When you first enter the world of online marketing, everyone with experience will tell you that email will be your most powerful marketing tool.
The trouble is, once you start getting a bit deeper into the subject, you’re likely to get overwhelmed. There are tons of strategies, best practices, and tips & tricks to sending emails that get results. The more you learn, the more you realize how much there is to know regarding email marketing.
The scariest thing for new business owners and marketers is probably the fact that there are no certainties in email marketing. The best anyone can do is tell you what worked for them and a bunch of other people in the past, but nobody can provide you with a strategy that’s guaranteed to generate a ton of revenue for your business.
A successful email marketing campaign is made up of various aspects, and you have to nail each one before you start seeing results. There’s a myriad of new terms that you don’t even understand, let alone know how to implement.
We’re not telling you all this to discourage you, but there’s no denying the fact that email marketing is complex. That’s why we’ve created detailed articles covering everything related to email marketing so that you can create outstanding campaigns that drive conversions and generate sales reliably and consistently.
The topic we’ll discuss here is drip email marketing. We’ll explain what drip email campaigns are and what you can use them for, as well as provide you with a step-by-step guide for setting up your first successful one. We’ll also share a handful of high-performing email drip campaign examples that will make the entire process infinitely easier for you.
Let’s jump right in!
A drip email campaign is a multi-layered, automated sequence of emails that are sent out to subscribers based on specific actions and timelines. Rather than sending a sequence of ten emails one after another, drip campaigns add events into the equation — allowing you to tailor your campaigns based on how an individual user engages with your emails.
Email Drip Campaign Flow
Image source: Vendasta
The easiest way to explain how a drip campaign works is through the If-Then logic commonly used in programming:
Every subscriber receives the same initial email — a welcome email or a resource (lead magnet) that they opted for in the first place
If they open the email and click on the lead magnet, send them email A
If they didn’t open the email or have opened it but haven’t interacted with the resource, send them email B
The same logic is applied to every email in the campaign throughout the sequence. The image above is an oversimplified version. In reality, drip email campaigns involve a few dozen emails at the very least.
Following the same logic we used above, if you want each subscriber to receive five emails before the end of the campaign, you’ll need to have a total of 31 emails in the campaign (1 + 2 + 4 + 8 + 16).
Of course, the sequence doesn’t have to branch out after every single email — you can define the events that lead to the If-Then logic freely. For instance, you can set up a drip campaign so that a person receives a specific email if they haven’t opened the previous three, or if they haven’t clicked a link in the last five emails.
With drip campaigns, the possibilities are virtually endless. While drip email campaigns do seem complex and abstract at first, they’re easy to set up once you can visualize the whole campaign in an autoresponder and see how every email falls into place.
The reason for running drip email campaigns is simple — you get to send the right marketing message to the right person at the right time. The beauty of these campaigns lies in the fact that they are fully automated.
You only need to define triggers and events during the initial setup. The autoresponder software you’re using will take care of the rest, and will follow the predefined rules to determine which email to send to each subscriber.
Depending on the nature of your business and the goal of your email marketing efforts, you can leverage drip email campaigns in a variety of scenarios:
You don’t want to start pitching your products to a brand new lead right of the bat. Instead, you need to nurture them and ease them into the buying decisions.
How do you do that? Simple — by slowly introducing them to your business and “holding their hand” as they move through your marketing funnel. The most effective way to do this is by sharing valuable content first and gradually moving on to making your pitch.
When it comes to content, you can share anything that your subscribers can extract value from, like:
Free eBooks and PDF reports
Blog digests — brief summaries of a post with a link to the article
Stats, charts, infographics
Autopilot’s Lead Nurturing Email
Image source: SalesWing
The idea is to turn engaging with your business into a habit. After a few emails — once the subscribers are convinced that you genuinely want to help them solve an issue or reach their goal and that you’re an expert on the subject — they’ll be much more open to checking out your offers.
It’s essential to build trust before you start promoting your products and services. After a successful lead nurturing campaign, you won’t have to hard-sell anything to them.
Introducing them to a solution and listing out the benefits will be more than enough to get them to visit your product page. If the product/service itself provides value to them and the website copy is compelling, they’ll click that “buy now” button without you having to put in any extra effort.
The goal of an engagement-oriented drip campaign is to get your subscribers to interact with your website more often. The idea is that the more time they spend on your website, the more likely they are to make a purchase.
The specifics of engagement campaigns will largely depend on the type of business you’re running. Based on the product or service that you’re trying to sell, you’ll have to come up with activities that are both interesting to your subscribers and are likely to pique their interest in your product or service.
For an e-commerce store, this is relatively simple. You know that the subscribers are at least somewhat interested in the products you’re selling — they wouldn’t have subscribed to your mailing list otherwise.
It’s safe to assume that they’d also be interested in new arrivals to your store. Here, you can craft a few messages that showcase a new collection of products, list out the most popular ones, or highlight the discounts you’re currently offering.
Kate Spade New Arrivals Email
Image source: Campaign Monitor
For software companies, you can always offer your subscribers to schedule a free demo or take a look at tutorials that showcase what your software can be used for.
The same principle applies to whatever it is you’re selling. You have to find a way to get them back to your website by offering them something valuable free of charge. Once they’re there, your website copy takes over and, hopefully, converts them into paid customers.
These drip campaigns target people who have either already made a purchase in the past or were one step away from doing it.
The first group is your existing customers. It’s much easier to sell to them than it is to convert new leads. If you have complementary products, you can leverage the information you have on your customers and offer them additional products or services that go hand in hand with what they previously bought from you.
The second group is people who have abandoned their shopping carts. They were on the edge of clicking that “buy now” button but have changed their mind at the last second.
Cart abandonment happens for various reasons:
They weren’t ready to spend money at that point in time
They wanted to compare your prices with your competitors’
They wanted to buy something but aren’t sure they need it
They might wait for a discount before they make a purchase
Whatever the reason, you shouldn’t let them back out of a buying decision that easily. Instead, you should create drip campaigns that will “lure them back in” and remove the buying obstacle.
Shopping Cart Abandonment Sequence Example
Email 1: You Left Something in Your Cart
Remind the subscriber that they had their eye on specific products and give them a link they can click to return to the checkout page.
Email 2: Grab your items before someone else does!
You can play the “limited stock” card here and encourage them to make a buying decision by throwing in the sense of urgency.
Email 3: 10% OFF your purchase!
If they still don’t make a buying decision, maybe the price is the issue. Offer them a personalized, one-time discount on everything in their shopping cart.
Email 4: Last chance to grab your stuff!
Here, you can take on a slightly more aggressive approach and tell the subscriber that you “saved” the items in their cart, but will sell them to someone else if they don’t act now. You can also throw in a final discount (10%–20%).
Fab Shopping Cart Abandonment Email
Image source: Shopify
With a shopping cart abandonment drip campaign, you’re sending highly personalized emails and giving the subscriber multiple opportunities to go through with the purchase. The sequence is pretty straightforward — if they don’t open the previous email or don’t click the link in it, you send the next one.
Recommendations are a great way to generate repeat business. Once someone’s expressed interest in a particular product — either by purchasing it or by spending time on its web page — you can present them with a list of complementary products.
Recommendation Email by Zee & Co.
Image source: Smart Mail
In general, businesses have a ton of information on their leads and customers. There’s no reason not to put that information to good use. Once you understand a subscriber’s browsing and buying habits, you can tailor your marketing messages according to what they’re most likely to be interested in.
This approach can work for pretty much anything — from services and software to physical products. The easiest way to scale your revenue isn’t by getting a bunch of new leads and trying to convert them into customers — it’s by cross-selling and upselling your existing buyers.
Cross-selling works best in retail, where you’re offering similar products, while upselling makes the most sense if you have a range of increasingly priced services.
If you’re selling subscriptions of any kind, a renewal drip campaign is a must. Whenever a customer’s subscription is about to expire, you can send them an email with a quick link that will let them extend the subscription for another month.
Most subscription-based services nowadays come with automatic renewals, but even then, you can send a reminder and offer the customer an opportunity to upgrade to a higher-priced plan.
Weebly Subscription Renewal Email
Image source: Email Design
Despite the fact that a lot of thought goes into creating a drip email campaign, the process of setting one up is relatively simple.
There are only a couple of steps you need to take to ensure your drip campaigns run smoothly:
Segment your audience
Craft your messages
Create your campaign
Monitor and adjust
Drip emails rest on the idea that you’ll send the appropriate marketing message to each and every subscriber. In order to do that, you must clearly define the actions based on which you’ll segment your target audience.
The first segmentation criterion is the opt-in form through which someone becomes a subscriber. You can’t send everyone the same welcome email — it needs to be tweaked according to each subscriber’s entry point into your funnel.
It’s fairly easy to segment the audience through an autoresponder by connecting each opt-in form to a specific drip email sequence. Sure, you will have to set up and run multiple campaigns, but this approach is much more fruitful than sending everyone a dull, generic welcome email and putting every subscriber into the same sequence.
Audience Segmentation Based on Where They Opt In
Introduce yourself and give them a quick overview of the valuable content they can expect to receive in the future.
Lead magnet download
Thank them for showing interest and leave a link for the lead magnet.
Thank the subscriber and leave them with a link to mark down the time in their calendar.
Free trial signup
Ask them to verify their email address and leave a link to access the app and log in.
Depending on the action the subscriber took, you want to gently push them towards the next stage of your marketing funnel.
The approach will be different for someone who subscribed to your email newsletter and someone who signed up for a free trial. While the tone of the emails can be the same, the call-to-action will be vastly different for each group.
If you segment your audience at the start, you’ll have much more success with your drip email campaigns.
You can segment your lists even further down the lane, based on specific events and triggers, like:
Clicking a link in your email
Downloading a resource
Making a purchase
When you can clearly define the buyer’s journey and create “markers” for each stage, you can tweak your email communication to provide each subscriber with exactly what they need at that moment to move them further down the funnel.
Once you understand each segment of your audience, it shouldn’t be too difficult to discern what they want to learn and what the next step you want them to take is.
If someone is at the top of your funnel and is only problem-aware, you need to “shower” them with relevant, valuable content before you start pitching your solution. Here, you want to take on the “let me inform you” approach.
Use CTAs that let your audience learn more about the topic and the possible solutions to their problems, such as:
Read this blogpost
Download this free PDF e-book/report/whitepaper
Check out this case study
For subscribers who are closer to the bottom of your funnel, there’s no need to convince them that they need a solution — they already know. At this point, you want to introduce your product as the best possible solution on the market and encourage them to check it out.
As far as CTAs go, in this stage, it’s best to offer demos, tutorials, free trials, discount codes, free consultation calls, etc.
When creating drip campaigns, try to put yourself in your subscribers' shoes. Think about the type of email you’d like to receive at different stages of the funnel and what type of content you’d find the most valuable.
Then, tailor your email messages according to the segment of your audience you’ll be sending them to.
Once you’ve planned out your entire campaign, you need to create it in an autoresponder.
There are literally hundreds of email marketing software solutions out there, but most of them offer the basic capabilities you’ll need:
Triggers and events
Our autoresponder offers all of the above and much more. With the Sell SaaS white-label email campaign creator, you can craft complex campaigns using predefined rules in minutes. You can also monitor replies, unsubscribes, and open, bounce, and click-through rates effortlessly.
The best part about our email campaign creator is that you can both use and resell it! The software can be fully white-labeled, meaning you can sell it as your own — at whatever price you want! Just add your company name, logo, and colors, and you can start pitching the software under your own brand.
There’s no paid license of any kind, and you can start reselling right away. We’ll handle everything from setting up payment links to providing customer support. And the best part is — you get to keep between 60% and 80% of every sale you make!
If you’re interested in launching a wildly profitable SaaS business or want to scale your existing business by creating an additional revenue stream, click here for more white-label software solutions you can start reselling today.
Despite the fact that email drip campaigns are fully automated, you can’t exactly “set them and forget them.” You need to monitor the performance of your campaign to see what works and tweak each email for optimal results.
Your best bet here would be to create the campaigns in an autoresponder that offers advanced analytics and supports A/B testing. That way, you’ll have insights into what works and what doesn’t, and you will be able to test out different aspects of your campaign — CTAs, visuals, subject lines, etc. — until you refine them to perfection.
The crucial thing to take away from this article is that email drip campaigns allow you to leverage subscriber data and send each subscriber the right message at the right time. This is done by defining events and branching out the campaigns to ensure your email marketing messages are based on your subscribers’ behavior and the way they interact with your content.
To make a drip campaign work, you need to:
Know your target audience
Have multiple opt-in forms that allow for initial segmentation
Create relevant, valuable content for each stage of your funnel
Craft email messages based on what stage of the buyer’s journey the subscriber is in
Monitor the performance of your campaigns and tweak them based on relevant data constantly
A decent autoresponder will greatly facilitate drip email campaign creation and setup. Choose the one that offers advanced features and integrates into your existing workflow, plan out your campaigns carefully, and you’ll start raking in sales in no time.
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