How Drip Email Marketing Works


There are plenty of tools in a digital marketer’s toolbox, but few pay as many dividends as a solid Drip Marketing Campaign, sometimes referred to as a drip series of emails.

drip emails

Whether you’ve heard the term before or it’s completely new, we’re here to give you a solid overview of the benefits of email nurturing, when and why you would want to use it, quick tips and steps to get started . . . and we’ll even throw in some best practices to boot!

Hang in there – this is going to be a lot of information, but we promise that it’s worth the read!

Topics covered in this article:

  1. What is a Drip Email Campaign?
  2. Who needs a drip email Campaign?
  3. Planning your drip email campaign
  4. How to send drip nurturing emails to new users
  5. How to send drip nurturing emails to current customers
  6. How to personalize your drip nurturing emails?
  7.  Additional tips to start your drip email campaign

What is a Drip Email Campaign? 

Drip emails, or nurture campaigns, fill a very specific need in the world of digital marketing.

Drip campaigns are bite-sized segments of information that are sent out over email as a series that leads the reader towards further to understand your product or service, an up-sell, cross-sell or even simply a campaign to maintain engagement levels of your product.

You’re able to impart information to potential clients over a series of days or weeks, moving them deeper into your business and gently (or not so gently!) encouraging them to take the next step towards becoming a customer.

Who Needs a Drip Campaign?

The short answer is: Everyone!

Nurturing customers along a path isn’t strictly for sales professionals of a specific product or service.

Some great examples of businesses who would benefit from email nurturing are:

  • SaaS subscription services wanting to move users down a purchase path
  • a company providing bite site training to educate their new users
  • charities encouraging people to donate
  • an organization introducing a new or upgraded product or service
  • e-commerce company promoting a series of new electronic items

Marketers see sales increases of up to 20% or even more by creating a series of emails instead of a single email message. Why? People are busy – if they miss or skip the first email, then the next email in the drip campaign might catch them on a better day . . . or the next message might have a more compelling call to action that really speaks to them.

Part of the beauty of the drip campaign is that you’re able to try out a variety of CTA’s in a relatively short period of time to see which ones resonate with your audience.

The true beauty of drip campaigns is that they can be pre-built and automated to allow you to fully craft the experience that you want your customers to have.

Instead of stressing out your team or yourself on a daily and weekly basis trying to come up with new messages, you can build out drip campaigns for specific scenarios such as customer on-boarding, post-sale requests for recommendations or free trial follow-ups. However, just because you design the messages upfront that doesn’t mean you can “set it and forget it”.

You should still actively monitor the send, open and click rates to ensure that the nurture campaign is meeting the goals that you set based on your business requirements.

Planning Your Drip Email Campaign

Okay, so we’ve convinced you that drip email marketing is important enough to consider, but how do you actually DO it?

  1. While there are a variety of theories around creating the perfect email nurturing campaign, the short answer is that you need to determine your messaging strategy first.

It starts with your audience and what are the specific outcomes or actions that you want your recipients to take as a result of starting or completing a drip campaign? What type of message will resonate and get them further down the customer journey?

  1. Exactly how much content do you want to share with your audience? Write out all of the messages that you’d like to share on a single document, and then start breaking it up into a series of emails.
  2. Once you have the messaging tied down, then you’ll need to determine a cadence (or timing for your emails) that feels like a good fit for your audience.Ask questions such as: How many emails should it take to make them take this action? How often are they used to hearing from us?Again, there are no real standards for the perfect drip campaign, but consider how often you’re currently communicating with that particular audience as you’re setting your cadence.If you have very little to no interaction with the audience currently, it’s unlikely they would welcome a daily email from you regardless of how relevant you felt the messaging is.Conversely, if your audience is used to hearing from you on a fairly regular basis, spacing your drip campaign out over a series of months would likely cause them to lose interest and float away.What is most important in starting your drip campaign is thinking about always adding value to your customers. Many businesses find that a good cadence is sending an email every few days, especially at the beginning of a drip campaign. That way, your audience has an opportunity to open (usually within 24 hours) and react or respond before receiving the next email in the series.

How To Send Drip Nurturing Emails To New Customers

Dripped nurturing emails are a necessity for any business to improve its new user conversion.  Companies that excel at nurturing can see up to 50% lift in sales.

New users are just as the name says “new”.  They are fresh to your product or service.  They may still be in semi-research mode comparing you vs a competitor.

Your job as a marketer is to teach them in bite size how to progress through your product or service to experience the benefits of it.  Hopefully, once they’ve done so, they will find value in it and purchase or subscribe.

Here’s a great example of Dropbox’s nurturing campaign in action.

You’ve decided that you need a cloud-based storage tool, so you sign up for a free Dropbox account. Once you’ve created that initial interaction with Dropbox, they look for ways to deepen your engagement with the platform. Their smart marketers will send you regular emails to tell you about special features, such as a way to earn free additional storage space by inviting others to the platform, how you can store photos within the platform and seamlessly sync with your smartphone and more.

Each step doesn’t necessarily get you closer to being a paid customer, but they are tailored to make it more likely that you’ll return as a free customer, become more entangled with the platform and eventually upgrade to paid as you use it frequently.


How To Send Drip Nurturing Emails To Current Customers

The Dropbox example shows how organizations are able to reel in new customers and get them quickly pulled into the fold, but what about your current customers?

Upselling and cross-selling to current customers may be the best way to increase your overall revenue without the significant outlay of capital needed to acquire new customers.

Creating a drip nurturing email series allows you to engage customers with parts of your business of which they may not be aware.

Let’s stick with the Dropbox example: once they’ve acquired a business customer who is comfortable sending large files back and forth for work-related needs. However, that same customer may not be aware that Dropbox is also a great way to backup personal photos or videos.

Sending a nurturing campaign to current business users to build their knowledge about additional offerings both on the business and personal side allows you to engage them in different ways — and increase your sales in the bargain.
How to personalize your drip nurturing emails?

Some email platforms  allow for interaction with a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) solution. This provides you with the opportunity to personalize the email that sent; instead of blindly sending a pre-set generic group of emails to a customer.

Your email show feel like you are talking right to the customer.

  • Hi Lloyd, thanks for checking our marketing platform
  • Since you live in San Jose, California, you can attend our next conference
  • These are our top read books for Java engineers such as you
  • Your legal business should use our storage service to easily allow customers to upload their files

Giselle Abramovich from notes some challenges with personalization in this statistics-laden piece.  One point that particularly stands out is “Nearly three-fourths (74%) of online consumers get frustrated with Web sites when content (e.g., offers, ads, promotions) appears that has nothing to do with their interests.”

Having a tight integration with your CRM solution can provide the additional data points that you’ll need in order to create a meaningful personalized customer journey.


Additional Tips to Start Your Drip Email Campaign

  • Maintain consistent messaging. Whether you’re writing everything in one sitting, or taking your time over several days and gaining feedback from others, having a consistent voice and flow to your messaging is mission-critical to ensuring that your audience stays engaged with your topic.
  • Use the KISS principle. Keep it Simple Stupid. Your audience is likely being bombarded with dozens if not hundreds of messages on a daily basis, so getting right to the point is in your best interest. Need to add details? Give a link out to read more. Allow them to get right to the point if they’d like, or dig deeper should they be particularly engaged with the topic.
  • Short sentences and paragraphs make it easier for customers to take bites of the content instead of having to sit down to an all-you-can-eat buffet.
  • Stick in a post script to reinforce important messages. Ever scan a letter or email? You’ll notice that the first few lines and the last few lines tend to jump out at you more than all the stuff in the middle.Marketers should know this and take full advantage of the valuable real estate at the bottom of the email with a well placed P.S. or even a P.P.S. that includes a clear-cut call to action.
  • Get personal. Not all marketers are fortunate enough to have a CRM solution that includes personal details about their audience. However, if you’re only of the lucky ones, this can be a gold mine of information that you can use to create a truly unique experience for each customer.
  • Lastly, let’s get real: do you want to hear boring corporate-speak on a regular basis? Probably not — and neither do your customers! Have some fun with your messages and introduce a less formal feel.

As we come to and end, check this amazing stat. According to Econsultancy’s email marketing census, only around 20% of marketers were using behavioral triggers in their email marketing. This is a huge miss for marketers, so don’t let it happen to you!

Considering that research has shown that companies who employ Drip email marketing have seen 50% lift in sales, Econsultancy’s stats are shocking.

Hopefully, you’ve learned a bit about Email Drip campaigns and how to utilize them for your unique business needs to convert leads into customers, nurture your current audience or create value with an up-sell.