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5 Steps to the Perfect Drip Campaign: A Case Study

Lead nurturing is one of the most powerful tools that marketing automation software has to offer. The ability to deliver content based on a customer’s interaction with your emails increases your conversion rates, drives more engaged traffic to your website, and helps organize lead management.

Here’s how a real business and Pardot client, KANA Software, executed their drip programs (and some of the best practices they walked away with):

The Business

KANA software is a customer service software company based out of California with multiple products and brandlines. They work internationally with offices in the UK, the Netherlands, and Australia. They have both enterprise and mid-size business target audiences.

The Specs

  • 127,000+ prospects
  • Prior to implementing drip campaigns, they had sent well over one million emails with an average click-through rate (CTR) of 3.66%

The 5-Step Drip Implementation Process

KANA Software wanted to create a way to move their prospects through their marketing and sales funnel based on the different software lines they sold. Their overall goal was to engage with their database, have a conversation with them, and then pass them along to sales.

To accomplish these goals, KANA Software turned to lead nurturing. They decided to implement drip campaigns by going through a five-step process, outlined below:

Step 1. Define Goals.

It’s important to have a clear idea of where you’re headed and what you’d like to accomplish before setting up a drip campaign. Here’s an example of the goals KANA Software came up with prior to setting up their lead nurturing campaigns:

  • Target prospects via email nurturing campaigns with relevant content based on previous offer downloads
  • Move “latent” leads through the funnel and re-engage them
  • Show that CTR can be increased through targeted campaigns

Best Practice Tip: After moving through the process, the team at KANA Software realized that there was a problem with their goals — they weren’t quantifiable. While they were able to meet these goals in the end, they wished that they had set specific, numeric goals. For example, what is a latent lead? By how much would they like to increase CTR? How can they measure reengagement? Did any of their efforts lead to closed sales opportunities?

Step 2. Create a Checklist.

Before building out a drip campaign, a checklist should be created to list out all of the necessary materials and steps. KANA’s checklist looked like this:

  • Identify content and paths
  • Create lists
  • Create landing pages
  • Tag URLs (using custom redirects and UTM parameters)
  • Draft email templates

Best Practice Tip: Using a checklist helped KANA ensure that they didn’t forget anything, preventing them from having to move backwards to create lists or email templates.

Step 3. Identify Content and Paths, but Keep It Simple.

At first, KANA Software created a complicated diagram to map out the content that would be used in their drip campaigns, and the paths that prospects could take. When describing their process, the team at KANA commented that they could have kept things a lot simpler. For example: Did the prospect click a link? Yes? Have a sales rep call them and mention their interest.

Best Practice Tip: When you’re first getting started with lead nurturing, keep drips between two and four emails long. This can prevent you from getting bogged down in complicated prospect paths right from the start.

Step 4. Build Drips.

When it comes to actually building the drips, KANA Software provided the following tips:

  • Choose names for your drips that are scalable, and easy to remember
  • Think about your audience’s time zone
  • Use tags for information like product interest, language, and geography
  • Pay careful attention to the tone, style, and wording of actual drip emails
  • Know who your audience is, and who it isn’t (use suppression lists to keep certain people from getting drip emails)
  • Stagger start times of multiple drips to prevent sending too many emails to a single prospect
  • Consider pauses and how this matches the pace of your sales cycle
  • Tag recipients who pass certain stages so you can identify what kind of content they engaged with.

Best Practice Tip: Take the time to write carefully-crafted, well thought-out emails. Provide relevant, intriguing subject lines and keep emails short and to the point. When writing the email copy, be both polite and casual (don’t lecture), and position your company as a resource that recipients shouldn’t be afraid to approach with questions.

Step 5. Review and Tweak.

Once you’ve launched your first drip campaign, you’ll need to evaluate it to see if there are any areas that need improvement. These are some of the questions that the team at KANA Software asked themselves when reviewing their campaigns:

  • Why are click-through rates higher in one email than the other?
  • Are pauses too long or too short?
  • Where do people stop engaging or start to fall off?
  • Are we meeting our goals and can we do better?

The Results

After evaluating their campaigns, KANA Software was pleased to find that their targeted lead nurturing campaigns had succeeded in moving leads through the sales funnel, increasing click-through rates and driving engaged traffic. They reported the following statistics:

  • The average CTR on their drip emails was 3x higher than their normal blast email click-through rate.
  • Submission rates were higher than on their CPC landing pages (34.19% vs. 2.63%) and drove more engaged traffic to their site.
  • Site visits originating from drip emails lasted an average of 3:02, versus a 1:56 average visit time for all traffic.

Image source can be found here.