September 08, 2014

Revenge of the Giant TVs (How to Run a Drip Campaign, Part IV)


{Ready to get started building a drip campaign in Contactually? Remember, if you weren't with us last time and want to learn the what & whys of drip campaigns (or just need a refresher), you can review Part 1 of this series here, or skip right to Part 2, or Part 3.}

Hindsight is 20/20... now let's sell us some big-ass televisions.

I've owned my new, theoretically undesirable TV for a few months now, and so far, it's been pretty great. To me, it's enormous, bright, and works well. It does literally everything my old TV does, only better, and it didn't even cost that much. As far as I'm concerned, I made the right decision, no matter what Best Buy (or some of you) may think.

It's not making the game any better, but I don't think that's a 720p thing.

And yet... there are still a few fleeting moments when a tiny part of me questions that. Not a big enough part, mind you, that I ultimately regret my decision. But as someone who's done a lot of marketing communication, I can't help but think there's something there -- a story that could have made a more expensive, more feature-laden purchase seem not only reasonable, but even prudent.

We started this whole thing off with TVs, so why not finish it by solving the problem we identified in the first place? Let's build... a drip campaign.

Assessing our argument

The first thing we need to do is figure out what we're trying to say. As mentioned in Part 1 of our series, what Best Buy failed to do from a marketing perspective was give me a compelling reason to buy a more expensive television. The information they provided me at the point of sale consisted almost entirely of specifications, and while these were accurate, they didn't actually matter to me, and therefore didn't have the desired impact.

So, how could we make these specifications more relevant? What are the more complex arguments that are holding up a successful up-sell?

Let's start with some reasonable assumptions. For me, this wasn't an impulse purchase -- I had been looking at TVs for a while (review sites, window shopping, etc.), and it was no secret to marketers that I was interested in buying. Additionally, I wasn't in the "I am buying the cheapest thing no matter what" camp. So basically, let's assume that for our theoretical campaign, you have access to a bank of potential customers like me. These people are (a) interested in buying a new TV, and (b) are interested in making the decision that makes them the happiest. Finally, we're structuring this campaign in five parts, so we'll keep that in mind as we pick topics and write copy.

Let's get started.

Email #1 - Establish Voice, Raise Eyebrows

There are a couple of specific things to keep in mind with your initial email. First of all, consider about how you got these people on board; if you don't want to get immediately dismissed, that connection is essential. Unless you're being a spammer (don't do that), these people have opted in to this information through one channel or another, so include some branding or an introductory reference to that.

Expand your mind. Great TVs are normal now!

As far as your general topic, don't overthink things. There are two objectives that really matter -- the reader's (find the right TV), and yours (help the reader find the most expensive TV they might want). Your messaging has to take care of both of those things, which can be quite the tightrope. But let's get started with the low-hanging fruit; acknowledging the difficulty of the decision, and reinforcing respect for the reader's viewpoint.

"Exceptional TVs are cheaper than you think."

Remember, this isn't a 30-second commercial. We have time to tie this very high level argument to a transaction later. For now, let's show some empathy by focusing on talking about the challenges of buying a TV (too many models, too many discount brands, too many options), and even highlighting a few that will support our future argument. For instance, TV repair is a terrible experience for almost everyone. Embrace that message -- it's honest, direct, and it just so happens to justify considering a more expensive purchase.

A few final tips for this one. First, stay away from aggressive conversion messages. A link to your site is fine, or helpful content if you have it, but let's not include sales links to specific models yet -- you haven't actually made your point yet, so going commercial just looks tacky and undermines our positioning as a helpful source of information. Second, avoid drifting into your talking points or pounding specifications yet. The whole reason we're doing this campaign is because these things don't work on this audience. Speak in easily accessible industry generalities ("great picture", "awesome for football"), and stay patient.

Finally, don't hesitate to be funny or personal here. Reading this email should be interesting, ideally, but there's nothing wrong with it just being FUN. Anything to get people a little more excited about Email #2.

Email #2 - A"1080p is a great sign of quality" (Argument A)

Time for our first return email. Make sure you include some branding from Email #1, so people will recognize you as the useful, fun-to-read author you established yourself as last time. Then, let's pick one of our critical arguments, and focus on it. In this case, let's solve one of the biggest problems my Best Buy salesperson-friend had when talking to me -- that I saw a higher resolution television as a luxury/gimmick, instead of a sign of quality.

Well, now that we have someone's attention, let's disabuse them of that notion. To do so, let's talk about the 1080p experience. Instead of just telling me that "you can see the pixels" over and over again, bring up some actual scenarios where this might matter. Show me some information about the most popular televisions, and how all of them are 1080p. Quote some positive, independent reviews about extremely high quality sets, and tie them together under the heading of "The Most Reliable TVs" -- and make sure they are all identified as 1080p sets.

Since this is your first follow-up email, remember our copywriting tips from Part III. Make sure you don't get overly commercial or worry about conversions too much. At this point, you should give your readers quality calls to action, but keep them subtle for now. Make sure you keep the same tone and voice you used in your initial email, even as you start working more towards a transaction-oriented message.

You're starting a conversation here. Make your point, keep future doors open, but don't worry about selling the whole box just yet.

Email #3 - "Bigger TVs are easy to own" (Argument B)

We've made a point. Now, let's make another one. Remember the goals? We want people to consider the most expensive TV they'll be satisfied with, and our readers want to discover the TV that they feel is right for them, whatever it may be. We already worked to counter the idea that higher resolution TVs (one up-sell) are vanity products -- now let's try get our audience to consider another, that a larger screen might make sense for them.

Yep, you can do Drip Campaigns in Contactually

Drip campaigns are just one of the many (and I mean MANY) things you can do with Contactually's Programs feature. Programs allow you to automate all kinds of actions, from sending custom messages, to following people on social networks and moving them in and out of different buckets. Plus, Programs can be as simple or complex as you want -- they can run completely on their own, or require confirmation from you before taking the next step.

Click here to learn a little bit about Programs, or really dig into it with the Contactually Power Users Guide.

In my mind, TVs have gotten really big, really fast. When I was in college, I bought a 27 inch tube TV that weighed a million pounds and covered up most of our dorm room's window. It was awesome, and I regret nothing. But, years later, when I think about a FORTY INCH television -- let alone a 50 or 60 inch one -- I picture something that's going to be pretty difficult to live with. So when Best Buy tried to show me how cheaply I could increase the size of my new display, I wasn't interested.

Let's fix that. In our third email, we're going to focus on how much better large displays fit in the average home. Screens are thinner, lighter, work with wall mounts, and connect to simple, high quality sound bars without a bunch of extra cords. Plus, bigger televisions allow you to sit further away, which lets you get a little more creative with how you set up your living room. In some ways, you get MORE flexibility from a bigger screen.

Is this working? You get the idea. Again, show some examples, remain empathetic to your audiences' concerns and hang-ups, and quietly present some options. You're laying down a strong, multiple-idea foundation here though, and that will yield rewards soon enough.

Email #4 - Goodbye to plasma (Negative Argument)

We've done two positive arguments already. For our fourth message, we're going to try something a little different, and make a negative one. One of the big problems Best Buy had when dealing with me is that there was a particularly inexpensive TV that had really strong reviews online, from trusted, well-spoken sources. For every bullet point the Best Buy guy gave me, there was a counterpoint from one of these high quality reviews that went into detail.

Fortunately, now we have a drip campaign, and the bandwidth to make our own nuanced argument. One of the "downsides" of the TV I ended up buying is that it's a plasma TV. Plasma TVs are rapidly disappearing for variety of reasons, but let's not get hung up on those. What matters is that they are, in fact, disappearing, which means that the new televisions with the strongest reviews from the most trusted brands aren't plasma anymore.

OK, now it looks older. Or at least it FEELS older.

That's what this message is about. We're here to celebrate plasma's storied past, but also to clearly label it as a relic. After reading this, people shouldn't necessarily have to feel that plasma TVs are BAD (which is hard to prove and may not even be true), but that if you want to buy old technology, why are you even buying a new TV? It's also a great opportunity to focus on what new, high quality LCD and LED displays can do, especially the things that plasmas can't, or can't do as well (or as inexpensively). If this nuanced argument had been established in my mind before I went into the store, I would have been a lot more receptive to considering one of the bigger ticket TVs.

Email #5 - Today's Truly Great TVs (Call to Action)

OK, we're ready to go. We've built up the good, dismissed the bad, and now it's time to present our most direct call to action. We don't want to completely lose our established voice and tone after four emails of hard-earned reader trust, of course. But it's time to make our larger argument.

You want to buy a new TV? These are the TVs you'll be happy you bought. They are pretty expensive, but they make sense. They do the things that are important to you. They're high quality, high performance machines that give you and your home more options. They're running on modern, established technology, and that gives you more performance for your dollar, as long as you get a good one.

Here they are. Get them now, and save 10%, etc. and so forth. It's okay -- they're ready for this now.

Congratulations, your campaign is dripping.

Now, will everyone drop what they're doing and buy an expensive television? Probably not. But someone might, and more importantly, when the rest of these people do decide to make that purchase, they're going to come into the decision primed with not just buzzwords and quick facts, but a vision and narrative of "a good TV" that fits what you're selling. And that gives you a better chance to sell what you're looking to sell.

Drip campaigns aren't a magic bullet for making a bad argument palatable. But they're a great way to buy more time, dig deeper, and build a connection with potential customers that feels like trust because IT IS trust. It takes time, planning, and the ability to think past your next sale. But in the end, it's not only the best way to attract the happiest, most engaged customers -- it's actually the ONLY way to crack those extra tough nuts who simply won't respond to shouting, explosions, or a guy in an animal costume.

Persuasion is an art, and it's not simply scrunching up your nose and saying "you want THAT?" when a customer goes down a path you'd rather they avoid. With your drip campaign skills in tow, you're ready to do better.

Good luck!