Maybe you’ve heard the term "Drip Email" or "Drip Email Campaigns?" Perhaps you’re not exactly sure what that is or how it is one of the most effective ways to retain and convert leads.
First, let’s talk about leads themselves. Before you can retain or convert a lead (much more about that later), you need to acquire or generate the lead. That task is usually performed in a few different ways. You can run pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns on Google or Facebook, which are the two most common PPC platforms, you can run a bulk email campaign (although that is typically frowned upon for various reasons), or you can supercharge your website’s SEO (search engine optimization) in order to increase your online search results. You can also combine your own SEO practices with sites that work to enhance your online presence and provide search engines with multiple ways to reach your business and your website. Websites like the Global Photographer Directory do just that: provide an enhanced SEO strategy to populate search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. with more than just one way to reach your business. More than just one way the is key!
Enough about lead generation. Let’s talk about lead retention and conversion. Let’s look at each of these activities separately:
Once you acquire a lead, you need to find a way to convert that lead into a paying client. You also want to reduce or limit the number of competitive businesses that person (or business) is communicating with, much in the same way they initially contacted you. Most likely, they contacted you via email either directly, via a form on your website, or maybe even through a PPC campaign as mentioned above.
Lead acquisition is typically the most costly part of the marketing process. Retaining and converting the lead should be minimal once you have your system and process in place. To keep a lead means keeping the lead actively engaged with you and your business with the goal of turning them into a paying client. Regular communication with the lead through email and providing them with something of value is a proven way of retaining leads. As a photographer hoping to win over this lead, the most valuable thing you can provide to them is free information related to the service they are looking to purchase (headshots, portraits, etc.).
This is where Drip Email comes in! Drip email is the practice of providing tidbits of useful information on a regular and consistent basis. By sending useful information about the service they are looking to book, you can keep the lead "warm" and, at the same time, position yourself as an authority on the topic. And, once they value that you are providing expert information in a regular and consistent manner, for Free, this is often enough to have them shy away from seeking and communicating with the competition. You’ll find that most of your competitors are not providing this level of service, and certainly not prior to booking!
So, what is this information you provide to them for free? Well, if you’re a headshot or portrait photographer, you provide them with tips on how to best prepare for their photo session: hair, clothes, colors, makeup, etc. All of this information is delivered via email in a regular and consistent manner, be it weekly or on whatever schedule you choose. This is the essence of drip email. Don’t rush it! If it takes a few weeks, then so be it. If they need it sooner, they’ll reach out and let you know. Slow and steady is the best way to nurture and retain leads.
So, now that you have retained the lead by using the drip email strategy, it’s time to convert the lead to a paying client. This process is facilitated by slightly changing the tone and context of the final email in the sequence. In your final drip email, you are encouraging the lead to contact you to either acquire additional information or book their session with you. While lead retention is more time-consuming and more volatile, lead conversion should now be simpler since you had laid the groundwork in your prior emails. An email and/or phone call to the prospect is now suitable. They’ll now recognize you as the person that has been sending them all that free information with no strings attached.
The hardest and most daunting part of this process is creating and writing the series of emails themselves. You may be asking: "how do I start?" or "What do I say?" What information can I provide for free? How do I not sound disingenuous? Well, you may scratch your head at first, try to write some content, then read, scrap it, and start over until you’re totally frustrated. Plus, you could be focusing on the work at hand, the work that currently pays the bills, rather than writing a series of emails of a type you’ve never written before.
I suggest going with existing pre-populated templates that can be customized to fit your style as opposed to starting totally from scratch. In this case, the time-consuming task of creating content for each email is already done, and you may not have to do anything more than include your own business and contact information!
There are two great marketing and business tools I’ve used successfully in my business, and I encourage you to check them out as well.
If you have any questions or comments related to drip email campaigns or any other marketing strategies, feel free to reach out in the comments below. If you've used drip email before, please share your experiences with it.