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Angie Henson - December 01, 2023
Marketing campaigns that use a series of well-timed, choreographed messages to attract new business have been used for decades. The arrival of the internet and personal email in the 1990s took drip marketing to the next level by adding automation and mass distribution to the mix. Today, drip campaigns are a commonly used and successful marketing strategy for businesses of all types and sizes.
In this blog post, we describe the basic elements of a drip marketing campaign, provide some useful implementation tips, and review some real world drip campaign examples.
A drip campaign is an email marketing strategy that targets current and would-be customers with a steady “drip” of automated email messages. The contents and cadence of the emails are usually based on the customer action that triggered their inclusion in the campaign, such as:
Drip campaigns allow you to segment recipients based on their behavior, and artificial intelligence (AI) is making it easier to optimize message content and frequency. Automation frees you from sending messages manually, and it allows you to focus more time and attention on defining your brand and messaging.
There are many different types of drip campaigns, including promotional drips that offer customers special sales and discounts, welcome campaigns to guide customers through products and services, and abandoned cart drips that strategically remind customers to consider completing their purchase.
While the basic elements of an effective sales pitch have remained consistent, the techniques you choose to adopt play a huge part in determining success or failure. The sales pitch techniques employed to convey the strengths of the product and the presenter include:
Only 13% of customers believe a salesperson can understand their needs. This surprising statistic may be an opportunity in disguise, highlighting the importance of research and personalization in the sales pitch development process.
Many of the actions that trigger a new campaign, including newsletter sign-ups and abandoned carts, indicate a level of interest that can be nurtured by a well-planned drip campaign that offers value to existing or potential customers. Overly frequent or intrusive messages can undo this sales funnel progress, so messages should be customized and timed based on the customer and their history.
Metrics like click-through rates, open rates, and conversion rates help you determine what is working so you can adjust your strategy accordingly. A high click-through rate indicates the message is resonating with the target audience, while a low open rate might indicate a weak subject line or oversaturation.
Additional drip campaign best practices include providing value-driven content to encourage readership, mobile-optimized designs to prevent users on cell phones from ignoring or deleting messages, and A/B or bandit tests to optimize the message by testing and comparing multiple variations.
The win-back drip campaign created by Netflix was designed to lure back customers who had recently canceled their service. After sending a cancellation confirmation email with a conspicuous call to action for those who wanted to rejoin immediately, subsequent emails featured new movie offerings, specials, and other promotional content. After showing former subscribers what they had missed, a carefully timed “rejoin today” email was the final piece of the drip campaign puzzle.
Subtle, youth-oriented marketing tactics have been used to boost sales of Levi’s apparel for over a century. The Levi’s Red Tab campaign was a welcome drip sent to newsletter subscribers. Customized benefits featured in subsequent emails included free shipping and discounts of 20% or more. The early success of this well-designed drip campaign was affirmed by an open rate of 40%.
Birchbox, a company that sends subscribers high-quality, personalized beauty boxes monthly, extended these positive attributes to their successful drip campaign. A series of visually appealing, personalized emails systematically guided customers who shared their email address through the subscription service and beauty shop features. The messages also featured event invitations and well-timed promotions, such as 20% off birthday discounts.
With the help of third party apps and new technology, creating your own drip campaign is easier than ever. The case studies we have highlighted provide a blueprint for success. There are also dozens of additional templates and examples available online for every type of drip campaign. A slew of affordable email marketing apps can help with automated email delivery, analytics, and integration, so you can focus on content creation.
A typical drip campaign will include between four and eleven emails, with a few days between each email to avoid being overly pushy. This equates to a drip campaign that runs between 10 days and one month in entirety.
A personalized drip campaign speaks directly to the customer’s needs and interests, based on the actions they have already taken. This customized approach makes it much more likely the emails will be read instead of discarded. Personal information in the message, like the customer’s name or state of residence, should only be included if they were provided voluntarily by the recipient.
A marketing scorecard is an effective way to evaluate key performance indicators, benchmarks, leading indicators, and overall performance of your drip campaigns. Open rates above 20% and click-through rates above 15% are indicators of engaging content, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to sales. Along with a revenue boost that exceeds the cost of the marketing effort, the success of a drip campaign can be judged based on long-term customer engagement and feedback that impacts brand value. Even when all metrics and feedback are positive, you should continue to refine the message and experiment with new ideas.
Like any form of email marketing, a drip campaign can be viewed as intrusive or Spam if not planned and executed carefully. While timing the release of messages carefully to prevent oversaturation, it is also important to ensure the email content is relevant based on the customer action taken, so the recipient understands why they are receiving the message. Overlooking testing and metrics, or relying solely on AI to complete these tasks, are additional mistakes to be avoided.