What Is a Drip Campaign?

A drip campaign is a collection of marketing emails created to serve a specific purpose. The emails are sent on a pre-determined schedule once they’re triggered by an action or pattern of behavior. These campaigns are called “drip” campaigns because you “drip” them into the recipient’s inbox one at a time over days or weeks. The goal is to show your audience the right message at the right time, giving them the information they need when it’s relevant.

Drip campaigns can help you encourage all sorts of behavior, from nurturing new prospects to reminding customers to return to abandoned shopping carts. You can and should build the entire campaign in advance to fit the actions you’re targeting. From there, you can use your marketing automation system to send emails automatically.

The Benefits of Using Drip Campaigns

Drip campaigns are popular with marketers because they offer unique benefits. You want to remain in contact with your prospects, but you don’t want to be overbearing. Using drip campaigns allows you to keep in touch and provide tailored information to your leads without manually writing thousands of personalized messages.

That personalization is critical to breaking through the noise in your audience’s inboxes. Research finds that:

  • Four out of five consumers favor brands that make their shopping experience more personalized
  • 72% of consumers will _only _interact with personalized marketing messages
  • Other businesses are hopping on the trend with 79% of digital retail marketers investing in personalization

If you want to personalize your email marketing, drip campaigns are a great solution. They’re targeted to a customer’s profile and behavior, so they’re always relevant to the recipient. Just as importantly, they make your job easier because they’re hands-off and easy to maintain.

How successful are drip campaigns? The results speak for themselves:

  • Drip emails lead to 3x the number of click-throughs compared to other marketing messages
  • It’s 33% less expensive to use drip campaigns, and they drive 80% more sales
  • Compared to one-off marketing emails, drip campaigns are opened 80% more often

Even when customers miss one email from a drip campaign, there are still others to come. That helps build a connection with your brand that is likely to pay off later.

When You Should Use a Drip Campaign

Drip campaigns are so versatile that it’s almost easier to list times when you _won’t _benefit from using them. Here are the top nine scenarios when drip emails are the perfect tool for your email marketing plan.

  • Nurturing leads: Drip campaigns are the perfect tool for prospects that have yet to make a purchase. You can set up a long-lasting drip campaign that introduces leads to the value of your brand through helpful information and suggestion to build a relationship and encourage future sales.
  • Welcoming: When you bring in new subscribers, drip campaigns engage them immediately. You can send an initial welcome email with an offer, then follow up with messages with product suggestions or helpful information based on their demographics.
  • Onboarding: If someone has just joined your service, you can set up a series of emails that guide them through onboarding. A three-day series of emails about basic, intermediate, and advanced use of your service can get clients oriented and engaged without overwhelming them.
  • Abandoned shopping carts: If a potential customer puts items in their cart and then leaves the site, you can use a drip campaign to bring them back. Try sending one email reminder about their cart an hour after they leave. If they don’t come back, follow up two days later with a second email with a coupon for 10% off their purchase. That can lower your abandoned cart rate significantly.
  • Recommendations: A recommendations drip campaign can be very effective if you want to keep your audience engaged. Suppose a customer hasn’t purchased in a month. In that case, you can send a series of weekly emails with recommendations based on their previous purchases.
  • Renewals: If a subscription renewal is coming up, you can send a set of drip emails reminding customers about the renewal. Follow up by offering discounts on upsold features or products in their next package.
  • Confirmations: Purchase confirmations can be a series of two or three emails. The first can be a confirmation of purchase with a quick request for a review. The following emails can request reviews after the product is received and offer discounts in exchange for referrals. These help you collect valuable data.
  • Engagement: You can use drip marketing campaigns to encourage audience members to engage with your brand by participating in contests or posting reviews. For instance, you can send a campaign thanking customers for recent reviews. Later, you can follow up with a request for reviews on other products or suggestions for items they may like.
  • Unsubscribes: If someone chooses to unsubscribe from your mailing list, you can send a brief follow-up campaign. Ask if they meant to unsubscribe and say you’re sorry to see them go. This can prevent accidental unsubscriptions from going unnoticed by your audience.

Running an Effective Drip Campaign

When a customer receives a drip email, it’s because they’ve interacted with your brand in a certain way. For instance, a brand might schedule a drip campaign to launch as soon as someone signs up to receive an email newsletter.

The first message might be a thank you with an offer attached. The recipient will do one of four things:

  1. Ignore the message
  2. Open the email but not click on the offer
  3. Click on the offer but not use it
  4. Use the offer and make a purchase

The customer’s choice of action will determine what message they get next, how soon, and what that message will say. For example, one customer that doesn’t open the message might get another one in a week that says:

“Hey there, we noticed that you haven’t taken advantage of your 50% off coupon yet. Here are some ideas we think you'll love."

Those who saw the offer but didn’t use it might get a similar message, whereas the person who took advantage of the offer might get this follow-up after they receive the product or use the service:

“Thanks again for your purchase! We’d love to hear what you think. Recommend us to a friend and get 10% off your next order.”

Make sure you have emails designed, scheduled, and timed for every possible customer action. You don’t want to neglect customers who miss emails or don’t notice when emails go to their spam folders; there might be more than a few loyal customers in that cohort.

Best Practices for Running Your Drip Campaign

If you want to get great results from your drip campaigns, you need to run them well. That means using customer data, personalization, and regular analysis to give customers the experience they want. These three best practices will help you do just that.

1. Set Goals

Drip campaigns are goal-oriented. Every email should be written to encourage a specific customer action, such as making a purchase or visiting a webpage. When you’re building campaigns, choose the action you want customers to take and focus on it from the start.

Consider a drip campaign that’s designed to guide prospects into making a purchase. Each email should target the audience’s unique pain points and how your products will solve their problems, guiding them through the sale. Wait to encourage referrals or reviews until later.

2. Use Customer Data

Drip campaigns only work if you have the customer data to support them. You need a marketing technology stack to collect, organize, and analyze your audience’s information, or you won’t be able to send your drip emails accurately.

The best way to accomplish this is to have a single source with your customers’ information. You can use this source to check the kinds of data you have available, such as demographics and each customer’s previous interactions with your business. This lets you spot things like what different audience segments need and their relationship with your brand.

Using that information, you can customize your campaigns to each specific market and demographic segment. Some groups are more motivated by discounts, while others prefer high-end features or exclusive extras.

People do things because they want something. So, offer your audience what they want in exchange for the action you want them to take. With this, your drip campaigns will do well.

3. Measure Your Results

The only way to tell whether your campaigns are succeeding is to measure your results. You can collect data at both the individual email level and the overall campaign level. This data will help you learn how customers respond, which will help you tweak current campaigns and design future ones. Ways to measure your results include:

  • Collecting data about open and click-through rates and comparing them
  • Using A/B testing to compare different subject lines and calls to action
  • Tracking where audience members go after opening your email

This data collection and analysis help you learn a lot about your audience. You can discover things like:

  • How many emails it takes for a drip campaign to succeed
  • What kinds of emails get the best results
  • How many emails it takes for the average prospect to return to your site and make a purchase.

Even after the purchase, you can use the right marketing automation solution to track other data, such as customer support calls and future interactions with your brand.

You Can Implement Drip Email Marketing Today

Drip marketing is one of the lowest-maintenance forms of email marketing. Once you’ve set it up, the campaigns will run automatically. All you need to do is collect customer data and learn from your results. You can start planning your drip email marketing today by implementing these tips. From there, watch the results roll in.

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