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5 email drip campaign examples and best practices

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With open rates at around 80% higher than single send emails, drip campaigns’ knack for 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

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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?

When creating a drip campaign, you might wonder how many emails to include. The answer often depends on a few different factors:

  • How engaged your customers are.
  • What you sell.
  • Your product lifecycle.

For example, someone creating a drip marketing campaign for luxury goods may not use the same speed as a fashion DTC brand.

That said, with most automations, the sweet spot tends to favor three drip emails to start off with. In Omnisend, you’ll find most of our automation workflow templates will include three drip emails or messages—this is a great launching point.

If you find that a third drip email doesn’t earn enough to keep it (or worse, earns you a few too many unsubscribes), you can pair the workflow back to just two drip emails. Conversely, if you’re finding that many customers are converting from the third drip email, you might want to consider adding a fourth to scoop up anyone that might be on the fence after three messages.

Only you can decide how many drip emails to include, and use the data from your starting point to decide what brings the most value to both you and your customers.

1. Triggers

Triggers lead the customer into the pre-determined workflow and can be set off by anything from a new sign-up to cart abandonment or even a subscriber’s birthday. 

The example below shows exactly how a welcome drip campaign is triggered and sent to the customer.

example of how welcome drip campaign is triggered in Omnisend platform

2. Conditions

Certain conditions, which you chose when setting up your workflow, need to be met for further actions to commence. 

These could include things like: waiting a certain number of days after the first email has been opened before the second email is sent, or waiting until a particular item has been clicked on before sending customer reviews. 

3. Actions

Actions are the actual emails – whether they be welcome series, cart abandonment reminders, birthday messages, and so on. These are already created and written, to be sent on a precise schedule according to the triggers and conditions above. 

A common question that many retailers ponder is this: How many emails in a drip campaign? There is no clear answer here because email drip campaign frequency depends on your ultimate goals. However, most campaigns consist of 4 to 11 emails sent out at evenly-spaced intervals.

Ultimately, it’s a fine balance between overkill leading to an annoyed customer, and sending a drip email sequence with enough content to gradually nurture a lead from a variety of angles. There are no set rules here—understand your audience and your aims and use your common sense.

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. When choosing the drip campaign tool that’s right for you, it’s most important to pay attention to the following features:

  • Automation options and flexibility: Look for a range of automation features, including pre-built workflows of the most popular drip campaigns such as welcome series, abandoned cart, post-purchase, etc.
  • Ease of workflow setup: The best platforms enable a simple drag-and-drop workflow build so you can create a new workflow with just a few clicks.
  • Options for segments and targeted messages: Advanced segmentation enables better personalization for your campaigns, so you can send the right messages to the right people at the right times. The right platform should allow you to segment by a variety of metrics so you can target specific audiences with hyper-personalized content.
  • A variety of channels: Email is great, but campaigns are even better when supplemented with things like SMS and push notifications. Customers respond much better to an omnichannel marketing strategy, with marketers earning 18.96% engagement when using three channels or more in their campaigns, compared to just 5.4% when using single-channel campaigns.
  • Email drip campaign templates: Another great time-saver are email drip campaign templates. Look for a variety of email templates that are already fit for specific purposes, so you can quickly customize them with your own content.

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. 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.

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.

4. 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. And with only 1 out of 4 businesses doing anything to reduce their abandonment rate, you’re also able to get an advantage over your competition with an effective cart recovery 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

4. 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 of Fancy Birthday Email

5. 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.

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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.

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