used to send pre-defined communication to prospects. The message template is pre-written and scheduling is done on the basis of a set algorithm. Emailers and SMS are commonly used media to send these messages.
The term ‘Drip Marketing’ draws its analogy from ‘Drip Irrigation Technique’ where small amounts of water are fed to plants over long periods of time. Similarly in drip marketing, the messages are dripped in a series applicable to a specific behaviour or status of the recipient.
Advantages of Using Drip Marketing in Academia
Drip marketing is becoming an extremely valuable technique of communication automation in admission marketing. It enables educational institutes to automate their entire lead management system. By using drip marketing institutes can manage large volumes of leads efficiently and nurture them. Based on students activity communication can be stepped up at various stages of intervention.
Drip marketing as a function of the lead generation process, runs on an automated follow-up method replacing manual lead follow-up. Autoresponders are set into a drip marketing campaign with messaging relevant to the status of the lead. This results in better funnel management of leads and reduces drop outs from the system.
Drip marketing helps to improve top-of-mind recall and inspires call to action without being too pushy. The technique enables you to touch base with a group of prospects by triggering pre-written messages from a queue.
Simply put, drip marketing is all about giving people the right information at the right time. It is a need based communication strategy. Let us understand the whole process through an example. If an admission aspirant just subscribed to your newsletter, a drip campaign could send a welcome email right away. Two days later, an automated email covering latest happenings in campus are sent out. The same email can have some call to action such as ‘follow us on Facebook’ etc. Depending upon the user response, a drip campaign could send them an e-invite to attend some college event.
Researches have found that click rate of drip emails is usually higher than conventional emailers and people who read drip emails are far more likely to click the links in them.
Institutes can run specific drip campaigns for nurturing admission seekers. They can prepare a set of drip emails to remind them about application deadline. But don’t overdo it else you’ll disengage your target audience.
When Should You Use a Drip Campaign?
Let’s look at a few scenarios where you can set up an automated drip campaign to engage prospects and convert them.
- Onboarding and Welcoming
- Nurturing leads for increasing application enrolments
- For generating recommendations
- Application deadline reminders
- Confirmations and thank you
- Highlighting Institute’s courses and their USP
- To reduce drop outs from the application funnel
How to Set Up a Drip Campaign
Some of the best ways to use drip marketing depend upon how efficiently you work out the drip campaign strategy.
1. Target Audience Segmentation
Drip campaigns are usually carried out on groups of people showing similar interest. So it is important to segment your audience on certain pre-defined parameters so as to send messages that are relevant and applicable to a specific group only.
Drip communication is usually triggered based on user activity on your platform, be it website or an app. It could be to send welcome email after the user registered with your portal for newsletter and updates followed by a series of communication messages thereafter. Or, re-build engagement with a user who signed up for your weekly subscription a week ago but is not engaging with your content since then.
Behaviour tracking is a great way to classify your target audience for sending information that they need at the right time. It helps in profile mapping of users to design messages that better serve their needs.
For lead nurturing campaigns to be effective, use profiles and segments. Adjust or create new segments based on user interaction with your drip campaigns.
2. Need Based Messaging
Once the right segmentation of your target audience is done, you need to create message templates that are user centric and attention grabbing. Before writing them down, ask a few questions such as ‘What action you want the user to trigger?’ Or, ‘What will be the theme of your drip email campaign, will it be instructional or informative?’
Based on your objective, write message copy that’s clear, actionable, and attractive. Maintain the brand consonance across the communication chain. But before that design the work flow of sending messages.
3. Workflow of Your Drip Campaign
Next you need to orchestrate the algorithm of your drip campaign—what will be the workflow starting from first point of contact with your prospect to the final conversion. Make sure that the workflow you set is in accordance with the goals of your campaign. Also, how you’re going to measure your results will help ensure value proposition of the drip campaign.
Following points may be helpful to consider while preparing the drip campaign workflow:
- Frequency, timing and order of emails to be sent
- Any call to action to be lined up with the messages
- Matrix to measure success of the campaign
4. Campaign Initiation
Once you freeze the strategy for your drip marketing campaign, you’ll need a drip software to start. To do this, you can either implement your own custom drip software or buy a commercial off-the-shelf software that can be used right away.
It will be judicious to do a little survey to identify the best tools for managing your automated drip campaigns that will have the right features you are looking for.
5. Assess and Adjust
Although your drip campaign is automated still you should supervise its performance. It’s important to regularly check for response rate of your campaign and readjust your strategy based on the results. If you aren’t getting the desired results, try rewriting your messages or revisit the workflow.
So what’s the best way to track how users are interacting with your content?
One of the most widespread strategies involves UTM codes. UTMs are great for tracking what works for clicks. But do not forget to focus on tracking conversion.
- An effective way to use drip marketing is to prepare an idea planner or a theme calendar. The planner will decide communication strategy for each month depending upon the requirement.
- After creating the drip marketing plan, be consistent with your campaigns throughout the year.
- Use powerful content to nurture leads paired with a drip campaign. Repeated but useful content will generate top-of-mind recall and arouse user interest in your academic brand. This will take time to build in the beginning, but if done rightly with innovative content strategy will serve long term benefits.
- Drip campaigns help to increase conversion rate because it keeps you in constant touch with your prospective student and thus keeps your brand alive in his consideration set.
- Think of your drip marketing campaign as a way to nurture your relationship with current and potential students. Your campaign should keep them aware of your latest developments. With this approach in place, your campaigns are more likely to generate positive results for you.