Sell more with better email & SMS

Get ecommerce-focused email & SMS marketing that makes it easier to grow your brand, get sales & build better relationships.

Start free

Drive sales on autopilot with ecommerce-focused features

See Features

5 email drip campaign examples and best practices

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Omnisend research shows that automated drip campaigns perform two times better than promotional campaigns. That proves that delivering the right message at the right time to the right person really pays off.

Rather than crudely blasting people with random and irrelevant sales pitches, email marketing uses subtle, sophisticated drip campaigns to nurture leads, re-engage lost customers, upsell, promote regular communication with their communities, and more. 

This article digs deeper into what drip campaigns actually are, as well as presenting some email drip campaign ideas so you can conduct them yourself. It also includes some great examples of other businesses effectively using drip campaigns – because companies that excel at drip campaigns have been shown to generate 80% more sales at 33% lower costs

Will you be joining them?

What is a drip campaign?

Simply put, the drip campaign is a series of relevant, perfectly-timed messages that are sent to customers automatically, triggered by their behavior. It is certainly one of the highest-converting email marketing examples.

A drip campaign goes by many names, such as drip marketing, drip email service, automated email marketing, and drip autoresponder. The idea is to nudge, remind, engage, and send interesting content in a friendly, non-committal manner while keeping the messages as personal and relevant as possible.

By keeping track of your customers’ behavior and preferences over time, you will be able to sell exactly when they are ready to buy, without the in-your-face, ‘pushy’ kind of marketing that can quickly lead to people unsubscribing.

Drip campaigns are effective for more than simply closing sales, however. What is drip marketing useful for? Well, depending on your overall goals, you can use drip marketing campaigns for things like:

  • Increasing awareness of your brand
  • Gathering customer data and feedback
  • Promoting new products
  • Building engagement and community 
  • Onboarding for upcoming events

The way you run your drip campaign will depend on the drip marketing software that you are using, more on that later. However, the stages of an email drip campaign all operate on the same basic principles: 

How many emails should be in a drip campaign?

A drip campaign can have between four and eleven emails sent at least a few days apart. The best number depends on the type of the campaign, though. For example, a lead nurturing campaign can include multiple weekly emails while a welcome campaign can have a longer delay between the first and the second message.

A common misconception about drip email campaigns is they should be sent in large numbers with one goal: get the subscriber to buy. The best strategy is to get our value across to subscribers without being too pushy.

Here’s an example of a drip welcome campaign consisting of three emails.

example of how welcome drip campaign is triggered in Omnisend platform

Drip email software

Effective drip campaigns need a good marketing automation platform. There are many excellent tools in the market to choose from, each offering a variety of unique features and pricing structures.

  • Omnisend. A popular email drip platform for ecommerce with a free plan. Gives you everything you need: campaign templates, premade automation workflows, drag & drop editor, and analytics for improvement.
  • Klaviyo. An email marketing software that lets you create complex customer journeys and targeted campaigns. Key engagement metrics and analytics will also allow to improve the personalization of automated campaigns.
  • Mailchimp. An email marketing automation tool for marketing agencies and big websites. Lets you design advanced drip email automations and evaluate their performance with A/B testing.

Email drip campaign best practices

1. Define your drip campaign audience

Drip campaign recipients can be easily defined when a simple trigger like a new sign-up or birthday occurs. 

However, the more conditions you create, the more complex things become. Custom drip campaigns require a careful review of the rules that you set to ensure that there are no conflicts that can lead to confusion. 

For example, if a customer has registered in your store but hasn’t filled in their profile, you’ll have to make sure that the automated reminder to do so won’t be sent at the same time as your welcome series. Sending too many emails at once can overwhelm and irritate a new customer, and potentially lessen their engagement.

2. Targeted messages for more relevance

Pay attention to your content. Don’t send random, impersonal emails to customers that you are familiar with.

Think it over: what is relevant at this particular moment for them? Your copywriting should address your customers’ current needs.

If it’s a cart abandonment email, try to convince your prospect to seal the deal right away. Think of what issues they may have encountered: Perhaps the shipping was too expensive? Your returns policy wasn’t clearly laid out? 

Pay attention to two very important notes in the following ModCloth email – free delivery and free returns. This “sweet couple” usually encourages people to make a purchase. If you can afford it, use it.

ModCloth cart abandonment email offering free delivery and free return
Abandoned cart – Modcloth example

The same applies to your onboarding email series. Be mindful of the main reasons that people signed up to your newsletter in the first place – highlight your killer perks to help confirm that they’ve definitely made the right decision.

3. Map out your campaign

Before launching your drip campaign, consider the following points:

  • Identify your overall goal 
  • Determine your ‘triggers’
  • Decide how many emails you will send in your drip email sequence
  • Decide how you will personalize your content
  • Know when to remove customers from a drip email sequence

Include all emails, SMS, and other messages in your plan to avoid overlapping. Nothing is worse than getting a discount coupon for the product you bought last week!

4. Keep the main message above the fold

Our goal with each drip email is to convey a message that convinces our subscribers to take action. So, we need to ensure that our subscribers will not miss it.

That’s why we need to have the main message above the fold.

Like here, the headline from Baking Steel mentions the value for the recipient (get $20 off) at the top of the message.

Baking steel email

5. Make drip emails easy to skim

Most email recipients don’t actually read the entire email. Instead, they skim the content searching for something they like. For us, it means that writing long emails might not make a lot of sense—many subscribers will skim no matter how informative the content is.

To ensure that more subscribers read our emails, make them easy to skim. This means structuring them in a way that allows them to take in as much information as possible quickly.

To make skimmable emails, use:

  • Small paragraphs
  • Headlines and subheadlines
  • Bullet point lists
  • Visuals like images and gifs
  • A lot of white space

Let’s see an example of a simple and skimmable email.

This drip email campaign from Stitch Fix contains a headline, a subheading, a short paragraph, and visuals. Together, these elements help get the message across easily.

drip email campaign from Stitch Fix

6. Evaluate and adjust

Drip campaigns are very convenient and time-saving – you set up them once and they work for you 24/7.

However, don’t forget to follow their results and adjust if needed.

Usually, marketers follow the conversion performance of their campaigns in Google Analytics. UTM parameters help to do that.

At Omnisend, marketers can follow the orders and revenue generated from each campaign separately. This is convenient, especially when comparing overall performance with separate campaigns.

email campaign performance

Improving your drip campaign emails is a never-ending task if you’re looking to achieve consistently great results. Only by testing different texts, imagery, and additional information will you find what best works for your customers.

7. Consider these ‘must-have’ campaigns

Three out of four subscribers expect to receive a welcome email immediately after they sign up. By launching a welcome drip campaign and sending cheerful and informative welcome emails at the right times, your brand will meet your customers’ expectations. That’s a great start for your relationship! 

Another important campaign to consider is one for abandoned carts. With 7 out of 10 visits to ecommerce websites leading to this issue, some gentle reminders sent out at opportune times can go a long way to resolving it. With cart abandonment emails recovering up to 33.9% of orders, there’s a great opportunity to get extra sales with this drip campaign.”

Other effective drip campaigns include customer reactivation, order confirmation, and custom automation that includes personalization features such as birthdays etc. 

The chart below shows how various drip campaigns perform in terms of customer engagement.

Automation email open, click and conversion rates 2020

Drip campaign examples for ecommerce

When thinking about which types of drip campaigns are best suited to your business, consider the overall goals of each. Drip marketing is useful for a range of different strategies and aims throughout the drip funnel, from building up a contact list to bringing lost customers back into the fold.

What is most important to you right now?

Let’s take a look at some classic and popular drip campaign examples that are easy to create and serve a range of specific business purposes.

Example #1. Welcome series

This example shows what you can include in your onboarding emails and how to prepare your new prospect for the purchase.

The 1st email welcomes the subscriber and introduces the benefits of joining the community. Also, there is a photo of the founder and her short quote which makes the email more personal.

The 2nd email tells the story of the brand and how the products are being produced.

The 3rd email is for social proof and the discount for the first purchase.

Welcome email series using Omnisend platform

Example #2. Order confirmation

An order confirmation drip campaign is one of the most critical workflows for an ecommerce company. Think about it—how would you feel if you didn’t get an order confirmation email after a purchase online?

Building trust is important for ecommerce conversions, and an order confirmation drip campaign is a critical component of boosting that trust with your customers. Effective and easy to implement, it’s a must-have for any ecommerce company. The main benefits of this email are the following:

  • It helps build your business’ credibility and your relationship with the customer.
  • An order confirmation email even generates new sales!

See how the workflow can look below.

order confirmation email workflow

Example #3. Abandoned cart

Abandoned carts are one of the most frustrating aspects of running an ecommerce company. While cart abandonment might be an unavoidable phenomenon, a targeted drip campaign can help you recover some of that potentially lost revenue. When creating a drip campaign for cart recovery, think about which channels you can use to get the best results.

The easiest way is to launch a series of three emails: a reminder about the abandoned cart first; an offer of a deal in the second; and a reminder about both the cart and the deal in the third email.

Abandoned Cart email workflow

Example #4. Re-activation emails

This email or series of emails should be sent when your subscriber hasn’t been active for some time. It mostly depends on the buying cycle.

For an ecommerce company that sell apparel, books or small electronic devices, we suggest sending the first re-activation email within 90 days of inactivity. If it’s a series of emails, repeat them every week after.

See the example of Glotrition’s re-activation email.

Example of Customer Reactivation Email

Example #5. Birthday email

If you want to send birthday emails, don’t forget to include an extra field on your sign-up forms. Without this data, you won’t be able to send birthday emails.

Our best practice shows that these emails are effective when containing an appealing text plus a small discount for the next purchase.

See examples below:

Example of ASOS Birthday Email

Example #6. Lead nurturing series

Most people coming to ecommerce websites aren’t ready to buy. They need some time and convincing to arrive at the decision-making step.

That’s where this email drip campaign example comes in.

As the name suggests, lead nurturing emails are created to build relationships with subscribers with helpful content, personalized bonuses, and other incentives. A great lead nurturing drip email engages and inspires recipients to go to your company’s website.

A typical lead nurturing series includes emails with blog content, customer reviews, special offers, and sales notifications.

For example—

This email from The 5TH offers VIP access to a 24-hour sale.

5TH offers VIP access to a 24-hour sale

Example #7. Educational series

Educational email drip campaigns are also about building strong relationships with subscribers. They contain how-to instructions, videos, tips, and advice on how to solve typical problems customers face.

Creating educational series is a must-do for effective ecommerce email marketing. In addition to being perceived as an expert brand, research shows that customers are 131% more likely to buy from a company whose educational content they read.

Here’s an example of an educational email drip campaign. Beardbrand describes how to dye gray hairs, which is one of the typical problems of their target audience.

Grey hare don't care education emails

Key takeaways

Drip campaigns generate 2-3 times higher performance than bulk emails. If combining three and more marketing channels, this number boosts even higher to a 250% purchase rate on average.

Welcome, cart abandonment, customer reactivation drip email systems are those that should be launched first. They are easy to implement and are highly effective.

Small details matter. A simple notification about free shipping might help seal the deal.

Always double-check if your copywriting is in line with an email trigger and overall brand communication.

When considering drip email tools, pay attention to the number of channels offered. The transition from email channel to omnichannel marketing will be easier that way.

Get started with Omnisend today & drive sales on autopilot with pre-built automation workflows
Start Free Today
Avatar
Article by
Karolina Petraškienė

Karolina is a writer, content marketer, and email enthusiast at Omnisend. When she's not curating articles, you can find her in the woods challenging herself in hiking boots or off-roading her bike.


related features
These are the Omnisend features that can help you get the results mentioned in the article.