A drip campaign is a series of automated emails sent to people who take a specific action on your website. For any given action, you can choose how many emails to send and the rate at which to send them. These emails can be personalized with data like the contact’s name and specific references to the action they took. You might send an email drip campaign to someone who signs up for your online course, for example. Or, you could send a drip campaign to people who add an item to their online cart without buying it, also called abandoned cart emails.
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What is drip marketing?
Drip marketing is simply sending a limited number of emails to your audience automatically, on a set timing, based on actions they take or changes in their status. Businesses use drip marketing to keep in touch with an audience—in a personalized and targeted way—following important actions or dates.
For example, a drip marketing campaign might be based on someone:
- Placing an order
- Attending an event at your store
- Signing up for a webcast
- Registering for a report or white paper
- Abandoning a shopping cart
- Engaging with customer service
- Not placing an order for a while
A few characteristics make drip marketing powerful and distinct. The content is usually:
- Prewritten and automated
- Sent on a preset schedule in response to audience action or another strategic automation plan
- “Mapped” to, or keyed off, important engagement points
The “drip” part of drip marketing refers to sending a slow and steady series of emails. It might be 2, or 5, or whatever you decide is the best number of emails to keep in touch on a given topic without over-communicating. For each campaign—such as an abandoned cart drip campaign—you write the emails once, and then automate the personalizing and sending. Once they’re set up, your drip marketing campaigns happen automatically.
Why use drip campaigns?
Drip marketing can help you boost sales by turning visitors into buyers, increasing repeat purchases, and reengaging a dormant audience. By communicating your company’s value, you build a relationship with your audience and demonstrate that you’re a great resource for their needs.
A study of 2,000 people found that half of us are engaged in “a never-ending search for products, services, and content to support behavior changing.” A drip campaign can support this behavior.
Drip campaigns can also be effective because they’re targeted, meaning they’re based on a specific action and can be personalized.
How drip campaigns are used
Drip campaigns are designed to reach out with a targeted message for someone at the right time. Since they’re automated emails—like welcome messages, happy birthday wishes, and order notifications—they work for your business while you focus on other things.
Automated drip campaigns make it easy to connect with the right person at the right moment—without doing the work every time. Whether they’re triggered by dates or actions, there are many examples of drip campaigns that could work for your business.
Drip emails can accompany each potential customer through your sales pipeline. From welcome drips, onboarding sequences, lead nurturing campaigns, and abandoned shopping carts to new product recommendations.
Reach out on dates that are important to your audience
Date-based automations make it possible to communicate with your audience on the days that matter to them. You can use these automations on many kinds of occasions, like:
Subscription renewal or reordering prompts. If your business has any products on a subscription or membership basis—such as a gym or yoga studio, a paid newsletter, a farm delivery service, regular delivery of staples like toothpaste or shaving cream, etc.—then a drip campaign is a great way to notify your audience when their subscription is up for renewal. Remind them of the value you provide and how they’ve benefited from your services. If you can, entice them with new offerings that are in the works.
Birthdays, anniversaries, and other events. While you may not turn these into a series, an email on an audience member’s birthday, the anniversary of their first purchase, or another relevant event can be a great way to reinforce your brand value—and perhaps even prompt a purchase.
Communicate based on a user’s behaviors
Many drip campaigns can be triggered by an action someone in your audience takes (or doesn’t take). Here are a few drip campaign examples:
Welcome emails. When someone new joins your audience, it’s a key moment to make a good impression. With welcome drips, you can share everything about your business that a newcomer needs to know. You can also use welcome emails to follow up with someone you met in person, like at an event you hosted—for example, a trunk show, wine tasting, or sale. A drip campaign can be an effective way to keep new audience members posted on upcoming events, sales, or other activities and to make them feel like you share their values.
First purchase automations. When someone makes their first purchase from you, it’s a great opportunity to thank them for their business, remind them of the product features and quality, give them tips on how to get the most from their purchase, suggest complementary things that other buyers have purchased, and reinforce that they made a good decision. Saying thank you at this early stage of your business relationship can make them feel part of a special community.
Product recommendations. When someone makes a purchase, a great way to boost sales is to suggest related items. This can be included in an order confirmation or shipment notification email. For example, if someone buys a dress on your site, you might suggest a belt or scarf—whether they’re often bought together by other shoppers or recommended by your in-house experts. Alternatively, you might follow up a few weeks, or even months, after a purchase to suggest refills or parts. For example, if someone buys an air purifier on your site, you might send an email 3 months later suggesting replacement filters.
Follow-up emails to educate and onboard your audience. If someone engages with your customer service or sales team—for example, to inquire about order status, shipping timing, or some other concern—a drip campaign can prompt them to do more. For example, if they call about a missing invoice or payment, a drip campaign might encourage them to sign up for emailed invoices or online or automatic payment. Likewise, if they started but didn’t complete a tutorial video on using your product or a product registration, a drip campaign can encourage them to finish—and better tie them to your business.
Abandoned shopping carts. Online shoppers often put something in their cart, then remove it before purchase—or abandon the purchase altogether. A well-executed abandoned cart email can encourage them to reassess the purchase. Be careful, though, not to be too “big brother”-ish—you don’t want to appear overly intrusive. For example, if the shopper abandoned a particular skirt, you might send an email promoting your whole spring line, or a line from that designer, without mentioning the specific item they selected.
Lead nurture. Active interest from prospects is particularly well suited to drip campaigns. If someone registers for a webinar or a content element like a white paper or interactive tool, that’s your cue to reach out to them with relevant content. For example, if you provide lawn care, and a prospect signs up for your guide to winter-proofing their yard, you can send them emails with additional tips and include promotions of your yard care products and services. Lead Nurturing can take many forms, like giving them more details about product features, or what they will learn from your online course, or educating them on your service, either way, a lead nurturing campaign can not only increase your sales but the purchase value as well.
Unsubscribe emails. If someone unsubscribes from your e-newsletter, you might follow up with an email asking them for feedback. If they unsubscribe from your subscription service (such as a gym), in addition to asking for feedback, you might provide a special “we want you back” offer or incentive. You can also follow up with them 3 or 6 months later, when their situation may have changed, to woo them back.
How to set up a drip campaign
Drip marketing is an always-on marketing workhorse that maintains the marketing, nurturing, and selling essential to your success. Follow these 5 steps to set up and manage your drip campaign:
- Choose your trigger. What specific action or date will your drip campaign be based on?
- Identify your audience(s). For example, will your “first purchase” drip campaign go to all new audience members, or only those whose purchase is over, say, $100?
- Craft your message for each email. Your drip campaign emails don’t need to be long, but they definitely need to be consistent with your brand.
- Measure and adjust based on performance. The right measurement for your campaign will be based on the type of email you send, its audience, and other factors. Monitor how your various emails are working, their click rates and conversion rates, and be prepared to make tweaks based on what you learn.
- Maintain your drip emails. The copy you use may go out of date as your offerings evolve; review all your drip campaigns periodically to be sure they don’t go stale.
Start using drip campaigns for your company
With all that you have to do, use drip marketing to help with company promotion efforts! While it’s sending the right message, at the right time, to just the right audience, you can be focused on other business priorities. You can use Mailchimp marketing automation software to set up an effective drip campaign. See how Mailchimp's free marketing automation tools compare to the competition.
Frequently asked questions
What should a drip campaign include?
Drip campaigns can include any number of different emails, and the best email campaigns target customers based on recent actions they’ve taken on your website through audience segmentation. Drip campaign emails can include:
- Welcome emails: Welcome new subscribers and typically offer them a coupon code or discount to use for their next purchase.
- Onboarding emails: Introduce your company and its products to customers.
- Abandoned cart emails: Remind customers of items they’ve left in their cart to increase sales.
- Product recommendations: Recommend products to customers based on their past purchases.
Do drip campaigns work?
Drip campaigns are an effective marketing tactic to generate leads, build customer relationships, and increase engagement over time. These campaigns are highly targeted, allowing you to choose which customers or leads get which types of emails. With drip campaigns, you can personalize every email to effectively target different audience segments based on where they are in the customer journey.
How can I create a successful drip campaign?
Setting up a drip campaign requires the use of email marketing software. Mailchimp makes it easy for you to build highly targeted drip campaigns to give customers a nudge when they’re stuck in the buyer’s journey. By moving customers through a funnel, you can start to build better relationships and provide customers with ongoing communication. To create a successful drip campaign:
- Identify audiences: You can have many different audience segments depending on your business. However, to make your drip email campaign effective, you must define the different audiences and which triggers you’ll use. For example, you can send someone an email after they sign up for your newsletter.
- Set goals: All digital marketing campaigns need goals to help you determine their effectiveness. When defining your goals, be specific to ensure you have something to measure against.
- Write and design: Once you have your audiences segmented and triggers set up, you can start to develop your emails based on where customers are in their journeys.
- Plan: Before publishing your email campaign, plan out how it will work, including how many emails to send, the order of emails, and the right triggers.
- Test: Once your campaign has been launched, check the analytics regularly and test different aspects of the email. For example, you can use A/B testing to figure out the best time to send an email.
How do I set up a drip campaign in Mailchimp?
Email drip campaigns are easy with Mailchimp’s marketing automation tools. To set up your drip campaign, sign up for Mailchimp and begin building out your customer list. If you don’t have an active list, you can create a form with Mailchimp to collect customer information on your website. From there, you can begin segmenting your audience by setting email criteria, also known as triggers, and using our free campaign templates to build out your emails.