Drip campaigns are a style of marketing in which promotional or informational emails are sent according to a schedule. Alternatively, these emails can be sent in reaction to user activity.
For example, if someone signs up to your blog’s newsletter, you might send an automated drip email welcoming them to the newsletter. Then, a week later, you might send them a “getting started” email containing all your blog’s best posts.
I like the explanation from this guide covering email drips.
The world of email marketing is incredibly detailed, but it’s not hard to jump in. The initial setup can be intimidating, but once you learn how it works, email marketing can be the most powerful tool in your marketing toolbox.
In the past, we’ve covered email marketing basics but never went into detailed strategies. One of the most prominent strategies is called a drip campaign, in which certain emails are sent to certain people based on a timeframe or user action.
I want to cover the basics of drip campaigns and why they’re valuable. These have multiple uses, and there is no single situation where they work best. But overall, what you’re looking for are results, and with a great campaign, you will definitely see results.
The goal is ultimately to share the right information and keep people engaged with your product/service.
Drip campaigns are typically used to guide people along a funnel or to introduce them to a product. But they can also be used for existing customers to teach them new things or share updates about the company.
Here are some good reasons to run an e-mail drip campaign:
Why is this such a recommended strategy? Because according to case studies, these drip campaigns just work.
A targeted drip campaign could bring a 208% higher conversion rate than a regular email blast sent to everyone on your list.
Drip campaigns take more work but they ultimately produce better results.
Any great drip campaign should always have a goal. What is the purpose of even running one?
Are you trying to drum up more business? Are you trying to onboard new users? Or maybe decrease abandoned shopping carts with engaging writing?
Every drip campaign will be different and the writing style should match. The first step to find your style is to understand what you actually want.
Since there are so many different styles, you should do some thought experiments. Think about what your readers want and how they behave. What are they expecting in an email? Try to fulfill their expectations with just the right tone and total number of emails.
For a visual intro, check out this infographic made by Pardot/Salesforce.
Every drip email should have a similar type of writing. Pithy, terse, easy to read, and quickly digestible. Each campaign is different, but nobody wants to waste time reading lengthy emails.
And yet informational mailing can work wonders if timed properly.
Consider the scenario where someone installs a free trial of a program, or where they sign up for a free trial of a webapp/SaaS product. This trial will eventually run out, so you can schedule a drip campaign to go out the day after it ends, or even a week or a month after.
But the day when they start the trial, you can also send a “welcome” message. That writing should be engaging and non-promotional. It should only contain information.
It might even have some helpful instructions to get people started with the program. Are there any requirements to the setup that you could teach? Or maybe offer a step-by-step guide on how to use the program’s features.
The writing style for these early emails never pushes a sale. Instead it pushes the product by helping users grow accustomed to how it works and what kind of benefits it offers.
Consider each aspect of your drip campaign and what it means. Your writing style should match the reader’s expectations. There’s a time to push a sale, and that shouldn’t be in every email.
Take a look at this post by Neil Patel for more writing ideas.
To give you some ideas and strategies, I’ll cover a small handful of drip campaign ideas. This is far from an exhaustive list, but these are some of the most common.
They’re also useful for almost any company, so these tactics can be applied to any industry. I would absolutely recommend picking an easy drip campaign first, so that you can master the basics and move forward slowly.
First and foremost is the obvious drip strategy for newcomers that join your email list. These newcomers could be people who sign up for your free trial, or people who create an account on your website—or people who enter their email into a newsletter signup in your sidebar.
How they got onto your list will affect your strategy. But the common theme is that they’re new subscribers.
First you’d send a welcome email thanking them for signing up and covering the basics of your newsletter. From there, you might send an overview sharing whatever you offer and maybe some links to your best blog posts.
The total number of emails in this drip really depends on the end goal. Do you want them to pay for a premium account? Or do you want to turn them into loyal ecommerce customers?
Think, for example, about a new signup for Twitter. This email chain might turn into an onboarding guide that runs through e-mail instead of on the website.
Consider your end goal and plan your drip campaign towards that goal. Don’t sell too hard and make sure each email in your chain has a purpose.
These emails typically come in two different styles: scheduled or sporadic.
If you have scheduled deals or discounts at certain times of the year, then these really aren’t drip campaigns. They’re more like automated campaigns triggered by a certain time of the year.
But sporadic deals could target people based on their actions. Like if you notice someone keeps visiting a certain product page, you can add them to an email drip. Then, when it’s on sale, you can auto-send an email just to those people saying something like, “We noticed you were always checking out this product, and it’s finally on sale!”
Everyone loves deals and discounts, because they usually run for a limited time. These emails should have a time-sensitive tone to get people to act fast.
On the other hand, recommendations can be much more relaxed. You can write something about how they’ve browsed X product a lot, so maybe they’ll like Y or Z products.
These drip campaigns depend on which users have browsed or purchased certain items in the past. This makes the setup a lot trickier, but remember that targeted emails are significantly more effective.
Whether you run an ecommerce shop or a service company, it’s very common for people to approach the checkout page but never complete it.
Unfortunately, most of these people are anonymous users, and you won’t have their emails. But if you can track people who have accounts, then you can send them drip emails based on abandoned checkouts.
There’s good reason to follow through with this campaign, because abandoned cart emails work. In some tests by Shopify, the results have seen up to 13% recovered carts just by sending drip campaigns.
They work best when they include product images, customer reviews, and info about any refund policy if applicable.
You can usually send these abandoned cart emails after 24 hours and still see a decent rate of success. This mostly applies to ecommerce shops rather than service companies, but with a little ingenuity, you can get these to work for just about anything.
A drip campaign will be structured differently on different platforms. But you can learn how to structure emails and how to create drip campaigns on any platform with just the free resources found online.
Since everyone learns differently, I’ve curated some of the best text and video tutorials to get you started. Drip campaigns can be intimidating, so just start small. Take one idea, get it working, gauge the results and move from there.
And if you’re looking for content more about email newsletters then check out some of our related posts.