The drip of a faucet might not sound very exciting, but an email drip campaign can generate conversions, build relationships with your subscribers, and better position you to sell more products.
That’s always a good thing, right?
However, email drip campaigns only work when you design them with your audience in mind and with a full understanding of your goal.
Still with me?
I’m going to share a lot of information with you today, but it’s going to help you become a better email marketer. Whether you’ve never set up email drip campaigns before or you’ve been sending them out for years, I want to help you generate more conversions and, ultimately, sales.
Let’s jump in.
What is an email drip campaign?
An email drip campaign is a series of emails that you release to a segment of your email subscribers over a period of time. For instance, you might send six emails every Monday for six weeks.
In an email drip campaign, your goal is to build toward something. In other words, you’re nurturing your prospect toward an action you want them to take.
It could be attending an upcoming webinar, buying your product on its launch date, subscribing to your membership site, or starting a free trial of your SaaS subscription.
You might also have 10 email drip campaigns going at one time to different segments of your email list. One drip might go out to your top-of-funnel prospects who are just getting to know your business, while another goes out to people who have bought more than three of your products.
Feel free to segment your email list as much as you want. It helps you target your audience with the right message at the right time.
But back to email drip campaigns. The important thing to know is that you’re “dripping” information to your subscribers in brief emails.
Do you want more sales?
Grab the same email and headline templates Neil Patel uses + our advanced marketing course...
Gain instant access TODAY!
What is nurture marketing?
I mentioned the word “nurturing” earlier, but I want to get more specific.
Imagine you’re walking into a new restaurant. The host or hostess immediately greets you with a friendly smile, compliments your shoes, and asks you what type of table you would like. You’re seated, offered water, and encouraged to enjoy your meal.
That’s nurturing in the real world. Restaurant employees know that guests are happier when they’re treated like old friends coming for dinner.
It’s no different with marketing. Email drip campaigns are a form of nurture marketing because they’re helping you build relationships with prospects, leads, and customers.
There are lots of other forms of nurture marketing. When you write a blog post designed to help your readers solve a specific problem, you’re nurturing them. When you respond to a customer support question immediately, that’s another form of nurturing.
Email drip campaigns are a unique brand of nurturing, though, because you get to send your message directly to subscribers’ inboxes. That’s why it’s one of my favorite marketing strategies.
When should you use a drip campaign?
There are several instances when email drip campaigns can help you convert more leads into customers. Ideally, you want to offer something of value.
For instance, I created this Hello Bar exit popup that advertises a free mini course. It tells the visitor exactly what they’ll learn.
The idea here would be to share the free mini course over a series of emails — in other words, a drip campaign. Every week, the subscribers get the next entry in the course until it’s complete.
But your marketing doesn’t have to start there. You can use email drip campaigns to segue into subsequent campaigns.
For instance, in the final email of the free mini course, I might say something like: “Did you enjoy this course? I’m offering another one, but this time on portrait photography. If you want in, reply to this email.”
Essentially, I’m asking the prospect for permission to continue to nurture him or her toward a sale. I want to provide such value that he or she can’t wait to buy my products.
That’s the end goal of every email drip campaign.
What are the benefits of using email drip campaigns?
I like using email drip campaigns because they serve as a conversation between me and my subscribers. I can build on information I’ve delivered in previous emails, increase anticipation, and develop excitement.
It’s easy to get lost in the sea of brands. Even if you have the most remarkable or unique business name in the world, consumers aren’t guaranteed to remember you.
However, if you’re sending emails in drips, you can keep your brand top of mind. When a consumer realizes he or she needs your product, your brand will come up first because you’ve kept in regular contact.
Plus, email drip campaigns create subtle proof that you keep your promises. When the subscriber signed up, you promised to deliver something of value. Since you’ve kept your promise, you’ve built trust with the consumer.
And finally, email drip campaigns are both scalable and replicable. If you create a drip campaign for new subscribers, for instance, you can continue to slot in new subscribers as they sign up. There’s no need to recreate a drip campaign each time you get a new wave of subscribers.
What is the best way to get more leads?
You can’t have email drip campaigns without subscribers. Well, you can, but you don’t generate any revenue from your efforts.
To get leads, you need an incredible offer. As mentioned above, a free mini course works well because it fits with the drip format, but you can choose something else entirely.
For instance, your lead magnet might be a free e-book or toolkit. You could then begin a drip campaign that explains how to use your lead magnet most effectively. Subscribers get two bonuses just for providing their email addresses.
Just make sure you’re completely GDPR compliant. In other words, get permission to send both the lead magnet and marketing emails.
Hello Bar allows you to build GDPR compliance into your lead generation process.
Once you’ve decided on a lead magnet and built an email drip campaign, offer your lead magnet to your audience.
A top bar remains visible on your site no matter where your visitors go, so they can sign up at any time.
Do you want more sales?
Grab the same email and headline templates Neil Patel uses + our advanced marketing course...
Gain instant access TODAY!
How do you write drip campaign emails?
I’ll walk you through some of my best tips for writing better email drip campaigns so you can get a leg up on the competition.
Write your drip emails in one session for consistency
One of the most important things about email drip campaigns is that they need to tie together. You can always send out weekly emails to your subscribers, but a drip campaign consists of several emails that fit together as part of a whole.
Think of each email as a chapter in a story. If Chapter Two doesn’t immediately lead into Chapter Three, readers are going to wonder what’s happened to those characters.
It’s best to write them all in one sitting, but don’t get intimidated. Your emails might only be a few paragraphs each, so you can easily knock them out in a short session.
Focus on quality
Just because you write your email drip campaigns in one sitting doesn’t mean they’re ready for their big reveal. Let them sit on your hard drive for a few days, then go back and read them — again, one right after the other.
Look for inconsistencies, grammar mistakes, logical fallacies, or anything else that might unsettle or irritate your readers. Pay attention to flow.
Most importantly, make sure each email imparts something of value. If your subscribers feel like they’ve wasted their time after reading your emails, you haven’t done your job.
Use short paragraphs in your drip campaign emails
Big blocks of text are intimidating, and you have to remember that at least a few of your subscribers will read these emails on a small device, such as a smartphone or tablet. Consequently, you have to keep your paragraphs short.
It’s a concept best illustrated visually.
Here’s one example of an email formatted using dummy text:
Here’s example two. It’s the same dummy text, but with four or five lines per paragraph.
Which one of these emails would you rather read?
It doesn’t matter that the information might be the same. Readers feel intimidated by walls of text, so they’re less likely to read them. Give the eye some breathing room with short paragraphs that create negative space.
Write short emails for new prospects
When you’ve been emailing a subscriber for several months, you can get away with longer emails. They know and trust you, so they’re more willing to give you their time.
However, when creating email drip campaigns for new subscribers, keep your messages short. Allow three or four paragraphs at most so the communication is respectful of their time.
If you need more words to get your message across, you have two options.
The first is to use images or other visual elements to break up the text. Imagery makes your emails more engaging and therefore more likely to be read.
The second is to break up that email into two emails. You can even label them as Part 1 and Part 2.
Do not be scared to add a P.S at the end of your drip emails
Time for a brief linguistics lesson.
P.S. stands for “postscript,” which is derived from the Latin postscriptum. Still with me?
Directly translated, postscriptum means “written after.” In other words, it’s something you tack on to the end of an email, letter, or other piece of text.
A great way to use the P.S. in an email drip campaign is to tease the next email you’ll send. For instance, it might look like this:
P.S. Look for another email next Monday. I’m going to teach you how to do X. You won’t want to miss it!
In this example, we’re sending the customer a very simple message: “You’re going to hear from me again, and I’m not going to let you down.”
Plus, it gets the subscriber excited for your next installment.
Get personal with your readers
Business doesn’t always have to be about business.
I would never send a marketing email that details something inappropriate or intimate about myself. But I might share a funny anecdote or a story of a personal failure so I can relate to my audience.
When you open up about your personal life, you create a connection with your subscribers. They can see themselves in your story and know they’re not alone.
Here are a few rules of thumb you can follow to help balance out the personal information you share:
- Don’t tell your subscribers anything you wouldn’t tell your mom or dad.
- Avoid talking about other people in your life unless you get their permission first.
- Steer clear of information people could use against you later.
- Ask yourself whether you would be comfortable if your kids read it.
If you still feel good about sharing the story, go for it.
Tell captivating stories to keep your readers entertained and don’t forget to use suspense
According to one survey, nearly 50 percent of respondents reported reading mystery, thriller, or suspense novels. That’s the most popular literary genre.
There’s a reason for that. We crave suspense.
It’s why we’re willing to sit through a three-hour movie at the theater. Even if it’s not in the suspense genre, stories are built on suspense. Otherwise, why would people bother consuming those stories?
If you can tell true stories and build suspense, you’ll enjoy great success through email drip campaigns.
Make your emails feel like a continuous conversation between you and your prospect
Some of the best emails I’ve received from marketers have read like personal notes from a friend or family member. They might look something like this:
Obviously, I would have to finish the email with my promised tips, but you get the idea.
It’s okay to use familiar language. In fact, it can even improve your deliverability.
This is because email clients like Gmail and Outlook are looking for reasons to boot your emails into the Promotions folder. If you’re constantly writing like a marketer, you won’t find your way into the inbox.
Try to limit complex graphics, video embeds, and other big images. Those are huge flags for email clients that want to provide deliverability for the most relevant emails — not the ones that their users don’t want to read.
Use great email subject lines to get your readers’ attention
Email subject lines aren’t easy to craft. In fact, I devoted a whole article to the subject.
Give it a read if you’re struggling with email subjects.
In the meantime, focus on providing value in the subject line.
You might have seen lots of email subjects that look like the following:
- Act now to get your 20% discount!
- Free gift inside!
- You’re invited! (More details inside)
These are standard marketing messages, but they’re not compelling. Why? Because we’ve seen them thousands of times.
They’re like part of the background.
I’ve mentioned TheMuse’s emails before, but this subject line struck me today:
The value is in the subject line. The sender is letting me know what question will be answered when I open the email.
That’s exactly the kind of curiosity you want to engender in your prospects. If I’m thinking about changing industries, I definitely want to know how I can prove my value.
Create urgency in your emails by setting deadlines
There are good and not-so-good ways to create urgency in your emails. Setting deadlines is a good one. Manufacturing deadlines is a bad one.
If you send an email every week promising a discount on your most popular product, that’s fine. But if you say the offer’s only good for 24 hours, you’ll alienate your customers.
They know there’s not a 24-hour deadline because they see the same email every week.
In email drip campaigns, you can create urgency by offering an exclusive deal just for subscribers. In other words, because they’re reading each email in your series, you want to reward them.
Add a good call to action to your drip email campaign
Your call to action (CTA) tells your readers what you expect them to do next. You could ask them to forward your email to a friend or to click on a link to your latest blog post.
CTAs can also take subscribers to landing pages or sales pages, but be careful with asking people to buy too often. You’re trying to generate goodwill.
Consumers are smart. They know that, when a company emails them, they want to sell products or services. That’s a given. If you spend your time building a relationship and providing value for free, you’ll have much more luck with the conversion when you eventually ask them to buy stuff.
10 email drip campaign best practices to increase sales
Now that I’ve covered my tips for writing email drip campaigns, what can you do to increase sales throughout the campaign? Let’s look at a few things I’ve learned over the years from designing my own email drips.
1. Target your campaigns – Find out what your leads’ needs, wants, and fears are
Every email campaign needs a very specific purpose. It should align with something your leads want, need, or fear so you can connect with them emotionally.
- Wants: These are things that your leads don’t have to have, but that remain on their wish lists. Do they want a better mousetrap? Are they interested in having fun? What are they willing to splurge on? And what do they want to learn?
- Needs: If your product caters to your leads’ actual needs, you have even more persuasive power. Needs are things like food, shelter, water, clothing, and transportation. They might not need your specific brand, but they can choose your brand to cover their needs.
- Fears: This is where pain points come in. If you sell weight loss products, you might mention the fear of remaining overweight. Or maybe you sell a software program that better organizes emails. You could mention your leads’ fear of spending too much time in their inboxes.
2. Try to connect with your leads using other channels, such as social media
When it comes to growth hacking, you don’t want to divide and conquer. Instead, you want all of your channels to work in harmony.
For instance, using Hello Bar, you can use existing website traffic to promote your email list. Then you can use your email list to promote pages on your website.
Don’t forget about social media, though. You can funnel lots of traffic between your social channels and other online assets.
For instance, in your email drip campaigns, you can add “Follow me on Twitter” to your signature (with a link to your profile, of course). It’s a simple way to subtly let people know that you’re active on social.
You can also send leads to social via your website. Try adding a top bar to your site that invites people to follow you on Facebook.
3. Nurture your leads with awesome content before selling anything
If you’re constantly asking people to buy, buy, buy, they’ll tune you out. It’s like television commercials. When the break comes in your favorite TV show, you pull out your phone.
Instead of nurturing your leads with requests to buy your product, teach them something value. Nurture with awesome content.
Make a list of the top six questions you get from your audience, whether through customer support or phone calls or other channels. Answer those six questions in six drip emails.
Be generous with your knowledge. Don’t be afraid to give too much away because if you feel like you are, you’ve probably hit the right threshold of value.
4. Offer a free trial and close the deal after the email campaign is over
Email drip campaigns offer the perfect opportunity to use urgency to your advantage. If you offer a subscription or similar service, let subscribers know you’re offering a free trial over the next X weeks (the length of your drip campaign).
When the campaign is over, that’s when the free trial offer goes away. Mention the free trial in your P.S. or your signature, but don’t make it the main focus of your emails until the very last one. That’s when it’s time to use urgency to say, “If you want to test out our service, now’s the time! Get your free trial before it goes away.”
5. Pay special attention to where your customers are in their buying cycle
I mentioned before that it helps to segment your email list. You want people to get the right message at the right time.
If your lead has just become aware of your business, he or she isn’t ready to buy. You have to nurture that relationship through positive experiences.
For those subscribers, focus on education and entertainment. Subscribers who have been aware of your business for longer periods of time might appreciate product comparisons, coupons, and free trials.
What is the customer buying cycle?
Your customer buying cycle is the series of touch points your leads make on their paths to become customers. How long does it take, on average? Where do they come into contact with your business?
For instance, the average customer might discover your website via a Google search or a click on a paid ad. The customer might then follow you on social, sign up for your email list, and read your blog. Eventually, a call to action converts that lead.
6. Continue offering awesome content to your customers
Share infographics, roundups of blog posts in your industry, links to amazing research, and other awesome content your subscribers might enjoy.
You don’t have to create it all. Roundup emails work well because you’re sharing other people’s content because you respect their contributions to your industry.
The more awesome content you share, the more grateful your prospects become. In your email drip campaigns, you’re banking on reciprocity. “I’m going to share all this amazing stuff with you. Maybe you could buy one of my products?”
You don’t say it like that, of course, but that’s the balance you’re seeking.
7. Send emails to re-engage your inactive prospects and get them back into your funnel
People go inactive for lots of reasons. They get busy, their interests change, they forget about your brand — whatever.
You can use drip email campaigns to bring them back into the funnel. Start by sending a brief, personalized email that looks something like this:
It’s friendly, engaging, and respectful. That’s the best way to loop in customers who might have fallen out of touch.
8. Find out exactly how your drip email campaign will fit into your marketing efforts
Drip email campaigns don’t exist in a vacuum. As I mentioned above, you want to funnel traffic between your channels to create maximum engagement.
Maybe your drip campaign coincides with a new product launch. You can use similar content in social posts, paid ads, and blog posts to generate excitement and remain consistent.
9. Automate your drip email campaigns to work smarter
I’m a big fan of automation. Without it, I’d have to work 60 hours a day. And that’s still impossible, right?
Use your email service to automate drip campaigns. After you set up the campaigns, you can add emails to them as they come in based on where they fit in the buying cycle.
10. Continuously test your email drip campaigns
Are you tired of hearing me say it yet? Testing is a key function of making sure your email campaigns work. For instance, we recommend A/B testing your Hello Bar popups to fine-tune the creative.
You can do the same with your email drip campaigns. Slightly tweak each email (such as the subject line) and send two variations, each to half your subscribers. Which gets more opens? More click-throughs? This data can help you create better campaigns in the future.
Types of emails in drip campaigns: Ideas and examples
Believe it or not, there are several types of email drip campaigns from which to choose. You might be running a version of all of them at any given time, which is why I recommended automation above.
Let’s look at some of the most important reasons and circumstances for setting up drip campaigns.
Welcome drip emails
When someone first subscribes to your email list, you want to make a solid impression. This is the time to wow your lead so he or she gets excited every time your name appears in his or her inbox.
I know — easier said than done.
I recommend using welcome drip emails to briefly introduce your brand, provide a coupon right from the start, and share a valuable tip or strategy. Hit all the high notes to show that your brand is generous and not all about the sale.
Continue to provide that same value throughout the welcome drip campaign. You can then move your subscribers into another drip sequence, such as one of the ones I’m describing below.
Informational/educational drip emails
Consumers are really thirsty for information. We live in a DIY culture, right? People want to know how to do things themselves. They also love statistics, facts, and trivia.
Think of an informational or educational drip campaign this way: You want your subscribers to have the most interesting information to share at their next dinner party. Make them the smartest people in the room.
Again, look at the questions you receive from existing customers. You can also mine your blog and social comments.
I’m fond of running Quora searches. Look for questions that get lots of engagements related to your industry. Create your own article on that topic, then send it to your email subscribers. You could even write a really long piece, break it up into parts, and use each section as a drop in your drip.
Nurturing drip emails
This type of drip email campaign is designed to urge consumers toward buying your product or service. Email one might hit a pain point or two. Email two could talk about a key benefit of your product or service.
Keep it going in subsequent emails by describing more benefits, sharing valuable information, and even explaining case studies. In the final email, offer a coupon or other offer your subscribers can’t pass up.
Marketers sometimes feel like cheerleaders. There’s no gentler way to put it.
You might have to pull out the pom poms and bullhorns to bring back people who haven’t been active in your emails lately. Maybe they’re deleting your emails unread or failing to click through.
Whatever the case, use wit and humor to endear your leads to you once again. You can also invite them to unsubscribe if they’re no longer interested. That’s fine. You don’t want to ruin your reputation by annoying people who don’t want to hear from you.
The point here, though, is to get your leads excited about your brand again. You might mention your latest Instagram activity or invite your leads to reply to you with questions or concerns.
In these emails, maintain an upbeat tone. Don’t be afraid to user humor, and if it seems appropriate, offer a “Welcome Back” coupon or other incentive.
Finish task/almost finished emails
This type of email drip campaign works really well in advance of an event, such as a live webinar. You want to stoke the fire and get your leads excited. The finish line is almost here!
Send out weekly emails reminding your leads about the upcoming event. Give them a few teasers to whet their appetites for the information you’ll share.
Keep these emails very short. They’re kind of like calendar reminders, but with more personality. If you want to use imagery, consider a countdown timer.
Let’s say you’re three months away from a major product launch. You’re understandably excited, so why not share some of that enthusiasm with your subscribers?
Start an email drip campaign that gears up for the product launch. Send insider information, behind-the-scenes pictures, and other information to get them excited.
Make them feel like they’re part of the process. You can direct them to polls or surveys to let them give their two cents about a decision you’re making.
Customer milestone emails
When your birthday comes around every year, you probably get a slew of “Happy Birthday” emails from brands who have collected your birth date. It feels silly, but it’s also welcome.
Many of those emails also contain celebratory coupons.
You can send drip campaigns for any customer milestones you like. For instance, you could send out a series of emails at the anniversary of the day your lead became a customer.
The important thing is to personalize these emails and to make them celebratory in nature. Don’t push your promotion too hard. Instead, show gratitude toward your subscriber.
Remember! You need to focus on collecting emails first!
If you don’t have any email subscribers, none of the information in this article matters — at least not yet. You need to collect emails first so you can build a healthy email marketing campaign.
Hello Bar provides tons of tools to help you bring in more customers. All you have to do is sign into your account and select the email marketing goal.
Next, create a top bar, slider, exit popup, or any other modal you wish. You can change the type of Hello Bar at any time.
Just select the Hello Bar type that appeals to you.
You can also change the theme you’re using for your Hello Bar.
Once you have a theme you like, you can add text, upload images, change colors, and more to make sure the Hello Bar fits your brand perfectly.
A/B test different headlines and CTAs until you find the ideal combination. The more tests you run, the more accurate you get.
Don’t forget that you can use multiple modals. For instance, use a top bar and an exit intent popup to collect more emails.
Whew! That was a ton of information, but you’re not armed to the teeth with knowledge about how to create the ideal email drip campaigns for your audience. Feel better?
Feel free to bookmark this article and revisit it often. Keep A/B testing your email drip campaigns as well as your signup forms. The more email addresses you collect, the more potential customers you’ll have waiting in their inboxes.
Remember, an email drip campaign is a series of emails all tied together by a common theme. It’s a form of nurture marketing, which helps you guide your prospects and leads toward the sale.
You can use a drip campaign for a variety of purposes. You get to bring in people who might have slipped off your radar, engage active customers, and educate newbies.
Writing an email drip campaign takes practice. Write them in one session for consistency, make sure you have high-quality content, and use short paragraphs and emails.
Don’t be scared to add that P.S. Leave your subscribers with something of value — sort of like dessert at the end of a delicious meal.
You can get personal with your subscribers, tell captivating stories, and link together emails with common threads. Add great subject lines and consider using urgency.
If you follow my best practices, you’ll be on your way to writing awesome email drip campaigns. Then you can use my list of occasions and circumstances to spawn a drip campaign.
Have you created an email drip campaign? What worked and what didn’t?