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BlogEmail automationDrip Campaign Emails: How to Create Them on Your Own Plus Inspiring Examples

Drip Campaign Emails: How to Create Them on Your Own Plus Inspiring Examples

34 min read
VP of Growth @Ongage

Whether you call them waterfall sequences, automated email campaigns, lifecycle emails, autoresponders, flows or drip campaigns, pre-planned email series that deliver the right message at the right time to each of your subscribers or customers are a smart investment. Learn how to develop relevant, reusable emails that run on automatic and view examples of drips for every stage in this article. 

Have your marketing emails started to look a little boring and generic? 

That can happen when you try to be all things to all subscribers. Your messages become watered down and lose their impact. 

Today’s consumers expect more. 

Effective email campaigns require a more personalized approach–an approach that sends the right message to the right person and at the right time–not an okay message to every person at a time of your choosing. 

But how do businesses execute email campaigns that hit just the right marks for thousands (or even millions) of subscribers when each one is different and at a different stage in their buyer’s journey?

You gotta go with the flow: email drip campaigns.

Setting up a successful drip campaign requires the right email automation tools, careful planning and a dash of creativity. The results of a well-orchestrated email drip campaign are messages that are relevant, timely and sent automatically. 

Totally worth the effort!

The combination of technology and creativity required to develop an email drip campaign reminds me of the challenge put to participants in the Rube Goldberg Machine Contest. 

This event for young engineers and other lovers of the complex and perplexing was named after an American engineer turned cartoonist who was famous for illustrating fantastical machines designed to perform simple tasks, and this is the inspiration for the contest’s annual challenges. 

For instance, in 2022, contestants were asked to create a series of mechanical events and triggers to open a book

But just opening the book wasn’t enough for teams to win the event. The sequence that led up to the open had to be coordinated, engaging and entertaining and involve at least 10 steps. Plus, every step had to work automatically. 

That takes planning and plenty of test runs. 

Drip campaigns involve multiple steps that must perform automatically without fail and engage their audiences, too. 

Preparing effective drip campaigns requires careful mapping of your customer’s journey, identification of key touchpoints, anticipating and accommodating path departures, branches and loops, and continual testing and refinement. 

Lucky for you. Drip campaigns have been around for quite a while. So you can build your campaigns using the wisdom of those who have gone before you. 

I’ll tell you how to get drippy with it in this article and share real-world examples of drip campaigns spanning the buyer’s journey from awareness to advocacy. 

You’re gonna love it! 

Want to jump ahead?

What is an email drip campaign? What’s the difference between an email campaign and a drip campaign? What’s in a name? Email campaigns that are (or are similar to) email drip campaigns
Why use email drips? Drip campaigns enable you to manage segments-of-one at scale
Drip campaigns capture conversions with just-in-time messages
Drip campaigns enable you to send personalized and contextualized messages
Drip campaigns keep your customer acquisition pipeline flowing
Drip campaign email examples for every stage of your buyer’s journeys Welcome drips that make subscribers want to stay connected with your brand
Win over subscribers who took an interest in your lead magnets
Help new users get used to you
Delivering value one drip at a time
Recapture the attention of leads or prospects who have wandered off track
Help your subscribers help themselves
Stay connected with your customers with post-conversion campaigns
Win back your lapsed customers or subscribers
Convert your customers into brand advocates
How to do it: Making email drip campaigns work for you Define the segments that you’ll target with your drip campaigns using your marketing goals and contact data
Design and map your campaign’s flows in your email marketing platform
How many emails should your drip campaign include?
Bonus: Best practices for creating effective drip campaigns Set goals for each drip campaign that are relevant to your subscribers’ stage in the buyer’s journey (and your business objectives)
Define the KPIs for your email drip campaign
Prioritize your drip campaigns to maximize your returns
Optimize and Test your campaign’s content

The complete

Read the most significant, most organized volume of information written about email deliverability.

What is an email drip campaign?

Drip campaigns consist of an email or, more often, a series of emails that are initiated by the occurrence of a specific event. Drip campaigns employ email automation and behavioral targeting, and defined triggers to distribute responsive, relevant, contextual messages to recipients in support of a business’s marketing goals. 

The first message in a drip sequence issues when a trigger is recognized. Subsequent messages are sent automatically in accordance with the flow the sender created. 

Additional automation rules or limitations may alter the sending cadence and the individual messages sent to a specific recipient, allowing these campaigns to deliver a one-of-a-kind experience at scale. 

3 key characteristics of email drip campaigns:

  • Uses templates prepared in advance.
  • Automatically sent in response to the recipient’s behavior (action or inaction).
  • Sent in a predefined order and on a predetermined schedule. 

Drip campaigns with multiple if/then branches, pauses or endpoints can be complicated. But setting up these high-performance automated email sequences doesn’t have to boggle the mind. 

Combining your email templates, well-planned flows and your email marketing platform’s automation technology, you can develop exquisite drips that hit the spot. 

What makes drip campaigns different from any other type of marketing or email campaign? I thought you’d never ask. 

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What’s the difference between an email campaign and a drip campaign?

Drip campaigns differ from traditional email campaigns such as newsletters or single-message promotions because the timing of these messages is based on the actions or attributes of the recipient, not the preferences of the sender. 

Newsletters like the ones featured in our article, 29 Fantastic Newsletter Examples, may be sent automatically on a predefined schedule, include relevant content and even be personalized using dynamic content. However, everyone on your newsletter list will receive these messages at or about the same time. 

You decide when to send your regular campaigns. Your email automation system decides when to send your drip campaigns based on your instructions. 

Even though both may be automatically triggered, drip campaigns also differ from event-triggered transactional messages because of their purpose. 

Emails that are purely transactional are meant to inform your subscriber and trigger a procedural or necessary response. For example, you might send a message informing them of a delivery arrival or asking them to reset their password. 

A drip email will include marketing content instead of or in addition to the transactional content. For example, when permitted by applicable law (and with your customer’s consent), your post-purchase confirmation messages add value-adding informative content and links designed to deepen the customer’s relationship with your business (and earn more sales) in your transactional messages. 

Including marketing content in transactional messages enables businesses to take advantage of transactional emails’ historically high open rates.

As you can imagine, the lines between transactional emails, newsletters, email blasts, and drip campaigns can get blurred. 

What’s in a name? Email campaigns that are (or are similar to) email drip campaigns

Drip campaigns are similar to a lot of other email campaigns and there can be a lot of overlap. Organizations sometimes use related terms to distinguish campaigns based on the type of messages sent, how those messages are triggered or even which department is sending the emails. 

The following terms may be synonyms for, subcategories of, or distinct from drip campaigns (depending on which marketer you ask):

💧 Autoresponders – Transactional messages are sometimes referred to as autoresponders. These messages are sent automatically in response to a subscriber’s action or behavior. 

💧 Auto-response campaigns – A longer way to say autoresponder and a way for organizations to distinguish between transactional messages (autoresponders) and marketing ones (campaigns). 

💧Waterfall sequence – A series of email messages delivered at a pre-planned cadence. While the path is planned like a river’s flow, the timing of each new message may be controlled by future triggers. (These rivers may have branches, too.)

💧 Email flow or workflow – Another name for a series of messages that keep coming one after the other, automatically. 

💧 Lifecycle emails – These automated emails are triggered when subscribers’ reach predetermined points along their buyer’s journey and aim to propel them forward. This name for drip campaigns references the role they play in maintaining connections throughout the customer lifecycle.

💧 Behavioral emails – Behavioral emails are responsive drip emails. The recipient’s actions or inactions activate these automated emails or series. 

💧 Nurture series – The primary objective of a drip campaign is often to nurture a lead or new customer. Drip campaigns can also ‌enhance your customer success programs, build customer loyalty and encourage referrals. 

💧 Automated email campaigns – Well, aren’t they all nowadays? Most email newsletters and mass email sends are scheduled in advance and sent out automatically. But we still use this term to refer to triggered campaigns sometimes. Along with…

💧 Marketing automation – Email or marketing automation is another term that may apply to more than just your drip series, depending on how your organization uses it. 

If you’re feeling dizzy from all these phrases and permutations, don’t worry. Understanding the parameters and reasons for each of your campaigns is more important than fitting them into neat categories. 

Besides, whatever your team calls your automated drip campaigns, they’re special. 

Let’s talk about some ‌reasons for using an automated email campaign. 

The Email Marketing Activity Book for Kids

Enjoy engaging brain teasers, colorful illustrations, and playful games with your loved ones.

Why use email drips? 

The answer to why use drip campaigns is the same as the answer to why use any marketing tactic: Because it’s another tool in your conversion and revenue-building toolkit. 

Drip campaigns accomplish a job that needs to be done and fill gaps in your email marketing strategy. These automated emails go granular, adding value to your subscribers’ email experiences with timely, relevant messages. 

Instead of sending the same message at the same time to everyone on your list, email drip campaigns allow you to prepare relevant messages in advance and send them only when the time is right. 

Sure, you could try to deliver this type of personal attention to each customer or subscriber manually–if you have very few subscribers and a whole lot of people available to monitor their every move and respond. 

Wait. No, you can’t. Don’t even think about it. 

Go with the automatic drip. 

Email drip campaigns put your brand in front of your subscribers or customers at the perfect moment to propel them forward on their buyer’s journey, increase your email marketing team’s productivity, improve engagement and conversion rates, and enable you to scale your email marketing efforts efficiently. 

Use drip campaigns to raise awareness, give an extra nudge to seal the deal, build momentum and enhance your subscribers’ experience as part of a comprehensive lifecycle marketing strategy that keeps your subscribers connected and converting.

What else is in it for you when you embrace these automated wonders? 

🚀 Drip campaigns enable you to manage segments-of-one at scale

Drip campaigns enable email marketers to take lifecycle-stage customization deeper with fewer segments. Plus, because drip campaigns begin at the moment each subscriber reaches a specific point in their buyer’s journey, they alleviate this ‘one message fits all the people in the segment’ problem. 

Here’s what I mean.

You can use email newsletters and blast promotions with lifecycle-stage segmentation to target subscribers at different journey stages. 

By adding dynamic fields and blocks for stage-specific or individualized content to a standard newsletter or blast template, you can customize these mass emails further. 

For example, you can create a bulk email that delivers a first purchase discount to list members in the awareness stage and an upsell offer to list members who are repeat purchasers. 

But, when you send that newsletter or mass email campaign, every subscriber in a segment gets an email at the same time. Every subscriber in the pre-purchase segment receives your first purchase offer whether they signed up 6 days or 6 months ago. 

If you want the delivery timing of these campaigns to be more precise, you have to create more narrowly defined segments like “signed up 1 week ago,” “signed up 1 day ago,” etc. Bleh.

Trying to segment your audience by journey stage, sign-up time and other criteria to cover all the bases can still feel like building a Rube Goldberg email machine. 

Another downside of using segment-level campaigns or newsletters instead of drip series is that new subscribers receive the next message in that series, regardless of when they signed up. 

This could be awkward if they sign up just in time to receive a “Last chance” message as their first notice of an event or promotion. 

Automated, event-triggered messaging puts your first-time purchaser offer in front of a subscriber minutes after they visit your website instead of hours or days later (when it is sent to everyone in the same segment). 

With an individually initiated series, a subscriber who signed up mid-promotion doesn’t receive the campaign’s last-chance message. They receive the entire campaign in the order you planned.

📧 Contently introduces new subscribers to their newsletter with a welcome drip. 

When someone signs up for Contently’s newsletter, they receive an automated message that addresses the timing issue head-on. The company’s welcome drip says,

“We can’t predict when you’ll subscribe…so as a sign of appreciation until the next email comes out, we wanted to provide some useful resources and entertaining reads that offer a glimpse of what you can expect.”  

Notice how this first message also encourages deliverability-boosting engagement with a collection of useful links? This drip campaign tailored for new subscribers gets them off to a great start with the brand automatically. 

🚀 Drip campaigns capture conversions with just-in-time messages 

When your subscriber is in the mood to take action, the timing of your message is critical. 

Triggered emails can be laser-focused on moving your subscriber to the next step in their journey with hyper-relevant content because you know exactly what your subscriber did before they’ll receive your message.  

Combine your email drips with other channels such as web retargeting and text messaging to gain even better performance. 

🚀 Drip campaigns enable you to send personalized and contextualized messages

“The ability to leverage data to anticipate and meet customer needs is vital to mitigating churn. Organizations that fail to meet customer expectations at the right moment and in the right context risk losing business to the competitor that does.” ~Adobe 2022 Digital Trends Report

Drip campaigns open up new opportunities to personalize your messages. 

Recognize your subscribers’ birthdays, sign-up anniversaries or other milestones with individualized messages, send refill reminders just in time for them to place their next order, or send them a free shipping offer to entice them to return to your website and make a purchase. 

📧 Hulu uses data about subscribers’ birthdays to trigger an invitation aimed at moving new and lapsed subscribers toward conversion with a free trial offer. 

Then you can amp up your personalization by adding dynamic content using dynamic fields or blocks. 

📧 This dynamic cart abandonment email example from WhatonEarth is right-timed and includes images of the recipient’s selected items along with a discount offer to woo them back. 

In the new digital-first economy, understanding your subscribers’ needs and personalizing their experience is no longer optional. Relevant, timely drip campaigns drive conversions by anticipating subscribers’ needs and reducing friction on their path to becoming loyal customers. 

🚀 Drip campaigns keep your customer acquisition pipeline flowing 

Developing a well-tested and refined nurture series is particularly effective because these messages meet each subscriber where they are on their unique buyer’s journey. 

📧 This hard-working nurture series is designed to convert prospects into customers for snack maker, Mr. Tortilla.

After signing up, new subscribers receive a greeting and a 10% off code from Mr. Tortilla’s founder, Ronald Alcazar. The emails aren’t completely HTML-free but have a plain text look and feel that gives them a personal touch (and, as we explain in Plain Text Email vs HTML Emails: Which One Is Best for Email Marketing?, may help with inboxing). 

📨 Say hello to guilt-free tortillas 👋 – Hi there, Ronald here, founder of Mr. Tortilla…

The next message in the sequence goes full HTML adding links, CTA buttons, images and emojis to alert new subscribers that their 10% discount is waiting. 

The heading announces that, “these savings won’t eat themselves” and is followed by copy that says,

Don’t miss this deal! We noticed you haven’t touched your discount yet, friend. No worries, there’s still plenty of savings left on the table for you to dig into…”

📨 Didn’t see your gift? 😍- We sent you an irresistible 10% off. 

Instead of making a personal appeal from the founder, this second message in the drip series uses customer testimonials and star ratings to convert recipients. 

A day later, the third nurture message arrives. The subject line for this email says, 

“Stop salivating. Start eating. 😋.”

Urgency has now entered the conversation in this third entry, with preview text warning that there are “5 hours left to get 10% off!” and a faux countdown timer at the top of the message. (The second countdown to 35 before resetting at 60.)

Two weeks later, Mr. Tortilla makes another effort to engage its new subscriber. This time with a subject line that says, “We want your business, Here’s 30% Off” and the inside copy includes a “just for you” discount code.

This message reverts to the low-HTML format, is signed by “The team at Mr. Tortilla” and includes an invitation to reply with any questions. I’m not sure, but this message may have been triggered by a browse abandonment action. 

You get the idea though, right? 

Each message in the series is sent for a reason and has a job to do. One builds trust, another induces urgency, and another goes exclusivity plus added savings. 

Hey, before I explain how to set up your own drip campaigns, how about I show you more examples of drip campaigns and how they can fill the gaps in your lifecycle marketing plan? 

Let’s goooooooo!

Drip campaign email examples for every stage of your buyer’s journeys

Drip email campaigns are always working behind the scenes, contacting each subscriber at the perfect moment and nudging them forward. 

After a new lead has become a customer, different drip campaigns maintain and build your relationship with them, reducing churn and increasing referrals‌. 

Think of it like hitting the start button on one of those Rube Goldberg contraptions. You set up the pieces, designate the trigger that will cause the first one to topple and your email automation platform handles the rest. 

Automating these critical customer acquisition and success communications frees your team to focus on your traditional campaigns and make continual improvements to your drip strategies.

🔁 Welcome drips that make subscribers want to stay connected with your brand 

Welcoming someone who has signed up to receive your newsletter or get a discount or other incentive from your brand seems obvious. But, not every brand does it.

To create an effective welcome email, you need to connect your message to the reason the subscriber signed up to hear from you. If your subscriber has signed up to receive blog updates or similar content, send them a quick introduction with links to recent content to welcome them. 

If someone signs up to your email list to get a discount or other incentive, your first welcome email should include that promised incentive. 

📧 Kenneth Cole advances the brand’s conversion goals with a reminder to new subscribers that they have a 30% discount to collect.

Don’t focus all the emails in your series on sales conversions, though. 

Pay attention to the signals your subscriber is sending and think about their stage in the funnel. In addition to reminding them of their available coupon code or other benefits, send messages that tell new subscribers about your brand and its values, introduce them to your community and provide helpful resources to help them get to know you better. 

📧 Misfit Market’s welcome series begins by sending subscribers a promised discount code, then follows with several messages that explain more about the brand, its values, and the products it offers. 

If you aren’t using welcome emails, this is where your drip campaign program should start. 

Welcome emails achieve some of the highest open and click-through rates of all automated emails (86% and 24.7%, respectively) and they have high conversion rates, too. 

📧 Nimble’s introductory email supplements the message with links to several getting-started guides to help new users get a quick start using the media of their choice. 

🔁 Win over subscribers who took an interest in your lead magnets

When a new subscriber signs up to receive a discount or other incentive, they signaled an intent to purchase. The same can’t be said of every subscriber who signs up to obtain access to a knowledge resource such as an ebook or webinar. 

Your content or other offer has interested them in your business and attracted their attention. Now, you have to convince these subscribers that continuing their relationship with you has value. 

📧 Paylocity maintains forward velocity with this email that delivers the goods, makes the pitch and invites recipients to take the next step in this email sales funnel by requesting a demo. 

📧 After signing up to receive a report from the video production company, Wyzowl, subscribers receive a personalized thank-you message and a link to the requested content. 

📨 Thanks for downloading – Thanks or downloading…

Wyzowl’s first contact after download keeps the message simple and focused on delivering the desired content. The email also introduces the brand’s personality and tells subscribers what to expect going forward. 

The copy reads in part,

“We’re really hoping that you find the data interesting and useful to include in your posts. Is there anything we can do to make this easier for you?... We’ll also make sure to be in touch whenever we release our next batch of brand new data.” 

True to their promise, this email is followed two days later by a second message offering a much wider selection of resources. 

📨 Even more video marketing data for you  

The second email in this drip campaign offers a personalized greeting along with a reminder about why the brand is getting in touch with the subscriber. 

“Hey {{First_Name}},
Thanks again for downloading one of our reports! 
We wanted to follow up with some other interesting data we’ve compiled around video marketing…”

Sales aren’t the only way your email drip campaigns can deliver value for your brand. You can also use these campaigns to gather additional data about new subscribers, get feedback about your products or services or even recruit brand advocates. 

Wyzowl’s objective for this email flow isn’t just to win new customers but to create buzz. The email nudges recipients to use the brand’s data in their blogs and other publications, with copy that says,

“Here are some of our most recent data sets. Again, they’re totally free for you to use in your content; all we ask is that you link to us as a source.”

Effective distribution is the power behind the throne when it comes to content marketing.

🔁 Help new users get used to you 

An email drip campaign can help you keep a new customer and convert them to a loyal customer by making them feel comfortable. 

Whether they are a first-time purchaser of your product or a new subscriber to your service, an onboarding series that anticipates and answers their questions and reassures them about their decision is a great tool for reducing churn. 

📧 Professional job search services provider Indeed encourages job seekers to continue their journey with the platform with this triggered email containing next-step instructions for uploading a resume. 

📧 ORLY explains their brand values and origin story in an introduction email to new subscribers. 

📨 Welcome to the ORLY Family – Jeff Pink started ORLY in 1975 and we’ve been family owned ever since!

This email from ORLY introduces the brand and its products before getting real about the brand’s values, saying,

“Unlike many other brands, ORLY has been committed since day one to the welfare of our furry friends. We’ve NEVER tested on animals, ALWAYS been Cruelty-Free, and all our colors are vegan…”

Coordinated color-blocking and attractive images (yes, there’s a puppy!) guide subscribers through this message made extra friendly by a prominent “contact us” CTA button supplementing the “shop now” one.

📧 Signing up for SEO provider DVS’s B2B newsletter triggers an email from the company’s president telling the recipient a little about the company, providing contact information and inviting them to book a call to learn more. 

💡 Find more examples of awesome onboarding emails plus tips for building your onboarding drips in our complete guide to creating onboarding emails

🔁 Delivering value one drip at a time

Sometimes the email is the product. Email newsletters that curate content, include original articles and commentary or provide regular, bite-sized content that entertains, inspires, uplifts or informs all fall into this category. 

Convert these types of communications drip campaigns so that each subscriber gets to start at the beginning of the series and enjoy every drop. 

Both B2B and B2C brands can benefit from robust onboarding drip campaigns that deepen their relationships with new subscribers. 

📧 Jasper.ai’s new subscriber series includes plenty of links, which means plenty of opportunities for the SaaS business to gauge their email recipient’s engagement level. 

Among B2C companies, the first new sign-up message often includes a discount code which may prompt the recipient to click through and shop. Because getting that first click and conversion is important, you might not want to slow these eager shoppers’ roll with a long explanation of what your brand is all about. 

Use follow-up messages to complete your introduction and give subscribers more reasons to love your brand. 

📧 Rhone keeps the conversation going with onboarding messages that continue after it welcomes new subscribers.

📨 Why Rhone? 🤔 – Rhone is premium activewear engineered for me. Our mission is to inspire each other to dare and achieve…

Sending a drip campaign packed with relevant information such as user guides or product recommendations helps establish your brand in subscribers’ minds and inboxes. 

🔁 Recapture the attention of leads or prospects who have wandered off track

For conversions, drip campaigns are a precision tool that reaches your subscribers at the perfect moment. All you have to do is add the perfect message. 

Use browse or registration abandonment emails to bring subscribers back to your website to finish what they started with messages that remind them of their previous activity, provide social proof or other information to encourage them to continue, or a direct incentive that brings them back. 

📧 CreativeLive invites a browser to preview the course they were considering and a few alternatives in this browse abandonment triggered email. 

Cart abandonment campaigns are also recovery-focused. But here, your subscribers’ buying intent signal is stronger. 

Removing a small obstacle may be all it takes to get them to say yes. What’s stopping a particular customer from hitting the purchase and pay button differs, though. 

The top cart abandonment reason among shoppers who aren’t “just browsing” are extra costs at checkout. An abandoned cart series that offers free shipping may be all it takes to win back these customers. 

Don’t want to wait around forever? Put a clock on it with a limited-time offer, then send drip reminders that countdown the time that remains. 

📧 Nuts.com doesn’t use a countdown timer in this cart recovery message, but does incorporate a dynamic block that shows the recipient what they have to lose. 

Nuts sent this message to a first-time purchaser, so it also includes a special free shipping offer. 

What if offering free shipping to every customer isn’t profitable? 

Use separate drip campaigns based on the value of the abandoned order or the customer’s prior average order values. Combine segmentation with your trigger events to create these separate flows. 

You can also employ non-price-sensitive persuasive tactics in your cart abandonment recovery series to move people toward conversion. 

📧 Subscribers who pre-registered to receive updates about the GURU 2022 conference were entered into a flow that included several urgency-themed follow-up messages once registration opened. 

⚠️Don’t ruin the magic of your customized communications by ignoring your subscribers’ responses. Make sure you use the branching systems I describe in this article’s how-to section to prevent subscribers from continuing to receive conversion-focused messages after they’ve converted.

When is the best time to send a recovery or nurture message? 

Timing isn’t consistent for every brand or every subscriber. A few minutes or hours difference can make a real difference in your opens and conversions. 

Watch your metrics and do some A/B testing to discover the best timing, channel mix and sequence to maximize your conversion rates. 

When SaleCycle tested drip sequence send times using the abandoned cart email pictured below, they discovered that it performed 52% better when sent 22 hours after the abandonment event compared to the same message sent 24 hours after the event. (This email was the second message sent in the recovery series.) 

📧 Tommy Hilfiger doesn’t give up after one abandoned cart email. 

Use frequency and cadence performance data along with advanced send time optimization tools to reach your subscribers at the ideal moment.

🔁 Help your subscribers help themselves 

Drip campaigns that help your subscribers achieve their goals can help you build relationships and increase sales. 

Email messages that help your customers remember upcoming dates for service appointments, conferences or webinars are a win-win strategy. 

These campaigns ensure ‌you aren’t left with empty bookings or missing attendees. Your subscribers benefit from timely reminders that keep them from missing out. 

Follow-up with conference or webinar registrants after an event with supplemental content or links to recaps for those who may have missed the live program. 

📧 B2B CMS provider Agility offers webinar skippers a second chance to view the content.

📨 {{First_Name}}, we recorded today’s webinar for you – We had a great session today on an ‘Introduction to Content Architecture’…

Agility employs several methods to personalize and humanize this triggered message, strengthening its value as a relationship building tool

The business uses an individual for the Sender name (Harmonie), and her image and signature appear in the email’s body. Besides a link to the recorded content, the message includes a brief summary of what viewers will learn–anticipating and answering recipients’ “what’s in it for me” question.

Your travel company can win their subscribers’ affections by providing timely schedule reminders and destination-specific travel tips before the customer’s travel date. Then, win the next booking with a follow-up campaign that asks for feedback and recommends new places to go. 

In the ecommerce industry, reminders help subscribers who don’t have time to finish their shopping in one session. Instead, they may use their carts to save items they want to revisit later. I do this on sites where setting up or finding the wishlist is a hassle. 

Email my cart drip campaigns are a proactive way to serve your customers. Instead of waiting for them to abandon their cart and sending a conversion-focused message, these messages are triggered at the subscriber’s request. Use a pop-up or message on your cart page to inform your subscribers of this service. 

According to Barilliance, email my cart messages have a 24.6% conversion rate. In comparison, 18.5% of abandoned cart emails earn a conversion, and just 4.1% of browse abandonment messages end in a sale. 

Continue to add value post-purchase, like David’s Tea does in this hybrid transactional and promotional post-purchase communication.

📧 The David’s Tea email pictured below is transactional but the message still delivers plenty of marketing tea. 

💡 Like many brands, David’s Tea sends transactional messages like this one using a different From name than the one used for its purely marketing messages. Using separate senders, subdomains or IPs for your transactional and marketing campaigns can prevent critical messages from landing in subscribers’ spam folders

Back in stock updates, reorder reminders and other messages that provide useful information to you, subscribers are also prime candidates for development as drip campaigns. 

🔁 Stay connected with your customers with post-conversion campaigns

Your first sale to a customer is a moment of great potential. They know you and like you enough to do business with you. Where the relationship goes from there is up to you. Maintain momentum and increase your customer lifetime values with value-adding post-purchase follow-up emails. 

📧 Merkle encourages further engagement in this automated email response sent to people who registered to download an ebook with additional resource recommendations.

Some examples of after-conversion campaigns include product use guides that provide reasons for your customers to use their purchase (and need to purchase more) and answers common use questions. 

Create customized drips based on previous purchases to send relevant product recommendations and new product introductions. Employ segmentation plus your customer data to decide which subscribers should get the series about new cat toys and which will receive the discounts on dog food—and when to send them. 

Acknowledge subscribers’ birthdays, send them app use or milestone reports, and other date or activity-triggered updates that show them your interest. 

Of course, reward and loyalty programs are a powerful tool in your relationship and retention toolkit as well. 

Drip campaigns directed at your VIPs, updating them on their status, congratulating them on leveling up and offering them special perks will boost customer lifetime values and your brand’s reputation. 

Continue to use your email drips to gather information and support retention efforts, too. 

📧 Hootsuite uses a survey campaign to find out how users feel about its product. Engagement plus data collection for the win. 

🔁 Win back your lapsed customers or subscribers

What if your customers make a purchase but then don’t come back? Try a winback email campaign to entice previous purchasers to buy again or ask them for their feedback to find out why they haven’t. 

Use branching rules to send different feedback requests to customers who you win back and those you don’t. 

📧 Doist, the brand behind communication app Twist, uses a behavior-triggered campaign to find out what went wrong.

📨 Was it us, {{First_Name}}? 

This email arrived after the subscriber failed to respond to Twist’s onboarding series and asks the non-user to provide feedback, saying,

“It seems like Twist wasn’t working for you, which isn’t what the team and I like to see. Do you have just a couple of minutes to complete a two-question survey about how we can do better?…” 

To encourage responses, Doist offers a chance for respondents to win a gift certificate. 

You can also use drip campaigns to re-engage with subscribers who haven’t made a purchase from your brand or engaged with your newsletters or other messages. 

These campaigns should focus on finding out if they want to remain active subscribers or would prefer to unsubscribe. Reengagement campaigns paired with automatic sunset policies help you maintain a healthy email list and protect your deliverability rates. 

📧 Gravity blankets uses humor to attempt to reconnect with an unengaged subscriber.

📨 Knock, knock – Are you there?

Checking in on a lapsed subscriber with a light-hearted email featuring an image of the brand’s core product, Gravity Blankets asks, “are we in the right place?” 

The message continues, saying, 

We’ve been trying to send you the scoop on all things Gravity. But it looks like you haven’t been opening our emails. Is this the right email? Let us know!”

A bright CTA button invites engagement with a copy that says, “yes, it’s me.”

🔁 Convert your customers into brand advocates

Drip campaigns are an excellent way to build brand advocacy by seeking referrals, requests for on-site reviews and testimonials, encouraging reviews on third-party review sites, inviting social media or forum engagement, and soliciting and sharing user-generated content. 

You can begin the process with an attribute or action trigger and then continue the flow based on how your subscribers respond. 

📧 Sam’s Club increases its chances of gaining customer reviews by automatically sending requests customized with dynamic content to subscribers when they make a purchase. 

📧 Demand Curve’s referral drip begins with a (non-drip) newsletter invitation that includes a customized referral link. Once a subscriber meets the referral quota, their reward arrives via an automated email. 

Timing matters when you are requesting feedback. 

One of the best times to ask for a review is shortly after your customer has received and had a chance to try out your product. This means you need to wait until the estimated delivery date for physical products before you make your request. Another good time to ask for feedback is after a subscriber has had a positive customer service experience. 

Use drip campaigns to reach out to frequent customers to help build your online community and support your cross-channel marketing efforts by encouraging your biggest fans to engage with your company on multiple fronts.

Now, how can you turn on the power of email flows like these for your email marketing program? 

The answer’s coming up next.

How to do it: Making email drip campaigns work for you

You won’t use dominos, ping-pong balls, tape or cardboard to build your drip campaigns. Instead, you’ll use your data and email management systems, plus your creative and analytics tool sets to build these automated message flows. 

The process goes something like this. 

Define the segments that you’ll target with your drip campaigns using your marketing goals and contact data

When your campaign goals are linked to different stages in your funnel, your audience segments will be, too. This segmentation is the first stage of what will eventually be a campaign that is hyper-segmented and timed to match each subscriber’s individual journey. 

Funnel-stage segmentation isn’t your only option, though. You can segment your drip campaigns using the same characteristics and attributes that you would for any other campaign to deliver an even more tailored experience. 

For instance, many online clothing retailers ask new subscribers if they want to show women’s or men’s fashion. Job search boards’ top level of segmentation divides visitors between job seekers and employers. Subscribers are further subdivided by geographic region, job type and skills or company size, and other relevant characteristics. 

Using the zero- and first-party data you’ve collected about your contacts, along with the stage in the sales funnel, you can send targeted drip campaigns that feature products relevant to your subscriber. 

Accompany your welcome discount with images of trending women’s fashions for one subscriber and the latest top picks for men in another. Segment your B2B nurture campaigns based on the recipient’s role in the organization and send drip series that target their unique role-related pain points. 

Your email campaigns will be more relevant and personalized when you incorporate what you know about your subscribers. These campaigns can also serve as a source of new information to add to your data set. 

The webinars a subscriber registers for, the content they download or click-through to read and the incentive offers they respond to can contribute to your knowledge and improve your ability to serve them. 

Learn more about the awesome data management tools that bring everything together for you in our 2022 top email marketing tools list.

Design and map your campaign’s flows in your email marketing platform

Okay, here’s where it gets a little technical and really cool. Your drip campaigns can be changed as they progress! What I mean by that is you don’t have to send the whole series to everyone who triggers the campaign and you don’t have to send everyone the exact same series. 

Using what we call branching, you can send someone the first email in a triggered series, and the next email they receive will depend on how they respond to the first (and so on and so forth).

Say you send a webinar invite to everyone in a specific segment and 10% of them click-through and register to attend. You don’t want to send those 10% another invitation, but you do want to continue engaging with them so they actually show up to the webinar. 

So you enter these subscribers into the “Registered to attend” flow, and retarget them with event reminders, introductions to the presenters and other emails that keep the momentum going. 

What about the other 90% who didn’t convert on the first try? 

They go into the “Try again” flow. 

These subscribers receive a second invite–maybe one that uses different tactics in the subject line or body. You might add social proof or a countdown timer, or maybe a video clip made by one of the presenters. 

In addition to or instead of branching, you can also pause or stop a flow based on a subscriber’s response. In our webinar example, your invitation flow could be stopped and an entirely new flow created for registrants. 

Here’s how ⤵

Define the triggers for the start of the drip campaign and any subsequent branching, pause or end triggers 

The triggers that initiate an email flow may be behavioral or situational–based on the subscriber’s action or a particular attribute. For example, a newsletter sign-up is a behavioral signal. As soon as this signal is received, the subscriber’s journey should begin with either a welcome message or a confirmation (double opt-in) request, followed by a welcome message. 

Situational triggers may include dates or milestones, such as their sign-up anniversary,or user attributes. For instance, you might create a drip campaign that is initiated only when a new subscriber is also a C-level executive, or you may have a drip campaign that is delivered to individuals in a specific region based and triggered by weather conditions in that region. 

Opens used to be one of the key signals used to progress email flows after the first message of the series was sent. An open told marketers that their message had been received and it was time to continue the conversation. 

However, as email providers roll out expanded privacy features for their users, open rates are no longer a reliable source. You’ll need to look for other signals that your message has been received, such as click-throughs or interactions on your website. 

Gauging your subscribers’ engagement with your brand is increasingly becoming an omnichannel endeavor. It’s time to think beyond the open and choose events and triggers that are more accurate and relevant to the goals of your campaigns. 

Use Ongage’s events and triggers campaigns to build your flows

Ongage supports automated emails and email series through its Events and Triggers and Automation Rules modules. Events represent a series of one or more pre-programmed email messages that are sent automatically when the designated criteria are met. Automation Rules enable marketers to send transactional messages and message series. 

Using these modules, you can designate the triggers that will begin and end a campaign or alter its course, the email templates for your campaign and the list or list segment that the campaign will target. 

You can also create recurring campaigns, such as daily job alerts or other regular updates. Also, you can add instructions to your campaign flows to initiate other flows or add or update data fields. For example, you can automatically start your sun-setting process for subscribers who don’t respond to a re-engagement campaign. 

Use charts and graphs to visualize your drip campaign’s path to success

Working out how your emails should flow and when subscribers should be switched to a new flow or existing one may require some visuals. 

These maps will reflect the specific email journey and campaign touchpoints on other channels and allow you to see how they work together so you can choose the best points to stop or transition recipients. 

Draw your drip campaign maps on a whiteboard, use sticky notes or try a tool like Funnelytics or Creately to see the big picture. 

(Email drip campaign flowchart, Source: Creately)

How many emails should your drip campaign include? 

As you develop your flows, also decide how many messages they will include and the cadence at which you’ll send them. For some campaigns, the answer to how many messages to send may be, “as many as it takes.” 

For example, a SaaS onboarding series needs to communicate sufficient information to move the new user through the aha! moment and ensure adoption. Achieving that goal may take one message or ten. 

Don’t be afraid to test different delivery methods and strategies to determine the best frequency and cadence for your series and how much information is TMI for your audience. 

What about an ecommerce recovery campaign? 

I recently saw this question posted in a forum. The seller wanted to know if they should continue to add messages to their abandoned cart sequence. Their open-to-conversion rate was above 5% for their campaign. The obvious answer to the question might be, “Until you don’t get any conversions.” 

Revenue is revenue, right? 

However, before deciding to keep sending messages, consider the real potential costs as well as the gains. Pay attention to increases in your unsubscribe and spam complaint rates and decreases in your click-through rates when deciding at what point a campaign series has outlived its usefulness. 

Also, look at the net revenue per email for those last sends. Are you sacrificing margin in exchange for sales? 

Consider these factors when defining your drip campaign KPIs. Then consider the drip campaign’s KPIs when deciding how many emails to include in each series. 

💡 Remember to take all of your communications with your subscribers into consideration when making these decisions. Include an estimate of the number of non-campaign newsletters and transactional messages plus your campaign-related communications using other channels to come up with the number and frequency of messages your customers are likely to receive from you during the campaign. 

You can avoid overwhelming your subscribers by adding total volume or frequency caps to your automation settings.   

Bonus: Best practices for creating effective drip campaigns

Marketers collect a lot of emails to add to their subscription lists, and people get a lot of emails. Before you decide to send a drip campaign, decide why you’re sending it. 

And if you can’t come up with a reason that connects back to a business goal, don’t send it. You’ll gain your subscribers’ appreciation and attention in the inbox if you only send emails with a purpose. 

Begin your planning process with a goal that supports your business’s objectives, such as converting leads into customers, increasing average order values or gaining more referrals. 

Then, the drip email strategy that can help you achieve that goal. Once you have a strategy in mind, begin working on the details. 

How will that strategy contribute to the goal? 

For example, a pre-purchase series can build trust by educating consumers about your products and values. A post-purchase series offering subscribers rewards for referrals can expand your reach. 

Set goals for each drip campaign that are relevant to your subscribers’ stage in the buyer’s journey (and your business objectives)

Marketers use ‌different names to describe the stages in the buyer’s journey (and the journey itself) but the purpose of the journey is the same to transform strangers into loyal, profitable customers. 

Identify your journey stages by mapping them, including all the significant touchpoints your subscribers pass through from the moment they engage with your brand and sign-up to receive your emails. 

Lifecycle waypoints to support using drip campaigns

🏁 Awareness – Your email campaigns should have a head start with awareness since your subscribers have already signed up for your email campaigns. However, you may still have work to do when it comes to building awareness. 

A subscriber who signed up to get an ebook or other lead magnet may not know much about your business’s product or services at all. A drip campaign with the goal of educating new subscribers about the products or services your brand offers, its values and mission, or the value it brings to customers can support awareness-related goals. 

🏁 Engagement – Email without engagement doesn’t serve much of a purpose. You need subscribers to view and respond to what they’ve discovered in your emails to move them toward conversion. Drip campaigns at this stage should be focused on gauging that response to help you identify and convert leads. 

Set and track engagement performance metrics such as getting subscribers to sign up for a webinar or click through to view a product page to maximize the value of your drip campaigns. 

🏁 Consideration – You’ve told subscribers about your brand and encouraged them to learn more. Now you need to get them to think seriously about making a purchase or subscribing to your service. Getting subscribers to book a demo, visit a product page, add items to their cart or wish list or download a case study will move them forward on their path to purchase.

🏁 Purchase – This is the pivotal moment that makes future revenue possible. The goals for this stage are pretty simple. Will they or won’t they? The significance of this stage in your sales funnel makes it prime territory for goal-setting and using drip campaigns to achieve those goals. 

🏁 Adoption – Sometimes, a customer purchases an item or subscribes to a service but they never really take to it. In the worst case, they even return the item or ask for a refund on their service subscription. Ensuring customer success is part of the modern marketing cycle. A well-timed email offering help can reduce churn and increase customer lifetime value. 

Your company’s adoption-stage goals will depend on the type of product or service you provide. For consumables, a good sign of successful adoption is reorders. For a SaaS, you want to see signs that your customers actually use your service. A parked app is an app that is at risk for non-renewal.  

🏁 Retention – After adoption comes retention. They didn’t send it back or they’re using it for now. That’s great. But will they repurchase or renew? 

Drip campaigns employing surveys or other methods to uncover your customer success rates or net promoter score, as well as repurchase and engagement rates, can tell you a lot about how many of your first-time buyers will become loyal customers. 

🏁 Expansion – Customer acquisition costs (CAC) for each new customer are a one-and-done expense. Sure, you’ll have retention costs. But the money you spent on acquiring that customer is fixed once you’ve acquired them. 

Every improvement to your CAC to customer lifetime value ratio represents a low-cost way to expand your revenue. For revenue expansion campaigns, your goals are to increase average order values and order frequency. Resells, upsells and cross-sells will be your conversion actions. 

🏁 Advocacy – Can it get any better than loyal customers who keep making purchases from you and tell their friends to do the same? 

Advocacy-stage campaign goals include increasing referral rates, social media mentions, email forwards, and the volume of positive reviews and testimonials your customers contribute. 

Define the KPIs for your email drip campaign

Once you have a goal and metric, use historical data, predictive modeling and your expertise to define what success will look like. 

How much do you expect this campaign to increase referrals? 

By what percentage do you plan to increase average order values? 

Set primary and secondary KPIs to help you pinpoint weaknesses or gaps in your strategy. 

For instance, if your goal is to increase product sales, your primary KPI might be an increase in total site sales of 10% in the next 30 days. 

Secondary KPIs would include click-through rates and click-to-conversion rates. Ongage’s platform enables you to track how each email in your campaign contributes to its success through the use of conversion points, which are activated using pixel tags. 

Pixel fires are triggered when a tagged link is clicked. If the conversion action associated with that link is completed, the action is attributed to the connected email. 

Prioritize your drip campaigns to maximize your returns

Drip campaigns can support every stage in your buyer’s journey. However, getting these campaigns right takes some time and effort. Implement your drip campaign program by starting with the campaigns that will have the greatest impact on your bottom line and fill gaps in your email marketing strategy.

What are the missing pieces that are keeping your machine from completing its task? 

Where do you need to place a domino so the cascade? 

Look at your existing performance data to detect leaks in your pipeline and areas where an increase in conversions could be a real game changer. These are prime places to bring a drip campaign into play. 

Optimize and Test your campaign’s content

After all that planning, it’s time to set your campaign in motion. When you create a single email template, make sure each part of that email supports every other part and leads to your ultimate conversion goal. 

You coordinate your subject line with your CTA and ensure that your copy and design adhere to your brand’s style guide. When you create a drip campaign, this coordination process involves every message in the series. 

Don’t duplicate your subject lines from message to message, but coordinate them so they maintain the series’ theme. Use ordinal phrases or numbers to guide recipients through your campaign and brand or product mentions helping them recognize your messages in their inboxes. 

Next, wow your email recipients by adding dynamic content to your expertly timed messages for the ultimate customized experience. Wrap things up with a can’t-resist CTA that directs your subscriber to the next step along the path you want them to take. Ayal explains just how to do that in Email Call-To-Action Examples: A Guide to the Click Now.

Can you imagine trying to build a Rube Goldberg Machine by testing whether the individual components will even work? That could lead to some very time and resource consuming mistakes! Avoid mistakes with your email campaigns by selecting key elements of your campaign to A/B test and use the results to refine the series. 

What should you test? 

In her article describing how to A/B test email campaigns, Melissa recommends starting with the factors that will have the greatest impact on your email’s performance. This would include elements such as your subject line and preview text and CTA. 

But don’t stop there. Also look at factors such as the best time to send your emails, the messages (information, promotional, community-focused, etc.) that work best for each audience segment, and which channels to use across the drip series. 

🛸 Looking for more ways to increase revenue and growth? Check out our guide to reducing customer attrition for tips on keeping the customers you’ve earned!

VP of Growth @Ongage
Mark's specialties took companies from launch to profitability through fitting their product to the right market, channel, and model, followed by centering on scaling it. In Ongage, he focuses on developing creative solutions for email marketing challenges. He believes that growth develops as a story, and like with all stories, the heroes need an exciting journey and to wield the right tools to conquer the trials they face.

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