Don’t you just hate that feeling?
The pang of guilt you get every time you see a competitor getting ahead of you with their marketing…
First it was the SEO…
Then social media…
And now everyone seems to be luring prospects in with drip campaigns:
- Your competitors teach them tricks of the trade.
- Software applications offer courses to help get the most of their products.
- And even your local gym drips advice on toning up.
All while you’re still wondering how the heck you could get that drip campaign together.
Well, let me tell you this – it’s not that difficult.
And in this guide I’ll show you how to convert your existing content into an email sequence.
The power of drip campaigns
In case if you aren’t sure what’s a drip campaign, let me explain that very quickly.
A drip campaign is a set of pre-defined emails sent out on a specific schedule and following an exact sequence.
Typically, the first email goes out as soon as someone signs up. Then another message goes out a day later and so on, until the whole sequence is exhausted.
Drip campaigns ensure that every person subscribing to your campaign receives the same messages in the same order.
And you see them popping up everywhere these days:
Why drip campaigns have become such a popular marketing strategy?
The answer is actually quite simple:
Because they keep prospects engaged.
Drip campaigns help nurture leads, onboard and welcome new clients, convince them of your authority, give a sample of your knowledge and expertise and much more.
And here’s how you could create a drip campaign too.
Planning Your Campaign
There are different types of drip campaigns: nurturing, welcoming, onboarding, ecommerce, renewals and many more. For the purpose of this guide however I’m going to use the most popular type – an email course and build a 5-day sequence from repurposed content.
Coming up with a topic
It’s easy to just create a course around your favorite topic.
After all, you probably have a list of posts you believe prospects would love.
But the trouble is, they might be looking for completely different advice. And thus, ignore your course altogether.
So, before you pick content to convert into a campaign, find out what advice your prospects actually lack.
Here are few ways to do that:
Keywords are the backbone of SEO.
But they could also reveal a lot about your prospects needs.
Put up a search in Google’s Keyword Planner (or any other keyword research software you use) to find the most popular phrases related to your service or product.
TIP: Focus on long tail keywords to reveal the deep needs of your target audience.
It goes without saying:
Nothing reveals your prospects’ pain points and needs better than inquiries they send.
Every email you received could help you establish:
- What specific problem prospects ask you to solve,
- How do they perceive they problem,
- How severe and urgent they think it is,
- What situations they encountered the problem in (or what spurred them to contacting you), and
- What do they say when they’re trying to deny or minimize the problem.
And needless to say, every of these points could form a basis for a fantastic email course that’s 100% relevant to your audience.
I’m sure you heard of Quora already. It’s a Q&A site on which users can ask questions and get relevant answer.
It’s also one of the best places to get into your prospects’ mind.
Quora allows you to hear your prospects asking questions and exchanging ideas relating to what you do…
…And find out exactly what information they lack about it.
You get to hear about their REAL problems, objections, worries and much more.
There are 2 ways you could use Quora to fine tune your drip campaign’s topic:
Observe what your audience asks about:
Or ask them what they’d need to know directly:
Google Autocomplete is nothing new.
We’ve all got used to suggestions Google displays to a search query.
But since they are based on what people are actually searching for, these suggestions offer a glimpse into your audience’s needs.
TIP: Use longer queries to receive more specific suggestions.
Lastly, pay attention to what questions people are asking and what problems they mention on industry specific forums.
To find relevant forums are use Google queries:
- “your industry or topic” + “forum” – i.e. “marketing automation” + “forum”
- “your industry or topic” inurl:forum – i.e. “marketing automation strategy” inurl:forum
- “best [topic or industry] forums” – i.e. “best content marketing forums”.
Structuring Your Campaign
Once you have selected a topic, it’s time to structure your campaign and find available content to use in specific email.
Luckily every drip campaign follows a similar pattern.
And thus, it’s not that hard to map out what content to use and where.
Whenever someone asks me to write a drip campaign I start off by creating a mind map of its structure in a little app called Scapple. However, you could even use Excel (or a blank piece of paper) to break your campaign into sections.
Here’s an example of a structure I typically follow.
Full disclaimer: This is a structure suggested by Rob Walling, the CEO of Drip and he gets the full credit for it.
So let’s go over it in detail and see what content you’d need to source for each email.
Email #1: A welcome message (Custom Email)
The very first message you’re going to send should:
- Welcome the person to the course, and
- Provide an overview of what your email series will be about.
It should also include a quick information about how the course works to prepare the person for your way of teaching and help them get the most out of it.
This is a content you’d have to write specifically for the course. And here are few things to remember when writing it:
1. Keep it short.
It’s easy to write 1000-2000 words long introduction, especially if you need to include so much information in it.
But starting off with a long message might intimidate the reader and put them off from consuming the other emails.
Whenever writing drip campaigns, I try to keep the introduction at 500-800 words max, preferably shorter.
Remember, this is only a welcoming email. Its role is to introduce the course and provide the feeling of instant gratification after signing up.
But the real content doesn’t start until the second email.
2. Split it into two distinct sections
By its nature, the welcome email will include two sections:
- The welcome message, and
- Introduction to how the course works, information that you’re going to cover etc.
To provide a better reading experience, separate them visually.
Just look at how Brennan Dunn does it in his drip campaign:
The dividing line splits the “boring”, housekeeping stuff and the actual introduction to the course.
Simple and effective, isn’t it?
Email #2: Practical Advice (Repurposed Content)
This is the first email with the actual course content.
And ideally you should kick things off with some highly actionable advice.
This is also where you could start repurposing old content. Simply pick a post that offers practical advice on the problem you’re trying to target and include it in the email.
For instance, if your course is about content promotion, then use a post that lists beginner and intermediate promotion strategies.
Depending on the length of the original post, you might be able to include the entire article. Or have to edit it down not to exceed the maximum 1500 words (length I’d recommend for it).
Email #3: Theory (Repurposed Content)
In the first email (or set of initial emails, if you’re creating a campaign that’s longer than 5 days) you’ve provided practical advice readers could take away and start implementing right away.
But once you reach about half way of the course you should slow down a little. For one, to give your readers time to implement your ideas. And to get a chance to explain them in detail why they should do it.
So pick a post that focuses on the WHY of the problem. In case of our content promotion example it could be a list of benefits of promoting the content.
Or things the user’s going to miss by not doing it.
Email #4: More Actionable Tips (Repurposed Content)
The last couple of emails of the course are in fact its climax.
So far, you’ve provided initial practical advice and explained why tackling the problem matters.
Now you need to top if all off with more advanced practical advice your readers could start working on right away.
Luckily, you probably have another post or other archive content you could use in here.
Email #5: A Case Study (Repurposed or Custom Content)
Your drip campaign should close with a real-life example illustrating how everything you’ve talked about has worked for someone else.
But there is another reason of using a case study here.
Up until now you showed that you have the knowledge on the topic.
This email however is supposed to convince the reader that you also have the expertise and experience doing this stuff. And suggest to them that you might be the best person to hire to deliver the work.
You could reuse an existing case study in the email. Or interview recent clients to get the most up to date data.
The case study doesn’t have to be long and you should remove anything that focuses on you. Remember, you’re trying to show that whatever you taught in the course works not praise your skills.
Bonus Email: Follow Up (Custom Content)
Most drip campaigns conclude with the case-study email.
However, personally I always suggest including one more message to send about 2-3 weeks after the course has finished.
The purpose of this message is simple: to ask for feedback.
Ask if a person had a chance to put your ideas in action, ask for the results they got and about their impressions about your course.
You’ll probably have to write this email specifically for the course. It should be very short, probably no longer than 300 words and include only those few questions you’d want the person to answer plus instructions how they should respond to you.
Do you know what’s the biggest challenge with stringing content pieces together?
It’s giving them a natural flow.
Face it: you wrote those blog posts individually, at different points of time and in different circumstances. There is simply no chance that they could work only by putting them in sequence.
Luckily it doesn’t take much to change it.
Start with a quick recap
This is an old teaching technique:
Launch into a new topic by providing a quick recap of what you covered so far. I actually used this trick once or twice in this post too.
Mention the overall goal
Or open the email with a little reminder of where you’re taking the reader – the ultimate problem your course is helping the person to overcome.
Start with a question
Or, launch the content with a question.
It will naturally grab the reader’s attention and provide a reason to keep on reading.
Here are two types of questions you could use:
- Questions that uncover your reader’s pain points, for instance:
“Do you feel like missing out with content?”
- Or paint a mental picture of the rewards following your advice could deliver:
“Do you want to increase the number of pre-qualified leads?”
Email Subject Lines
Lastly, the subject lines.
Naturally, the simplest thing to do is to reuse the original blog posts’ titles.
And it could work but..
Article titles and email subject lines aren’t actually the same.
For one, you write them for a different audience.
Blog titles aim to speak to large numbers of people. In most cases you don’t know these people and thus, you often have to play it safe, using only a few tested formulas to attract them to your content.
However, you write email subject lines to a limited group of readers, whom you have some knowledge about – your target clients.
And thus, this gives you an opportunity to use different approaches in your subject lines. In his seminal book “The Copywriter’s Handbook” Bob Bly lists a number of headline formulas to use. Here are the 4 I think would work best in a drip campaign:
- Direct Headlines that go right to the point and present the benefit of the email as clearly as possible, i.e.:
“Simple content marketing plan to follow”
- Indirect Headlines, which are in fact the opposite of the direct ones and play on the reader’s natural curiosity, i.e.:
“What to expect from content promotion”
- How-To Headlines, probably the most relevant to blog post articles, i.e.:
“How to get influencers to pay attention to your content”
- Question Headlines, one of the most powerful ones in fact. For example:
“Struggling with content promotion?”
And… that’s it…
Was this guide helpful?
Did it answer your questions about using archive content to create a drip campaign? Let me know in the comments.
Creative commons image by: PhotoAtelier / Flickr