A Really Simple Guide To
Email Drip Campaigns

Email Drip Campaigns

Email marketing.

Ask any marketer who has implemented it and they’ll definitely sing its praises.

And the reason for that is simple – email marketing works.

Not only is email a reliable platform for communicating with your customers, but it’s also one of the best as far as ROI is concerned – $44 for every $1 you spend.

So, what makes email so effective when it comes to driving your business goals forward?

One word – relationships.

Of all marketing channels, email is the only one that affords you the privilege of building meaningful (and profitable) relationships with your customers.

And that’s where email drip campaigns come in.

What Is An Email Drip Campaign
(And Who Needs Them)?

As I said, email is the only communication channel that allows businesses to build meaningful relationships with their customers. But as it is in life, our relationships are never on the same level. Someone you meet today can’t know you as well as someone you’ve known for 10 years.

You have to introduce yourself and, starting from as far back as possible, bring them up to speed on your life.

But with tens, hundreds, or even thousands of people subscribing to your email list every month, how can you build a solid relationship with them?

Drip campaigns.

A drip email campaign is simply an automated email marketing strategy designed to send out multiple emails to a subscriber over a certain period of time. The emails are triggered by an action performed by the customer and are set to go out at predetermined intervals.

The main purpose of drip email campaigns is to provide subscribers with exactly the information they need at the right time. And the best part is that no matter when a person joins your email list (or a particular segment) everyone receives the exact same sequence.

For example, in the education sector, drip marketing campaigns can be used to onboard new students as in the example below:

Click to preview


And FYI, drip campaigns are also commonly referred to as:

  • Automated email campaigns
  • Triggered emails
  • Lifecycle emails
  • Autoresponders

For the purpose of reducing confusion, we’ll stick to drip email campaigns throughout this post.


Who Should Use Drip Campaigns?

If you’re wondering whether you need to run drip email campaigns for your business or not, let me tell you that you definitely need them. Every business needs a drip campaign in one form or another.

That will become evident as we look at the different types of drip email campaigns and their applications.

Drip Campaign – What’s The Point?

What’s so special about drip email campaigns?

Why do you need them as part of your marketing strategies?

Let’s quickly look at some common benefits of drip campaigns, shall we?


1) Boost Engagement

Drip campaigns are a great way of boosting engagement with your audience. One of the main reasons for this is that the emails are triggered by the customer. As a result, the contents of the emails are more likely to be relevant. A great example of this is when a subscriber signs up to your list. A drip email campaign in the form of a welcome email series will certainly drive engagement as the recipient is interested in your product or service.


2) Promote Brand Loyalty

Another great advantage of running drip email campaigns is that they promote brand loyalty. The more people engage with your email content, the more they value as an authority and trusted resource in your field. This is why it’s important to:

  • Create valuable content
  • Interact with your readers regularly

If your drip email campaigns can have the above 2 hallmarks, you’ll have yourself a tribe of loyal customers in no time.


3) Build Strong Customer Relationships

A successful business is a result of strong customer relationships. With data proving that it costs 5x more to get a new customer than to retain an old one, building strong relationships becomes a foundational pillar of building a successful business.

And how do you build strong relationships with your customers?

Every business, whether online or brick-and-mortar, needs to implement drip email marketing campaigns to ensure successful growth.


4) Drive Revenue

Research shows that automated emails drive about 75% of revenue from email marketing campaigns. A major reason for this is that email automation ensures you send targeted and personalized messages. The result is higher open and transaction rates.

But the question still remains – how can you pull off a successful drip email campaign?


How To Implement And Run A
Successful Drip Email Campaign

While drip email campaigns may seem daunting, they are quite easy to pull off because of email automation software. However, before you automate, here’s how to design an effective drip email campaign:


1) Identify Your Objectives And KPIs

The first step in designing your drip campaign is to set your objectives. Set SMART goals – yes, they do apply to email marketing too. In other words, determine:

  • What do you want to achieve? Is it lead generation, upselling, or re-activating inactive users?
  • Who (which segment) will receive the emails? From new subscribers to your most faithful subscribers, you can use a drip campaign to achieve something within a particular segment.
  • How are you going to measure your success? Measuring the progress and results of every campaign is a very important aspect of running a campaign.

Speaking of measuring your success, you’ll need to determine your key performance indicators (KPIs). These are metrics you’ll use to measure the success of your goals. Typical KPIs include:

  • Open rate
  • Clickthrough rate
  • Unsubscribes over time
  • Conversion rate over time
  • Time to customer conversion
  • Revenue generated

Knowing your goals and objectives and how you’ll measure them is critical to running an effective drip campaign.


2) Define The Specific Action You Want Your Customers To Take

Now that you have defined your objectives and determined your KPIs, we move on to phase 2 of designing an effective drip campaign. And that’s to clearly define the action you want your subscriber to take.

Click to preview


The main purpose of drip email campaigns is to help your subscribers on their buyer journey. Each email should have a call to action that will encourage the reader to take the next step down your funnel.


3) Set Your Triggers

What does your subscriber need to do to set off a drip campaign?

Those are the triggers you need to identify and set. These can be any action, with examples including:

  • Signing up for a newsletter
  • newsletter Downloading a resource
  • Attending a webinar
  • Purchasing a product
  • Visiting a specific page

Of course, your triggers will be dependent on your goals and the type of drip email campaign you intend to run.


4) Decide On The Number Of Emails And Type Of Content

One important question email marketers ask when designing a drip campaign is how many emails they should send. The second question is how to space out those emails. To help answer this question, let’s briefly look at the results of a test that was conducted to determine the answer:

Drip numbers


The test conducted by GetResponse revealed a few interesting takeaways, the main one being that engagement rates decrease as the number of emails in a sequence increases.

Does that mean you should favor shorter campaigns?

Not at all.

Each business has its own drip email best practices that are determined by:

  • The type of campaign
  • The complexity of the information you need to convey
  • The length of your buyer journey

Another point to consider is that the longer your sequence is, the more difficult it becomes to manage it. So how do you determine how many emails you need to send? Here are a few pointers:

  • Determine how much content you need to move a subscriber from one end of the funnel to the other
  • Break up your content into small easy-to-digest-chunks
  • Of your bite-sized content chunks, eliminate those that can be done away with
  • Assign content to each stage of your customer journey

Once you have determined how many emails are needed to take a customer from one stage of the customer journey to the next. Send a campaign to a small part of your database and get feedback on whether they think the sequence is too long or not. Another way to gauge the sweet spot is to A/B test by using 2 sequences with a different number of emails in each.

The feedback you get from experimenting with your campaigns is important as it will help you plan your future campaigns.


5) Automate

I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that there are a lot of moving parts involved in executing a drip email campaign. Keeping tabs manually on all these moving parts is next to impossible. Besides, doing it manually will need you to hire more staff to enable you to successfully execute your drip email campaign. Obviously, what will send your expenses through the roof.

And that’s exactly where email automation software comes to the rescue.

Email automation software allows you to create workflows that allow you to set your triggers, load your email content, and set delivery intervals. This is where the name “autoresponders” comes from as these workflows automate the entire drip campaign from start to finish.


6) Monitor And Evaluate

The final step in running a drip email campaign is monitoring and evaluating the performance of your campaign. This is where the KPIs you set come into play. Using your ESPs analytics dashboard or third-party tools (or a combination of both), you can track your KPIs and use them to gauge whether your drip marketing campaign was a success or not.

The data you gather during and after a campaign is literally a goldmine as it will help you fine-tune subsequent drip campaigns. For example, if your open rates are low, you can investigate why that is. Using your findings, you can implement email marketing best practices that can help increase the open rates in future campaigns.


Welcome Email
Subscribe to our newsletter


    10 Drip Email Types You Need To Be Sending

    1) Welcome Emails

    One of the most popular email drip campaigns is the welcome email.

    Click to preview


    Meant to establish a relationship with your customer and foster brand awareness, you just have to get it right. Here’s how you can successfully set up this type of drip marketing campaign:


    Submitting a subscription form


    First email must be sent immediately. Subsequent emails can be sent 2-3 days apart.

    Tentative number of emails

    Number of emails varies by industry but 3-6 is recommended.

    Executed well, a welcome series can help you gain your subscribers’ trust.

    Read More about Welcome email examples here.

    2) Lead Nurture Campaigns

    Lead nurture campaigns are so called because they are used to strategically convert a subscriber into a buyer. This is achieved by using value-packed emails to move them through each stage of the buyer journey. To pull off a successful one, consider:


    Downloading a resource


    Depends on how long it takes to move a prospect from top of the funnel to middle to bottom and your business model (B2B/B2C). If it takes a prospect 2 months, for example, to move from the top of the funnel to the middle of the funnel, your sequence will have to be longer than that of a business that takes a month.

    So how many emails should be in your sequence?

    First off, don’t email your prospects every day – give them time to digest your previous. Once a week is usually the best spacing for your campaigns.

    Tentative number of emails

    Depends on how complex your industry is. However, the bare minimum should be 4 for an industry that is not complex.

    The most important part of running a successful lead nurture campaign is to make sure you give your subscribers the exact information they need. It’s basically holding each lead’s hands and walking them through your funnel.

    One industry that greatly benefits from this drip campaign example is the real estate industry. It’s one of the most challenging industries as far as closing sales goes.

    Click to preview


    However, a well-orchestrated drip marketing campaign can help you generate, nurture, and convert more leads into buyers.


    3) Onboarding Emails

    Onboarding emails are used to educate users on how to use or make the most of a product or service. Like lead nurture emails, these help you to personally hold a subscriber’s hand and help them feel comfortable and confident in using your product. How do you go about effectively pulling off this type of drip marketing campaign?


    • Signing up for a service
    • Purchasing a product
    • Upgrading a subscription


    First email must be sent immediately and is usually a thank you email. Subsequent emails can be sent 2-3 days apart. Bonus points for including a feedback email at the end of the sequence.

    Tentative number of emails

    Number of emails varies by industry/product but 3-6 is recommended.

    Don’t drop the ball when a new subscriber or customer comes on board. With the finance industry being one of the most sensitive, you need to gain trust fast. And a well-planned onboarding sequence can help you do just that. Here’s a great drip campaign example from a major player in the finance industry:

    Click to preview


    Quickly running a drip email campaign is an excellent way to help your customers get more value from their purchase/subscription.


    4) Promotion Sequences

    Another great drip campaign example is the promotional email. You can use a drip campaign to promote your product or services. How do you do that?


    • Subscriber is in a relevant segment
    • Time (date scheduled to start running the campaign)


    The first email is sent on the day your promotion is scheduled to start. You can send an email a day or space them out depending on the promotion type. However, towards the end of the promotion, daily emails are strongly recommended.

    Tentative number of emails

    Avoid email fatigue. However, remind subscribers as often as possible. The number of emails you can send per promotion varies by industry/product but 4-8 are recommended.

    Carefully planned and automated promotional sequences are a critical component of successful revenue generation. This is particularly true for the health and fitness industry that relies heavily on email marketing to drive sales. Here’s one of the best drip marketing examples in this niche:

    Click to preview



    5) Upsell Emails

    An upselling campaign is simply an email marketing campaign that seeks to encourage subscribers to upgrade their account or buy a better product. Here are some pointers on optimizing this drip email campaign:


    • Purchase behaviour


    Depending on your business model, you have 2 ways to time your upsell sequence:

    • For relatively low-priced consumer goods/services, you can send an upsell email immediately after a purchase or a few days after.
    • For B2B and higher priced products, upsell emails are best sent after the customer has experienced and enjoyed the product/service. A great way to do this is to send your upselling email sequence after your onboarding email campaign.

    Other upselling opportunities include:

    • When a customer hits a milestone
    • When you launch a new product

    Tentative number of emails

    Because you don’t want to seem to be too, keep your cadence lower than most campaign types – say 3-6.

    One reason this drip email type works is that it’s easier to sell to existing customers than to new prospects. Ecommerce stores and businesses are the biggest beneficiaries of the perks that come from this drip marketing example.

    Click to preview


    If you don’t use this drip marketing campaign type, now is the time to start implementing it.


    6) Confirmation Emails

    Another business activity you definitely need to automate is your order confirmation sequence. Besides being mundane, it’s also impossible to manually confirm every order – especially at the right time.

    Click to preview


    You know the drill, let’s get to it:


    • A confirmation sequence can be triggered when:
    • A customer makes a purchase
    • You ship their product
    • A customer makes a booking
    • Confirming a subscription


    This type of email should be sent immediately when it’s triggered.

    Tentative number of emails

    By virtue of its nature, a confirmation email sequence is usually short – 1 or 2 emails should suffice.

    While it may not generate revenue like other email types, an order confirmation email is critical to building trust. It’s also a great way to increase brand awareness.


    7) Cart Abandonment Emails

    Customers abandoning their carts at checkout?

    Then one drip campaign type that you can leverage (and boost your revenue) is the cart abandonment sequence.

    Click to preview



    • Abandoned cart


    Send the first reminder 1-3 hours after the cart has been abandoned. The second email can be sent after 24 hours, the subsequent emails after 3 day intervals.

    Tentative number of emails

    Because you don’t want to be too pushy (or look desperate) 2-4 emails should do the trick for your cart abandonment sequence.

    Read More About cart abandonment email examples here.


    8) Re-Engagement Emails

    Re-engagement emails, also known as win back emails, are another great example of drip email campaigns.

    Click to preview



    • Inactivity over a predetermined period of time (1-3 months)
    • Number of unopened emails


    The first email is sent when a subscriber reaches the number of days you’ve deemed to signal inactivity. Subsequent emails can then be sent at 2/3 day intervals.

    Tentative number of emails

    4-5 emails in a sequence are enough to

    A re-engagement email campaign is the best way to help you

    • Identify hidden issues in your marketing
    • Know which subscribers to remove from your database
    • Reactivate customers and thus drive more revenue

    Failing to utilize this drip marketing campaign will result in you leaving a lot of money on the table.


    9) Email Courses

    Another great way to put drip marketing to use is by implementing it in running email courses. Email courses are a great way to give your audience uber-valuable content while showing your expertise.

    Click to preview

    How do you set up an effective email course using drip email marketing?


    • Subscription to the course


    Send a welcome email immediately after sign up. The first lesson can then be sent a few minutes after the welcome email. Subsequent emails can be sent daily or weekly depending on how you decide to roll out your lessons

    Tentative number of emails

    Depends on the intensity of the course. However, to keep engagement rates high keep your course as short as possible. 7, 14, 21, and 30 days are the most popular. However, you can also run a 4, 6, 8 week course with a lesson sent each week.

    One of the biggest advantages of email courses is that they help establish your authority. As a result, it becomes easier to sell premium products/services.


    10) New Product Launch

    Wanna know the best way to sell more on launch day?

    Build buzz and excitement leading to launch day. And the best way to do it?

    You guessed it – a drip campaign.

    Click to preview



    A predetermined time before the product launch (2 weeks is usually ideal


    Send the first email a couple of weeks before launch, then in the week leading to the product launch, you can send

    • 2 emails a day apart
    • An email the day before the launch
    • Your new product (or feature) announcement on launch day

    If a subscriber missed the product launch, all is not lost. You can give them a chance to be part of the festivities by sending them a couple of emails encouraging them to be among the first to get onboard.

    Tentative number of emails

    5-8 emails

    Executed well, your new product sequence should generate enough buzz and excitement to drive your sales through the roof on launch day.

    Practical Industry Uses of Drip Campaigns
    Industry Drip Email Application
    Health and Fitness/ Wellness Use promotional drip campaigns to promote products – especially those that need refills like supplements.
    Real Estate Use promotional drip campaigns to promote products – especially those that need refills like supplements.
    Education Onboarding new students through a drip email campaign will help them quickly adjust to the new environment (on-campus students) and unique system of the school
    Ecommerce Ecommerce stores can use drip campaigns to launch new products, promote existing products, or simply to keep customers up to speed on what’s happening behind the scenes.
    Finance Trust plays a big role in the finance sector. Use onboarding drip campaigns to gain customers’ trust by showing them your processes and what they can expect from their investment.

    4 Drip Campaign Best Practices
    To Follow


    What a journey. And I’m sure you’re now rearing to go and implement all the knowledge you’ve gained from this post. Especially after seeing so many inspiring drip marketing examples.

    Well, not so fast.

    Before you execute your next email drip campaign, here are a few best practices you need to follow:

    • Understand your buyer journey. This will help you understand exactly where your customer is, where they need to go, and how to get them there.
    • Design a smooth workflow. To succeed in moving your customer from one stage of the sales funnel to the next, you need a smooth workflow. Identify all friction points and use your emails to offer smooth transitions.
    • Segment and personalize. An effective drip email campaign relies on advanced segmentation that in turn powers an impactful personalization strategy.
    • Don’t forget to test your drip campaigns. A/B test your campaigns and optimize each subsequent campaign for better results.

    No matter what industry you may be in, following these (and other best practices) will ensure that your drip email campaigns always hit their intended targets.

    Drip Email Campaigns - You Can’t
    Do Without Them

    Do you really need to run email drip campaigns for your type of business?

    Short answer – you can’t do without them.

    And the long answer?

    Drip campaigns are the lifeblood of your business. Without them you can’t:

    • Understand your buyer journey. This will help you understand exactly where your customer is, where they need to go, and how to get them there.
    • Build strong relationships with your customers
    • Efficiently nurture leads
    • Onboard new customers efficiently

    So yes.

    You do need to run email drip campaigns.

    If you want to up your email marketing game for your ecommerce store then contact our ecommerce email marketing agency.

    Drip Marketing
    Download this entire post as a PDF


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