I’ve just unsubscribed from the email list of an online marketer that I know is 100 times my senior in this field and who is considered by many to be one of the top experts in online marketing. And that just 3 days after subscribing to his list! And the interesting thing is that I have just this week decided to get back into SEO and online marketing. So why unsubscribe from someone who I know I can learn from and in a field that I’m actively trying to get back into?
I know the first response to that question might be to think that this is a marketing stunt on my side just so that I can write this article. It really isn’t and I generally try to steer away from those kind of tactics. Also, if that was my motivation I would have mentioned the person’s name by now, which you’ll notice I haven’t done.
As I received his last email this afternoon I kind of automatically / subconsciously scrolled down to the end of the email and clicked on the unsubscribe button and only then did I think “Why am I unsubscribing from this guy who I know I can learn so much from?”.
And why did I unsubscribe? Because it felt like he was spamming me. Spamming is probably too harsh a word, but I checked my inbox and I had received 5 email from him in the first 3 days of being subscribed to his mailing list. It’s just too much, for me anyway. Some of his emails I read either the first paragraph and marked it as unread so that I would remember to go back later to read the rest of the email and/or the full article it referred to.
What he’s doing is called Drip Marketing and it’s a very effective strategy. Someone has subscribed to your list, you know what they’re interested in and you want to stay at the forefront of their mind and establish yourself as an expert in that field (whatever it is that they’re interested in). So without spitting it all out in one massively long email that’s bound to hit the trash folder before they’ve read it all, you drip feed it to them piece by piece over a period of time. And for that period your name and your thoughts get presented to them on a regular basis and, assuming what you have to say is worth reading, they start considering you as an expert in that field.
Absolutely nothing wrong with drip marketing as a strategy, but obviously in this case there was something wrong with the formula that led me to unsubscribe. And as I mentioned, it wasn’t so much a conscious thought, it was more a natural reaction by my subconscious: “Too much information. How do I fix this? Unsubscribe!“.
What’s The Perfect Formula for Drip Marketing?
I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all formula. If you have fairly light content that’s easy reading and someone can quickly scan over it at any time, then “dripping” that content into their inbox daily is no problem. If it’s more in-depth, rich content that will take some time to absorb, as is the case with online marketing topics, then I would suggest one per day is too frequent.
Let’s take what happened with me as an example. I’ve decided to get back into SEO and online marketing, I subscribed to one person’s feed and in a podcast that person (Exhibit B) spoke to and recommended the person who’s email list I unsubscribed from (Exhibit A). So I went to Exhibit A’s website and subscribed to his list. Then, as I mentioned, I received 5 emails within 3 days and as it happens, I learn best through doing so I would take time with each article and try to apply some of what he’s said in there. So almost without fail, I had not finished the previous email when the next one came along.
The other side of the coin is that you don’t want your fast-reading, hungry audience to lose interest because they’re not getting access to the information fast enough. Do you just give them a single email with links to all the articles you plan to cover through your drip marketing campaign? Some people do that and personally that’s what I prefer when I’m the reader, then I can set my own pace. However, drip marketing is designed to do more than that – it’s meant to help focus those people who may otherwise lose interest in your topic within a few days, keep it at the forefront of their thoughts. So I’m not saying get rid of drip marketing completely. To the contrary, I think it’s very effective, you just need to find the right frequency and amount of information for your target audience.
For me, for a complex topic like online marketing, I would say one, maybe 2 emails per week would be more than enough. There are going to be people who are painfully passionate and want instant knowledge transfer (as the speed that Keanu Reeves learned Kung Fu in the Matrix), so I would put s short message at the end of each email, something like:
This email is part of the “Learn Kung Fu, Matrix style”. I’ll be sending you the next article in a few days’ time, but if you can’t wait and want access to all the articles now, click here….
Putting things in perspective
Just a final thought on all of this: This person whom I’ve been referring to, Exhibit A, has an absolutely massive online following and is a well-known figure in the online marketing community. So if you happen to know who I’m referring to, please don’t think I’m suggesting that his marketing strategy is not working or that I am in any way in a position to teach him anything. Don’t not do drip marketing… Do it, whether it’s perfect or not, it’s going to bring you subscribers (all else being equal). I’m only suggesting that you consider at what frequency you personally would want to receive that same information you’re sending to others.