Timed-release drip campaigns let you maintain a cadence of communication with leads or customers while freeing your team to do other things. Whether for lead nurturing, lead qualification or cross-selling, upselling, or developing customer loyalty, drip campaigns can keep bringing awareness of your brand back to potential customers until they are ready to buy.

But because they are time-based push campaigns, drip campaigns have severe limitations. New marketing technology with artificial intelligence (marketing AI) lets you get beyond drip campaigns to deliver responsive lead nurturing that engages in two-way conversations automated with a human touch.

Many of your competitors’ drip campaign messages end up in email junk folders. Why is that? The messages come too often or contain too much information. They take up space in the inbox and yet they have a tell-tale look that makes it clear the messages are part of an impersonal email marketing campaign (see Email Marketing Best Practices for a better approach). Tacking “Dear ” to the top of a drip campaign message does not change this. Your recipients know it’s an automated message.

Lead nurturing with AI goes beyond drip campaigns
Artificial intelligence makes the critical difference between drip campaigns and lead nurturing. Not only can you set up a lead nurturing campaign with branches and triggers, but the AI engine can even manage the free-text responses that come in. Automated messages appear to have been typed personally for a single recipient and encourage a personal response.

Now you can easily set up two-way dialogue that is fully automated but looks like your company took the time to write a personal message. A lead nurturing campaign using artificial intelligence software builds loyalty and brings in more and higher-quality sales opportunities than a drip campaign. And best of all, all the free-text responses that come in are handled by the AI software.

Responses to the lead nurturing messages can be used to score the lead’s level of engagement (by understanding their sentiment and intent) and contribute to better prioritization of who sales should contact first. In addition, the marketing AI system collects data from the free-text of a response, automatically branches to the next set of messages that use that information, and will take action such sending an alert to the sales team that it’s time to call this person. The rep receives the stored details, which can include the best number and time to call and full text of the email dialogue.

An AI persona can be a big help in sorting leads right at the top of the funnel – who should go into lead nurturing. Should someone say they want to speak with a sales rep right away, don’t torture them with a multi-week lead nurturing program. Get them over to sales right away.

Lead nurturing is for all the leads that respond: “Not just yet….” Lead nurturing software with artificial intelligence compliments but does not replace other lead nurturing programs – not even drip campaigns. In fact, when Conversica identifies a lead as not interested right now, it’s a perfect time to add that lead to a drip campaign to educate them with your great content. Then, have the virtual assistant check in periodically with a human touch to see if the lead is ready to engage with sales. Drip campaigns are still useful, but they are insufficient without personal engagement.