Drip Campaign – A Complete Guide

The Complete Guide to Drip Campaigns

No one wants MORE email.

Actually, no one wants more BAD email.

We’re all happy to get actionable advice.

We’d love to get more AdSense cash confirmations from Google via email.

What we need is not less email, but better emails.

This guide will teach all about providing value, nurturing leads and increasing trust using Email Drip Campaigns.

1. The State Of Email Marketing

2. How Drip Campaigns Came To Be

3. The Benefits Of Drip Campaign

4. Set Up Your Objectives

5. Implement Your Triggers For Drip Campaign

Drip Email Examples – INTERMISSION #1

6. Create Your Email Sequence

7. Types Of Drip Campaigns

8. Email Marketing Automation Tools

9. Increase Your Email Deliverability

Drip Email Examples – INTERMISSION #2

10. Testing Your Drip Campaign

11. Things To Test Out

12. Final Tips And Tricks

13. Recommended Reading: Articles, Guides And Courses

The first thing on our agenda is a short story about the current state of email marketing.

1. The State Of Email Marketing

State of email marketing
Source

Give marketers something and they’ll ruin it. These are the words of Gary Vaynerchuk. And words that are truer today than they’ve ever been. The reason they’re true is because most things start off as innocent concepts: Food, Fun; Email.

But somehow, after marketers get involved, they’re not as innocent anymore. That’s why people are so reluctant to sign up for new email newsletters, as showed by low open rates. They’re annoyed with the emails they’re getting and wouldn’t want anymore.

And perhaps they’re right. But perhaps they’ve only seen the bad emails. They haven’t been in touch with the email marketing revolution we’re living in.

Emails with animated GIFs. Emails with personalized content. Parts of books sent as emails. Motivational text in your Inbox. Personal emails from a start-up founder. Emails meant to delight. Emails meant to shock. Educational emails. Entertaining emails. Emails created to make you take an action. These are all possible and happening all around us.

Perhaps they’re not looking in the right places.

Email Marketing on gartner hype cycle (1)
Source

One of the most useful innovations in recent email marketing history are the Drip Campaigns. Read on and we’ll discover what they are, what are their benefits and how you can get started using them right away!

2. How Drip Campaigns Came To Be

Marketing and Email Automation came out of frustration and ingenuity. As with everything in life, people were looking to make their lives easier. Spending time on viewing every single user interaction is impossible, even with dedicated digital marketing tools.

That’s why Email Automation and Drip Campaigns evolved into a power house of tactics and techniques. They’re now used to educate, entertain, enlighten, shock nurture leads and send people lower down the conversion funnel. Check out this infographic giving an insight about the basics of Drip Campaigns.

Drip Marketing Basics
Source

They came about as a necessity. Time was very limited and people seemed to respond more to personal emails than sales-y newsletters. The users had woken up and the older tactics were no longer working. As a result, marketers became more transparent.

Don’t try to sell right away, form a connection first. And Drip Campaigns are a great tool for creating connections.

3. The Benefits Of Drip Campaign

Benefits of Drip Campaigns
Source

Using Drip Campaigns means you run an almost automated lead generating and sales cycle. You bring in traffic to your website and increase your conversion rates. If your emails are set up properly, you’ll be enjoying warm leads down your funnel without lifting a finger.

That means less time fidgeting with tools, less time choosing font colors and more time interacting with prospects, gaining insights and improving your product.

– Provide Value Throughout

Provide Value through Drip campaign
Source

When a user sees a long written article, full of links, images and videos they no longer think “Wow, this looks great, let me take the time to read this”, they instead think “Oh this looks like it’s going to take a big chunk of my time – I’ll just read it later”. This gives you, the marketer, the opportunity to spoon feed that article in small digestible pieces.

– Nurture Your Leads

Lead Nurturing Funnel
Source

Listen to provide answers and solutions to your prospect’s questions at every step of the buyer’s journey. Help them realize the need for your solution, paint a picture of how amazing their lives will be if they choose it.

Help them decide between your software and those of your competitors, based on what your prospects are telling you.

Help them by answering any objection they have when they’ve narrowed down the search between you and another company.

And finally, make them happy they’ve chosen you. So that they’ll stay with you for a long time and even recommend your software to their clients/associates/partners.

– Increase Trust

Allowing someone in your inbox is a very personal affair nowadays. That means that not only should you not abuse that given trust, but you should also focus on increasing it.

Offer case studies, answer specific questions from other subscribers, show testimonials from past clients – if you do it all in good taste, your customers will have no choice but to think of you of someone who’s trustworthy. And according to this article, people want to do business with people they trust.

So think of trust as the silver bullet you need to start a business relationship with someone who’s perhaps now just an email subscriber.

4. Set Up Your Objectives

Set Smart objective for email campaign

As always, you should set your objectives to be S.M.A.R.T. That means they should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timed. Now you know their characteristics, but what objectives should you choose for your Drip Campaigns?

It really depends on your end goal. Do you feel like you’re only getting cold leads and none of them convert? Try an email sequence where you explain the benefits of using your software, from rational, logical, psychological and emotional points of view.

Does your expensive piece of software require a bit of training before using it? Set your objective to reflect that more people should understand your app. You can quantify that by using surveys and email questions.

You can also have a prospect meeting be the objective of your Drip Campaign, as in this example from Act-On. After a user has downloaded the whitepaper called “What You Must Know About Saving For College” they break down the drip email  sequence as follows:

– Email #1:Thanks for downloading “What You Must Know…”

– Email #2:Free tools (College Loan Calculator)

– Email #3:Top ten list (Best/Least Expensive Colleges in the US)

– Email #4:Whitepaper (College Savings Guidelines)

– Email #5:Recorded webinar (with a Key Contact)

– Email #6:News article (Your company in the news)

– Email #7:Blog post (Product specific)

– Email #8:Meeting request

Regardless of your specific objectives, you should always think of something the Drip Campaigns can solve for you. If you don’t have that, it will be near impossible to figure out if you’re doing a great job or not.

5. Implement Your Triggers For Drip Campaign

Email automation for drip campaigns
Source

All Email Automation relies on triggers. These are specific actions the user must take in order to receive an email from you. Below are 5 to get your started.

5.1 Signed Up For A Trial

sign up for trial -Email automation trigger
Source

Signing up for a trial of your software can mean a few things: The user is interested in trying your app out. The user wants to compare it with other similar apps. Or the user really wants to buy the app, but has to show his boss first.

Based on your past experience and gained insights, it’s your responsibility to deploy welcome emails and a short email course on how to best use the software he’s just downloaded. Having a final “You’ve got X days left on your trial” doesn’t hurt. And neither does offering a discount (if available) at the end of the trial period.

5.2 Signed Up For The Email Course

Increase email list signup for course
Source

When the user signs up for an email course using one of your opt-in forms, the first lesson gets delivered. Easy to understand. But what happens if the user doesn’t open the first 3 emails?

This is where you need to pay close attention to your segmentation and your rules. Try to keep an eye out for users who don’t follow through with their initial request.

They might sign up and go on vacation or sign up and their emails end up in the SPAM folder. No matter the reason, it’s time to re-engage that user to gain more information.

5.3 Has A Birthday Today

Increase sign ups
Source

This trigger has less to do with your website specifically and more to do with how you collect email information. It’s normally recommended you ask for as few information as you can to get started (just email address or email+name).

You can follow-up the initial welcome email with a request for more information (like location, birth date, etc.), giving you more data for personalization. Creating a special “Birthday Only” offer might yield results if it’s sincere and communicated in a transparent manner.

5.4 Browsed A Set Of Products

Email after browse abondment
Source

Ever wonder how after you’re browsing Amazon, you get a very personalized email from them telling you about similar products? Ever wonder how that happens? It’s the magic of triggers and automation.

Depending on the product the user has landed on, there is a set of predefined rules telling the email marketing system to send a specific newsletter only to that user. Moreso, you can include gift voucher or offers only catered to that niche.

5.5 Shopping Cart Abandonment

The big one – cart abandonment emails. The holy grail of getting more conversions for the same number of users. Knowing that a user has left his cart without moving on to the purchasing phase means that there’s a problem. Using tools like TruConversion can isolate that problem and drill down to its core.

Shopping cart abandonment statistics
Source

Even without those tools, your site trigger will communicate this action to the email marketing system, delivering a reminder to the user. Push that even further by offering a timed discount (“Buy this product within the next 15 minutes and get 15% OFF!”)

NOTE: In order to implement most of these triggers, you need your user’s email address first. Otherwise, there’s no way for the trigger to know where to send the email. Your subscriber list is golden.

Drip Email Examples – INTERMISSION #1

Before we move on to the next chapter, it’s time for a short break. Let’s take a look at a few sequences of emails that are simply great, break the rules or are very personal. You can join most of this if you visit their websites.

Email1k

Earn1k

Traffic1m

6. Create Your Email Sequence

Email Marketing Sequence
Source

AutoPilot sees the journey as a combination of 3 elements: Triggers, Actions and Conditions.

– Triggers can be:List Trigger, Time Trigger, Field Changed

– Actions are:Add Delay, Send Email, Add To List, Send Slack Message, Remove From List, Send Notification

– Examples of Conditions:Has Visited Page, Has Submitted Form, Check Email Status

Let’s get back to our original example. Let’s examine all the steps taken:

First, the user registers by using a form. The field is checked and the status is updated. There’s also an event sent.

An SMS is sent to the user, if he has decided to also fill in his phone number. This is done via a Twilio integration.

The user visits a specific page and then receives an email with a delay of 3 days. That status is checked after another 3 days.

In the meantime, a subscription is created and the customer receives a post card. This is also done via a built-in integration. This time, it’s Lob.

After all of this happens, the user becomes a Lead in Salesforce.

Depending on your email marketing app, the journey could be fine-tuned more or less. In MailChimp for example, it’s a pretty straight-forward affair. You select a pre-built solution or combine segments and rules to generate your own. If you’re just starting out, it’s a good idea to go for the pre-built automations first.

Here’s another great example of a Drip Campaign from The Summer Of Design.

7. Types Of Drip Campaign

While there are many types of Drip Campaigns available (you are also free to create your own customized types), we’ve decided to focus on explaining 3 main ones.

7.1 Welcome + Customer Onboarding

If you’re building a SaaS business, it’s crucial your users know not only your product features, but also its benefits. How your product will shape and improve their lives and marketing in the long term.

For this reason, but also to add a personal touch to your communication, you should deploy Welcome Emails. These are usually one-offs, explaining features, talking about best use cases and showing testimonials. These sometimes include a question at the end of the emails, to gather fresh feedback from users.

Once you’ve got a few customers in your pipeline, it’s time to think bigger than one email. Creating a Customer Onboarding email sequence takes a bit of time, but once you created it, you’re free to watch its progress. Set up expectations in the first email, show case studies in the next and always be open to receiving feedback from your customers.

Customer onboarding process
Source

7.2 Trial + Lead Nurturing

Conversions aren’t just measured if a person signs up for a newsletter or lands on a page of your website and purchases the product right away. Especially with expensive software and services, conversions are measured in terms of weeks and months.

Converting a user from a free trial to the paid product can be achieved using Drip Campaigns.

Send them a first tutorial email, follow-up a few days later with some tips and tricks, then another email asking their opinion on the product/service. And at the end of the trial, offer to give them more time, if they request it. End that sequence with a special offer for the full paid product.

As you do all these, you’re essentially nurturing the lead. Taking him from semi-interested prospect to warm lead and all the way up to a customer. And, hopefully, even repeat or long-time customer.

Lead nurturing
Source

7.3 Courses + Guides

One of the hardest types of Drip Campaigns to get right focuses on courses and guides delivered via email. It’s hard because email is such a different medium than a blog.

Users tune in and out, they get new email notifications and don’t see email as important as an article. Also, the timing and the Call To Action have to work together to provide a great experience for the user.

It’s great if you can help your user learn something, but also show him exactly how to do it. And then ask for feedback and results in the form of replies.

That way, you’ll know your courses are followed, but they are also put into practice. Having active users means they pay attention to your messages and are more receptive to purchasing a product or service from you.

While they’re not always meant as a sales tool, these types of campaigns are seen as smaller versions of bigger (paid) courses. They can also be used on their own, to show expertise and gain users’ trust.

Email Marketing Course
Source

No matter which one you choose to go with first, you have to remember that just adding sequenced emails does not equal success. You still need to add personalization, look at metrics and constantly optimize to make sure your Drip Campaigns are effective.

8. Email Marketing Automation Tools

When you’re doing any type of marketing automation you’re looking for 2 main things in your tools: they should be easy to work with and they should be out of the way when you don’t need them. That’s why we’ve chosen only 5 tools for your Drip Campaigns/Email Automation needs.

We’ve also gone with the most affordable ones – if you’re just starting out you won’t need the extra features of bigger marketing tools.

8.1 MailChimp

The easiest tool to implement on this list is MailChimp. It’s got a very simple and fun interface. The Knowledge Base (AKA learning center) is top notch. Support for MailChimp is second to none, even if you’re just on the free plan.

The automation features are newly introduced to the tool, but that just means they’ve taken their time to simplify everything. MailChimp allows you to send emails after users visited a specific section of the website, send emails in sequence, remind users of abandoned carts, etc.

It has a great newsletter editor with free included templates. The metrics section shows the usual data: sent, opens, bounces, clicks. Nothing special, just numbers you can analyze and work to improve using the included A/B testing feature.

Pricing: The automation features kick in once you pay a minimum of $15/month. You get unlimited email sends for up to 1.000 subscribers.

mailchimp
Source

8.2 AutoPilot

This app is all about the Customer Journey. That means its power comes from setting up triggers and actions and following how your users interact with your website and your emails.

Pre-built journeys and examples of email sequences help you get started in a matter of minutes. Since you’ll also be tracking your users’ interactions on your website, you’ll also see your leads. This allows you to drill down to the individual level and see how your automation is going.

The great part about AutoPilot is that it’s not just for newsletters – you can also send automated SMS and handwritten postcards to your users, with the same triggers and actions you’ve defined.

Pricing: starts at $4/month for 500 subscribers.

About Autopilot
Source

8.3 Drip

Alongside ConvertKit, Drip is an email marketing solution that helps you effortlessly gather emails, specify triggers and send very personalized and targeted newsletters. Created by Rob Walling and his team, it’s getting new features on a constant basis.

Drip covers the entire spectrum of email marketing automation: you can create beautiful opt-in forms, add tags to your subscribers, based on their actions, send them personalized emails based on triggers, identify your best leads and track performance.

And if that isn’t enough for you, you should know that Drip also integrates with a slew of other apps and services like ZapierUnbounceGumroadPayPalStripe, Shopify and many others.

Pricing: starts at $49/month of 2.500 subscribers

Drip
Source

8.4 ListWire

The only free app on this list is ListWire, a sort of magical unicorn in the realm of email automation apps. As they grow larger, require more servers and add complexity, it’s getting harder and harder to find a free app like this.

Despite its price, the app offers opt-in form creation, lead management, email metrics, newsletter editor and much more.

The only thing I can fault it for is the user interface. It’s not awful per se, it’s just very old school. If you can get past that, enjoy your free email autoresponder solution!

Pricing: FREE

List Wire
Source

8.5 ConvertKit

Created by the author and marketer Nathan Barry as a means to solve his own problems, ConvertKit is a great choice for bloggers, writers and content creators in general. It gets down to the basics of Drip Campaigns and focuses all its efforts on making it as easy as possible.

You get to create a product pitch, an automated launch, regular onboarding and webinar invites. These are all pre-created templates you can use right away. And if you’re still not convinced, the basic plan also includes the creation of opt-in forms and landing pages.

The app has gone through significant changes over time and it’s now a preferred choice by digital creators who want to provide more value to their users, while remaining personal and sincere.

Pricing: starts $29/month of up to 1.000 subscribers and 10.000 email sends.

Convert Kit
Source

9. Increase Your Email Deliverability

Increase Email Deliverability
Source

Email Automation means you’ll be sending A LOT of emails. Even if you’ve just activated the once-per-user Welcome Email, that still means EVERY.SINGLE.NEW.USER will get one of those emails. And since you’re using these newsletters to gain their trust, you want them to get to their inboxes.

Email deliverability relies on 4 fundamental elements:

1. Your Email Marketing App.Believe it or not, but the app you’re using to send all those automated emails does matter. By using different combinations of servers and sending frequencies, some apps are able to send more emails successfully into people’s inboxes. It’s worth testing.

2. Your Email Reputation.If you’re consistently sending email from the same IP, you should look into adding it on whitelists and certify it. Your reputation will increase over time, as you send more emails and you get fewer and fewer bad responses (bounces, unsubscribes, marked as SPAM).

3. Your Email Content.The easiest thing to improve is your email content. After all, you have complete control over it – how it looks like, what you write in it, the subject line, etc. SPAM filters look for a few things in an email and decide whether it’s clean or not:  don’t use ALL CAPS, avoid adding more than 2-3 links/email, stay away from spammy words, use a real reply-to email and make sure there’s an Unsubscribe link in the email.

4. Your Users’ Email Settings.This one is hard to predict and control. Different users will have vastly different settings for their email app and their firewall. That means that your newsletters might get stuck somewhere before it even tries to get in users’ inboxes. MailChimp (among others) has a few options to deal with this.

Once you’ve got these in check, you can be sure you have a much better chance of hitting your targets in terms of emails opened, read and clicked.

Drip Email Examples – INTERMISSION #2

Time for another intermission. Remember: you can click the links and join the campaigns yourself. This gives you a much better look at how emails feel in their natural habitat. It should provide inspiration to create your own.

Design For Hackers

Why Marketing Automation is the Future of Email Marketing

Creative Class

10. Drip Campaign – How to Measure it?

How to measure your drip campagin
Source

You’ll want to focus on 2 key areas: Quantity and Quality.

First off, Quantity. You will be measuring things like Emails Sent, Emails Opened, Emails Bounced, Emails Marked As Spam, Links Clicked. These are the same things you should be looking at in your regular email campaigns.

The difference here is that while you should definitely be looking at these metrics, they’re not your end goal. 100 emails opened vs 25 doesn’t really do anything for you. They’re indicators, not objectives.

On the other hand, you’ve got Quality. These are Net Promoter Scores, Email Replies, Testimonials, Gathered Insights, Questions from your users and so on. You do want to track these and set objectives to be able to understand if your drip campaigns are as good as you want them to be.

Most modern email marketing apps will provide dashboard full of data regarding your emails and your leads. Use those to answer basic questions like:

– Do these users understand the content I’m sending them?

– Does this email persuade them to read the next one?

– Does this final email convert enough users or could I have done any better?

11. Testing Your Drip Campaign

Tests to run on your website

With Landing PagesGuest Blogging and pretty much anything in Digital Marketing, there’s a lot of room to test things out. Luckily, the same applies to Drip Campaigns. The only issue is that it takes a bit more time to test things properly than quick AdWords changes. Here are 10 things you should test:

1. Email Subject Line.If you’re going long, try going short. If your users are teens, try adding emojis. If it’s the email where you want them to take action, use Urgency in your subject line. Also, try adding a bit of personalization to it by using Merge Tags.

2. HTML vs Plain Text Email.You’d be surprised at how many plain text emails are still sent today. They’re usually quick to write and deploy, very lightweight and tend to stay away from SPAM filters. These type of emails are shorter, informal and come from a personal email address (the founder, the team, the marketing guy).

3. Length Of Email Sequence.Is your email sequence 6 emails long and the hard sell is on the 5th one? You will want to reconsider and try it with fewer emails. If you provide value in your entire sequence, the buy offer will not come as a surprise and people might react to it.

4. Timing Of Email Sequence.There are periods of time that need to pass between emails. This is to not overcrowd a user’s inbox and also let him read and work through the previous message. If you find the second and third emails aren’t opened as much, try reducing or increasing the time between them.

5. Contents Of Email Sequence.This is the big one. If people read your first email in a sequence and they don’t like it, it’s almost game over unfortunately. Use email surveys to find out why your leads are tuning out and create better content for them.

6. Lead Capture Forms.If you have faith in your Drip Campaigns, then you want as many people subscribing to them as possible. But if your lead capture forms aren’t converting as well as they might be, then it’s up to you to test different images and different text and monitor the results.

7. Lead Capture Methods.Sometimes, the issue is not with the forms themselves. But rather how you’re getting your traffic. Facebook traffic tends to have a higher bounce rate, Instagram is great for fun and entertainment-type content, while AdWords visitors are already in a journey to solve their problems, so your landing page might be the solution they were looking for.

8. Types Of Drip Campaigns.In Chapter 9 we’ve gone through a few types, but there are many more, like Confirmation and Recommendation emails. These offer the lead more information and suggest similar data based on their interactions on your website.

9. Email Marketing Apps.In such a competitive medium, it’s rare than an app will get left behind. That means most email marketing apps are really really good. But if you find yourself paying too much or not getting the results you were hoping for, try a change. Look for the recommended apps in Chapter 10.

10. Email Segmentation.Drip Campaigns would feel more like simple email sequences if you didn’t add segmentation to the mix. You should be looking at things like their cart status, their date of birth, location and website activity. You might uncover pockets of your users who need your assistance.

12. Final Tips And Tricks

If you’ve gotten this far, give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back. You’ve gone from theory to practice and we’ll now leave you with a few final tips and tricks for your Drip Campaigns success.

1. Make Your Emails Responsive.It’s the end of 2015 and we still get emails that don’t adapt to all our devices. Take the time to study new techniques and templates to offer a great Drip Campaign email experience, no matter how the customer reads it.

2. Send From A Personal Email Address.bob@yourcompany.com sounds better than newsletter@yourcompany.com and a lot better than no-reply@yourcompany.com. And if you’re doing this, also have a great profile picture, so people can really put a face to that name. That way, you’ll also become less faceless than those other marketers fighting for customers’ inboxes.

3. Optimize Your Drip Campaigns Once A Month.You should be monitoring these campaigns on a daily basis. But optimization is a skill acquired in time. You have to research, gain insights and only then start to work on improving existing processes. If you do find nothing irregular, no need to optimize. Don’t fix it, if it’s not broken.

4. Transform Your Blog Guide Into An Email Giveaway.If you’re out of ideas of how to create your Course Drip Campaign, think back to your blog. If you’ve got lengthy articles (3.000+ words) or lengthier guides, cut them up into smaller lessons. Offer them as FREE email courses, while providing updated content and linking back to your blog and your product offers.

5. Focus On Quality, Not Quantity.It’s a given with anything Content Marketing, but it needs to be repeated. These types of emails will increase your subscribers – it’s also natural to want that to happen. But you shouldn’t be obsessed with their numbers. Instead, focus on servicing them better, asking for more feedback and learning more valuable customer lessons.

6. Make An Intentional Error.You will be sending automated emails, but they don’t have to sound like that. You’re still communication 1-on-1, person-to-person. In order to increase that trust and make your emails more personal, add an intentional error email in your sequence. Mention a broken link, a few wrong figures or just a blank email. Offer your apologies and wait for the reactions.

7. Implement Remarketing Within Emails.Since you’re here you must know that tracking opens within emails requires a 1×1 px image that gets embedded within them. And each time that images is requested/viewed, you know someone opened your email. But did you know you can also embed a Remarketing Pixel Code withing your Drip Campaign emails? That means you can alert people that a new email has arrived or ask why they didn’t open the new one – across AdWords, Facebook and Twitter.

13. Recommended Reading: Articles, Guides And Courses

This is it! The final stretch. You either got here by sheer willpower and focus or you just scrolled down to find the end of this guide. Regardless, if you want to delve deeper into email marketing automation and Drip Campaigns, we’ve assembled more resources for you below.

13.1 Articles

Email Marketing Basics: Newsletters And Drip Campaigns by Customer.io

How To Create Email Drip Campaigns To Nurture Leads by Wishpond

How to Convert Existing Content Into An Email Drip Campaign by ContentMarketer.io

8 Tips To Help You Set Up A Killer Email Drip Campaign by JustJasonJames.com

The Basics Of Email Drip Marketing by FulcrumTech.net

13.2 Guides

How To Send Email Like A Startup by SendWithUs

The Ultimate Guide To Email Marketing by Zapier

Email Drip Campaigns And Autoresponders: The Ultimate Guide by DeveshDesign

13.3 Courses

Using Mailchimp Automation For Your Drip Email Marketing on Udemy.com

(Step-by-Step) How to Create a Great Email Drip Campaign by Drip/Copyhackers

Automated Outbound Email for Sales & Growth Hackers on Udemy.com

 

 

Daniel is the Chief Marketing Officer at TruConversion.com. He’s an experienced executive with a passion for strategy, problem solving, and achieving results. Daniel’s broad experience with both startups and enterprise clients gives him a unique perspective and ability to connect the dots for brands of all sizes. He loves writing on content strategy, marketing, and optimization initiatives.

Leave a Reply