Drip Campaigns: Automated Emails Make a Splash

September 08, 2016   /   by  Michael Westafer

Great Tips to Manage Drips

We’ve done some recent posts on the value of marketing automation and lead nurturing, and one of the best ways you can use your marketing automation system to nurture leads is by setting up drip campaigns. Drip campaigns, also known as drip marketing, simply refer to a series of automated emails that go out to a targeted audience on a set schedule.

The main thing you should know about drip campaigns is this: they work. According to the Epsilon Email Institute, triggered email messages average 70.5% higher open rates and 152% higher click-through rates than “business as usual” marketing messages.

Additionally, 67% of B2B marketers say they see at least 10% increase in sales opportunities through lead nurturing, with 15% seeing opportunities increase by 30% or more (DemandGen 2014 Lead Nurturing Benchmark Study).

The bottom line is that if you nurture your leads well, you can increase sales.

When to Trigger a Drip Campaign

There are a number of reasons to trigger a drip campaign. Some of these include the following:

  • Someone fills out a form to receive gated content. If a user has given you their contact information to download a piece of content, that’s a good indication that they are really interested in that topic. Set up a drip campaign that sends these users emails that direct them to related content or tools that they might find valuable.
  • A user signs up for your email newsletter or blog. Be sure to send out an automated welcome message. You may also want to follow up to ask for additional preferences, or see how they like the content they are receiving.
  • Someone abandons their shopping cart. Retailers can often persuade shoppers into reconsidering if they send an immediate follow-up email featuring the item the shopper left behind.
  • A user signs up for an event. Beyond thanking the person for signing up, you can confirm that you have their reservation. You can also send out drip emails about the venue, travel arrangements, itineraries and reminders as you get closer to your event date.
  • Create a course. Ask users to sign up for an email course that teaches something valuable over a series of emails. According to Marketing Land, course emails—or emails that are part of a series—have an open rate 80% higher than regular emails, and a 300% higher click through rate to boot.

These are just a few examples of when to trigger drip campaigns. Pick the triggers that make the most sense for your business.

How does a Drip Campaign Work?

In your marketing automation system, you will need to set up a workflow and tasks to manage your drip campaign. For example, the first automated email will be triggered by a user’s behavior on the site or in response to an email, such as one of the actions listed above. So if someone fills out a form to access a white paper, you can set the first automated response to go out immediately after they’ve downloaded the resource.

Depending on their behavior, different automated emails may follow. If they don’t open the email, for example, you may resend them the resource after a few days with a note that you didn’t want them to miss it. If they opened your email and clicked on another resource, that might trigger another email about another topic. You might want to chart this out visually using a decision tree.

If someone doesn’t respond at all to a few drips, you can discontinue the drip campaign for those people, while continuing to nurture more active leads.

How to Plan Your Drip Campaign

Before you set this up in your marketing automation system, you’ll want to map everything out first.

Make sure every piece of content you send to prospects offers value and helps to build trust. Map out the content you will provide to each audience based on their behavior and the paths that leads are likely to take. Create draft emails, landing pages and any other content you’ll be using in your campaign. Tag URLs so you can track your campaign’s success.

Keep things simple. For example, if prospects clicked a link, your next contact with them should mention their interest based on the link they clicked. You also want to start small. A sweet spot is to keep the drips to no more than five emails.

When building drips, make things easy for anyone outside of marketing to understand the campaign. To begin, choose a drip name that is descriptive and easy to remember. Here are other best practices to consider.

  • Schedule content to be sent based on the time zone of your prospects
  • Use tags for information like geography, language and product interest
  • Check the style, tone and wording of the drip emails
  • Define your audience (send content only to the audience that have taken the next step required in the campaign)
  • Avoid sending too many emails at once to prospects by staggering the drip campaigns

Review and Tweak

After launching your drip campaign, review it after some time to determine whether there are areas that can be improved. For instance, if the click-through rates of a specific email are higher than those of other emails, what can you deduce from it? Other things to evaluate include:

  • Where does engagement start falling off?
  • Are your pauses between emails too short or too long?
  • Are you hitting the goals you defined for the campaign?

Your campaign data will show whether you are on track to hitting your goals of driving engaged traffic, increasing click-through rates or moving leads into the sales funnel.

Interested in starting your own drip campaigns? Need some help? No problem. We’re here for you. Let’s Talk.

Michael Westafer

Michael Westafer


As the CEO and founder of Roger West, Mike brings over 25 years of marketing, leadership, and business strategy experience to our team, clients, and partners. Under his leadership, the Roger West has grown from a scrappy startup to a full-service, award-winning agency. He believes in getting things done, making big things happen for clients, and delivering expert fist-bumps.