How To Build a Killer Email Drip Campaign

If you have any kind of email marketing strategy then you’ve almost certainly sent out an eblast. You know, that one-time email you send to all of your customers to let them know about a sale or new product or service. Maybe you’re pretty advanced and you’ve segmented your list or sent out A/B test emails. You might even have some stellar personalization built-in. That’s great! But now it’s time to up your email game and start a drip campaign.

Real quick, what is a drip campaign?

A drip campaign is a series of messages that are “dripped” in a predetermined order. They can be automated with email autoresponder software, making it easy and time effective to build a strong rapport with your customers.

You can also create specific email sequences based on your customers’ site activity. For example, anyone who abandoned their cart may get an email reminding them to checkout.

1. First email triggers upon signup with a “welcome” message.

2. Second email sends 1 day later, asking them if they need any assistance with their account.

3. Third email sends 3 days later and points out a cool feature or product you offer.

These are just quick examples of how a drip campaign works. The specifics are really going to depend on your goals, which we’ll get into a little later.

Does a drip campaign make sense for my business?

You may have already considered one, but came up with excuses not to bother. Any of these sound familiar?

“My business doesn’t really need one.”

“It sounds like a lot of work.”

“Email marketing hasn’t done that much for us anyway.”

But the truth is, if your email marketing strategy doesn’t include a drip campaign you could really be missing out.

According to Epsilon’s Q4 2016 Email Trends and Benchmarks report, triggered messages had 50% higher open rates than BAU (Business as Usual) messages. They also get 119% higher click rates than eblasts.

That’s too good to ignore. Your business does need a drip campaign.

(We’ll go over how a few different types of businesses can benefit from a drip campaign further down… just in case you’re still not seeing it.)

And while setting up a drip campaign initially seems like a lot of work, it’s a one time thing. Set it and—well not forget it—tweak it. But only occasionally. Promise.

So let’s look at the last excuse…

If email marketing hasn’t worked too well for you so far, it might actually be because you haven’t tried a drip campaign yet. Not every business is going to be able to offer exciting flash sales or get customers pumped about new products. Sometimes a lead has to be nurtured in a very specific way. That’s where drip campaigns shine.


Setting a Goal

The first thing you need to get started on a drip campaign is a specific goal. Every email you send should be focused around that one goal. Your goal is going to be different depending on what kind of business you have, so let’s look at some different types of goals.

Goal A: Selling A Product

This one is obvious right? Traditionally email marketing focused on sales relies heavily on the eblast.

You’ve got a new product… time to send an email!

You’re on sale… time to send an email!

You put a bunch of stuff on clearance… yeah, you guessed it.

Nothing wrong with doing this. Especially with a little nuance, like sending eblasts about a specific brand to customers who’ve purchased that brand in the past (gotta love segments).

But if this is your ONLY strategy you’re missing out on that sweet welcome email magic. Welcome emails have a 50% open rate—FIFTY PERCENT!

(Seriously, are you not excited about 50%? Because maybe you’re in the wrong field…)

Goal B: Answer Common Questions

Are you overloaded with customer questions? Even though you have an FAQ and knowledge base? A drip campaign might be a good way to get those answers in front of your customers (instead of making them look for them).

Remember that 50% open rate for welcome emails we just talked about? Use that to your advantage! Put your top 3 frequently asked questions right at the bottom of that email. Follow up with other tips and answers to common questions. Your CSRs will thank you.

Goal C: Encourage User Engagement

People are busy. And forgetful. And get bored easily. They might be really excited about using your website to learn French week 1, but eventually life gets in the way. C’est la vie!

So your job becomes being motivating and interesting. A drip campaign can help you re-engage with colder leads. Entice them to log in. Ask them to come to your site to finish filling out their profile. Ask them to tell you about their goals. Ask them to find other users they may know. Keep giving them reasons to come back!

Goal D: Education and Training

If your service relies on your customers understanding how to use it, this kind of drip campaign is the way to go. You have so many features and so many tools and you can do so many AMAZING things… but… there’s a bit of a learning curve.

Even if you offer training and one-on-one time with each of your customers, a little refresher never hurts! Sure, there’s nothing stopping them from going to your site and watching tutorials or reading help docs—but there’s nothing making them either! Your educational drip campaign serves double duty as a training tool and an engagement strategy.

Consider Your Customer

So you’ve figured out your goals you can start writing, right? Well actually there’s another step that is easy to overlook, but super important. Figuring out what your customers are getting out of this! They’re just going to hit unsubscribe (or worse, mark you as spam) if they’re not benefiting from this in some way.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

Why did your customer sign up? (And why should they stay?)

Did you promise them a freebie or a discount? Will there be more in the future? Do they want to learn how to do something? Are you giving them a clear outline of what they will learn over time?

What information do your leads need to make decisions?

Figure out what your customers need to know to buy something, signup or stay subscribe and make sure your emails include that information.

Do your emails provide value?

Ask yourself honestly if you’d be happy to receive your own emails. Are they blatantly self-promotional or do they actually offer something substantial?

Okay, so… how often should I be emailing my customers?

Your industry and your customers may vary. If you already have a list you’ve been sending eblasts to, maybe take a look at your unsubscribes for insight. If a lot of people checked off “received emails too frequently” you should definitely take that into consideration.

But don’t be afraid to keep your customers engaged a lot in the beginning. You want to introduce yourself, make sure they know you’re there if they need you, and answer any questions they may have.

What should I be sending my customers?

This obviously is going to vary quite a bit based on your specific goals and industry, but here’s a general outline to get you started. Of course your final outline will be much longer if you want to keep your customer engaged on a long term basis.

For the sake of this example, let’s assume you’re offering a free 7 day trial and you want your customers to sign up for your service.


Email #1 – Welcome
Your welcome email, the one with the HIGHEST open rate, is important. This email can go out as soon as they sign up. In fact, if you’re offering a discount or free download, they will expect it.

Use this opportunity to introduce yourself. Use their first name. Don’t use a spammy title. Let them know what to expect from your communications. Make sure you make a good impression.

Email #2 – Checking In
It’s day 2 and you want to check in and ask how are things going? This email should not only highlight any product or service you want them to know about, it should make them feel welcome. You’re here if they need any help getting started.

This is the moment you want to make sure they are using their free trial. If they aren’t, they’ll let 7 days pass and forget about you. Use a call to action, anticipate their questions or offer training. Remove any barriers they may have from getting started.

Email #3 – Highlight a Key Feature
Keep your customer thinking about you with another email a few days later. (This is especially important if they are in a trial period.) You want to just point out a really cool feature or product and keep them engaged.

Triggered Event
If user still hasn’t signed up, go to Email #4
If user HAS signed up, congrats! Go to Email #6

Email #4 – No Activity
Yikes it’s been 5 days and this user hasn’t logged in or engaged at all. Try to close the deal!

Email #5 – Still Nothing???
Okay, it’s day 7. Do or die. Here’s where you want to offer a deep discount. 50% Off. Today only.

Email #6 – Back to your scheduled drip campaign
This is where you return to the main plan. Depending on the goals you established earlier you might be offering them training or telling them about a new product or service. From here, you can get as creative as you want with ways to engage your audience that makes sense for your business.

Review and Revise

After a few months of emails going out to users it’s time to assess your campaign. Check out open rates, clicks, bounces and see which emails are performing the best.

Consider your subject lines and look at which ones have the highest open rates.

Are your emails starting off strong and then getting less opens and clicks over time?

Are you getting a large amount of unsubscribes for one particular email? Pay close attention to your subject line, when it’s sent and what message it’s sending.

Look for ways to improve your drip campaign. Maybe you’re sending emails out too frequently. Maybe you’re not answering the right questions. Maybe your subject lines need work. Even if you’re doing well, that doesn’t mean there’s not room for improvement.


Writing Tips

Now that you know the basics to get started, it’s time to start writing!

  • Whoops, actually, it’s time to create some landing pages. If you know you’re going to be pointing customers to specific places on your website, make sure those landing pages are polished first.
  • Draw a diagram or outline of your emails. Figure out the subject matter, order and frequency.
  • Now it’s time to write your emails. All of them. It helps you have a consistent voice if you do all of the writing at once. You are in the zone and goal driven and every email will lead back to your goal.
  • Make your emails personal. Use their name. Introduce yourself. Tell them how to reach you.
  • Don’t write a novel. Avoid walls of text. You want short, consumable sentences and phrases.
  • Like these.
  • At least in the beginning.
  • It’s okay if eventually you move on to longer form emails. Your long time subscribers won’t mind because they already expect good content from you and want to hear from you.
  • Include a call to action. Keep your goals in mind and make them clear to your customer.
  • Add a PS or PPS to get people to remember something. People tend to remember the very last thing they read, so this is a good opportunity to point out something important. It also adds that personal “written letter” vibe.
  • Add suspense. If you’re teaching your customers something, tease them about tomorrow’s lesson. If a new product is coming out, mention it beforehand. Keep your customers anticipating your next email.

Get Automated!

Now you should have everything you need to get started on a killer drip campaign and make the most out of your list.

Do you have any tips or feedback? Please add them in the comments.

  • John B.

    A good source for me ponder. I’ll put on it and make this article a great reference to the sales team.