All thriving massage therapy practices have one thing in common. Their target market knows about their practice and they know how the massage therapist can help them. Drip marketing is one marketing strategy you can use to communicate with your target market, and ensure that you’re the one they call when they need a massage.
What is drip marketing?
Drip marketing is a direct marketing strategy that uses a series of promotional messages to build up their customers’ awareness of their services, in order to generate more revenue. It is an effective tool to lead people on a journey from having just a basic awareness of your presence, to having a full understanding of what you have to offer.
It is a great strategy to use with new clients. Regular and frequent contact with new clients is more likely to turn them into repeat and referring clients. Nurturing new client relationships also builds brand awareness.
These “dripped” marketing messages occur at a specified frequency and over a long period of time. For example, this could be 1 email per week, 2 per month, or 6 times per year. This all depends on your message, your offer and your target market.
The ‘Law of 29’, which is actually more of a concept or rule of thumb, is a marketing belief that in order to win a new customer or client, they must first be exposed to the business 29 times. I personally think the rule is a little arbitrary, but agree that the more ‘touch points’ a business has with its prospect, the more likely they are to become a client.
A drip marketing campaign can provide a potential client the familiarity they need to feel ready to try your services.
It’s a communication strategy
Drip marketing is also considered a communication strategy. The regular communications with your target market keeps your business “top of mind”. This ensures that when someone is looking for a massage therapist, or they have a friend or coworker looking for a therapist, your name comes up.
A drip marketing campaign can be used to educate and communicate with prospective clients, new clients, or just keep in touch with repeat clients. And it is useful with any size business.
The phrase “out of site, out of mind” is true when it comes to marketing a business. People are busy. The thought, “I need a massage” probably doesn’t cross most peoples’ minds very often. But when it does, you want your name to come to mind.
An effective drip marketing campaign not only helps you stay “top of mind”, but can increase the likelihood that your prospect or client seriously considers scheduling a massage. Repeated exposure to an idea usually leads to acceptance of that idea.
Important characteristic of a drip marketing campaign is that it there is a fixed order of the message series. This means that everyone gets the same message, at the same point in their relationship with your business.
For example, a new client will get a specific email from you on week 17 since she became your client. Another new client who first came 3 weeks later, will get the same email 17 weeks from their own start date.
So you can see how this is different from a monthly newsletter or holiday email promotion, where everyone gets the same email regardless of where they are in their client relationship with your business.
How often should you communicate with your clients?
Like drip irrigation delivers water gradually in gardens and farms, drip marketing delivers your marketing messages over a long period of time. Just as too much water will flood your plants, too many marketing messages will drive away your prospects.
The term “effective frequency” in advertising refers to the number of times that a customer must be exposed to the same message before responding to it. Drip marketing is different because it is not one ad that’s being shown over and over; but it’s different messages that are designed to spark interest to nurture customer relations.
There are a lot of factors to consider that can determine the most effective frequency. But the best and fastest way is to send one email message per week. Keep it simple and avoid ‘analysis paralysis’. This is a good frequency to stay “top of mind” without becoming annoying.
It can take time to convert a prospect into a client, or convert a 1-time client into a repeat client.
Your messages may sound repetitive and boring to you, because you’re writing and reading all of them. Just remember that your customers will likely not see many of them. Be realistic about how people respond to email marketing messages or direct mail. Just like you and me, they will open and scan a message only if they have the time or interest. And many emails get deleted before even reading them.
Drip marketing campaigns are often sent via email, but there are other delivery systems you can use. This includes: direct mail, social media, phone calls, etc. Chose the method that your target market prefers, then learn how to deliver the messages in that medium. For example, you may be great at using Twitter or Facebook, but if your primary target market consists of senior citizens, you will likely be unable to reach many of them by social media.
Characteristics of a great drip marketing message
Here are a few things to think about when creating messages for a drip marketing campaign:
- You messages should be simple, short and to the point
- Each message should be personalized in some way, even if it’s just putting the recipient’s name in the salutation or the subject line
- Considers the timing of message delivery. What day(s) of the week would your client benefit most from your message?
- If you are using email messages, make sure any graphics or other styling is mobile friendly
- Each message should have a purpose. What do you want the reader to do after reading this message?
- Don’t present 10 different offers. Each message should require the reader to make no more than one decision
- Some messages may not require a decision at all. They may be just to build “know, like and trust”, or to say thank you to a client.
- Make it super easy for the reader to act on it if they want to. If you want to share a relevant article that they may be interested in, create a hyperlink in the email to the article.
Include some value in the message itself. So that it’s not just another self-promotion, but a message that offers something that your target market perceives as valuable.
For example, if your practice caters to weekend warriors, include 1 quick tip that they would likely be interested in. This tip could be related to maintaining an active lifestyle, recovering from a strenuous weekend, or some mid-week strategies to gear up for weekend competition.
There should also be some consistent elements in your message. This could include the layout, colors, tone, fonts, images or tagline. The reason for this is so that after a couple of messages, your customer will immediately know that a message is from you when they see it.
Put your drip marketing campaign into action
To get started sending relevant messages, you must first know your target market. If you focus on two target markets or work in multiple niches, you may eventually need to segment your contact list and create multiple campaigns.
But start small and keep it simple. Start by building only one drip marketing campaign. Select a frequency and duration that is practical and won’t overwhelm you. Two months is a good duration to start with. You can extend this later.
Decide on your delivery method. Do you want to send them by email or direct mail? Consider the time to produce it, and the cost of delivery.
Email is popular because it is very inexpensive to start, and there is no cost increase as you scale it up. However people get a lot of email, and some target markets may not read email as often. If a direct mail campaign costs twice as much, but produces 4 times the results, it may be the better choice.
Once you have 1 drip campaign in place, take a little time to sit back and observe its effectiveness. Is it increasing the frequency that your clients come in to see you? Are you getting more referrals? Does the message itself give value to the recipients, so that it’s not just more junk mail cluttering their inbox?
It takes time for a marketing campaign to work. But this is essential for the long-term success of a massage practice.
After you have successfully established 1 drip marketing campaign, it’s a good idea to build a second campaign. Make it different by choosing a different frequency, theme, or delivery method.
Then run these two campaigns side by side, with each campaign going out to half of your contact list. You will likely find, over a period of months, that one of these campaigns outperforms the other.
Speeding up the process
I strongly recommend keeping it simple, especially in the beginning. At first, it’s perfectly fine to just use your regular business email to send your messages from. Cut and paste your email template and enter the client’s name by hand. This really doesn’t take that long. An Excel spreadsheet works fine for this.
Once you build your list to around 200, then it’s time to start looking into ways to make this process more efficient. Just understand that there is a learning curve with starting a new software system. But some are designed for solo entrepreneurs like massage therapists and are faster to learn.
There are many software services that can streamline your marketing campaigns. Some will help you manage your client list. These are called CRM (customer relationship management) tools, and they come in a wide variety of price points, features, and integrations.
Also, there are many email service providers (ESP) that can help you build, send and manage your email campaigns. These ESPs can do things like: pre-populate fields with the client’s name, send out your messages at predetermined times, and track how many people open the email.
Tracking the effectiveness of your campaign
I encourage you to test and measure the effectiveness of your drip marketing efforts. These are long-term campaigns that take time, so you want to make sure they are as beneficial to your practice as possible.
Elements to measure include:
- Percentage of emails opened (open rate)
- Which type of links get the most ‘click throughs’
- What effect adding an additional weekly message had on open rate and unsubscribe rate
As you learn what kind of messages perform the best, you can improve your campaign to maximize your results. You will also learn about the preferences of your individual readers and target market as a whole.
It may be that you initially thought that your clients and prospects would be interested in new research about massage therapy, but it turned out that they like quick, uplifting messages about relieving stress.
Setting up a drip marketing campaign takes some time up front, but is an effective tool to nurture relationships with your prospects and new clients. It will also increase brand awareness and keep your practice “top of mind” to win more clients and generate more revenue.