There’s a lot of conversation around email marketing today, centered on whether or not it’s still effective. If you’ve come to doubt its effectiveness, just consider this statistic: For every dollar spent on email, your ROI is a whopping $44, according to Campaign Monitor’s 2016 Annual Report. What other type of digital marketing can even come close? Social media? Blogging? Not quite.

If you’re a marketer who’s looking for another strong weapon in your email-marketing arsenal, look no farther than the drip campaign and our definitive guide to drip campaigns. Essentially, a drip campaign is a series of automated marketing emails that goes out to your prospects over a period of time, in a highly effective lead-generation strategy.

In this definitive guide to drip campaigns, you’ll learn the basics: what it is, the rationale, and how to flawlessly execute it.

The Drip Campaign Explained

The drip in “drip campaign” is a reference to the consistent and steady drumbeat of marketing messages (usually in the form of emails, due to their wonderfully low cost, which is another benefit of email marketing!) that your brand sends out to its prospects. The entire campaign lasts for a period of time and is:

  • Automated (the email messages are written in advance)
  • Centered around user or customer behavior on your website (for instance, after they first subscribe to your newsletter)
  • Based on a specific schedule

To be thorough, drip campaigns can also include direct-mail and phone marketing, but email’s low cost, relative to the other options, makes it today’s default choice for drip campaigns. Plus, the automated nature of a drip campaign is another reason email is the no-brainer delivery mechanism: Any decent email-marketing software will let you schedule your emails at specific times and for various intervals while, of course, you can’t do the same with direct mail or phone calls.

Here is some of the most reliable email-marketing software you can use for a drip campaign:

It may be tempting for some to dismiss drip campaigns as too pushy since you are repeatedly sending your prospects—who have only thus far shown lukewarm interest in your brand—marketing information. However, when this marketing information intends to primarily educate your prospects and is part of a longer sales cycle—as is the case in B2B situations with more complicated services or with higher-cost items in general—that’s where a well-executed drip campaign can be marketing gold.

Which leads into why drip campaigns are created and executed in the first place…

The Rationale Behind Drip Campaigns

Far from being pushy, drip campaigns are the ideal way to gently ensure frequent exposure to your brand from the prospect’s point of view. These numerous touchpoints will help to familiarize your brand in their eyes and empower you to keep reengaging with them to achieve your number one goal: to get them further down your sales funnel until they eventually make the ultimate conversion of a purchase.

The key to a successful drip campaign is to send these automated emails at exactly the right time, based on how your leads have interacted with your brand at certain touchpoints. Usually, this will have been on your site.

Here’s a generic example of what a drip campaign can look like:

  1. Your prospect lands on your site and expresses interest in your free white paper by downloading it
  2. Your first automated email to them, say days later, includes an offer for a free e-book since they’ve already expressed interest in reading longer content like the white paper
  3. If they also accept the e-book, then your second follow-up email can include an offer for a phone call or meeting to discuss presenting them with a product demo

Note that, in this example, the prospect’s reactions were always positive, as they always accepted free content or the offers in your automated emails. Of course, not all drip campaigns will be this successful.

Let’s say the prospect refused to respond to your call to action and offer in the third step. This doesn’t mean that you have to stop the campaign and brand them as uninterested. Instead, take a step back, regroup and reengage them with lighter content a little bit later on. A great example of this is sending them an automated email with an explainer video of your product or service, days or weeks after they refused your offer for the product demo.

This illustrates how drip campaigns can be masterfully adjusted to where you can easily pivot, should your prospect not respond to one email in the series of drips.

Here are some real-life examples of brands using drip campaigns effectively.

How to Execute a Drip Campaign

The beauty of a drip campaign is that, statistically, it works. According to this infographic from Email Monks, drip campaigns are impressive because:

  • They boast open rates that are 80% higher than single-send emails
  • They have click-through rates that are three times higher than regular emails

Therefore, it will work if you do it properly, but the trick is designing and then executing the campaign well. How do you do this? Read on in our definitive guide to drip campaigns.

Decide for What Purpose to Use a Drip Campaign

There are numerous reasons to set up a drip campaign. Deciding what’s appropriate for your situation is the first step of designing your campaign.

Here are all the use cases of a drip campaign:

  • Welcoming Leads – This is usually the first email they’ll receive from you and occurs when a new lead or customer has signed up for your email newsletter, purchased something, etc.
  • Lead Nurturing – This is a longer email where you introduce your product, service or brand to your prospect, along with some content your brand has produced that explains to them how it can solve their pain points. Of course, there should be a call to action to encourage a further discussion!
  • Onboarding New Customers – Here, your email efficiently explains how they can get the most from your product or service when they first start using it.
  • Product Recommendations – These emails are usually sent out after your leads have spent some time navigating your site, and your site analytics have recorded some of their user or customer behaviors. Also appropriate to email after they’ve purchased something from you since you have more data on what they like to buy!
  • Shopping Cart Abandonment – Shopping cart abandonment is a real scourge of online retailers, with almost 70% of lost sales related to this abandonment. Another drip-campaign email is one you send to your would-be customer who’s put something into his shopping cart…but has failed to pull the trigger and complete the checkout process.
  • Renewals – Renewal emails inform your customers when their subscription to your service is set to renew, as a tactic to prompt them to renew. For those who have already renewed, you can send them a thank-you email with some upsell or cross sell information.
  • Reengagement – If your prospect hasn’t shown much or any interest in your brand, then follow up with them later on with an email that highlights your brand in a non-salesy way, focusing on what it can help them do in their lives. If the content features something lighthearted like a video, then so much the better.
  • How-Tos – These emails are a series that help your leads to something practical extremely well (think how to master social media, how to set up a winning blog with great revenue, etc.). At the end of the course, feel free to include a call to action for a product or service at a higher price point. After all, they’ve stayed with you through the entire course, so there’s a good chance they really like your brand.
  • Confirmation and Unsubscribes – Both at either end of the brand-engagement spectrum, confirmation emails can be used to give your leads or customers more information about your brand while unsubscribes should contain a last-ditch effort to hook them back in.

Our definitive guide to drip campaigns wouldn’t be complete without a breakdown of specifically what goes into each campaign.

Designing the Drip Campaign

Now that you’ve settled on a purpose, you have to design the drip campaign.

Here’s how to do that:

  1. Brainstorm and decide on monthly drip campaigns based on your marketing goals for that month and beyond. Is there a podcast you have in the works? Maybe you have a course of how-tos on your blog? Is there a new product or service you’re debuting? Whatever it is, make your drip campaign promote your initiative.
  2. Understand who your target audience is. Conduct the necessary market research to determine for whom you’re designing these drip campaigns. This is the whole foundation of a successful campaign!

  3. Design your message. Each email is unique. Make your email body shorter rather than longer and value pithiness since most people don’t read on the web, but scan and skim instead. Decide on other elements like color contrast, typography style and size, and the use of urgency/scarcity and other persuasive factors.
  4. Plan your campaign. Is it going to last for days, weeks or maybe even months? Does your marketing message align with your customers’ trigger behavior? Here’s also where you choose the specific email-marketing software for your drip campaign. Refer back to the first subheading in this piece for a selection of drip-campaign tools!
  5. Finally, you have to continually track the success of your campaigns. Based on what your metrics are telling you, you have to adjust and tweak various elements, like your email copy, when you send your emails, how frequently, and to whom in particular.

The Power of the Drip

The phrase “drip campaign” comes from the concept that you slowly and steadily drip a constant stream of marketing messages to your prospects and customers, until they finally convert. You do this by sending them only high-quality and educational information about your brand, so that all of these touchpoints build up toward brand familiarity.

With enough patience and understanding of your target audience, any drip campaign can yield amazing results.

Enjoy this definitive guide to drip campaigns? Then leave a comment or subscribe to our newsletter!

Marc Schenker
Copywriter, Rise

I’m a copywriter and marketer for small, medium and large businesses in the tech, Internet and marketing industries. Whenever CEOs, business owners, and marketing departments need high-converting copy that sells and top-notch marketing advice, they contact me.

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