Marketing / Email Marketing

What is a Drip Campaign & Why Should You Automate Yours?

Derek Harju & Nicole Gilotti

Sep 01, 2021 · 15 min read

email drip campaign

Table of Contents

  1. What is an Email Drip Campaign?
  2. Why Use Drip Campaigns Over Other Email Strategies?
  3. Examples of High Converting Drip Marketing Campaigns
  4. How to Set Up a Drip Marketing Campaign

What is an Email Drip Campaign?

An email drip campaign is a series of timed and triggered personalized emails, dialed into each customer’s personal info and behavior.

Properly built drip campaigns not only automate nurturing your customer base, but are one of the most powerful strategies to achieve recurring sales, brand loyalty, and long term growth.

A Step Towards Personalized, Relevant, and Timely Content

Powerful content marketing has everything to do with getting the right message to the right person at the right time. The days of bombarding your audience with announcements like a wild carnival barker are long gone—it’s time to treat your marketing like chapters in a story the client can’t wait to read.

When a user subscribes to receive email communication from you, the proper response is immediate outreach. Let them know you’ve seen them, that you have a plan for them, and that they made the right choice in connecting with you.

Historically, many businesses would accomplish this outreach by calling up a new customer or manually hammering out a welcome email. Some companies may have been sophisticated enough to create an email template (saving a little bit of time). This engagement strategy is a recipe for possible short-term success followed by near-certain long-term chaos and confusion—especially for a fast-growing small business.


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You can automate your responses (a massive step in the right direction). Still, to place yourself in the minds of your clients and potential clients, you need to create a relationship with personalized, relevant, and timely content.

Why Use Drip Campaigns Over Other Email Strategies?

The idea of a marketing email used to be similar to that of a commercial on TV.

You created a single message, chose a time slot to broadcast it, and hoped for the best. That’s the reality of using email blasts as a marketing tool; you’re just shouting as loud as you can at as many contacts as possible. When poorly executed, a massive portion of your audience simply won’t receive your message at all due to bad timing, getting lost in their inbox, being marked as spam, etc. Meanwhile, many who do open your email may find it irritating and smash the unsubscribe button.

The 2020 Keap Customer Survey found that 22.9% of respondents still manually collect contact information in-person or over the phone. This process can be easily automated using sales and marketing automation (SMA) to save time.

Drip marketing campaigns can be more easily tailored to the specific needs of your clients without wasting time and energy on manual responses. Use basic tagging and segmenting features to set up easy-to-build automations. These personalized, long-term, marketing campaigns keep your company top of mind.

When you only deliver relevant content, a lead has no reason to unsubscribe.

When you provide what the client needs before they know they need it, you build brand loyalty.

And when your content is pleasing to your audience, they’ll actively seek out your messaging.

A little strategy, plus a solid sales and marketing platform, goes a long way.

Relevant, targeted emails produce 18-times more revenue than globally broadcasted ones - Inc Magazine

With Keap's email automation, your clients get drip campaign emails and newsletters that drive repeat sales. Stay top of mind months and even years after that first sale, ensuring long term recurring revenue.

Examples of High Converting Drip Marketing Campaigns

As you develop your drip strategy, you’ll see endless possibilities for nurturing your clients. If you’re unsure of where to begin, we recommend these proven messaging types as a path towards customer loyalty and recurring sales.

Find out how to create the perfect subject line in our ultimate guide to email subject lines.


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Welcome

Following a sign-up or registration, let your new lead or client know you’re there for them.

Onboarding

Create happy clients by giving them everything they need to succeed quickly with your product or service.

Subscriptions and renewals

Give subscribers a heads up about an upcoming charge, subscription renewal, or change to their plan. (Automation is a big help here.)

Confirmations and thank yous

Immediately let clients know that you have received their request and you appreciate their business.

  • "Purchase confirmed: Order details.”
  • “Can’t wait to see you tomorrow!”
  • “The webinar starts in an hour, get the popcorn ready.”
  • “We’re glad you’ve chosen us.”
  • Thank you for your order, here’s your tracking number.”

Reviews and referrals

Politely ask for a quick review or referral after purchase and turn happy customers into brand evangelists.

Courses and classes

Establish yourself as a thought leader in your field. Use triggers on behavior and purchases to offer relevant classes and courses. Cement yourself as their go-to resource.

Abandoned cart or “Did you forget something?”

80-90% of ecommerce carts are populated and then abandoned, that’s a lot of missed revenue. It’s more than likely your customers didn’t bail on your sale, they just got distracted. Give interested leads a little nudge back to your offerings. Include pictures or the item (when possible); remind them what they wanted and why they wanted it.

Cross-selling

Cross-selling is when you offer another product that is adjacent to the one your client purchased. For example, a client purchases a new pull-up bar, you send them a series of timed and triggered emails (an email drip campaign) offering gloves, training courses, or athletic apparel.

Up-selling

Up-selling is when you offer the opportunity to purchase a “superior” version of the product you’ve chosen (sometimes this means adding additional features). For example, a new client signs up for a basic yoga membership (3 classes per week), the studio could send a drip campaign offering promotions to upgrade their membership in the months to follow. With a solid CRM and automation platform, you could tailor this offer to go only to those clients who frequently attend classes already.

Post-selling

Post-selling is a strategy gaining traction now that long-term CRM data is more common for business. An example of post-selling is offering past client insights on new offerings or updated models of their past purchases. For example, offering someone who purchased a 2015 Minivan the same model of Minivan in 2020. Or perhaps, the way all of us get an announcement that the latest version of the phone we already own has arrived (you know you’re going to get one).

Special offers

These are pretty straightforward; you want to let folks know about upcoming promotions, new product launches, upcoming events and webinars and more.

Releases and events

Drip marketing campaigns are a great way to prep folks over days and even weeks about big launches or event registrations. Use customer data and automation software with tagging and segmentation features to create campaigns that offer advance tickets to past event attendees or trade-in deals for clients upgrading their hardware in time for the following product release.

To show the importance of a properly automated drip campaign; here’s everything you’d have to send to each registrant of a typical corporate event:

  • Pre-event promotions, details, and coupons
  • Registration confirmations
  • Event and arrival time details
  • Airport information
  • Hotel information
  • Restaurant and local attraction information
  • Hype promotion (gotta keep the momentum going)
  • Agendas
  • Maps
  • Schedule updates
  • Event and arrival time reminders
  • MORE schedule updates
  • Final event and arrival time reminders
  • Post-event follow-up asking for a rating and review
  • Post-event follow-up offering attendees a pre-registration discount for next year.
  • And all this is for a “small” event!

How to Set Up a Drip Marketing Campaign

First order of business is to identify your target audiences. Consider who is getting your message and whether a timed or triggered response is called for. Your ultimate goal is to build a drip campaign with automated triggers based on either client behavior or demographic data (be sure you have a proven sales and marketing automation system with CRM, or it’ll be a real hassle).

Here are 5 tips to start your first campaign:

  1. Set a clear (ideally singular) goal for each drip marketing campaign
  2. Consider how long you want the campaign to last
  3. Consider how many times you want to contact the lead (don’t pester them)
  4. Develop and personalize your content, offerings, and promotions
  5. Consider reasons to remove leads from your campaign (e.g., already purchased)
  6. Be sure they receive the first message as soon as possible (24 hrs MAX!) and make subsequent emails timely
  7. Watch for expired offers

Automate Your Drip Marketing Campaigns

We’ve talked about the size and shape of a drip campaign, but not about how to deliver it in the least costly, least time-consuming, most effective way.

To accomplish your aims, be sure you have a sales and marketing automation platform that includes a robust CRM. This will make it easy and quick to create automatic actions like:

  • Automatic client messaging (marketing, educational, reminders, and more)
  • Appointment setting and reminders (for you and your client)
  • Delivering invoices and following up on payment
  • And anything else you can think up to make the client experience awesome

Pre-write content for 1-3 customer segments you’ve created in your CRM.

Personalize the content to suit these specific segments and the goals you want to achieve for this particular campaign.

Use tools like Keap’s Easy Automations or Keap’s Advanced Automations Builder to easily set actions triggered by behavior and client data.

An Automated Drip Campaign Example Using Keap’s Easy Automations

  1. When a user fills out the data capture (contact form) on your site….
  2. Then an automatic reply is sent, for instance:
    • A welcome message
    • A simple confirmation
    • Onboarding resources (PDF’s, white papers, login-info, webinars)
    • A selection of relevant offerings and promos (discounts, new products, etc)

    Making instantaneous contact with a new lead is critical to establishing a brand connection to cultivate repeat business.

  3. With a proper sales and marketing automation platform, you can send a series of nurture emails over the days and weeks to follow.
  4. By using automated drips and trigger actions based on behavior and personal data, you can remove dead leads from your lists. Or, if the lead makes a purchase, they’ll be tagged and then segmented into a new list where they’ll get promos for new offerings, tips to get the most from their purchase, and of course a Thank you message.

In mere hours you can easily set up your automated email drip campaign. With these automations in place, you’ll not only save thousands of hours per year, but you’ll see a significant increase in user engagement and sales.

When you build your automated campaigns, remember, what you’re really building is a journey.Put yourself in the mindset of your client and build step by step:

  • Lead discovers your brand
  • Lead opts in/signs up
  • Lead becomes a client
  • Client receives their purchase
  • Client writes a stellar review
  • Client makes repeat purchases
  • Client refers a friend

This is the customer lifecycle you’re looking to cultivate with reliable automated drip marketing campaigns.

Don’t get distracted by the possibilities:

You could build LIMITLESS automations for endless segment types.

  • Stick to one at first, then build and iterate as you gain performance insights from your early attempts.
  • Take your time, follow the data. Having access to client and campaign info in these strategies is critical.
  • Ensure your marketing platform’s dashboard provides powerful and clear statistics at a glance.

Once you’ve written your content, built your automations, set triggers, and examined the results from your first few campaigns, you can begin creating more and more personalized and growth focused campaigns, each built to not only cater to another slice of your audience, but to accelerate your growth while taking stress and busy work off your plate.

Build automations once, then enjoy them (and the revenue they generate) for years to come.

Are you ready to get a head start on your Keap experience? Watch these webinars tailored for new customers. Easy-to-digest 60 minute sessions get you up and running fast!

Final Thoughts

Email drip campaigns often scare off businesses because they think of them as being slow. The reality is drip marketing campaigns aren’t slow—they’re patient. Authentic relationships require respect. Take the time to talk to leads and clients about the things that interest them when they want to hear about it. You don’t just shout in your friend’s face about any topic at random; that would make them stop talking to you, so why would a customer be any different? Develop an idea of your core client persona, implement an automated journey that welcomes them into your brand, be patient, analyze the results, adjust, begin again. Be patient, be methodical, be growth-minded.

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