Have you experimented with email automation?
Also known as drip campaigns, they’re an incredibly effective way to reach clients and prospects on the channel they prefer – email.
In this article, I’ll show you how (and why) to start a drip email marketing campaign of your own.
What Are Drip Email Marketing Campaigns?
You may know drip campaigns by many other names: automated email campaign, autoresponder, lifecycle, etc.
They all mean the same thing. A drip email campaign is a series of emails sent automatically on a set schedule.
Drip emails are generally triggered by some action a prospect takes, whether it’s to subscribe to your blog, make a purchase on your site, register for an event, download an ebook, etc.
Drip campaigns aren’t exclusive to email, of course. But when combined (drip+email), the two form a pretty incredible pair.
Why? Because it works. Drip emails generate 3x the click-through rate of a typical marketing email, 49% of businesses use some form of email automation.
And, according to EmailMonks, drip open rates are about 80% higher then single sends, and companies that excel at drips generate 80% more emails 33% lower costs.
I’m guessing you like those odds as much as I do, so let’s take a deeper look at what drip campaigns can do for you.
When to Use Drip Email Marketing Campaigns
As we talked about, drip marketing campaigns is a broad term.
There’s no singular use for them, but that’s a good thing. They’re suitable for all kinds of businesses and objectives.
Here are some of the ways brands commonly use drip campaigns:
1. Welcoming new customers or subscribers
More likely than not, you receive these on a pretty regular basis.
If you’re marketing’s paid off and you have a new subscriber, great! But your work’s not done yet.
Now, it’s time to keep that subscriber engaged. Start by sending a welcome email. You may not think it, but trust me, it works.
Experian published a white paper on welcome emails showing that these (welcome email) autoresponders see a 58.7% open rate on average, while normal emails sit around 14.6%. And when the email is sent right after the user signs up, the open rate jumps to 88.3%.
On top of that, another study found that on average, 320% more revenue is attributed to welcome emails on a per email basis than other promotional emails.
Even better, it introduces new users to new ways to use your site – always include links to your top content, products, etc.
2. Lead generation and onboarding
Once you’ve sent the welcome email, the drip campaign kicks into gear.
Your next emails are likely what we lead generation emails, designed to re-engage your users by sending out a series of educational “best practice” or “how to” emails to establish your authority in your niche. These can be tips for using the new product, how to navigate their membership or insider insight into your industry.
Another cool way to use an email series like this is to feature additional products or services your brand offers through an onboarding campaign.
Slideshare does this really well in the email below. It was sent to users on the free plan with trending slides, and highlights some of the features of their Pro plan. It’s effective because its targeting people who are clearly using the product, and therefore more likely to benefit (and sign up) for the higher tier plan.
3. Abandoned cart drip email marketing campaign
Surprising though it may be, this is a crazy effective technique for reclaiming lost online sales.
But first, the bad news: about 67% of carts are abandoned. It’s been a common cause of e-commerce headaches for years, but don’t worry, there’s good news to this story too.
SalesCycle reports that abandoned cart emails average a 46.1% open rate, a 13.3% click rate, and $5.64 per email in extra revenue.
And it gets better: 45% of cart abandonment emails are opened, and of those, 21% received click-throughs. Not only that, but 50% of recipients engage with the emails completed their purchase.
As Shopify explains, an effective recovery email should include:
- Pictures of the item they selected
- Reviews or testimonials from other shoppers
- Guarantee and refund policy information
- A strong call to action to get them back to your site
As far as timing, they recommend:
- 1st email – should go out within 24 hrs
- 2nd email – send within 2 days
- 3rd email – send within 1 week
4. Promotional Drip Campaigns
Want more eyes on a great deal you’re promoting? Launch a drip campaign.
You can run promotions exclusively to email subscribers (“special pricing when you use this promotional code,” etc.) to promote the feeling of exclusivity, or just use it as a means to advertise said promotion.
Don’t be afraid of over-promoting (within reason): 28% of consumers would like to receive promotional emails more than once per week, and 77% of people prefer to get permission-based promotional messages via email.
Remember, this is a drip campaign, so have more than one email locked and loaded. Send the first email to simply tease the coming promotion, one right before launch, at launch, and before the promotion ends to give your subscribers multiple chances to get in on the deal.
5. Webinar/Event Announcement
This follows the same the guidelines as the promotional email, only this time of course, you’re promoting a specific event.
Drip emails are especially effective here because it can help snag attendees at the last minute.
Take these webinar stats: According to GoToWebinar, 69% of registrations happen in the week leading up to the webinar, and 33% occur the day of.
These stats prove how effective it is to have multiple touchpoints with your clientele all the way up to the day of the event. And naturally, email is a great way to do so.
Here’s a quick example. Jon Morrow of SmartBlogger recently held a webinar, and in the last three days leading up to it sent five emails (three on the day of closing registration!)
With a catchy caption and a sense of urgency, you can be he snagged quite a few more attendees to effective drip email marketing.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. While these are some of the most common uses, there are plenty of other ways to utilize drip campaigns, as long as you can time them into your goals.
How to Start a Drip Email Marketing Campaign
Now that you’ve decided what kind of drip campaign is best for you, it’s time to get started.
At this point, I’m assuming you’ve done your homework on target audience and know the kind of subscribers you’d like to attract (and if you haven’t, here’s a refresher video for you.)
As we covered above, drip campaigns are set into motion by specific triggers (a new subscriber, new purchase, updated demographic info, a download, past buyer history, etc.). You can even start a drip designed an action someone takes on your site.
For example, HubSpot sends this email to visitors of their website, before any direct action has been taken:
Based on your industry, you’ll design a drip around those actions, and based on your desired goals.
For example, if someone downloads your ebook, that would trigger your initial thank you email to be sent instantly and set the other drips into motion. The content you include in the subsequent emails should all be related to the subject of your ebook.
To continue the drip, you would then select other relevant articles you’ve written or tips you have to include in the next emails.
And remember, don’t just send out emails because you think you should. Always have an end goal in mind, such as reclaiming lost sales, new sales, or more downloads. Make them as specific and trackable as possible.
Naturally, the number of emails you send and at what frequency are big factors in the success of your drip campaign. Check out this article from Wishpond for some great information on how to sequence your emails.
Remember, you want to ease them in, so don’t bombard them with your long form articles just yet. Your first few emails should be used to build rapport and offer any tips that build on what you published in your ebook.
Naturally, this is where compelling copy and messaging come into play. To do that, you want to follow general email best practices:
- Only send emails to those who have agreed to receive them
- Include a strong subject line
- Keep your copy clean and short
- Speak in your brand voice
- Explain the benefits of your product/service
- Include a clear CTA
- Always use the same sender address
- Keep it personal – include names, etc.
Once you have your triggers and frequency decided and your copy crafted, it’s time to set the ball in motion.
Drip Email Marketing Campaign Software
Here’s the part where you get to set back, relax, and let software handle the automation for you.
I know the idea of investing in yet another marketing software isn’t the most attractive, but consider this: For every $1 spent on email marketing $44 is made in return, according to a study by Campaign Monitor.
So let’s just say it’s money well spent.
Which software you choose really depends on the size of your business and the services you require. Smaller businesses will likely find success with MailChimp, while I recommend HubSpot for larger businesses.
Whichever you choose, make sure it includes the features most important to you, whether it be ease of use, CRM integration, testing capabilities, etc.
You can find a list of my top reviewed email automation software here.
Drip Email Marketing Best Practices
Before hitting send (or letting your software do so for you), take a quick look through this list to make sure you’ve covered bases and incorporated these best practices:
- Segment your email lists – not every email is appropriate for every prospect, so make sure you’ve split your list into categories: past customers, new subscribers, etc. for best results
- Make sure your messaging lines up with your triggers – for example, don’t send a welcome email to an old subscriber, and make sure each email for each trigger is unique
- A/B test all of your emails – test your “from” name, send time, your CTA, subject line, copy, etc.
- Don’t just send drip emails – have an entire strategy designed around your goals; remember, email is just one component of a successful plan
- Pay special attention to your subject line – a good one (or lack thereof) could make or break your campaign
- If you can, consider hiring a copywriter
- Introduce yourself in the first email
Measuring the Success of Your Drip Email Marketing Campaign
The success of your campaign depends on the goals you initially set for yourself.
And luckily, almost all of the email software available comes with a set of analytics to measure. To get an idea of which metrics to close attention to, according to the DMA the four most important email marketing metrics (as identified by advertisers) are: CTR, Conversion rate, Open rate, and ROI.
While these are all great metrics to keep an eye on, a lot of your goals depend on what your users once they reach your page.
For example, were you trying to reclaim lost shoppers with abandoned cart emails? Urging new subscribers to download your white paper?
To more accurately track user’s activity, many email services offer Google Analytics integration, or you can set it up manually with an Analytics Tracking Code.
And of course, test for optimum success. Many services come with the ability to A/B test your emails, so make sure you’re testing all elements I outlined in the best practices – subject line, creative, copy, CTA, from name, etc.
Get Started With Drip Email Marketing
Drip email campaigns aren’t as daunting as they seem.
With clear triggers and goals in mind, you can craft a series of emails designed to keep your prospects informed and engaged.
Remember, a successful campaign takes time – and some trial and error. Improving and optimizing your emails is an ongoing battle, but utilizing drip campaigns will save you part of the headache.
So don’t wait; start your drip campaign today.