These terms, often used interchangeably, are different approaches to how you nurture your prospects. While they often imply use of email and online marketing, they have been used to improve the success of marketing efforts long before today’s marketing technologies were available. The increase in the terms usage is due to marketer’s ability to better implement these programs, due to email, website monitoring and web analytics, campaign tracking, and campaign optimizing allowing for A/B email and landing page testing.
Marketers use drip marketing to deliver thought leadership and product information to prospects and other contacts that have opted in to receive marketing communications. These marketing messages, often called ‘touches’, are sent on a scheduled basis (daily, weekly, monthly) often using an email marketing system ensuring that the marketer’s company is top of mind when the buyer is ready to purchase. Postcards, brochures, and other offline content can be used as part of a drip campaign, but can be more expensive and more difficult to track.
Marketers who want to get the most out of their drip campaigns will create and deliver them through an automated system which will also allow the marketer to include links to landing pages in their messaging that has been created by the marketer with more relevant content and additional offers increasing the interactions with the contact.
Drip marketing has been shown to increase the effectiveness of email marketing and will help a company reduce spam complaints and increase deliverability as the messages themselves will be expected by the recipient. The results of these campaigns will increase more if marketers personalize the content in the ‘drips’ and/or if the recipient can select the frequency of the interactions.
Metrics used in drip marketing will include email open rates, email click-through (when combined with offers), and opt-out rates. These will be compared the same metrics by others in your industry and to those not in your list that are not included in the drip campaign to compare success. Most importantly, the purchase frequency, amount and time to purchase will be compared between those in the drip campaign and those who are not so the marketer can see the overall results of the drip campaign. ROI will need to be determined for any email or marketing automation tools used for drip campaigns.
Closed Loop Marketing:
Closed loop marketing is more sophisticated than drip marketing. This is because while in drip marketing you are keeping in touch with your contacts on a regular basis, in closed loop marketing you are communicating with your contacts based on their previous actions and based on their place in the buying cycle. Marketer’s literally closes the loop, working in conjunction with sales, providing the right information at the right time, based on prospect’s responses and behaviors until or after final purchase.
In closed loop marketing, marketers are responsible for more than branding and product updates, and need to watch customer reaction to marketing, to ensure their sales funnel does not have any leaks. While this can be done through direct mail, in-person, or through telemarketing, often the most cost effective and least intrusive way for marketers to participate in closed loop marketing is through triggered email campaigns that provide links to thought leadership relevant to the specific prospect. Integrated campaigns can include all these types of marketing, with the key to success being the tracking of each so that there is an understanding of the prospects interest at all times.
A closed loop marketing system helps provides feedback through reporting on each of the steps in the closed loop campaign allowing the marketer to adjust to prospects needs. More sophisticated systems, like marketing automation systems, will allow marketers to also automate triggered responses, customizing the content to each individual without manual segmentation ensuring the most successful closed-loop programs.
While the metrics for drip campaigns will also apply, closed loop marketing campaign analysis will revolve around campaign influence, including the number of touches and types of interactions that are needed to accelerate and increase purchases. Marketers here will look at metrics like campaign deal size by tactic, closed loop effect by segment, and analysis of funnel progression.
Both drip and closed loop marketing are ideal for B2B marketers who need to keep in contact with prospects over long periods of time because of the infrequency of purchase and long buying decisions. Deciding which method to use, or what combination of the two, should ultimately be based on the return you are seeing from implementation of each based on the time and investments necessary for the campaigns themselves. DemandGen has created an excellent free paper about calculating the return on lead nurturing which may be useful if you are trying to decide where to get started in your nurturing campaigns and what impacts these campaigns will make in your marketing programs.