If there is one thing we’ve all heard about in business, it’s email marketing. We’re practically overrun by the amount of websites mentioning it. And yet, for all their mentions, they all suffer from the same problem: repetition of the basics. Shouldn’t there be something more out there for all of us? Is that really all that email marketing has to offer?
Well… it used to be, that yes… that truly was all that there was. People were hired (for literally 10s-of-thousands of dollars per day) just to write different words within the same mechanism. We didn’t have any other choice. Email was what email was. And email marketing, more so. So we said new words and hoped for new things.
And then Drip.co came out, and changed the game for everyone.
We offer a basic course on Drip here at Wisdom Times and in fact, it was the act of creating that course that really caused us to dive in deep and see what other things we could extract from it. Our goal here today is to share some of that with you.
At its most basic, when we are using Drip for email marketing, the goal of the basic (or beginner) user is to structure our websites in such a way to get as many customers as possible into the Drip system with some sort of front-end form. If you know what Drip is, and you know what email lists are, then this part, I am sure you understand. Even if you don’t know Drip, you probably understand email marketing:
- Do whatever is reasonable…
- Add people to to your email list…
- Proceed from there based on what the customer does with the email he receives.
That has been, in a nutshell, all the advice out there. And because of that, a new user couldn’t be blamed if all he saw was Drip as a helpful, but limited tool. But let’s shake things up a bit.
Our goal is to help an advanced user maybe say, how can I extend the functionality a little bit. How can I push the email marketing system? In other words, is Drip only for the “email” side of the house? Or can the incredibly comprehensive work-flows and automation that Drip provides handle web-interactions as well? And why might I want to?
Let me start with the second question, first.
Why use Drip for Advanced Email Marketing
Try using a mind-map (I for one love Mindly—it’s a great mind-mapping tool) to recreate what even a basic Drip work-flow can do for you. You can’t. it’s simply not possible.
For one, anything you do outside of Drip always has to be recreated inside of Drip for you to use it, because your mind-map does not act on your data. It’s just a map and as they say, the map is not the territory. So you always have to start over to implement your plan.
Best-case scenario: it’s a waste of time. Worst-case scenario: it’s a loss of:
- consistency, etc
as the replication steps might not be an exact copy of the mind-map.
In this case, at least, you’d be better to also do all your planning within Drip and then what you set up will just start working the moment you finish it. For those of you in a sensitive environment, you can still test your work-flows in private before you unleash them on a production server. Simply add yourself to the list and test it out (a process you will likely repeat hundreds of times as you grow). Once it works, add the front-end opt-in form.
The second problem with a mind-map is that you can’t truly implement a branching decision-tree. You have to use bubbles (at least in Mindly) and bubbles are sequential. Most mind-mapping software just do not support the super-useful “if-then branching” that you need for complex work.
Of course, if everything on your site is linear, you can use any tool you want—even a post-it note. But if everything on your site is linear then you don’t understand the power of the Internet.
Yes, you can also use a sheet of paper for if-then use-cases, but then you have to redo it all anyway; a problem I have already addressed.
On the other hand, if you are using Drip to map your flows, then yes, you can use it all immediately. But more important than that is that you now have access to all the tools Drip offers. This means you can come up with new ideas and new ways to use Drip for your customers because you can see new tools pop up as you get the imaginary first customer further down the line of your funnel.
Once you start mapping, things show up in your mind that simply weren’t there before.
Let me give you an example. The first three are true of all email auto-responders. It gets fun at the question marks.
- Customer signs up.
- Customer gets email.
- Customer clicks embedded link.
- Does he take your desired action?
- Does she give you money?
- What new pathways can we open up for him or her now?
- You can then literally move them around the system. It feels like a conveyor belt.
Your post-it notes can’t do that. And this is just the basic walk-through. Not the advanced. It all becomes advanced when you start adding in all the integrations.
- Your form providers.
- Your payment processors.
- Your scheduler.
- The web pages he or she visits.
- Not to mention the emails he or she opens (and then acts on).
Now it can be more than just a question of, “did he buy?” Indeed the, “What do we do with him now?” is so much more interesting.
Just the ability to share data from all your different tools, alone, is useful. For example, knowing the answer to, “did they first look at your pricing page and then use your Calendly to book with you?” is useful enough, but wait till we discuss what an advanced user might do at this point.
But before we can do that, we first have to understand how email marketing can even become more advanced in the first place. Is using Drip only a question of email list-management? Or can Drip handle the work your customer does on your website as well? What about the work your customer does in real life? Can we work with that as well?
The answer is yes—for all of that. But to really understand the answer (and to now use that answer in a meaningful way) we have to go back to the premise of email marketing itself.
In email marketing, you have to make them click a link each time they are sent an email from you.
Where they go from there is (of course) over to your website and this is ideal because this is where all of the forms and utilities reside. Here is where you have the processing power of PHP and back-end machines for more interactive—and therefore more beneficial—work processes to help your customer. If all you did was use Drip for email you lose the power of web 3.0.
So now that you know why, let’s talk about how.
Ideas for the advanced use of Drip
Let’s start with a fun idea for Drip that has NEVER been done before (at least at the time of this writing). Alternate-Reality Gaming. Imagine your customer gets an intriguing email that encourages them to go on an adventure that has NOTHING to do with your brand and your sales and your marketing. Just a fun invitation that says, “here is some exotic mystery that needs to be solved” and that there is even some wayward adventurer, for example, who maybe needs their help.
Before you dismiss this idea as juvenile or ineffectual, let me point out to you that,
- Microsoft has done it.
- Audi has done it.
- Steven Spielberg has done it.
- BMW has done it.
- Electronic Arts has done it.
- The British Red Cross
- The American Art Museum
- The Olympics
- NBC, ABC, CBS
- The Dark Knight
It’s fun for the customer and it is brand extension for you.
Running it by email keeps your costs down to zero (other than your time) and until Drip was invented, you had no easy way to do this over email. It costs hundreds-of-thousands of dollars in some cases. The average start-up entrepreneur can’t do that.
On the other hand, if your series of emails are written in advance, then your customers can play the game at their own speed. And if you are someone like a life coach or consultant then they can be learning as they play anyway—not learning about your product, just learning! Maybe you are teaching them how to find a new career or inner peace or what-have-you during their adventure. And they can go at their own speed. Things like this, once written, allow your customers to have an incredibly rich experience with your brand or your website in a way that is not self-promoting. Think about it.
Also, it isn’t a failure to aim for an expansive game and only end up with a simple “choose-your-own-adventure-type” interaction. It’s still a new use of your email marketing resources and fun for the customer.
And PS, the fact that this has not been done before means that if you do it, you have notoriety and first-mover advantage as well. Don’t say I never gave you anything.
A more pedestrian idea—as opposed to Gamification—is using something like Gravity Forms to create an entire schooling system that users can progress through without involving you. It isn’t just browsing your site. It’s an entire work-flow driven by email. A lot of people are already in this space, as relates to the world of Drip, but an infinitesimally small number of people as relates to, well…. people in general. But even with that, no one has yet created an entire ecosystem.
They usually stop at just one course. Even when they do more courses, they are standalone entities. But what if you look at it differently?
Think of an online school that is autonomous. A self-driving school, if you will, that, once developed, allows you to spend your time elsewhere. This is the promise of Drip. (Tweet this)
You might say to yourself, at this point, that any course creator who can move people between one course and the next has already created a small ecosystem or school. But they have not.
The backlash we are facing because of the onslaught of information products is only getting worse. Even people like [our email marketing first movers and name-brand icons] are starting to be knocked from their towers. Why?
There is a difference between information and education.
This is why schools cost more—actual schools, not shams. You know who I mean.
With education we have an agreement of partnership. We have courses, yes. But also peripherals. Also teachers. We have systems in place. We have grading, advancement, matriculation. But most of all, we have care. People are invested in the idea of a student succeeding.
An information product can never live up to that. Education is more important than information. And ironically we are drowning in information while starving from a lack of education.
Consider that to be the end of my rant and my soapbox. But I hope you at least look at the idea that you can handle an enormous amount of the heavy lifting with just:
- a well-thought-out progression
- some well-written emails, and
- a back-end website.
I welcome your comments, below.