As anyone who has ever tried to train a wild horse will tell you, forcefully trying to exert your will over a much larger, stronger animal isn’t the way to go. Instead, the key is to build a relationship. By introducing new ideas gradually, trainers can establish familiarity with the animal, and allow it to progress at a pace that it finds comfortable. Over time, the two learn to work together.

The same concept holds true when it comes to nurturing leads. Often, leads are not fully qualified when they’re referred to the sales department, and so the sales department ends up losing a potential client. Often, those leads need a bit more time to develop, but it’s still important to keep the leads’ attention, so that they don’t forget about what you have to offer. Email makes it possible for you to nurture your leads gradually.

 
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Although social media is climbing in popularity as a marketing tool, email is still king. McKinsey reports that even with social media’s surging population, email is almost 40 times more effective as a marketing tool than Facebook and Twitter combined. One study showed that over the course of a year, 44% of consumers made at least one purchase based on a promotional email they had received.

They say that “good things come to those who wait,” and the truth of those words is clear in the case of drip marketing. A drip marketing campaign aims to influence its target market over time, delivering a series of messages that follow a predetermined course. The way these messages are sent out, or “dripped,” is usually tailored to match the behavior or status of its target recipients.

Timing is key when it comes to making the sale, and sometimes marketers are eager to send a lead on to the sales time. While 61% of B2B marketers send all of their leads directly to sales, only 27% of those leads are actually qualified. By creating an effective drip marketing system, built with the proper tools, you can slowly nurture those leads and convert them to sales rather than scaring them off early on in the process.

According to Gleanster Research, 50% of sales leads are qualified but aren’t yet ready to buy. At the same time, 30%–50% of sales go to the vendor who responds first. Basically, to make the sale, it’s important to find leads quickly, and then allow them to progress gradually. With a drip marketing campaign, you’ll be working the long game, knowing that your patience will pay off eventually.

For small businesses in particular, a drip email marketing strategy is not only effective, it’s efficient. Small businesses often don’t have the manpower needed to personally guide their leads. With a drip marketing software solution in place, the majority of that work is handled automatically. The software automates the process and removes the need for workers to keep track of where each lead stands in the sales cycle. This frees up company resources and allows employees to focus less on sales pitches and more on actually closing the deal.

As your company is deciding on which drip marketing software to adopt, there are several factors to keep in mind:

  • Automation
    The most obvious feature required in a good drip email marketing solution is automation. You should be able to customize the timing of the messages to match your research and achieve the best results for your demographic. This allows you to expand your collection of leads rapidly without adding a significant amount of work for your employees. 
  • Metrics
    Your drip email software should provide you with key metrics that allow you to track the effectiveness of your campaign. These include such measurables as click-through rates, open rates, and others that will help you to further improve your campaign or better plan the next one. 
  • Customizability
    You should also have the ability to customize your email templates so that you can tailor the emails to be more effective with your target audience. Colors, themes, and layouts can all have an impact on the way a customer receives your messaging.
It is important that a drip marketing solution integrates smoothly with your current infrastructure and processes. Otherwise you may find yourself facing big problems down the line. If the system is unable to read your customer database, for instance, then it will be much more difficult — and expensive — to make sure your emails are sent to the right addresses.

How difficult is the new software to learn? Is it intuitive to new users, or does it have a steep learning curve? Does it have the functionality your company needs? These are important questions to ask as you are determining whether a particular tool is a good fit for your company.

 
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As with any solution, cost will have an impact on your decision. However, as you choose between the different options available, keep in mind that you get what you pay for. Cost as an independent number is important, but even more important is value. How much benefit will this new system offer your organization? Research your options thoroughly and make a decision weighing the cost against the potential benefits. If there are significant gains to be had, it may be worth the investment.

Many businesses are actively pursuing email marketing strategies, but they’re often not reaping the full benefit the medium offers. By utilizing drip marketing tools and implementing drip marketing best practices, these businesses have the opportunity to nurture leads and convert a significantly larger portion of them into sales and regular clients. Remember: you can’t force your leads to progress, but you can encourage them. With drip marketing, your prospective clients can enjoy the freedom to move at their own pace, and you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing that they’re being supported every step of the way.

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