Email drip campaigns are like new relationships: you start fresh from the beginning, connect with the other person regularly, and see where it goes from there. Maybe you completely hit it off — in which case, you keep the momentum moving forward — or perhaps the initial hype fades, and you find the two of you casually getting together for coffee here and there. 

In business, an email drip campaign helps you learn more about your subscribers based on whether or not they engage with your emails. From there, you can segment them further according to the actions they take, such as visiting your website, watching a video, or signing up for a webinar. Let’s have a look at what drip campaigns are and how to do them.

What is an Email Drip Campaign?

Email drip campaigns are pre-written sets of messages that are automatically sent, or “dripped,” to recipients over time. Drip campaigns are commonly used to welcome new email subscribers, as well as support lead nurturing and onboarding strategies in email marketing.

Here’s an example of a what a lead nurturing campaign might look like:



As you can see, there is a sequence of emails that are dripped according to whether or not the recipient opened the preceding email. So, it’s dynamic, too: emails can be sent based on behavior. Yet they are still pre-determined to an extent, so each subscriber is sent along the path they indicate they’re ready for (or, maybe more accurately, where the business decides they’re ready to go next). 

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The purpose of email drip campaigns is to:

  • Learn more about your subscribers
  • Personalize the communication
  • Segment subscribers by where they’re at in the funnel
  • Keep recipients engaged so they eventually convert

How to Do an Email Drip Campaign 

Now that you get the basic concept and operation of drip marketing, here’s how you can get started on your own email drip campaigns.

First: Decide Which Type of Campaign You Want to Try

If you’re just starting out with drip marketing, put together just one campaign and see how it goes. That way, you can use what you learn toward future campaigns. There are 3 main types of email drip campaigns, including:

  • Welcome emails for new subscribers
  • Lead nurturing emails
  • Onboarding emails

Welcome emails are designed for brand-new subscribers who you want to bring into the fold right away, help them learn more about your business, and keep them engaged with interesting content and offers.

Lead nurturing emails are designed to move your leads through the funnel by sending them relevant content, such as case studies, white papers, videos, webinars, or product demos. 

Onboarding emails moves free trial users toward becoming paying customers by helping them get to know your product or service better, demonstrating how you offer solutions they actually need, and showing why you’re different. 

Second: Create a Strategy

Once you’ve decided which type of campaign you want to pursue, then it’s time to develop a strategy. To do this, you’ll need to: 

  • Define a specific end goal for the campaign
  • Create a pathway that accomplishes that goal
  • Develop messaging that aligns with the pathway and goal
  • Define the audience for this segment

Defining a specific end goal for your email drip campaign is important. It helps you shape the messaging you’ll create in a later step, and it helps you measure the performance of your campaign. Your end goal might be to increase sales by X percent, build greater trust among your audience, or get more paying customers. 

Creating a pathway helps you accomplish the end goal by laying out each step of the campaign — or, in other words, each “drip” to be sent to the recipient’s inbox. If you decide on a welcome email campaign, then your first email “welcomes” new subscribers and moves them along other milestones you determine to be important. Like in the example above, lead nurturing campaigns may go through a more complicated pathway to reach the end goal. 

Developing the messaging is next, and it should align with your end goal and the pathway. Since email drip campaigns depend on pre-written messaging, they need to make sense for every recipient in this segment. That’s not to say you can’t personalize it further with the recipient’s name or other identifying features, but you want the messaging to be hyper-relevant for the stage of the funnel. 

Defining the audience that receives emails from this campaign is critical. Since your welcome email campaigns are built around awareness, and your lead nurturing and onboarding focused on consideration and decision, you can place your recipients accordingly.  

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Third: Measure Performance

Here’s where you have the opportunity to learn how effective your strategy is, by measuring the performance of your drip campaign. You’ll want to monitor open rate, click through rate (CTR), and response rate — the percentage of all of the recipients who clicked on the link of your email drip campaign and completed an action.

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Relevant emails, like drip campaigns targeted to a specific segment, drive 18x more revenue for businesses than emails broadcast to a single, wide-reaching audience. If you haven’t tried drip campaigns before, give it a chance. You might just find it gives your business that much needed boost this year.  

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About the Author

Rob SandersRob Sanders

Rob Sanders is a digital marketing veteran with over 20 years of experience. During that time, Rob has helped a wide range of companies utilize new and emerging technologies to increase sales and profitability. As founder of RSO Consulting, Rob helps clients maximize their digital marketing efforts via SEO, SEM, SMO, and Web Analytics. He is responsible for many facets of the web analytics value chain, from identifying business goals and objectives to developing strategies and translating those into Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Rob also teaches digital marketing and analytics classes throughout the U.S. and abroad. As a contributor for Simplilearn, Rob creates expert thought leadership content on a variety of digital marketing and analytics topics.

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