In recent years, marketing automation technology has become a highly sought-after tool for B2B companies around the globe. In fact, according to an April 2015 study conducted by Regalix, 79% of B2B companies worldwide are adopters of the technology. Thanks to the proven efficacy of inbound marketing tactics, there really isn’t a need to engage customers in the old-fashioned way anymore. Here’s an infographic that aptly demonstrates this changing landscape:
Inbound marketing is all about driving potential customers to your site through the creation and deployment of compelling content– be they blog articles, videos, whitepapers, or eBooks. According to an infographic by Social Media B2B, content really is king: companies who maintain an active blog generate 67% more leads per month. Blogging sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? Well, it’s only part of the picture. Unlike the traditional marketing landscape, the era of inbound marketing demands content that’s not only compelling, but timely and relevant to the recipient. One size fits all content doesn’t exactly ascribe to the rising consumer assertion of “individuality.” As a company, how do you deliver tailored content without draining time, money, and resources? You automate the process, of course.
As Marketing Cloud Experts, we knew what to look for when it came to selecting the right B2B marketing machine for our own internal lead-gen process. Pardot is often touted as the best of the bunch–with robust functionalities, a design that’s structured for ease of use and advanced reporting capabilities. Since adopting the platform we’ve seen how easy it is to drive the right content to our prospects and leads through a little something called the drip campaign.
WHAT IS A DRIP CAMPAIGN?
With a name derived from drip irrigation, drip campaigns consist of a series of scheduled, automated marketing emails. These campaigns essentially “drip” relevant content to your subscribers based on predefined triggers or completion actions–such as filling out a form, clicking on a link, or making a transaction.
WHY DO THEY MATTER?
Imagine the painstaking task of manually segmenting and targeting every one of your subscribers (believe us, it’s not fun). Pardot not only allows you to segment and personalize with ease, but also tracks online visitor behavior on your website. Having access to this type of behavioral data empowers you to identify and therefore meet the needs of your subscribers.
…AND DO THEY WORK?
Yes. Businesses who invest in any B2B marketing platform want to start deploying that first drip campaign as soon as possible–that’s because statistics vouch for the efficacy of the process:
- On average, Pardot users experience: a 34% increase in sales revenue, 48% increase in marketing productivity, 37% increase in marketing campaign effectiveness, and 38% increase in prospect engagement. (Source: Salesforce)
- Relevant, targeted emails generate 18 times more revenue than batch-and-blast email sends. (Source: Jupiter Research via Emma)
- Between 35 and 50% of sales go to the vendor who responds first (Source: InsideSales)
HOW DO I GET STARTED?
As marketing automation experts within the Salesforce ecosystem, we’re well versed on optimizing Pardot’s drip nurturing capabilities both internally and for our clients. There’s a science to creating the perfect drip campaign that typically demands training and consultation to do it right the first time–and we say the first time because there really is no second chance to make a killer first impression. We thought we’d share a few of our trade secrets to set you on the right path. Try them for yourself. Then sit back and watch as your sales-ready leads come rolling in:
1) Create content – or use someone else’s
If you’re working with a small team, you might not have the resources for a full time copywriter. You can still catapult your brand to thought-leader status by directing people to worthwhile content that’s already online. If you do go this route, ensure that your sources are reputable and valid (say, Forbes or The New Yorker as opposed to Gawker or blogspot ). We do it, even Pardot does it– so it’s a best practice in our book.
2) Create Stages
Your sales team knows your customers better than anyone else. Consult with them and map out the different personas and pain points in the customer lifecycle. Be strategic with what type of content you choose to drip at each stage of the funnel – learn what content is king in “Lead Nurturing Made Easy in 5 Steps.”
3) Consult with sales
Traditionally, sales and marketing have not been aligned. With the Salesforce.com connector, these two worlds can finally collide. The connector allows you to sync newly created contacts, prospects and leads between Pardot and Salesforce. It enables you to streamline disparate marketing channels and give your sales team the ability to qualify leads that are worth nurturing. Armed with the connector your sales team can pull Salesforce contacts directly into Pardot and then place these contacts on a nurture track that’s right for them.
4) Create subject lines that sparkle
We invest a lot of time perfecting our email copy, but often forget the importance of the well-honed subject line. Subject lines are the first thing your recipients see in their inbox and will dictate whether they read your message or not–don’t leave them as an afterthought!
For subject lines that convert, consider the following:
- For top-funnel leads, avoid industry keywords or branded buzzwords– they’re still in the early stages and may not know much about your industry or whether they even have a problem that you can solve. As a best practice, keep these subject lines generic yet personal, such as: “How can I help?” or “Thought this could help.” Simple.
- For mid-funnel leads, test the waters by using keywords OR branded language, but not both. You don’t want to inundate them with marketing fluff – besides, they’re still in the process of learning about your industry and your brand – don’t drive them away with too much too soon.
- Bottom funnel leads have likely undergone an extensive research process and are this close to transacting. Drive home the sale with product-specific, branded keywords to show them you mean business.
When writing your subject lines, keep the following stats from Sidekick by Hubspot top of mind:
- Your open rates decrease by 18.7% when you use the word “newsletter” in the subject line.
- Your open rates increase by 61.8% when you use the word “alert” in the subject line.
- If you personalize your subject lines, your emails are 22% more likely to be opened.
- 40% of your emails will be opened on mobile first, where the average screen can only fit between 4-7 words.
- Subject lines that use three or more words are opened 15% less than those with 1-2 words.
Since we’re on the topic of subject lines, as much as you may be compelled to use “Re:” or “Fw:” in your subject line to suggest that your email was sent via a trusted source – the reality is that you’re lying to your subscribers and that’s never a good way to start a business relationship. Learn more about gaining your subscribers’ trust here.
Don’t send that first drip out of Pardot without testing those subject lines first. While the stats above can provide some insight into best practices, the only way you can know just how great your subject lines really are is to test them. Pardot boasts the ability to run split tests in which you can change elements in your email–such as the subject line–and then separate your recipients into two groups. Each group will receive the same email but with a different subject line. The platform’s robust reporting capabilities enable you to track and measure the email’s engagement data to determine which subject line got more open rates.
6) Put the kool-aid down
The most important part of the perfect drip campaign is the content that lies within. Think about how many marketing emails the average person receives in their inbox. Well, since you asked– its about 416 per month, according to Return Path. The last thing you want to do is dilute your brand image by sounding like another run of the mill marketer. There are certain marketing buzzwords that just need to die (“game-changer” and “synergy,” we’re looking at you!). Sure, it helps to think like a marketer when crafting your email copy, but ensure that your overall message is human. Use 1st person pronouns and variable tags for that hint of personalization.
As you’re writing, think about the email communications that resonate with you – they’re fun, personal, a bit colloquial – and above all, they seem written by a real person, not a marketing drone. Leave the monkey suit at the door and don’t be afraid to be YOU.
Ready, Set… Go!
Crafting the perfect drip campaign is no easy feat – it takes trial and error to know what really works for your audience and industry. We hope these tips offer a pretty solid foundation to get started.